Alabama dentist details challenges of motherhood, solo practice
Dr. Britany Matin’s maternity leave was a little unorthodox. While most new moms take at least six weeks off after having a baby, Dr. Matin was back to work two weeks after giving birth. It was admittedly quick, but the 32-year-old periodontist didn’t feel she had a choice.
Dr. Matin opened her Auburn practice from scratch in 2015 and with few periodontists in her area, let alone the state of Alabama, there wasn’t anybody to cover her patients for an extended period of time.
She didn’t want to leave her patients in the lurch, so she came back to work earlier than the average working mom might.
Dr. Matin is among many dentist moms — and working mothers in general — who struggle with balancing their family and professional lives. And the balancing act started when she was pregnant.
“Early on with your first child, you don’t know what to expect,” Dr. Matin said. “There are so many changes with your body.”
She was lucky not to have any complications that forced her to stop working, but it was something always on her mind.
“One of the hardest things is figuring out what to do if something were to happen during the pregnancy that would have forced me to go on bed rest,” Dr. Matin said. “Being the sole practitioner, if I were to have to be on bed rest, I don’t know what we would have done. A lot of disability insurance policies don’t cover that. I don’t know how the practice would have stayed open. We would have lost a lot of income. That’s something that people don’t talk about but it’s scary.”
Dr. Matin worked up until a week before she delivered her son, Luke Armour Guzman, in early January; a busy time for most dental practices with patients rushing to use the remainder of their benefits for the year.
Since she’s a solo practitioner, Dr. Matin closed her practice for two weeks after Luke was born. She allowed herself a shortened schedule the first four weeks back; working 10 a.m.-3 p.m. every day.
Being up multiple times a night with Luke, she wanted her mornings free to get into a routine before going to work each day. Getting the hang of breastfeeding while at home and pumping at work was also a struggle, she said.
But the hardest part, Dr. Matin said, was finding a babysitter to watch her son during the day while she worked. She ultimately turned to Care.com and was able to interview candidates.
“That’s the hardest part: leaving your two-week-old with someone you don’t know,” Dr. Matin said.
She’s also navigating a good portion of her days solo. Dr. Matin’s husband, Dr. Luis Guzman, a duel trained periodontist and prosthodontist, is finishing up dental school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and drives two hours each way to school each day.
Once he graduates in 2019, Dr. Guzman will join his wife’s practice.
As if having a 9-month-old and a husband gone for most of the day isn’t enough, Dr. Matin is also opening up a second practice in Columbus, Georgia, about 30 minutes away from her current office. This one has a nursery.
Despite the challenges of being tired and managing her family and her practice, Dr. Matin said she feels very fulfilled as a mother and a dentist.
“It is work and something that all working moms struggle with, but it is the best thing I have ever done,” Dr. Matin said. “I would do it all over again, and I will hopefully be doing it again, God willing.”