Friday, October 5, 2012

Guest Post: Pregnancy, Delivery, Postpartum as the Patient

I am a small town girl from the middle of nowhere that recently graduated from OB residency in the big city and I am currently doing an MFM fellowship. I am also now 3 weeks postpartum with my first child. Whoa…what an experience.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy, delivery and postpartum issues. Let me just say….life from the table side of the stirrups is a whole new world.

Pregnancy was a whirlwind, with the exception of 5 weeks of nearly continuous nausea and terrible heartburn, I loved being pregnant. I, like many pregnant women, had this perfect plan for how I wanted my delivery experience to be: spontaneous labor, short second stage, no episiotomy, no operative delivery, 7 pound baby.

Well…I was long/closed/posterior and floating at 39+ weeks and I got a primary elective c-section for macrosomia. Baby boy ended up being 8’14 and he is perfect. I have no regrets. C-section recovery wasn’t so bad…the first 36 hours were rough, but otherwise pretty smooth sailing. Baby boy nurses like a champ…although I referred to him as “baby T-rex” for the first 2 weeks. Seriously…the sore nipples are no joke.

So now I am staring down the barrel of the end of my maternity leave. I have always loved my job. Everyday I felt like I did something good. Every baby that I deliver is an amazing experience. If you have to wake up at 2am…why not deliver a baby and change someone’s life forever. I thought my life would never be complete without it. Now I consider leaving my fellowship on a nearly daily basis.  I can’t imagine leaving baby boy for 10-12 hours a day.

I chose to do a fellowship for the potential for a better lifestyle as my children get older and because I truly love “maternal medicine.” But these days I think maybe I should just leave fellowship and moonlight a few shifts a month. At least where I live, I could moonlight 4-5 nights a month and make the same money I make a fellow.

Will I ever love my job the way I used to again? Or will I look at the clock all day and just want to be home? Will I regret it if I quit? Can one really do it all…be a good fellow and a good Mommy? My poor husband doesn’t know what to say to make it better. I have never been a crier…but several times since having the baby he has found me rocking the baby in the nursery with tears streaming down my face. I can’t help but think that by going back to work I will miss all these sweet moments.



  1. I just had my first baby 8 months ago, and I think about leaving my job every day. I'm 3 years into my private practice position. I never LOVED my job, and I dislike it even more now that it takes me away from my family so much. I watch videos on my iphone of my little one multiple times a day and feel so sad to be away from him.

    It's hard to quit though, and derail my career - I invested so much in training and the money is helpful although we could probably get by without it. Yesterday, I spent hours looking for a part-time position both in medicine and out of medicine, but no luck (may be just related to where I live).

    Of course to put things in perspective, you're only a few weeks postpartum. You're hormonal and still adjusting to your new baby and your new life. Once things settle down, you may find that you miss adult conversation and the intellectual challenge that work brought. And you may be able to find a nice balance between work-family that so many other MiMs have found that satisfies your needs and your family's. A happy momma leads to a happy family! If I were you, I'd just give it some time and don't make any hasty decisions.

  2. I had a baby 3 months before starting medical school. I cried to and from school every day of orientation week and the week after. But once I got into it, I realized it was the best decision for my whole little family to go to school. It is a huge part of who I am, and now that my daughter is 5 months old, I love her and love being around her an insane amount, but I also really love the academic, grown-up (relatively, anyway) environment. Also, I HATED being home all day and responsible for all the chores, etc.

  3. I hope things are better =) Don't have an answer for you, you'll have to find it within yourself. You could always moonlight in L and D a handful of nights a month, if money isn't an issue. I wouldn't leave my fellowship until I was at least probably 6 months postpartum. It takes a while to feel normal. But I never felt the same after having my son. He is now 18 months old and working is just not as enjoyable now that he is #1 priority in my world. I know it is unhealthy to make your kids your entire life, but I really just enjoy being with him more than anything else. So you are not alone!! Keep us posted =)

    nightowl MD

  4. I value my time so much more now that I have kids. Work time too actually - I like what I do, but I have less patience for paperwork, research that isn't going anywhere, pointless presentations, etc.

  5. It gets better. It really does. I know from personal experience that it's not easy to see it that way from where you are now, but really, really try to have a longer term perspective on things. Lots of people are great mothers AND great physicians. No doubt that having a baby of your own has changed your outlook on everything, but if you stick out your fellowship (i.e. finish what was not that long ago a well-thought out plan), you will probably be very happy about it later on, for the reasons you listed. I am 2 weeks away from finishing a fellowship in peds anesthesia (delayed due to mat leave x2); leaving the first baby to go back to work was one of the hardest things I've had to do. There were definitely several times that I was very close to leaving residency, but from this side of things, with a GREAT part-time work arrangement waiting for me in the city that I want to live in, I am SO GLAD I listened to my mentors and to my inner self and stuck out completing my training. My oldest daughter is almost 4y and she and I have a great relationship and countless happy memories together despite her having a Mommy who's been a resident or fellow for her entire life. Hope this helps; best wishes and hugs to you!

  6. I'm very much in the middle of this, but I am further away from the post-partum period (my daughter is 22 months) and I agree that you should try your best to stick it out. Initially, in those first few months post partum I was about 100.4% sure that I would definitively leave my residency. However, as the hormones have normalized my perspective has changed. It is still really hard, and I have rough patches where I HATE that I leave my precious daughter every day to go to work. But, there are many other days where I do truly love what I do, even more than I did before. This isn't to say for certain that you will ever feel like you did before. I also know women who have left the field and never looked back, but I think you have to give yourself a little more time to sort it out. You have worked really hard to get where you are, you owe it to yourself to make sure you know how you feel.

  7. The most depressing and horrible time for most women is the tail end of maternity leave and the first week or two back at work. I wanted to cry any time anyone welcomed me back. Don't make any decisions just based on this time.

  8. Try to stick it out a few more months and then re-evaluate. Like others that have posted, you are just a few weeks postpartum and it could be hormones and the stress of being a new mom. I had my daughter during my 2nd year of fellowship of a very stressful three-year fellowship and cried almost everyday for 8 months postpartum, constantly feeling guilty about not being a good doctor or a good mother, I complained nonstop about wanting to quit my fellowship (even though in the pre-kids era, ironically I LOVED being a fellow!). I was miserable and in retrospect, I probably had postpartum depression. My husband was super supportive and really urged me to keep pressing on. I got pregnant again during the end of fellowship and took 6 months off between fellowship and my new job. I don't know how long your MFM fellowship is, but you could always take some extended time after the "official" training is over. I know I really enjoyed my 6 months off after fellowship and it really helped me feel refreshed and put things in perspective.

  9. i agree with all the others! give it some time - most of the time it gets better! ( it didnt for us so i quit at 15 months :/ but at least we are all better rested for it! what can ya do if baby WON'T sleep?! )

  10. My sister had to go back to her second year residency after 4 weeks of maternity leave. It was really, really hard on her. I have a colleague who does research in mother-infant bonding, and she said that it is pretty standard for most new moms to not feel comfortable leaving their newborn until at least 12 weeks. I remember going back to work myself at 6 weeks with my first baby, and it literally felt like there was this string that attached my heart to hers. When we were apart the string hurt like I was being stretched or torn in two. Like the others said, hang on, it gets better. What you are feeling is normal.

  11. "baby-T-Rex" cute!!! wow a baby! congratulations!!!!
    Sore nipples hurt like hell until they are scarred. It is totally normal to feel like that, you are a brand new mom and overflown with so many emotions. All of a sudden you want to there for every moment of your son, we are programmed to be like that. Just enjoy the time you have with him and see if you can steal some more time ( if possible). Enjoy a beautiful journey with your new growing family.

  12. If you're more like me and alamode, I.e. not in love with job, then I would say get out. But if you did really love your work, hang tough for a bit. Some of what you feel may be sleep deprivation and hormones. And remember, fellowship is only a short time. When you're done, you can look for a job that allows a lighter schedule more conducive to enjoying your family.

    One thing that I've encounter when I mention that I might try a different career someday is this statement: "how could you waste all that training? Go thru all that and then quit?" So because I made somewhat of a mistake in career choice, I should continue to be unhappy just because I went to school forever? The only thing that keeps me here now is debt (medical school) and tail insurance coverage cost.


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