Motherhood is often called the hardest – and best – “job” in the world.
Many LG Health physicians and advanced practice providers take care of children or deliver babies every day. In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked what surprised them most about motherhood and how becoming a mom affected the way they practice medicine.
Sarah E. Eiser, M.D.
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Lancaster Physicians for Women
Mother of Madison, 9, and Mason, 6
Left: Dr. Sarah Eiser with her mom and daughter, Madison.
Right: Dr. Eiser and son Mason, 6.
Being a mom is definitely the best, hardest thing I have ever done! I am continually surprised at what a challenge the job can be! I love to share my personal experiences with my patients – the good ones and the struggles! It feels like a long time ago that I was a new mom, but I feel for my patients when they come in for their postpartum visit and are sleep-deprived and stressed. I can remember that time being so much harder than I ever thought it would be! I try to lift their spirits and offer support, encouraging them with funny mom survival stories of my own.
Pia Fenimore, M.D.
Division Chief, General Pediatrics; Lancaster Pediatric Associates
Mother of William, 17, and George, 14
Dr. Pia Fenimore and her son, William.
Two things surprised me about becoming a mom: 1. Being up with a newborn all night is much more exhausting than being on call, and 2. The No. 1 job of a pediatrician is to diagnose and fix kids. The No. 1 job
of a mom is to unconditionally love their children, which sometimes means not fixing their problems.
Since I became a mom, I am much more trusting of the instincts of parents. Sometimes you just have to go with their gut that something is wrong. They are usually right.
Celeste D. Heckman, M.D.
LG Health Physicians Family Medicine Strasburg, and Regional Medical Director, LG Health Physicians
Mother of three
The most frequent question I am asked by my female mentees is, “How do you balance being a physician and a mom?” I think that they assume since I have had nearly 25 years of experience and have had a child at each stage of my career – as a medical student, a resident and in my first year of practice – that I might have some sage wisdom to pass along. I wish I could say that I have mastered the art of being at two places at the same time, but alas, I have not.
I remember so desperately wanting to know this secret myself as I was contemplating a career in medicine. However, even within my extended family, no one had traveled the road of balancing career and young family. We were a large Italian family with the ideal of family first, home-cooked meals second. So the term “mommy guilt” had a special place in my heart. Fortunately, my husband is an engineer who had some training as a chef. He also had a gift for reminding me to take it “one day at a time.” And even though the emotional turmoil was very real – like the daily drop-off at day care while I watched my daughter banging on the window, both of us shedding large crocodile tears as I pulled out of the driveway to make it to morning report on time, coming home exhausted after a 100- to 120-hour resident work week to crash on the couch in my scrubs cuddling my sleeping baby on my chest, my husband driving 30 minutes so I could breastfeed my daughter, going through the turnover of nine different babysitters in one year, being a no-show at my daughter’s second-grade parent-teacher conference, missing Christmas morning because I was at a delivery, etc. – with the support of my family and friends, I managed to bite my lip, hold back tears and get through it one day at a time.
When I finally got through the fire of residency, I was grateful to be able to enter practice in a part-time role and with one of my best friends and fellow physician mom, Nancy Brenton. Together we shared work schedules and raised six beautiful children. (We had lots of help from our husbands … and a little babysitting by Chris Putney!) Even so, I wondered if my absence caused some psychological damage to my children.
One of my best gifts was a story written by my then-8-year-old daughter: “My mom is pretty – she has more than a hundred freckles and has curly hair black as midnight. My mom is a part-time doctor and a full-time mom. She likes when she is home and isn’t on-call. I think it is a hard job being a mother but she is good at it.” This same daughter is now a second-year medical student. I hope the road will be paved a little bit smoother for her and that she will be so blessed to have her child write as she did. “My family is like a treasure, but even better. My family is special – like a shining star. I would never trade them in.” I checked with my two other kiddos, who thankfully agreed that they too would not trade me in, and they were happy to have had a childhood creating memories “one day at a time.”
PA-C, LG Health Physicians Urgent Care
Mother of Ryan, 10, Madeline, 8, and Grace, 4-1/2
Danielle O’Shea, PA-C, and her children, Ryan, Grace and Madeline.
The greatest surprise for me is how fast time flies by when raising children. I try so hard to soak up every moment, every smile and each stage my kids are growing through. It is truly bittersweet!
The way in which I practice medicine when dealing with parents and the pediatric population has changed since becoming a mom. It takes such effort balancing life, and then having a sick or injured child added to the mix alters that balance. I have lived that, and so I understand the stress, and I empathize with a parent’s concern and the child not feeling well. I try to offer guidance from my experience as a mom and clinician in an effort to ease distress.
Elizabeth C. Sigmund, CRNP
LG Health Physicians Family Medicine East Petersburg, and Associate Clinical Director, APP Primary Care Services, LG Health Physicians
Mother of Christopher, 16, Andrew, 15, and Daniel, 13
Beth Sigmund and her sons.
There are many things that surprised me about being a mom. I used to think there was one way to do things as a parent ... then I had children. Three of them. All boys. I thought I had the parenting thing figured out after my first son was a toddler, and then my second arrived like a hurricane and disrupted everything I thought I knew. And then No. 3 arrived, and I’m still figuring things out.
Being a mom has changed how I practice medicine because I can relate to mothers with their experiences, concerns, stresses, joys and sorrows. My own experiences have helped me realize that all children do not fit into one neat little box, nor do all parenting styles work for all children. I have infinitely more patience for the little people who come to see me, and I love all of them, regardless of their challenges. And I have so much more respect for my patients who are moms, because being a mother is, hands down, the hardest job in the world!
Jaclyn Owens, PA-C, LG Health Physicians Urgent Care
Mother of Eleanor, 2, and Emmersen, 1
Jaclyn Owens, PA-C, with her daughters, Eleanor, 2, and Emmersen, 1.
When I came back from maternity leave after becoming a mother, I was surprised at how much I could sympathize with a mother’s love. Being a mother has given me more patience and made me respect a mother’s intuition a little bit more! I take a parent’s concerns very seriously! It has also helped me to keep up-to-date on kids’ shows, so I often like to bring up characters when I am examining or suturing a kiddo!