Real Stories: Balancing motherhood with a medical career

Q & A Real Stories

I love you stinky face, gummy bears and family walks in the evening sustain Dr. Colleen Donohue as she navigates being a wife, mom and physician.

Q: Occupation / Interests / Hobbies?

I’m a physician in Family Medicine at Brookwood Baptist Primary Care in Vestavia. I love playing with my two boys, reading, baking, traveling and going to all the great food spots in Birmingham.

Q: What’s a D.O. and how is it different from an M.D.?

D.O. stands for Doctor of Osteopathy. The approach is broader and patient-centered. Plus, D.O.’s are taught to embrace alternative methods of treatment. We take an extra course in medical school that teaches more about how muscles, ligaments and fascia can be treated by maneuvers similar to Physical Therapy. There is a large emphasis on listening to the patient and their body in order to treat the patient the best way possible.

Q: Did you have an “aha!” moment when you realized osteopathic medicine was the best fit for you?

I did, it was while I was interviewing at the medical school in Kentucky I attended. They spoke of the great importance of Primary Care and the role it plays in the lives of patients. We are the front lines for keeping people healthy!

Q: You’re a new mom! What made your birthing experience at Brookwood Baptist special?

Getting to be a mommy! and not a Doctor. The staff was so encouraging and made the experience so pleasant. We brought our 2 year old to visit his brother the day he was born and the nurses were so helpful and sweet. I will never forget how excited Dr. Banks was to hold our newest addition, Hammond. He just glowed!

Q: Doctor turns patient . . .go! How do you cure what ails you?

REST! As a mother of two, I know how wonderful sleep is for your body. You think clearer and your immune system stays robust. I also try to incorporate some activity into each day . . . not too hard when you chase a toddler around!

Q: How do you try and savor moments with your children?

I try not to get hung up on making sure everything is clean and tidy. I run around with Tobe, my oldest, and savor every giggle that comes from his mouth. I marvel at how quickly Hammond is changing and starting to make sounds that I interpret as a Momma. My husband is great about taking pictures daily and I look at those and remember the activities of every day.

Q: How do you balance being a full-time physician with your home life?

I am blessed to have an amazing and wonderful husband. He can manage both the boys on his own when I am on call. I am also extremely lucky to have my mother keep our boys every day; I know they are safe and looked after, even when my husband and I have to work late. I also try to remember life is about compromise. I work during the day, but when I get home it is about family. That means being in the moment – whether it’s dinner and the boys are throwing food to the dog, or we’re going for our nightly walk and listening to the boys chatter while Martin and I talk about our day.

Q: If your husband could use three words to describe you, what would they be? And why?

Determined – Martin would use the example of our discussion about having kids; he wanted one . . . I wanted two! Nerdy – I LOVE to read and I love silly sci-fi shows; I think he sees that as one of my endearing and entertaining qualities! Emotional – I cry at all sappy and sad movies. I try to put myself in other peoples’ situations and get an idea of how they are feeling. I try to do that in my work and personal life also.

Q: What’s the last thing you read?

I Love You Stinky Face, by Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore. It’s Tobe’s favorite bedtime book. For personal enjoyment I’ve been reading the Thursday Next series, by Jasper Fforde.

Q: What does a “natural” lifestyle mean to you?

Being active. My husband and I both want to teach healthy habits to our boys. We go for a family walk nightly and we try to have healthy diversity in our meals. I cannot stress how important the balance between activity and sleep is in our house – we all seem to enjoy life more when we are refreshed!

Q: What’s your guilty pleasure? The last thing you really did for yourself?

My guilty pleasure is watching Doctor Who (a silly British sci-fi). And gummy bears. The last thing I did for myself was use a pedicure gift card I got for Christmas.

Q: Where’s your happy place?

Snuggling in bed with my boys while my husband and I take turns reading a bedtime story.

Q: The best thing about Birmingham is?

The communities. Growing up in Nashville, everything was so far away. I love that there are so many different communities that are close to each other and interact together. Homewood and Mountain Brook with their villages and activities and food and shopping! And Vestavia and Hoover with their parks and trails. Birmingham is a wonderful place to raise a family. There are never-ending art activities, diversity of cuisine, outdoor sights and all in a very family-friendly environment.

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