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Baby Wars It's funny the differe...

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:20pm

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.
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