Mother’s Day spotlight on Dr. Wanda Abreu

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Mother’s Day spotlight on Dr. Wanda AbreuDr. Wanda and James Abreu and their sons, Sebastian, Lucas and Julian. — Courtesy photo


“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” — Robert Browning

Being a mother is a common enough occurrence, with billions populating the globe. While every mother has a history, philosophy and footprint all her own, this Mother’s Day we spotlight one whose legacy extends beyond raising her own children to providing care to thousands of others.

“It is a privilege to be a pediatrician,” said Dr. Wanda Abreu, who began practicing at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital five years ago. “Growing up, I always thought I would be a teacher — I thought that was my calling.”

But in college she discovered a newfound love for the practical side of science. “Seeing all the ways science is applicable helped me develop an appreciation for it. And I saw that I could impact even more people, and still be a kind of a teacher.”

Before coming to the Indian Wells Valley, she worked at Loma Linda Medical Center — dealing with all the high-intensity complications that come with trauma care.

“Both places have pros and cons. I liked having the support and better access to specialists, and all the education that came with that,” said Abreu. “We had specialists in literally everything and a consult was never more than a minute away.

“But here, I never felt more important in my life, other than to my own family. There is something about knowing there are not all those readily available options that inspires you to do your very best for everyone you see.

“Then there are our underserved patients who don’t have 10 other doctors they can go to. For those people I’m a critical support to them, and I am honored to be able to take care of them.”

When her sons came into the world — Sebastian (2009), Lucas (2010) and Julian (2011) — she got a whole new education about how to raise and care for children.

“As physicians, we want to know the data, we want to go by the book. But I learned that our patients really rely on us for more than just a clinical perspective,” said Abreu.

“You can’t find everything in the book — because sometimes your reality just doesn’t fit with what’s on paper. I tell that to my patients all the time, and I think that alleviates stress when a parent knows that you understand where they are coming from.”

At home Abreu loves being silly with her boys — making up songs, playing games, dancing around the house. “They love it anytime I can participate on their level — show them I know how to get ‘down and dirty’ with them!” she said.

“But I think the best thing about being a mom is getting to see the world through their eyes. They keep me grounded in reality, and I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously.”

She said that as overwhelming as it can be when your children have similar needs all at once, “I love that my boys are at an age where they all have similar interests and activities. We get to spend a lot of time doing the same things!”

Asked what advice she offers other mothers — especially those juggling family and career— she said, “I feel like that’s the wrong question to ask me! I’m just doing my best like most other moms!”

But when she needs inspiration, she goes to her mother. “For a long time she was a single mom with three kids, putting herself through school and staying at the top of her class. So I had a very high bar that I don’t know if I’ll ever reach!”

One thing she has learned over the years, though, is that mothers have their own instincts to guide them in meeting their children’s needs. “Again, I’m a doctor, I know that we are told to study everything. So do your research, then follow your brain and then your gut.”

Abreu will be moving with her family to be closer to her family in her home state of New York.

“My husband and I both have really amazing opportunities,” she said. He moved in January to start his job, and she will follow this summer to accept a position at Columbia University Medical Center, where she will serve as medical director for the newborn nursery.

“When I was interviewing for that position, I said something that I didn’t think was very important, but it ended up influencing their decision to hire me,” she said.

Because Abreu and her husband James are both practitioners, they would take turns being on call. “When he gets called in, the first thing I always ask is, ‘Do they need me?’ Usually there is someone else on call for pediatrics, and they don’t. But sometimes it’s me,” she said.

“So I have to tell you how proud I am of my boys. We explained to them that sometimes there will be a sick baby, and both their dad and I need to go in. We don’t have anyone at home to stay with them, and we can’t wait for someone to get there, so I will go to their room and say, ‘Boys, we have a baby emergency!’

“Now, these same boys who need me to tell them 50 times to get their shoes on in the morning are out of bed, dressed and buckled into the car within three minutes. And they never complain, they never tell me they are tired, they never say they don’t want to go. They sit and wait until the crisis is over. And the first thing they ask afterward is, ‘Mom, is the baby OK?’”

Abreu said she and her family will miss the community — and not just the three-minute travel time across town.

“I will miss the people. This has been a wonderful place to live, where people have been warm and welcoming. I don’t think we have ever lived in a community where we have been so completely embraced.”

Story First Published: 2018-05-11