The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baby Wars

It's funny the different reactions to a resident having a baby during residency. It's only coming up now, since I've been back in the emerg for the first time since mat leave. When people see me again for the first time in nearly a year, they often stop to welcome me back and ask about the baby.

I know they're just being polite. I don't whip out pictures or anything. Well, unless they ask specifically. Heh.

Now I'm about to make a bunch of huge generalizations here, so bear with me.

Men, for the most part, almost don't see having a baby as a big deal. Many of them have kids, and it didn't really shake the foundations of their lives or anything. They enjoy their kids, but are glad to be at work. An example of this is the one staff whom I worked a day with in anesthesia. Our OR was being shut down early due to some kind of humidity control problem. It looked like we'd be done by 11am or so. Nice. So my staff suggested I take off. 

"You can go to the library and get some studying done," he suggested. 

"I'll probably just head home to study," I said.

"Even better, you can go to Starbucks and study there. Pretend that you're still at work until the end of the day."

"No, I'll just go home. That way I get a chance to see the baby, and can fit in some studying while he naps."

My staff seemed confused that I actually *wanted* to go home and see my kid. And he has two of his own. Odd.

But the female docs seem to understand. But I've encountered some odd reactions as well. When female doctors find out that I'm recently back from maternity leave, many of them seem shocked.

"Why the hell would you want to have a baby during residency?"

A valid question. It's certainly not the ideal time. And if I could go back in time I probably would have waited a bit longer. Or had the baby during my family medicine residency and NOT my emergency medicine year. And the docs that have this reaction are probably the ones who had difficult pregnancies, and can't imagine combining residency with the various health issues that can accompany an otherwise normal pregnancy.

But the reaction that irritates me the most is the one that implies that I've had it easy over the past year. Apparently, issues like not doing overnight call in my last 8 weeks of pregnancy and starting my leave 2 weeks before my due date imply that I'm somehow 'soft', and lucky to be able to do so. I guess this all goes back to the underlying premise in medical education that trainees today have it much easier than trainees of the past, and therefore end up being inferior physicians. It drives me nuts.

But not as much as hearing about yet another medical superwoman whose water broke while she was in surgery, and she finished the case in active labour. Or about the other female physician who did call the night before she went into labour and was back doing rounds before her baby was 6 weeks old. Seriously? I think they're both nuts. And I'm not that girl. So leave me alone. 

Judge me for being "soft" all you want. My pregnancy was physically difficult, and I found working on my feet for full 8-12 hour shifts in my last few weeks of work extremely challenging. And I was pretty damn proud at the time for sticking it out past the point when I could get any reasonable footwear over the swollen balloons that were masquerading as my feet. And I really don't understand why people would feel compelled to share these stories of female physicians who are apparently all much tougher than I am. 

Gah. Now I'm just angry and defensive.


Blogger Fizzy said...

When I first came back from maternity leave, if there was a five minute break in the schedule, I would race home to see the baby. By about 8 months old (I was back for 6 months), if the day ended early, I actually did use that extra time to study. Studying time is even more rare than baby time.

9:46 PM

Blogger icnkck said...

As a 4th yr medstudent and single mommy I hear you loud and clear. As a patient - I would never want my doc to finish my surgery while she is in active labour and or water is broke. The risk to soon to be born patient and patient on the table just seems too great. Props to you for being in tune to yourself and your family.

10:08 PM

Blogger Resident Anesthesiologist Guy (RAG) said...

I've heard all of those stories as well and don't think they matter. Each pregnancy is different and each mother different as well. Being "tough enough" is pure BS and anyone providing examples of tougher women are ignorant. I can't imagine going through residency, especially trauma, while pregnant. It requires a great deal of inner and outer strength regardless of when mat leave was taken.

9:39 AM

Blogger med neophyte said...

As a rather pregnant medical student in clerkship I have also been getting the split reaction. Just about everyone is interested in how I am managing and what I planning for the rest of my training. Most people are generally content to accept what I choose to do. But there are a lot of female doctors/mothers that are either horrified that I am only planning on taking a couple of months off or need to tell me how they did a week of call at 38 wks gestation and went back to work 4 weeks later. I figure I will just see what works for me - thankfully my school is being very flexible and supportive.

12:36 AM

Blogger carley said...

I am going to agree with RAGuy. Ppl for some reason get so strange when someone around them gets pregnant. The reactions I received and the different views on how I would handle having a baby (and I planned to be a SAHM, not go back early to a job) was simply amazing.

I don't understand how other ppl NOT in my specific situation can tell me how I'm going to feel/be. I won't even get into some of the rude comments and replies I received when I said "No I'm not returning to work, I'm going to be a SAHM". So I can only imagine the type of treatment and reaction you've received in a demanding field.

10:12 AM

Anonymous jojomd said...

I wouldn't be too happy if someone was operating me while in labour!

Honestly, I got very little of the attitude you've described; I guess I was lucky. But then I'm in a particularly family-friendly specialty I guess.

8:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But not as much as hearing about yet another medical superwoman whose water broke while she was in surgery, and she finished the case in active labor."

Are you serious...that is not hardcore, that is just ridiculous! If it is really that inconvient for people why do they have kids at all.......

4:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:24 PM

Blogger Dragonfly said...

Good grief. Ignore the haters...congratulations on your baby! There is no way I would want my doctor operating on me while in labour (or in pain, or under the influence, or distracted by personal problems, etcetcetc). And why would you want to spend that time when you could hand over to someone else and let them finish? Whats next...someone taking out an appendix while theirs leaks intestinal contents into their abdomen? Taking a history while your aneurysm leaks? Gaah.

9:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ur baby is cute :)

11:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the baby! And applause for your good sense in taking time off. And I salute your character in not being intimidated by people who think it odd you want to be with the baby at every opportunity! Whatever happened to that rule of etiquette that said unless you have something intelligent to say, or something kind to say -- keep your lips zipped!

11:06 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home