I started my first practice just after becoming a mom.
That seemed like a really brave choice at the time, and looking back I still see it that way now. But little did I know all the twists and turns that lay ahead......
See, a week after I walked across that stage with my DC degree, I got a nice, cushy office job at the chiro school I graduated from.
I had a steady paycheck, paid vacations, and got to travel all over the country serving elite athletes through chiropractic care.
I loved my job. It was hard. It required long hours. There was literally blood, sweat and tears poured in. But I loved it.
And then I became a mom.
My boss warned me (actually a lot of people warned me) that motherhood was going to change the way I felt about work.
They said I wouldn’t want to go back after maternity leave. I thought they were crazy!
I was a Career Woman. Why would I ever want to stay home all day with a baby? 🤦🏼♀️
Lo and behold, that baby came and not only did becoming a mom change the way I felt about work. Oh no. Motherhood changed ME. Practically everything about me. I know you can deeply relate!
I went back to work eight weeks after giving birth. I felt ready. I thought I was ready....
But as the months went on, it became clear to me that something was going to have to give.
I could no longer be away at night and on the weekends. I no longer felt excited about traveling all over the country.
It felt intensely wrong to work those kind of hours when I had a baby at home. (Not to mention all the time I spent at work with my pump, trying to still be productive.)
Slowly, bit by bit, I realized... I could no longer do my job the way I had done it before my baby came.
Motherhood was now my number 1 priority.
So, in order to have (what I had hoped would be) more time with my baby, I made the leap from my corner office at the university to my own practice.
By the time I left my job as the Assistant Director of Sports and Rehabilitation, I had helped 100s of students start their practices.
I had helped them with their logos, business cards, clinic names, marketing plans, and more.
I had also helped a lot of docs who had been out of school for years, but were struggling to grow their practices.
The one thing I saw then that made success seem to come easily to some people and not so easily to others was hard work.
(Hard work, followed very closely by “the right” personality.)
I KNEW behind a shadow of a doubt that I could work hard. In fact, I felt certain that few people could work harder than me.
I took solace in this, because it made me feel relatively confident that I was not going to become one of the statistics.
So I banked on myself being successful through my sheer ability to hustle.
And hustle, I did.
I worked day and night.
My practice grew quickly.
I was constantly hosting events, networking, and planning our next promotion.
The office expenses were high, so I needed to make money fast.
I didn’t know it then, but my fear of failure combined with my scarcity mindset about money drove me. Intensely, intensely drove me.
Before I knew it, I was working weekends and even holidays.
My friends were asking me how my practice was growing so quickly.
It seemed to them that things were going really well for me.
What they didn’t see was that I was away from my little girl for 12-14 hours a day 5-6 days a week.
The one day a week I was home with her, I was usually too exhausted to do anything fun with her and even just enjoy our time together.
My husband and I were in a constant state of drama. He was a workaholic too. But the way we were living our lives was totally incongruent with our values.
And, the hardest part for me to admit... even though I was so driven by the fear of not making enough money, I practically never knew how much revenue we were actually generating or how much cash we even had.
I just put my head in the sand, kept working hard, and hoped that one day in the future I’d be able to slow down.
The time for me to slow down came, sure enough. But it didn’t look like I thought it would.
In fact, instead of slowing down because my practice had finally reached a significant milestone, I was actually forced to slowdown by factors that I’d have never. seen. coming.
As my practice grew more and more, so did my anxiety. It was great that we were so busy, sorta... like on the surface it was great. But underneath it all, what I was doing felt unsustainable.
I was constantly behind on SOAP notes, I would drop everything on a Saturday and rush to the office to see an acute patient, and our marketing plan wasn’t really a plan—it was just throwing spaghetti at the wall.
During what was probably our busiest week in the clinic, I noticed something—my boobs hurt. Every time I did an A-P thoracic adjustment, I thought.... why is this so uncomfortable.
At the end of that week, I woke up one morning and just knew when I looked in the mirror... I was pregnant.
This was NOT supposed to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to know we were expecting again. I experienced infertility for 5 years in my first marriage. So to conceive two pregnancies without really trying was nothing short of miraculous to me.
But as soon as I saw a positive on that pregnancy test, I thought “OMG. How will I ever keep up my pace at work while I’m pregnant? Or when I have a newborn?”
I began to worry. And worry a lot.
The worry wasn’t just about continuity of care for my patients either. It was for the business. And for my family. We had practically no money saved, and I really didn’t have a clear handle on how much money was going in and out of the business each month. And because I grew up in a very poor family, worrying about money was pretty much my standard operating procedure anyway.
Bit by bit, over the course of a few weeks, I turned my worry into action. I started actually looking at the practice’s finances and getting the bookkeeping up to date. I posted job listings for an associate and started interviewing candidates. And I quickly found one that I felt would be a great fit.
Everything was starting to come together. I was feeling far better in this second pregnancy than I had in my first (way less nausea), and my confidence was growing that my practice would be just fine over the next few months of my pregnancy and new-motherhood.
In fact, I shifted from feeling worried to actually feeling excited. With an associate coming on, I felt like I’d be able to take a week day off during the week and just spend time with my daughter. And I trusted that he was going to do a great job with marketing and taking over some of our community events so that I could get some rest on the weekends.
Unfortunately, none of this came to be. A couple weeks before the associate was to start, things came crashing down. I was in the office seeing patients on a Wednesday. I had been having period-like cramps all afternoon. By the end of the day, I was spotting.
My husband was out of town for work, so I picked up our little one that evening, took her home and went straight to bed. While she slept through the night, I didn’t. I kept getting woken up by intense pain in my lower abdomen.
By about 7am, I was sweating, shaking, and feeling like I might vomit. Then the contractions started. And before 9am that Thursday, my body released our baby, whose heart had stopped beating without our knowing just a few days before.
Now, years later, tears stream down my face as I type this and there’s a lump in my throat that’s so tight it hurts. I can still feel the pain of this experience as though its happening all over again.
All that worrying about money and work suddenly seemed so stupid. I could have never prepared for THIS.
I blamed myself. If you’ve ever lost a baby, you know how this is... you blame yourself. Even though there’s nothing you could’ve done differently, you become absolutely CERTAIN you should’ve done things differently. And that your baby is gone and it’s your fault.
I blamed myself. I just KNEW that the stress I had been putting myself under in the name of being a successful chiropractor was the reason we lost our baby. My body just couldn’t do both. There of course was absolutely no objective proof that this was the case, but it didn’t matter. I blamed myself, and I punished myself for the loss of our child.
I didn’t really give myself time to heal. I miscarried on a Thursday (requiring ONE patient appointment to be cancelled—that patient never returned to my office, by the way), and was back to work as usual on Friday.
Patients asked about my pregnancy and how I was feeling because, well, I still looked pregnant. I simply told them “I lost the pregnancy,” shut off my feelings about it in the office, for through the days, and cried myself to sleep every night for weeks. It was the only time I was alone and felt safe processing even just a tiny bit of how I was feeling.
Looking back on this now, I can’t quite put this into words, but the horrific experience of having a miscarriage changed my perspective on many things in very big ways. Like a light switch had been flipped, I no longer cared about being “successful” in my career. At this point, I was showing up each day and going through the motions because it was all I knew to do. It was familiar and comfortable.
Things got really interesting, really fast when just 8 weeks later I was pregnant again. I felt an intense and overwhelming drive to make every thing I did focused on having a live, healthy, full-term baby. Because I was so convinced that my stressful work life was a direct cause of my miscarriage, I very quickly decided I was selling my practice.
And six weeks later, I handed the keys over to a new owner.
If being a successful chiropractor meant losing my health and sacrificing my family and being consumed with fear, stress and anxiety, I was no longer going to be a chiropractor.
I. WAS. DONE.
This story.... this doesn’t have to be you. You do NOT have to sacrifice your health, your family, your sanity and your peace of mind in order to be successful in this profession.
You do NOT have to prescribe to the “bigger is better” model. It is NOT the only way you can have a profitable practice, earn a great living, be the mom and wife you want to be, and even make time for yourself, too.
My first few years in practice were way harder and far more painful than I ever expected. But those experiences inspired me to commit to creating another way.
My story is why I’m so excited and committed to supporting women in chiropractic.
You don’t have to figure out the “balance” of work and family all on your own. I’ve cracked the code for you, and I share the strategies of how to build a profitable practice and present with your family in an audio training that you can get FREE here.
I started my first practice just after becoming a mom.