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Powerful Women Balancing Medicine and Motherhood

I jumped at the chance to get to know these powerhouse mamas.

When I was told that I’d be interviewing two amazing women — both mothers, wives and doctors I jumped at the chance to get to know these powerhouse mamas and learn how they juggle their daily lives so well. At first sight you can’t believe how beautiful and kind they both are. To top it off, each is bright and accomplished and seemingly effortlessly makes it all work. 

Dr. Carrie Leff is an Andover (now Bloomfield Hills) High School graduate who went on to the University of Michigan Medical School. She’s an Internist, Pediatrician and Certified Menopause provider for the Henry Ford Health System, where she treats kids and adults of all ages. She’s also one of the few doctors around to fill the gap in adolescent medicine. What struck me the most is how this mom of three has used her focus and unwavering direction to become a true role model to her patients as well as her family. In her spare time she educates parents, teens and tweens about puberty and even developed a series of body education programs with her partner called “Turningteen.” Prior to COVID-19, she ran workshops for parents and children in various communities. The programs are now online for parents and their children to watch in the comfort of their home. (turningteen.com) The mother of girls ages 14, 13 and 9, Dr. Leff indicated to me that she doesn’t feel guilty about being a working mom and does, in fact, spend more quality time with her children that is solid and balanced. She believes in having help in the house so she and her husband can work and feel confident that the kids are always spoken for. We spoke in-depth about the anxieties that kids have these days and how important it is for parents not to burden their children with their own worries and concerns. The anxiety that kids sometimes feel is a normal trait, she says, noting that not every child who is anxious needs to be treated. Her motto: When moms aren’t doing anything to please themselves, they have a hard time being effective moms. In other words, parents who feel good about themselves can raise children with that same self-esteem. 

A Bloomfield Hills resident for more than 20 years, Dr. Hannan Alsahlani graduated from Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton, Florida, and went on to attend the University of Miami for her undergraduate degree. She completed medical school at Nova Southeastern and did her residency and training in pediatrics at St. John Hospital. As a mother of four daughters, this busy woman has found a balance between being a mom, a wife, an essential worker who runs her own practice, and helping her children with virtual schooling. Add contracting COVID-19 to the list and Dr. Alsahlani has met the challenges of these trying times with humor, a giant smile and unsurpassed tenacity. She seems to do so many things that she’s the modern-day Dr. Do-It-All. Her strength stems from faith, perseverance and hard work. What makes Dr. Alsahlani stand out as a pediatrician is her ability to understand how scary it is for first time-mothers or any parent who is vulnerable, especially now during the pandemic. She is acutely cognizant of the mental health issues that have risen during this stressful time and understands the lack of help some parents feel, especially with the shortage of therapists available right now. She has deep compassion for her patients that extends to their families and believes that no question is off-limits. She has experienced firsthand how the issues and struggles of isolation and lack of socialization have affected today’s youth. Most of these kids want basic things like seeing their friends or not having to wear masks, and the rise in suicides is a very real thing. Dr. Alsahlani, her associates and nurse-practitioners are always available for either in-person appointments and tele-visits with a level of compassion that is incredible. She relates to her patients on a personal level, gaining their trust and giving hope. Her motto says it all: Trust the universe. 

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