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.