A career to be celebrated: Dr. Mary Bowman delivered babies, cared for women for 2 decades
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Having brought thousands of babies into the world and cared for as many women, Dr. Mary Bowman announced her retirement from her career as an obstetrician and gynecologist, most recently at UCHealth Women’s Care Clinic in Steamboat Springs.
“One of the greatest joys of my life has been to be able to do something I love for as long as I was able,” Bowman said. “I’m very, very lucky to have been here and gotten to know so many lovely people. It is my honor to take care of people — I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.”
The decision to stop practicing now wasn’t a choice of Bowman’s own making.
“I very suddenly got extremely ill at the end of August with something that is not contagious and isn’t going to kill me,” she said. “But it brought a sudden stop to my career.”
Bowman knew she wanted to be a doctor from the age of 12. She was a hard worker, good at fixing things and empathetic.
“I was able to help by listening very carefully and trying to understand what a person needed,” Bowman said.
Bowman delivered all four of Molly Layton’s children. Layton has 7-month-old twins and a 2-year-old, and Layton calls Bowman “a gem in our family.”
Layton’s first baby died on the day he was born.
“Dr. Bowman held our hand through everything,” Layton said, from the death — for which they still don’t know a cause — “and all the pregnancies after that. She has been our hero.”
After losing a baby, the subsequent pregnancies were scary, Layton said, but Bowman was with her at every turn.
“She looked out for us,” Layton said, adding that Bowman called her just to check in and make sure Layton was doing OK. “She’s one of the most real and down to earth doctors I’ve ever had, and she does it with such ease and comfort.”
And that goes for outside the office, as Layton is one of Bowman’s many patients who have become good friends.
In her early teens, Bowman knew she wanted to focus on women’s care.
“I love boys — I think they are great,” Bowman made clear. “But there are already enough people helping the boys.”
Over her career, she’s gotten to see women advance significantly in the field of medicine, with females accounting for more than half of medical students today.
Bowman moved to Steamboat in 1997 with her husband, Jay, and her 6-month-old son Nate.
“Everything we love to do is outside,” she said.
Bowman has been an avid backcountry skier, runner and loves to hike, camp and travel.
As far as inside activities go, she takes her knitting almost everywhere she goes. When she was waiting on a delivery, she likely worked on a sweater.
She spent her childhood between Colorado Springs and Santa Cruz, California, going back and forth for her father’s job as a professor. Starting out at Cornell University, Bowman realized she required more sunshine and transferred to Colorado College.
“Then I moved to Vail to be a ski bum before I went to med school,” she said.
Bowman spent the early part of her career and training in Denver, including four years at St. Joseph Hospital — the busiest place at the time for delivering babies. Bowman spent 18 years in private practice in Steamboat before becoming a founding partner of the Women’s Care Clinic in 2015.
“It’s all miraculous,” she said of childbirth. There’s the beauty of a straightforward birth, and the challenge and reward of “having something going bad and knowing we will be able to fix it and getting to see the parents later.”
That feeds her soul, she said.
Because they are tiny and cute, the baby part gets a lot of attention, Bowman noted. But caring for the women at all stages of their life — baby or no baby — is “equally as fulfilling but not as dramatic,” Bowman said.
It’s also those close connections over decades that Bowman has made with patients, many who become friends, in the Steamboat community that feeds her soul. She’s gotten to deliver the babies of babies she delivered.
“To think of how many kids in this town she has delivered,” said Kelly Boniface. “Her service to the community cannot be overstated.”
Bowman delivered Boniface’s two children, who are now 14 and 19. They met as patient and doctor and established an early friendship over the counter at Boniface’s family business — Backcountry Provisions, now Yampa Sandwich Co.
As a doctor and a friend, Boniface said Bowman is the first person she calls “if I need a rational and intelligent voice to point me in the right direction.”
Boniface said she always had complete confidence in Bowman as her doctor.
“The experience would make anyone extremely nervous — to have 100% faith in your doctor is invaluable,” Boniface said.
Boniface also talked about Bowman’s professionalism and depth of care for her patients. Selfishly, Boniface said she is happy Bowman will now have more time for friends and family. But, she said she’s sad for the community.
“We are losing a great doctor,” Boniface added.
Layton’s twins were some of the last babies Bowman delivered, and for that, Layton is forever grateful.
“It’s been such a joy to get to do what I wanted to do,” Bowman said. “It’s been my honor to take care of the people I care for in this town.”
Just because she isn’t practicing doesn’t mean Bowman won’t be maintaining the unique connectedness she has within the community.
“If we see each other out and about, say hello, and when we can give each other a hug again, let’s do that,” Bowman said.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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