January 1, 2019

Unplanned and Worth It!

On a warm summer night, while admiring the bright fireworks on the roof, I asked my husband, “What would you do if we got pregnant?” He smiled and said, “It would be fine, we can handle it.” Thirty minutes later. I walk out of our bathroom with a positive urine pregnancy test and his jaw hit the floor. Now, I was a first year EM resident and definitely knew where babies come from, but in the midst of adjusting to crazy rotations and ICU calls, parental planning was a not high on my priority list. I truly did not know I was pregnant until I took the test on the 4th of July. But admittedly, I did have a feeling that something was different.

I do not remember much from my second year of EM residency. What I do recall is thinking, “I am a second-year resident and I am pregnant.” That year went by faster than I thought. I remember my ICU rotation, I was 7 months pregnant and struggling to push an obese patient to MRI. I was blessed to have the best co-residents and family support in the world. Luckily and thankfully my pregnancy was not complicated, other than the bottle of Tums that accompanied my night shifts, everything went well until my daughter’s early delivery at 36 weeks.

Being a mom in residency was hard. My first nanny quit before I even delivered. Frantically I found a great nanny from a bulletin board posted in one of our residency apartment buildings. My 3 months off for maternity leave was glorious. I was just as tired as a resident but had this new little person that enveloped my heart with love. You don’t want to leave your little baby to go to work, but maternity leave does come to an end. You miss some of the firsts, like first steps, but I was there for her first words “Dada, dada, dada, dada, dada”. Overall, it was worth it. I think anything worthy has a sacrifice, and just as we embrace challenges during residency, having my children (2nd daughter IUD baby in 4th year!) during residency was a beautiful and rewarding challenge. Sure, I would have planned it differently, but 12-years later it has been wonderful. They don’t remember the hectic residency filled days and they are proud of their working doctor mama.

So, should YOU have kids in residency? That is a personal question and sometimes a pleasant surprise. I would say residency is a large part of your life, but it is not your entire life. The world is still revolving outside the emergency department. So live it to your fullest.

Jenice Baker, M.D., FACEP
Emergency Department Associate Director
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
Camden, NJ

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