We asked FirstHealth OB/GYN Dr. Lee Lowery about what he’s learned since becoming a new dad — and how it’s made him a better doctor. His answers are below:
:: First, What Made You Want to Become a Gynecologist?
When I was in med school I did an OB rotation, and it was harder than any other rotation I experienced. I loved that it was always different — you’re in delivery one day and the operating room another. You are exposed to a great variety of medicine; and, *laughing* women patients tend to listen a little better than men.
:: What Has it Been Like Being on the Other Side of the Exam Room?
It’s very odd to know exactly what’s going on but to not be in control of every aspect of it. It’s hard to balance what you think should be done and hear someone else tell you what to do, or what they are going to do for you. Obviously, it’s a lot more personal when it’s your family.
:: In What Ways Has Being a New Dad Surprised You?
- Well, there’s the lack of sleep (which you are sort of prepared for, but not really).
- Then there’s the noises babies make — Are they spitting up? Are they choking? Are they just happy?
- How, uh, aggressively they use the restroom. He can poop with FORCE. And it’s liquid poop. And it’s always a surprise.
- How long feeding takes — 20 minutes to breastfeed, another 20 minutes to burp, and then 20 minutes sitting up so he doesn’t have reflux. It’s a whole operation.
- And then, there’s the fact that I can just look at him for hours. It’s so weird to see this human that’s part you and part someone else, and to try and figure out which is which. You can get so much entertainment from this tiny human, and yet they do nothing.
:: Will Being a Dad Change You as a Doctor?
It already has. When you tell a patient to not worry about this, that or the other, you now know that’s not really possible. You have a little more empathy when telling someone about things that can be concerning. It’s natural to be anxious.
Just knowing the things that you have to prepare for, and never feeling ready — I can relate to that now when previously, I truly couldn’t. . . . Even at the postpartum visit, all the stress of being a new parent while trying to keep a little person alive — I get that now.
:: Do You Have Any Advice for New Fathers?
I don’t think I have enough experience yet! But I guess I’d say that It’s OK to feel tired and stressed — just take it day by day, and diaper by diaper.
Oh, and remember that no matter how tired and stressed a new dad is, the mom is more stressed. Always be supportive and understanding and know when to shut up and let the mother of the child be. That’s probably the best advice I can give!
Read more about Dr. Lee Lowery here.