Whoa, Nelly! My wife and I just became first-time parents a little over two weeks ago.  It’s been a hectic few weeks and what a rush of an experience.  Our little daughter is perfect in our eyes and the journey was certainly heart-warming and eye-opening. Despite all the books, birthing classes and advice from colleagues who are also parents, a lot of being a new parent you have to learn on your own (but it’s great to have help!). I’ve got many years of practice ahead but in the delirium of sleep deprivation, I had a few realizations that might help everyone become a better veterinary team member.

1. Help and accept help

It is golden wisdom for a new parent to accept help if it is offered. Far too often though, we veterinary types are too stubborn to get a little assistance for a number of reasons including wanting that extra sense of accomplishment for doing it on your own or not wanting to inconvenience others. It’s okay to get a bit of support from your co-workers. In turn, if we have this narrow viewpoint of accepting help, we may be less likely to reach out and offer help in return because we feel we may not have time.

2. Don’t get angry at each other

We are all on the same team. But at 3 am amidst dirty diapers and endless feedings and exhaustion, tempers can boil over for new parents. Similarly, at your clinic in the midst of surgery, walk-in emergencies, and the annoying beep of fluid pumps, cooler heads will prevail. Don’t take things personally when chaos breaks loose and remember, everyone generally has the same goal be it a successful save on that patient or a newborn baby.

3. Expect the unexpected

Every day is different and things can change on a moment’s notice. While it is good to have a plan in place, don’t lose your cool when things have to change. My wife and I went from an induced, pretty smooth labor to needing a C-section in the wee hours of the morning. Similarly, you may want to call Mrs. Smith about Fluffy but Sparky and his family walked in after he ate one of the kid’s Lego sets. Roll with the changes.

4. Get some rest

I can’t overstate this enough!! After hours of sleep deprivation from a crying or nursing baby, you might come to find you just put a diaper on the cat instead and have offered your baby a few Temptations treats. You’re no good to yourself or anyone else when you’re tired. Those animals are depending on your sharpened skills and your teammates are relying on you to be at your best mindset when you’re saving animals. 

5. Relax

Yeah, I said it, and my co-workers are probably laughing themselves silly now. Whether you’re taking care of a new baby or working to help pets and their owners, have faith that things will work out as best they can. You will try your hardest and ultimately have to accept the outcome, even knowing there are some things you can’t change. Celebrate the victories; reflect on the less joyous events, but ultimately know that you did your best. Take time to live in the moment and try to have some fun in your day to balance things out.

Teddy Roosevelt once said “nothing worth having comes easy” and generally nothing is – whether it be raising kids, working in the veterinary field or many other life situations. You may have heard these tips before or maybe they’re new. Regardless, I think they are a great start to taking a new direction in your personal or work life. Now excuse me while I go snuggle my baby before taking on another day at the clinic.

Dr. Ryan Llera


Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Kingston, Ontario. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 horses and a pet rabbit. Ryan is also a regular guest writer for the Ontario SPCA blog. You can find more of his writing at www.drryanllera.com or see what else he is up to on Facebook & Instagram.