Surgeons by Day, Moms by Night

Hey momma… we get it. Many of our surgeons are moms, too.

So you can rest easy knowing that we’ll treat the center of your world like the center of ours.

Meet a few of our superwomen:

Christine Finck, MD, FACS - Surgeon-in-Chief

"I understand how important children are and it further fuels my determination to make things better."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

Three children: two daughters (12 and 9) and one son (6)

What do you love most about being a mom?

Absolutely everything; the hugs and snuggles; watching them grow into little people; Christmas Day; spontaneous giggles; and the fact that I can never get them to go to bed on time (ever!).

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

I trained in pediatric surgery before I had children and for me I think that was a good thing. During this learning time I was able to stay focused and study the diseases of children. Once I had my own children, I understood not just the “diseases or illnesses”, but suddenly I could feel the raw emotion that moms feel when their children are sick. Being older or rather, more “mature,” I am able to use this emotion to connect and help moms and children. I understand how important children are and it further fuels my determination to make things better.

I think if I were younger in training with children, I may not have pursued pediatric surgery because I would’ve known and been frightened by this emotion. And I would’ve missed out on the best career in the world.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

Time management and balance. It’s hard to be everywhere and I have had to learn to prioritize and plan ahead.

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

Instead of advice I think I would offer reassurance. Our surgeons and healthcare staff are clinically fantastic—each and everyone of them. We are here to take care of you, your child and your family.

For advice: Having surgery is scary (2 of my kids have had surgical procedures); come with questions and it is OK to call the surgeon a few days later if you have more questions.

Sonia Chaudhry, MD - Orthopedic Surgery

As a mom, "I can empathize better with parents to know how their children’s issues affect all aspects of their lives, and I can better relate to children in terms of how to communicate with them, addressing their fears and tapping into their fun side."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

I have a 2.5-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter.

What do you love most about being a mom?

The rare relaxing moments when I can simply play with the kids and hear the ways their minds work.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

I can empathize better with parents to know how their children’s issues affect all aspects of their lives, and I can better relate to children in terms of how to communicate with them, addressing their fears and tapping into their fun side.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

The constant juggle of childcare and responsibilities as a wife, daughter, mother, and physician.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

The sense of accomplishment and pride when I see my children maturing into compassionate individuals.

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

Be confident that your child is getting the very best care that they can, and lean on others in tough times to let them be your strength while you focus on being a Mom, because nobody can take your very important place in your child’s life.

Anne Dudley, MD - Urology

"I think being a mother allows me to connect with parents on a deeper level."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

One daughter, seven months.

What do you love about being a mom?

I love watching my daughter grow and discover the world. She is constantly learning new skills and each new phase brings me so much joy.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

I think being a mother allows me to connect with parents on a deeper level.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

The most challenging part of being a mother for me is the limited time I get to see my daughter, while balancing a medical career. There is never enough time!

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

I love the smile I get when I walk in the door after a long day of work. She is such a happy baby, and always brings me joy.

What piece of advice would you have for other moms who need surgery?

I always mention our team approach to care in the operating room, emphasizing how many people are working all for their child to have a great outcome. If my child were to need a procedure, I know this would reassure me to an extent.

Katherine Kavanagh, MD - Ear, Nose and Throat

"I think being a mother makes me more empathetic towards my patients and parents. I am always thinking about how would I want someone to treat my children and what options I would recommend or choose for my kids. I tell my patients I would never offer an option I do not think is OK for my own kids, and I treat each patient as I would want my children treated."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

5 – ages 1, 3, 7, 10, 13

What do you love most about being a mom?

Seeing my kids grow and develop their personalities and watching them interact with each other. I can say that there is never a dull moment at my house.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

I think being a mother makes me more empathetic towards my patients and parents. I am always thinking about how would I want someone to treat my children and what options I would recommend or choose for my kids. I tell my patients I would never offer an option I do not think is OK for my own kids, and I treat each patient as I would want my children treated.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

Being available for my children

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

Watching them develop new skills and their individual personalities

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

At Connecticut Children’s we will take care of your child like he or she is our own.

Meghna Misra, MD, MS, FACS - General Surgery

"Every time I operate, I stop and think about how I would want the operation to go if it my own child was in front of me."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

Two children – 2 ½ years old, and 1 year old.

What do you love most about being a mom?

The laughs and hugs. Nothing can replace that.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

Every time I operate, I stop and think about how I would want the operation to go if it my own child was in front of me.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

I love my job, but it is hard when it impacts my family. It makes me sad to miss the girls’ bedtime routines.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

Their smiles brighten my day. Every time I look at my girls, I am amazed by them—they make me so incredibly happy.

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

One of my daughters had surgery when she was seven weeks old. Even though it is an operation I do several times a month, I was terrified. Two of my partners performed the operation. And everything went really well. It is incredibly scary to not have any control over something your child may be going through. But the children really are in great hands here. From the moment the kids step into the hospital to the moment they leave the hospital, everyone who takes care of them has the same mission—to deliver the best possible care to the children.

Nicole Murray, MD - Ear, Nose & Throat

"I know the magnitude of weight that rest on that child’s health and wellbeing and function. It is a great honor to be entrusted with that responsibility by families here every day."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

Two children: 9 and 13, boy and girl respectively

What do you love most about being a mom?

My family is awesome—my kids continue to amaze me with their creativity and humor and insights. They make life fun and they are worth working hard for.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

Because now I know what it is like to have a sick child and to try to give a child medicines and to watch a child grow and develop and meet their milestones and have their first day of school. And I know the magnitude of weight that rest on that child’s health and wellbeing and function. It is a great honor to be entrusted with that responsibility by families here every day. We take it so seriously.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

Having a job that is demanding and that takes time away from my family from time to time—like missing occasional events with my kids (like our traditional ice cream after the first day of school every year), when I have a patient who really needs me during a time I had scheduled to be off with my kids. This is a tough balance to find and I always make it up to my kids later—luckily ice cream is good on the next day, too.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

I am very lucky to have healthy, smart, kind kids.

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

We do get it—we know that while we do lots of surgeries all the time, if it is your child then it is unique and special and hard to wrap your head around and scary (we are on the other side too, from time to time, when our kids need medical attention) and we are there to tell you that we are taking care of your child like we would take care of our own child.

Kristan Pierz, MD - Orthopedic Surgery

"Having children – especially children who have required significant medical intervention – has helped me empathize with parents and understand the complexity of dealing with life-altering events such as surgery."

How many children do you have and how old are they?  

2 boys, ages 17 & 13

What do you love most about being a mom?

Watching my children grow from little boys to fine young men has been a wonderful experience. They each have such different interests and talents. I have enjoyed the journey of motherhood, realizing that there are surprises around every corner. No matter how much you plan, life can be very unpredictable. That’s what keeps things exciting. The sense of love, pride, and completeness that comes from being a mother is truly a gift.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

Having children – especially children who have required significant medical intervention – has helped me empathize with parents and understand the complexity of dealing with life-altering events such as surgery. My youngest has undergone cardiac, neurosurgical, and gastrointestinal surgeries so I truly appreciate the stress families go through. I realize the importance of setting realistic expectations and being open and honest in difficult situations.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

Not being available for all of the boys’ events has been difficult. Being in the hospital, on-call, or away at meetings makes it impossible to be present for all of their games, performances, and activities. Juggling the time to be available for both my patients and my boys is a constant struggle. The key is making the most of the time we have together rather than stress over the times when we have to be apart.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

I have loved watching my boys grow and find their own identities. As they get older and become more independent, I am so proud of the choices they have made. They seem confident and self-assured. I find it very rewarding to know that my children are now having a positive impact on others.

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

Surgery is a stressful time. It is hard to take everything in all at once. When things seem overwhelming, it is natural to miss certain details, misunderstand instructions, or just get frustrated and confused. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions and ask others for help.

Christine Rader, MD, FACS - General Surgery

"Being a mom gives me the ability to understand a child’s reaction (and a mother’s reaction) to being sick and needing an operation."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

I have two children (girls) ages 8 and 3.

What do you love most about being a mom?

What I love most about being a mom is coming home after a long hard day and having them run up to me with hugs and kisses.

How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

Being a mom gives me the ability to understand a child’s reaction (and a mother’s reaction) to being sick and needing an operation.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

The thing that is the most challenging about being a surgeon and a mom is trying to make my kids understand that, when I go back into the hospital to help another child it’s not because I don’t love them, it’s because you always need to do whatever you can to help others—and surgery is what I can do.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

One of the most rewarding things is watching my two daughters play doctor. And one day I was telling my 8-year-old that surgeons used to only be men and she could not understand that and asked “why” and I said “good question!! I don’t really know!”

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

For moms whose child is having surgery, think of us as the pilot on a plane—we will do everything possible to keep your child safe.

Janet Zahradnik, MD - Orthopedic Surgery

"Before I had kids, I thought I was empathetic to how important the kids were to their parents, but you don’t really get it until you have your own children, how huge it is and how important. It is just not possible to feel it the same way."

How many children do you have and how old are they?

2 teenagers- 15 ½, 13 ½, boy and girl

What do you love most about being a mom?

It’s such a difficult question, isn’t it? I think the best thing is just being able to love someone so much. To love like you’ve never imagined before. The second they are born, you look at them and you instantly understand your mom.
How does being a mom make you a better surgeon?

Before I had kids, I thought I was empathetic to how important the kids were to their parents, but you don’t really get it until you have your own children, how huge it is and how important. It is just not possible to feel it the same way.

What has been the most challenging thing about being a mom?

Balance. Balancing everything from work, kid’s needs, my needs, family needs, chores, everything.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom?

Watching my kids grow up. They are wonderful people and have something wonderful to offer every single day. I learn so much from them,

What piece of advice would you have for other moms whose child may need surgery?

Interestingly both of my kids have had surgery in the past year at Connecticut Children’s. That is something that being a mom helps with too. Understanding all the small things that comes up, in terms of surgery and how a kid will react and how important the surgery is to aspects of their life and managing their expectations to surgery and what they can and can’t do afterward. What helped me get through my kids’ surgery is I knew exactly what would happen every step of the way. So I would encourage parents to ask as many questions about their child’s surgery as possible, because the more you know the less stressful it will be.

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