“There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas/ Creation’s most unique and precious pearls/ And heaven help us always to remember/ That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” – Glen Campbell and Steve Warner
Once again that annual event, Mother’s Day, has rolled around, and we celebrate all those special mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends and relations who look after us in our lives. Here in Benicia we pay tribute to the astonishing mother and longtime resident, Dr. Shannon Sullivan-Cramer. And Dr. Sullivan-Cramer is the quick to throw bouquets at her own mother, Susan Sullivan, a retired educator at Mills Elementary School and principal at Mary Farmar Elementary School, her paternal grandmother Helen Karr, her husband Dustin, and Cooper, the indispensable nanny to her three daughters, Calli (age 5), Dylan (age 2) and Blake (4 weeks old.) The support from these four individuals enables Dr. Shannon to do her job as a mother, wife, and OB/GYN.
Dr. Sullivan-Cramer grew up here in Benicia, graduated from Benicia High School, attended Occidental College, and then medical school. Shannon does everything from regular check-ups, to deliveries and emergency surgeries, all while raising her own babies. Even though she recently moved her growing family to Lafayette, she still considers herself a Benician, still has friends here from elementary school, still enjoys shopping at the farmers’ market, and loves the small town feel of the place. Benicia Magazine recently interviewed Dr. Sullivan-Cramer and found out her view on her current situation.
What inspired you to become an OB/GYN?
Even as a youngster, I knew I wanted to help women, but I wasn’t sure just how I would do that. I was always into the sciences and did well in that area. My focus changed after I attended a WHO study abroad program at college where I worked with refugees and midwives in North Africa. They taught me the importance of women’s health and how vital that is to every community. I loved taking care of people in the community, and I still do.
How do you manage three kids and your practice?
I could not do my job without the help from my amazing partner, my parents and my indefatigable nanny, Cooper Mickelson. It really does “take a village” to raise little ones. The practice I joined is also very supportive of a good work/life balance and includes several working moms. “Women helping women” is their motto.
How has the pandemic changed things for you/how are you managing/what has been challenging?
All in all, it was a super tough year with many challenges and uncertainty. As professionals, we tried to care for patients as best we could despite constant adaptations in keeping people safe. Support from my family and the community helped keep us on track. And I am grateful to have a job and lucky that babies keep on being born, no matter what else is occurring in the world.
Do you have any thoughts to impart to other mothers right now?
The work a mother does has increased tenfold during the pandemic. Remind yourself that you are awesome every day.
How did your mother influence you?
When I was growing up, both of my parents worked, my dad as an engineer and then as a patent attorney, and my mom as a reading specialist and then an elementary school principal. My mom is my hero. She is the type of person who can do everything, but still be incredibly supportive, present and caring. No one in my family had ever attended medical school before, yet my mother supported me 100%. I am in awe of her strength, kindness, capacity to give and her ability to embrace life. Thanks, Mom!