Some of you may remember my post about my medical school reunion and the impressive number of babies my classmates had produced, despite working in the high-pressure field of medicine. Now it is my turn to contribute. I am due in December!
One aspect of the pregnancy experience that has been especially strange to me is the amount of interest it draws from others. I am a rather introverted person, not used to calling attention to myself. Now that my belly has reached very obvious proportions, random strangers will ask me when I’m due and if it’s a boy or girl. Though I am still rather startled to be addressed by people I don’t know, I take this in the friendly spirit in which it seems intended.
I recently completed some intensive weeks of work in the hospital and was even more surprised at how interested patients were in my belly. I was there to help them with their medical problems, not to talk about myself. But almost every patient who was alert and oriented asked me about it. Rather than being a distraction, it was actually a refreshing addition to the conversation. After a serious discussion about challenging clinical issues, they could focus on something optimistic. Everyone wished me well. I even got a hug from a patient’s mother.
I had expected mixed feelings from my clinic patients, since it will be an inconvenience to them when I am out for several weeks on maternity leave. Instead, it has been heart-warming to see how supportive they are. Patients with complex problems and chaotic lives of their own are inquiring after my health and genuinely excited to talk about babies. It has brought us closer together and allowed them to open up more about their own families. The clinic staff could also focus on the inconvenience of my scheduling, but instead take the opportunity to share their parenting stories and advice. I am thankful for excellent, understanding colleagues, who can help out while I am temporarily away.
Of course, it is difficult to do my demanding work when I am more tired than usual. I put off taking care of myself until after I have taken care of everyone else. I can’t deny the mental, physical, and emotional strain of being a pregnant doctor. But there is also a benefit that I had not anticipated in brightening the day for patients and their families.