Three Times I Chose My Practice Over My Family

When I started my first practice after having my first baby, I had a vision in my mind of being able to take my daughter to my office with me. 

It would be so wonderful. 

She’d quietly play with toys on the floor of my extra adjusting bay, and I’d quickly sneak in a hug and kiss from her in between patient visits.   

I tried.  I tried to make this happen.  In fact, I tried to force this to happen. 

But as you can imagine, reality looked nothing like this.   

Some days she would take everything off the front desk, including taking the phone off the hook.  Other days, she totally insisted on taking a patient’s blood pressure.  Some would humor her and play along; others weren’t amused one bit.  She would run past the massage room screaming—massage in progress.   Oh, and speaking of massage... She not once, but twice, hid in the massage room putting an entire jar of massage cream into her hair like conditioner.

This was NOT what I had pictured.
This was NOT how it was supposed to go. 

After all, I had left my very cushy administration position at Logan to have more time with this girl. 

It just wasn’t working. 

There were many days and many ways early on in my practice that I chose my practice over my daughter, over my family, over my health and over my happiness.   

But there are three instances of my incongruent choices that stand out, and I sometimes still wonder what the heck was wrong with me. 

ONE

In the spring of 2012, my husband had a very special thing happen in his triathlon career: he was drawn in a lottery to enter the Escape From Alcatraz race in San Francisco. 

He kicked his training up a few notches and prepared for the race that summer.  My stepdaughter and mother- and father-in-law flew to California with him to watch him in his first ocean/bay swim. 

But not me.  I was just too busy with work to take the time off to go. 

(Well... looking back now, I see that it wasn't that I was so busy, it was that I was too afraid to take a few days off... because, you know, my whole business my fall apart if I took a break.)

I was too busy to see how sad I would be later that I missed out on watching my husband totally rock this amazing physical feat he undertook. 

TWO

Later in the fall that same year, my daughter was running around the office one particular morning while I was with a new patient.  She was about 2.5 at the time. 

She just so happened to be running with a #2 pencil in her hand, which I didn’t realize because I was doing my best to focus on the new patient. 

Unfortunately, my little girl tripped while running with said pencil, and it stabbed her in her upper eye lid.  I tried to shush her and get her to calm down as quickly as possible so that she’d stop making a scene in front of this patient. 

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized two things:

  1. there was a piece of graphite broken off under the scab my kiddo had created, causing her eye to swell shut; and…
  2. worst of all, I only then realized how close my child had been to possibly stabbing her orbit out with a pencil! 

Thankfully her eyesight was unaffected and our very kind and patient eye doctor advised me to leave the graphite in her skin instead of putting her through a minor surgery (the graphite is still somewhat visible today almost 5 years later, FYI). 

Every time I notice her little gray spot above her eye, I'm reminded of the years that I missed out on spending time just watching her grow.  

THREE

About a year later in May 2013, in a moment of inhibition, I decided it would be grand to have another baby.  Two weeks later, I was quite elated to find out I was pregnant—my husband… not so much. 

In the back of my mind, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to keep working as hard and as much with a new baby coming.  So I started working on finding an associate to join my practice. 

Sadly, at the end of my first trimester, I started cramping and spotting on a Wednesday morning.  I tried to convince myself everything was ok, and I went about my full day of patient appointments.  By the following morning, I was experiencing something that seemed very much like labor. 

I called my husband, who was several hours away on a work trip that Thursday morning.  Between contractions, I had to tell him what was happening—we were losing our baby. 

He got an early flight home that evening from the training he was at, but there was nothing he could really do. 

When Friday morning came, I got up and went to work like nothing had happened. 

I didn't take any time off to let my body heal or to let all of the emotions I was experiencing come to the surface.  It took me about two years to crawl out of the darkness that followed that experience.

 : :

 : :

Eventually (I had allowed) the stress of practice to become too much for me to continue accepting.  In fact, it was when I became pregnant again just 8 weeks after the miscarriage that I decided to sell my business. 

We usually consider this an achievement, right?
Selling a business....
But it felt so much more like failure to me. 
It was my inability to create boundaries that honored my family and that allowed me to take care of myself.   

I choose to live without regret, so I look at these choices that I made in those years and see the gifts that came from them. 

But somewhere in the process of healing myself I felt called to help other Mama Chiropractors see that we can do this a different way.  That we don't have to be either completely consumed by practice or give it up entirely. 

Don’t get me wrong—some of us absolutely love working 5 or 6 days a week; some of us love being stay-at-home moms.  But for the rest of us who want to do both, there hasn't been something that supports us.

Until now.  (And you can be a part of it.)

It was out of my deep frustration with practice, with life as a working mom, and—most of all—with myself that Aligned Women was born.