Bump Talk


Uncomfortably pregnant on call in the hospital, one of my attendings told me that I had an advantage over my co-residents on call because when they were cold, tired, and lonely at 2AM, I had a “little buddy” on call with me.  While this made me laugh because I never considered being pregnant and on call a positive situation, as my little guy kicked me I was reminded that there was someone else, besides my patients, counting on me that night.

Now in my second pregnancy, I am thankful that my baby and I do not have any 30-hour calls to survive together.  She does however accompany me in seeing many sick children each day.  Sometimes these encounters lead to interesting comments.  For example, I am always surprised by how many moms warn their children, “don’t kick the doctor because she has a baby in her belly.”  While I appreciate that they are trying to protect my baby, I wonder each time, is it ever ok to kick the doctor in the abdomen?  The other situation that still perplexes me is when patients ask me personal questions about my plans for delivery, breastfeeding, or other pregnancy issues.  When I am not visibly pregnant, no one asks me about how my diet is, how much weight I have gained, or how I am feeling.  Now that I have a baby bump, there are many personal questions that people feel are appropriate to ask.  I try to politely redirect the conversation toward the patient.  As the doctor, I’m the one who asks the personal questions, not answers them.

So while it is nice having a little buddy at work with me, her growing visibility sometimes leaves me vulnerable to probing into my personal life.  On the other hand, a baby bump can brighten the mood.  After patients have been waiting for a while, I often enter the room to scowling faces, but quickly see that dissipate as they gaze at my belly.  When are you due?  Is it a boy or a girl?  What are you going to name her?  These questions tend to come from a place of love from people who are reminded of how special being a parent is as they see me joining their club.  I appreciate all of the well wishes and know that theses families care for me and my family.  Despite the fact that I wear clothing that hugs my bump and blog about my family for the world to read, there are some things that I rather not discuss publicly, so excuse me if I don’t answer every question.  More importantly though, at work, my focus is on my patients and while my “little buddy” is there with me, we are there to take care of patients and prefer to focus on that.

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  1. It is definitely an odd public condition to be in at the best of times- and the doctoring aspect adds an interesting angle. I have thought similar things when I’m working. As an oncologist, they’re not terribly interested in my delivery or breast feeding choices, but I think for some of them it’s a little something to feel excited about for a minute after we talk about chemo or how long til their next scan. I often wonder if I share too much, but I do find it hard not to give them the little information they ask about (when am I due, is it a boy or a girl, is this my first child, etc). I think the willingness to share some of those details is part of how we develop a trusting relationship, but more than once it has been a challenge to bring the conversation back to the more pressing issues that brought my patient to the clinic in the first place.

    1. Yes, I agree that most of the questions are harmless and I don’t mind answering those at all. This is part of the doctor-patient relationship for sure. There is certainly a line that can be crossed though. I can imagine that in your field, the happy talk about a baby is a welcome break in the somber mood of your exam rooms. Keep spreading cheer!

  2. I love your blogs, I would have to comment that kicking anyone anywhere is never acceptable and is something those mommies should be teaching at a very young age.
    While a simple “when is your baby due?” or ” are you having a boy or a girl?” and wishing you well are pleasantries and small talk that keep mommy and you, the DOCTOR, on a subject that you are both familiar with can go too far, their child is the reason they are there and the focus needs to be on that child. I suspect they are curious to know if a doctor would do things differently than anyone else.
    Just for Laughs
    They could ask as you walk into the room


  3. I had a coworker, who had a baby last year and thinks she’s an expert, tell me yesterday “You’re huge for 14 weeks!!” and then she proceeded to rub my belly nodding her head and going “wow, even up there!” I wanted to kick her in the abdomen. She was also not pleased that I’m finding out the sex, demanded that I not reveal the name to anyone because I’d be giving up “another” secret, told me she’s never having another because pregnancy sucks, said the pain I felt in the beginning that sent me to the hospital was “nothing” compared to people she knows (how does she know how my pain felt?!?!) and then ended by saying, “my best advice, is not to listen to what anyone says to you about being pregnant.” Ah, yes, that advice, I think I will take.

    P.S. You are adorable, Katie! I hope you and little miss are feeling well!

    1. Risa, that coworker sounds awful! I want to kick her in the abdomen too! The “don’t listen to what anyone says” piece is true though as everyone’s pregnancy is very different… so she got 1 thing right. Wishing you well and hoping you have other coworkers who are more supportive!

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