13 September 2011

The Pregnant Pause

I was barely pregnant with Emmaline when a colleague asked me to evaluate a patient he believed needed to be transferred to the ICU where I was working. Chatting with the family about how moving their child to another floor would allow her to have a nurse and team of doctors watch her more closely, I did not think to move out of the room when the portable x-ray machine rolled in. The friend who had called me in motioned me violently into the hall.

"Don't you want to step out?" he asked. Then, after a pause, "Congratulations."

News, it seems, spreads quickly in a hospital where pregnancies (even in those first delicate weeks when miscarriage is entirely possible) must be protected against radiation, certain chemotherapeutic or radiation therapies, and the variety of other hazards our young patients carry. Also, and this quickly became apparent to everyone I worked with, it was impossible not to throw up after being awake for more than twenty-four hours straight.

Being a resident and being pregnant are both enormously draining and doing both at the same time was exhausting. Generally, however, I found comfort in the fact that nearly every other married female in my program became pregnant within months of each other and approximately 9 months before we were scheduled to finish our training. So as awful as it seemed during certain overnight shifts, we were in it together and the end was in sight.

This time, planning a pregnancy was somewhat less complicated. Yes, Emmaline would have a serious transition to endure from she-who-is-adored-by-all-and-receives-undivided-attention into Big Sister and one-who-must-learn-to-share. Yes, my husband has just (at the request of his employers, who are footing the bill) just started attending law school in addition to real work. Yes, I still work with snotty nosed children who carry horrible viruses like CMV and (soon at least) influenza and pose a real risk to the future child it is my job to protect.

Yes, I am still a little bit crazy and, yes, I use a lot of hand sanitizer.

But I was also feeling a lot more level headed about the whole enterprise. Did we get pregnant the first month we tried? No. Did I freak out? Okay, maybe a little. But I got over it. And then we did get pregnant and I thought to myself, I can handle this maturely, coyly even. I can play it cool and not make a big deal out of it until people start to ask me why I'm so fat.

That was the plan.

Then I had to do a sedation for a nine-year-old with a broken arm that needed reduction and it was just me and the orthopedist and the nurse and the kid in a room with the fluoroscopy machine and no lead drapes in sight.

"I guess you should leave if you are prengnat," the orthopod joked to us before shooting the film.

The kid did not move, since he was sedated. The nurse chuckled wistfully. I froze for one single moment and then I ran.

In the end it worked out for the best since I am not actually coy or cool or even mature. And having an ER full of nurses know there is a potential baby in your belly and an ultrasound idling in the hall means a whole lot of extra chances to take a look and say hello.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! Do you read The Red Humor? Her blog often reminds me of yours.