As a pregnant working mom with a husband in the military, Dr. Megan Meier knows a thing or two about juggling her busy schedules.
But when the Oklahoma-based sports medicine physician found out that her childcare options had fallen through – and she had to get to a volunteer job at a local high school game – she knew she had to find a solution, even if it was a little unconventional.
“I knew I had to make it work,” Meier tells PEOPLE. “The football team I cover is Putnam City North, an Oklahoma City public school. As the team doctor, I care for their team on a volunteer basis and if I didn’t go, there would be no one to provide medical care at the entire event.”
Meier, who was 35-weeks pregnant, originally had a child care option set up for her 3-year-old daughter while her husband was out of town. But when that fell through, she strapped her daughter to her back and headed off to work – which resulted in an inspiring photo that has earned praise from working mothers everywhere and earned her the nickname “supermom.”
“I knew letting my team down was not an option, as a lot can happen at a football game,” she explains. “My daughter is always my first priority. I had no option but to take her with me and needed to figure out a way to keep her safe while with me on the sideline. Attaching her to me seemed like the easiest option for all of us. We improvised and both jobs got done.”
While she was able to make it work (and inspire millions) Meier explains that this was the first time this has happened.
“When I cover sports, it’s always in addition to my regular clinic hours and so I usually have my husband and daughter come to events with me,” she says. “If my husband can’t go, then a family member, friend or babysitter will watch my daughter. This was the first time that none of those were options.
“As a physician, military spouse, and working mom, flexibility and problem solving are a part of what I do every day. Anyone who has ever been in one of those roles would certainly understand. We have all been there.”
Being pregnant and a working mother in a demanding field means that Meier has had to learn how to make sacrifices to keep things in balance.
“It’s a struggle sometimes and something I work at every day,” she says. “Are there freak-out moments? Absolutely. But when the things you love and have worked hard for both need your attention, you figure it out.
“More than anything, finding that balance is so much easier when you are well supported,” Meier continues. “I am so fortunate to have a strong network of friends and family, other professionals who ‘get it,’ and a supportive company/sports teams who allow me to do it all.”
Meier says she has been enjoying the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the photo after she shared it on Facebook.
“I have loved seeing other women tag each other saying ‘this is you,’ ” she says. “I love the idea that people find it inspiring because it’s nothing extraordinary – it’s just a visual representation of what moms do every single day. Maybe we aren’t all doing it on a football sideline, but all moms are juggling their responsibilities. It’s inspiring because it reinforces us all.”
As for her advice to other women (and men) who want to build a family while continuing a demanding career, Meier says you have to find a strong network to help you balance it all.
“You can’t do it all on your own, but know you are strong enough to do most anything that comes your way – it just may take a little creativity.”