The Childbearing Years: Balancing Personal and Professional Lives
My husband's life didn't change much when we had our two daughters. Mine, however, became a struggle—one that millions of women will recognize from their own experience—as I tried to find satisfying and effective ways to mother my children, remain the doctor I wanted to be, and at the same time be a good wife to my husband. Nonetheless, these were happy years, for both of us adored our daughters from the beginning and enjoyed the many activities we shared with them—the weekend walks, the family vacations, the simple daily contact with two beautiful, developing young beings.
I did sometimes resent the disparity between what I contributed to the upkeep of our family life and what my husband did. Once, when the children were still young, I asked him if he'd consider working fewer hours so that I wouldn't have to give up delivering babies, an aspect of my practice that I dearly loved. He replied, "You've never seen a part-time orthopedic surgeon, have you?" I admitted that I hadn't, but suggested that this didn't mean it couldn't happen with a little imagination on his part. It was not to be, however. It was I who, like so many other women, became the master shape-shifter, adjusting my own needs to those of everyone else in the family.
In the early years of our family life, I was also becoming increasingly aware that the inequities that bothered me in my marriage were a reflection of inequities that existed in the culture around us. I saw many people like my husband and me—people who had started their marriages on equal grounds financially and educationally, even people who, like us, did the same work—and always, once the children arrived, it was the wife who made the sacrifices in leisure time, professional accomplishment, and personal fulfillment.