I promised an entry about when is the best time to have a baby during residency. In answer to this question, I would like to tell a little personal anecdote that still grinds my teeth two years later:
During my last month of internship, I discovered that, much to my delight, I was nearly two months pregnant. About week or two after my positive pregnancy test, after a particularly rough call, I started bleeding. Then cramping.
Those of you who have been through this (or even those who haven't) will probably understand how rough this was for me. Physically, I was in a lot of pain. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I won't get into the details, but there was crying. And I was unfortunately in the middle of a two week stretch with four calls and no days off. (Ah, internship...)
When the pain got unbearable, I talked to my senior resident about it and she suggested I ask the chief resident for help. I had one short call left the next day with a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, and I asked if I could have coverage only for the admissions until 10PM. The chief agreed. An intern was pulled off their cardiology elective for that day and would cover my admissions from 1-10PM, then have most of the next day off as a reward (while I covered the post-call issues). I spoke to the covering intern, told him what was going on, and he told me he was glad to help me.
I wish the story ended there. I mean, it's not a GREAT story, but at least I was given help when help was needed. That day, I came home from work to an email from the roommate of the intern who would be covering me, who was a transitional intern in our program. Someone I had actually considered my friend. (Also, incidentally, a Harvard-educated doctor.) The email began:
I'm sorry to hear that you are sick...
Silly me, I first thought that the email was to wish me well. Instead it was a nasty email, criticizing me for not taking that call. Saying that I was imposing hardship on his poor roommate, who was studying for the Step 3 boards. (I was actually pulled to cover for someone close to my boards too.) It ended by saying that he wanted me to "reduce my leave".
Even though everything worked out in the end, I will never forget that email for the rest of my life. Even when I'm old and senile, this will be the story I'll be telling my bored family members over and over. I finally emailed the resident a year later and told him (politely) how hurt I was by what he said to me. He wrote me back, saying he wished me well, but did not offer an apology.
All this for taking ONE NIGHT off while in the middle of a threatened miscarriage. Not even a whole day off. Thus is internship.
I hoped I was an exception, but I recently spoke to another resident who had an almost identical experience. After a particularly difficult call while she was pregnant, she started bleeding and cramping. (This seems to happen a lot... we should start a Bleeding Pregnant Residents Club.) She was allowed to take one call off, but all the other residents were suspicious and critical of her. And she had to make it up by working the next six weekends in a row or something insane like that.
So that is my experience with pregnancy in residency. Proceed with caution.