Hey, baby

Hey, baby

Sep 01, 2006

SO, YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT HAVING KIDS? Well, I'm going to give it to you straight—it's more difficult than spaying a hundred deep-chested, fat-storing, ovary-clenching shepherds. It's a finer balancing act than regulating a bevy of diabetic, cushingoid, yippy-yappy schnauzers. It could be more frustrating than being walloped by a herd of walk-in ADR appointments on a busy Saturday morning. And it yanks your heart around more than a kennel full of old-dog-best-dog euthanasias.

Now why would a young veterinarian in her right mind even consider starting a family if kids are that much work? I'm going to give it to you straight once more: It is, by far, the most wonderful and fulfilling thing you'll ever do.

Tough timing choices

The first question a busy, professional woman needs to ask herself is: "When do I want this most wonderful event to occur?" Of course, right on the heels of that question you'll be asking, "Where do I find the time, the energy, and the money?"

Some women decide to have children while attending veterinary school, and gulp back morning sickness as they cram for the parasitology exam. The financial aspect of childcare may not be as significant because you're already doing the how-poor-can-you-go vet school limbo. And since students are used to being on a tight budget, it might not be difficult to cut back a bit more. What might get tricky, however, is trying to plan for the birth to occur the day after finals.

The wonder years
I know other veterinarians who chose to have a baby the summer after they graduated, then they chewed their nails and wondered whether they'd be able to find a job after all of their classmates moved on. One advantage, of course, is that you don't need to arrange maternity leave. But you may feel less comfortable with your medical skills after a long break and no previous experience.

Still other women wait five, or even 10, years after graduation to start families. These women have begun to establish their careers and may have more job flexibility due to a proven track record with a clinic. On the other hand, they'll always be one of the oldest (and perhaps most tired and stiff) moms in the neighborhood playgroup. Not to mention the fact that they might be chasing toddlers when their peers are planning graduation parties.

In addition, there's a chance that women who delay having children might be forced to march to the erratic beat of their own biological clock. As the age of the mother increases, so does the possibility of complications with fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth.

Another timing issue to consider is the time of year. Life's full of surprises, so you can't count on your rigid planning working out in this area! Still, if you could have your way, there are better and worse times to be a new parent and a veterinarian.

For instance, having a baby in May is wonderful—the birds are singing, the flowers are springing up and nursing at 5 a.m. doesn't seem so awful if you can at least watch a sunrise. March and April, however, are traditionally busy months in a veterinary clinic, so keep in mind that you'll be doing a lot of bending and lifting with a very full girth. Also, you'll be sorely missed if your maternity leave begins before things slow down at the clinic.