After reading both Dr. Sudeepta Varma's article in the November 18, 2005,
issue titled "Psychiatrist Children Often Find Parent's Profession a
Mystery" and Dr. Emily Liffick's letter to the editor in the December
16, 2005, issue, I am prompted to share my experience at a "Psychiatrist
Mommy-Baby Book Club" in Indianapolis. I have often wondered if
psychiatrists as mothers face the same challenges as other working mothers, or
do we have some more? Do we subconsciously analyze that the extra scoop of ice
cream for disappointment that it might positively reinforce oral gratification
and trigger an eating disorder? These unspoken worries and others bond a group
of women psychiatrists with little ones at a book club in Indianapolis.
What I noticed is that the overt purpose is to read a toddler book and have
a play group for the children, but we also end up talking about ourselves. We
seem to share the most embarrassing and toughest moments we've had with the
kids. At a recent meeting we discussed vomiting and diarrhea stories. A child
had thrown up at the entrance of a fancy restaurant. This story was rivaled by
that of another child whose diaper had dripped all over the supermarket.
However, the show stopper was a 6-year-old who threw up in the backseat and
into the face of his 2-year-old baby sister, leaving only her little eyes
visible. Needless to say, we were all rolling over with laughter.
As with most physician mothers, we tend to become isolated because we are
busy caring both for our patients and families. The book club provides
valuable support for mothers ranging from residents, private practitioners,
community providers, and faculty. We discuss call, boards, jobs, difficulties
of starting a private practice, and much more. It provides a great opportunity
to network and get practical solutions.
Finally, our children benefit from the social interaction offered by the
play group. As time goes on, we hope they will realize that there are other
mothers with careers in psychiatry and will benefit from the universality of