No perfect time for parenthood
Posted on 15 January 2013 by A core trainee
I am a core trainee and I am 28 weeks pregnant. I am aware most people’s reaction to this is one of surprise that I would have a baby this early in my career, and I am sure many of you reading this are assuming that it must have been an accident.
However, I am 27 years old and financially stable, my parents aren’t getting any younger, my extended family is full of young children, I have my health, and my husband and I want to be parents. This was planned, and I believe the time is right.
I spent a lot of time thinking about when to have babies, and explored the route my career should or could take. I could wait until after the primary fellowship exam, or maybe the final one? I could wait until I had a registrar or consultant post, or perhaps it would be easier to wait until I retired. After hours of deliberation, I concluded that, career-wise, there was no perfect time.
After spending weeks making poor excuses to escape for secret retching sessions, I came clean and informed work of my pregnancy. The secretaries were delighted and regaled me with their pregnancy experiences, the operating department practitioners were keen to do my share of manual handling, and recovery staff couldn’t get me a chair quick enough.
Consultants’ reactions, however, surprised me. Most asked ‘was it planned?’, thus compelling me to explain awkwardly that this was not a result of ineffective contraception but an active choice to procreate.
I was told I had created ‘an almost impossible situation’, and that I would ‘never achieve consultancy’. On one occasion, I was informed that it was pointless teaching me as I would ‘forget it all on maternity leave’. Another simply said ‘oh dear’, and we continued the list in near silence.
Don’t get me wrong. I am obviously reporting the more extreme reactions. Some consultants have been great. About half have even congratulated me. They have shared advice about prams, nappy bins, nurseries and returning to work. I have seen numerous pictures of their children and heard more entertaining childbirth stories than I care to recall, and they were nothing but lovely when I fainted — assuring me it was a side-effect of my ‘sexually transmitted parasite’.
However, the supportive reactions are the minority. I am, therefore, left wondering how doctors communicate sensitively with patients, look at their medical issues in the context of their lives, respect their decisions, wouldn’t dream of telling them their opinions are wrong, but are unable to take the same holistic and non-judgemental approach with colleagues.
Despite everything, I still believe this is the right time for motherhood for me, and I plan to remain a committed doctor and to tackle this ‘almost impossible situation’ and one day become a consultant.
The author is a core trainee
Work and life
Education and training