Self-Care IRL: Interview with Claudia Emami, MD- Slowing Down and Savoring the Moment


Frances Isles

Claudia Emami, MD and her daughter, Olivia.

Claudia Emami, MD and her daughter, Olivia.

As a wide-eyed newbie to the City of Angels a few years ago, I had a handful of girlfriends who took me in and introduced me to this beautiful city— Claudia was one of them. We first met as roommates, and our friendship grew over evenings out on the town in our neighborhood of West Hollywood. Quietly ambitious and openly outgoing, Claudia managed to keep her social life and individuality intact while also being a full-time resident in surgery at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. I’ve seen her evolve from Maiden to Mother, and from Surgery Resident to Pediatric Surgeon— all while forging and maintaining meaningful relationships with friends and family, and never forgetting who she was in the process. I asked her to share a few thoughts on her experience as a working mother, and especially as it relates to her self-care journey.

What drew you to pediatric surgery?

The joy of working with children. I was amazed at how in-the-moment they are and in general how quickly they recover from all manners of illness and move on. They are incredibly resilient and it's humbling to work with them. I already was becoming a surgeon, so pediatric surgery came naturally to me.

Enjoying the view in Santa Barbara, CA.

Enjoying the view in Santa Barbara, CA.

What are your hopes and dreams for your daughter, Olivia?

I want her to grow up and be kind and compassionate. I want her to be expansive in her thinking and confident in her abilities without being too proud. I want her to think of others as much as she thinks of herself and her own well being. I also want her to be independent while knowing when and how to show vulnerability in order to connect with others emotionally.

How did your self-care routine change and evolve as you became a mother?

I learned to slow down and savor the moment. I also learned to be kinder to myself and my body.

Taking time for self-care in Malibu, CA.

Taking time for self-care in Malibu, CA.

What has your experience been with non-toxic, natural, and organic self-care products?

I usually use products that I have been using for many years. I try to get educated as much as I can about them but beyond that, I don't necessarily look for the label "organic.”

What advice do you have to the many moms or moms-to-be out there who are juggling careers and motherhood?

There are times that one has to compromise and shift energy from one aspect to the other without self-judgment. Time with children is not reproducible so I personally scaled back a bit once my daughter was born, at some cost to my ambitions and career, knowing that I would ramp back up once I felt that my daughter could spend less time without me physically being around. It's hard to constantly be 100% at both, so I believe in having realistic expectations and knowing when to shift priorities.