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A Thursday in the Life of Shannon Cairns

This Fort Worth doctor balances surgeries, two kids and a baby on the way

Dr. Shannon Cairns is a podiatrist who runs a private
practice in Watauga with her husband, Daniel. They live in Fort Worth with their children, 4-year-old Noah, 2-year-old Bethany, and baby number three expected “any day now.”

5AM Wake up. This is my personal time to read, pray and go over my agenda for the day. Ideally I try to get a little workout in—but at nine months pregnant, I’ve pretty much given up on anything that requires moving.

6AM Noah heads down the stairs. Both he and his sister are supposed to sleep until 7am, but someone always wakes up early. I finish up with my book and make breakfast. I always aim to make something easy and portable, like toaster waffles and fruit. Noah is an especially picky eater—it’s a mystery what he decides he likes from week to week, but waffles are usually a safe choice.

6:15AM Thursday is surgery day so I head upstairs to change into my scrubs. Operations kick off at 7am, and since Daniel and I operate together, we’re both out the
door early. Luckily, my mom agrees to help take care of the kids on these busy days. She spends the night on Wednesdays, which makes these hectic mornings go much more smoothly.

6:30AM Bethany is up. I bring her downstairs to watch cartoons and eat breakfast with her brother. She throws an epic tantrum when I tell her that Nana will take her to “school” because Mommy has surgeries. She screams and cries, “Mommyyy!” It breaks my heart, but I have to get going—my patients depend on me too. I hand the kids off to my mom and rush to the car while clutching my coffee and to-go breakfast.

7AM I arrive at the surgery center, greet our patients and sign consents ahead of the day’s work. We have a busy morning with three surgeries scheduled. At 36 weeks pregnant, it’s getting increasingly difficult to operate all morning but I push through. Still, I make a plan to go home and rest at lunch before we start afternoon clinic.

11AM Our surgeries are well underway when I receive a message from the hospital that they have a consult they would like for us to see. I nicely ask Daniel if he will go see the patient so I can continue with my lunch plans.

11:30AM Lunchtime rolls around so I drop by the house to grab a bite to eat and rest for about an hour. Daniel calls to tell me about the consult and informs me that the patient will need a procedure later today. My schedule is lighter this afternoon so I tell him I’ll head over to the hospital after I’m done with patients in the office.

1PM Afternoon clinic begins. I’m scheduled to see patients until 3pm so that I can pick up my kids to get in some extra quality time, but I usually end up staying an extra hour to catch up on paperwork.

3PM I wrap up my appointments and paperwork on time and head over to the hospital to see our patient. I perform a bedside procedure—which takes about 30 minutes—and do my notes. They don’t tell you this on TV, but there’s always paperwork to be done in medicine.

4PM Done with work for the day. Time to pick up my sweet kiddos and head back home.

5PM After traffic and wrestling Noah and Bethany into their car seats, we finally get home. All I want to do is lounge on the couch and watch movies with the kids, but people need to eat. I get dinner started and run interference to keep everyone from grabbing all the snacks from the pantry.

6PM Daniel is home and it’s time to eat—except the kids decide they don’t like spaghetti today. Noah wants chicken nuggets and Bethany wants macaroni and cheese. No way am I cooking more meals. We struggle until they each eat a few bites.

6:30PM We head upstairs for bath time, jammies and lots of nighttime snuggles. This is my favorite time of day. I love snuggly clean babies! It’s also the most exhausting part, and I’m looking forward to relaxing and sleeping once the kids go down.

7PM We read books, sing songs and put Bethany to bed. Noah pleads for extra stories, more television time, a glass of water, milk, snacks and anything else that will delay bedtime.

7:30PM Noah is finally down for the night (or at least contained to his room). Daniel and I team up to tidy the house, clean the kitchen and fold some laundry.

8PM Time to relax and watch a little Netflix. Since I’m very pregnant right now, I’m lucky if I can make it through an episode without falling asleep. Though we work together every day, I treasure this quality time with my husband away from the office.

10PM Off to bed and ready to start it all over again in the morning. I’m excited and a little scared to see how our family’s routine will change once we add baby number three to the equation.