"Don't make the same mistakes I did. I never got to know my children... I'm only just getting to know my grandkids.

This place won't remember us when we go, it won't remember that we sacrificed our families to be here"

1/15
This was the advice that I was given years ago by a senior colleague while I was still in training. It echoed in my head, even as I ignored it and watched others in the #NHS - nurses, pharmacists, doctors, physios, radiographers - do the same.

2/15
Then, earlier this year, my son was born. I wanted to know him. I wanted him to know me. I worked hard to be present.

Within weeks, though, I'd gone back to my old ways. Out before he was up and creeping back in the dark. I missed his bath on my birthday and I wept, hard.

3/15
My wife and I had decided we would take Shared Parental Leave. She had 6 months of maternity and recently went back to her job as a cancer surgeon. For the last 8 weeks, I've given up my day job as a heart surgeon and right now I'm a father. The kind of father I want to be.

4/15
Baking sourdough and changing nappies. Awkwardly fumbling through baby massage and singing nursery rhymes at volume at @nationaltrust properties while passers by smirk. Acting as his wingman so he can flirt with strangers. Just being.

5/15
So I went back to my old friend to tell him how his words had inspired me to take this time off to be with my family. He remembered giving me that advice and smiled at me softy, thanking me for having taken heed. Then, in his Scottish lilt, he said:

6/15
"FFS, Bil, that's not at all what I meant. I just meant don't ass about in the hospital when you're done. Go home on time. I didn't mean go off for three months. A grown man looking after a baby? That's not natural!"

😂 He gave me a big hug and congratulated me.

7/15
Under 1% of all eligible new fathers in the UK take shared parental leave. I guess I'm the first British male cardiac surgeon to do so.

I'm aware that I'm privileged to be *able* to (in law & financially). independent.co.uk/news/business/…

8/15
It's not easy and there are critics. Not just insidious snipes but also those who try to weaponise your choice to spend time with your family against you.

Women have faced this prejudice for decades and men can help fix this.

personneltoday.com/hr/mens-parent
9/15
I’m sure that there are those who think, especially in the current NHS crisis, that it’s selfish of me to abandon my patients for 3 months to be a father.

I’ll admit, I felt guilty. But the #NHS needs proper funding and staffing - not to rely on the compassion of staff.

10/15
Anyway... I’m not here to tell you how hard shared parental leave is. I’m here to tell you how *awesome* it has been for me, my wife and my son. If I can convince a handful of other men to do it - and encourage government to make it easier - I’ve done some good.

11/15
Please don’t be put off by employers who are also learning how the system works or the idea that you won’t be taken seriously or that tradition exists for a reason. The time with your baby will make your heart burst with joy (not a medical condition)

12/15
People like this guy, @mrjzacharias - one of my old bosses who wanted me to speak at @BISMICS conference recently - make it easier.

“Just bring him” he said. So my son came to watch my talk on research in cardiac surgery (+vomit on drug reps). It’s normalising parenting.

13/15
While there, Prof Doenst, a surgeon from Germany and an author of one of the chapters of a book I’m editing, told me that men taking parental leave was common in Germany, including surgeons. It hasn’t affected German efficiency.

(Britain also lags behind Scandinavia)

14/15
I’m only on Shared Parental Leave for three months and the first few weeks have been incredible. Indescribable. I never would have known what I had missed if I hadn’t been here but I’m glad I didn’t.

Maybe in years to come my boy won’t remember. But I will.

15/15
Postscript
I first posted this in December 2019. I’ve reposted the thread because I accidentally deleted part of it.

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More from @drkirmani

3 Jan
If you’ve ever wondered why anaesthetists exist, here’s an analogy by (this) surgeon which might help explain.

When you go on a flight, there’s a whole bunch of people who make it happen. The engineers fix the plane, the flight crew keep the passengers safe & comfortable,

1/6
air traffic control makes sure the flights are a safe distance from each other and on time, the cleaners make sure it’s not unsanitary or unsavoury, the kitchen work to keep everyone satiated , the ground crew check everything moves along safely...

2/6
...literally everybody on that team is absolutely indispensable. You wouldn’t even consider flying somewhere important if your baggage handlers were on strike because it’s a vital part of the experience - and it’s the same with surgery.

3/6
Read 6 tweets
19 Dec 19
This was the advice that I was given years ago by a senior colleague while I was still in training. It echoed in my head, even as I ignored it and watched others in the #NHS - nurses, pharmacists, doctors, physios, radiographers - do the same.

2/15
Then, earlier this year, my son was born. I wanted to know him. I wanted him to know me. I worked hard to be present.

Within weeks, though, I'd gone back to my old ways. Out before he was up and creeping back in the dark. I missed his bath on my birthday and wept, hard.

3/15 Image
My wife and I had decided we would take Shared Parental Leave. She had 6 months of maternity and recently went back to her job as a cancer surgeon. For the last 8 weeks, I've given up my day job as a heart surgeon and right now I'm a father. The kind of father I want to be.

4/15
Read 16 tweets

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