How My Baby Bump Changed My Medical Practice

Let’s be honest, ladies. There is little you can deny about having a personal life when you are pregnant. Especially when your baby bump gets so big that it literally pushes on your patient while you are examining his belly and the baby kicks his ribs. Occupational hazard.

How My Baby Bump Changed My Medical Practice

Pregnant with Eliza

I anticipated some questions from my patients as I was pregnant with my daughter. My partner (in practice, not life) had warned me the year before. It wasn’t actually warning as much as an ongoing litany of annoyance at the constant comments on her stomach.

What I didn’t expect, though, was learning how little my patients actually knew about me. My story is not simple – I had a 14-year-old daughter and three step-sons ages 20, 18, and 12 at the time. They were all a part of my life before I went into practice. Thus, my patients had never seen a “baby bump” to signify marriage, children, or any life whatsoever.

I was a blank slate to so many of them. And, looking back, I don’t think that they felt comfortable to ask. Some knew that I had gotten married by the addition of a ring the year before but many didn’t notice that. The baby bump was their opening to learn about ME.

I pride myself on the fact that I made it through medical school with a little girl on my back. They didn’t know that. That little girl had been a toddler on the islands, had gone to preschool in Brooklyn, and had moved back to my hometown for residency. They didn’t know that.

How Pregnancy Changed My Medical Practice

My little medical school baby, Ella

What happened when my patients saw my baby bump?

They started asking. And by asking, they learned about me as a person and that changed our relationship. Patients brought homemade and store bought gifts for the baby. So many I couldn’t begin to count. They checked in with the office to find out when she was born and when I would be back. They asked for newborn photos in the exam room. And they continue to ask for updated pictures at their visits.

Many an elderly man has left my exam room, walked down the hall stopped and turned to ask, “I forgot to ask about the baby – how is Eliza doing? And how is her big sister?” (#sisters)

It made me uncomfortable at first as we are taught to leave our personal lives at the door when we enter the office. It doesn’t anymore – it makes me smile. I care about my patients. Those simple words, spoken by an 80-year-old with pneumonia, tell me that they care about me too. That makes what I do worth it.

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