What things did you wish you had considered before having a baby during residency? Are there any moms out there who had children after residency or who were unable to get pregnant after residency (b/c of advanced maternal age) that have regrets?
Ob-gyn resident from the Bay Area, California
Dear OB/Gyn resident:
Let me start off by stating a simple truth that we all refuse to accept. We are not in control. This was made painfully clear to me only following the dismantling of my perfect plan for having a baby.
Married a week after med school graduation, my husband and I chose not to start a family during residency. We struggled with the initial adjustments to marriage and work, and instead of having a baby had a fantastic time eating out, drinking and traveling. Looking next toward cardiology fellowship, time for baby needed to be in the plan. My first year focused on survival. The second year I volunteered to make the master fellow schedule. A small sacrifice of negotiation + mediation to have control of my own schedule. I stacked my call and cath lab months in the first half of the year. I found a research mentor and agreed to a extra year research fellowship. It would be perfect. November was my last month in the cath lab. Pregnant in December. Start research in July. Have project off the ground, maternity leave in September. With some luck I could extend my research a third year and have number 2!
In reality I was diagnosed with anovulation due to PCOS in April. I then became a fanatic triathlete. By the time I started my research fellowship I was exercising 3 hours a day and was skinny as a rail. I figured I could be the 'best' PCOS patient ever (so it seems PCOS is NOT all about adipose/obesity after all). Fertility drugs in the fall leading up to my first miscarriage. Then a freak accident leading to a broken arm, ORIF in January. Crazy girl running on the treadmill with my arm in a sling. Hip pain, months of physical therapy. Diagnosis of acetabular tear, second to underlying congenital hip dysplasia. MDs doubtful I could walk during a pregnancy. Hip surgery the next January. So by the time I spent 2 years trying to get pregnant and 6 weeks on bedrest following my hip reconstruction I finally said, I give! I get it. I am NOT in control and I cannot make what I want to happen- happen. Not even with a superwoman effort bordering on obsession!
And well, as it turned out it is not too hard to get pregnant. Not hard at all when you are not working, resting, reading, watching TV all day- all while on *bed rest*!
Finding the right time to have a baby is difficult for Mothers in Medicine. You have read on this blog about the challenges of managing maternity time off and negotiating with colleagues the pre-occupations of a mother. The consensus is that no time is the perfect time. In my experience, finally understanding/ appreciating the amazing gift of a healthy pregnancy made all accommodations more palatable. My story is not unique, the complicated world of the female reproductive system has it's quirks. My practical advice to you: take care of your marriage, take care of yourself. When both feel good have a baby. Because in reality we are not in control. Letting go is often required for us to find the future we desire.