Dr. Sidford is a dad of 19-, 12-, and 11-year-old sons and the founder and medical director of Black Bag Private Emergency Medicine, a private emergency medical consultancy firm.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while your wife was pregnant, and how did you overcome it? My biggest challenge was trying to be a husband and not a doctor. It’s great to be educated and to be at the top of your game as an emergency physician, except when it comes to what can go wrong when it involves your own family. We know too much, as physicians, and that can siphon the joy of the moment, of the pregnancy. We need to constantly remind ourselves that yes, things go wrong, but more often than not things go right. Try not to over-think every symptom your wife may be having, and enjoy the miracle that’s growing right before your eyes. I’m not sure I ever overcame over-thinking, but by the third child I was able to relax (a little bit) more.
What’s the most surprising lesson that being a dad has taught you? I’m a terrible storyteller. My kids are much better, and it’s an absolute privilege to witness their creativity and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes being a dad is letting your children teach you something, and not the other way around.
What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier? It’s the in-between time that is so special; not the birthdays, not the holidays. The regular moments, like when they are brushing their teeth, or sitting next to you on the couch, or spreading butter on toast.
As Bill Murray says in Lost in Translation, “Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.” That pretty much sums it up.
Slow down. Time with your kids is your most precious commodity.
What’s the one thing about being a new dad that shouldn’t be missed? Everything.
What’s the most overrated thing about fatherhood? I think it’s the notion of someone carrying on your name, like you had this kid to make sure people remember you or where you came from. Your kids are here to create their own lives, not carry on yours.
Why are fathers important? It’s a challenging time for young boys and girls. They need their first hero. They need a parent. If you’re lucky enough to have a mother and a father, we each bring distinctly different but important knowledge to a child.
Career, marriage, kids … how does a guy stay sane? Don’t ask me. Lose the illusion of control.
Dr. Sidford’s Q&As
Profile by Wyatt Myers