I watched a documentary about some of the richest kids in the world and one of them was going off about how he hates when people he meets asks what he does for work- he would rather talk about something more substantial. It’s a question that comes up a lot when meeting new people- what do you do for work? The rich kid hated that question because he doesn’t work. I feel very differently. What I do for work is tied closely with who I am. I am a midwife. My job is part of my lifestyle. I work weekends and nights and holidays. I go 24 hours without sleep. I become emotionally involved with patients. I overall enjoy what I do. I may not like the hours, but I wouldn’t work them if the job wasn’t rewarding. Work is part of me.
When this latest set of complications hit, I wondered how I could work. Facing pregnant women everyday, envying their situations. Simply interacting with many people everyday who might ask about my pregnancy. People said not to worry about work. But giving it up seemed like giving up on a part of me. I knew that returning to work would be painful. But being out of work was painful too.
I returned to work on Monday. This week is mostly just administrative things. Our practice recently transitioned from paper charting to electronic medical records. We are still transitioning- it takes about a year to be fully electronic. And so, lucky for me, there’s some somewhat mindless work- imputing patient’s medical histories and readying their charts for upcoming visits. It’s the holidays and so staff are on vacation, which means I can play the role of triage nurse/provider, answering patient phone calls and responding to results. It’s a small luxury I feel like I can provide for my practice.
Things I was worried about:
Guilt. Like I said, it s holiday week (read: fewer days to see patients) and staff is on vacation (read: fewer providers to see patients). People are double and triple booked. Knowing that I can physically see patients but am not emotionally ready is hard. I feel guilty. It’s self imposed, I know. Work has been great and supportive- it’s just hard to see my coworkers work even harder because of me.
Patient interactions. On my first day I had two phone calls with patients who knew I had been out and wanted to know how I was feeling or how the pregnancy was going. I stumbled through awkwardly- a quick “fine” seemed to suffice, but the whole interaction was unlike me. Usually I’m much more effusive and chatty, which is why these patients asked in the first place. So it all felt wrong and weird. But its something I will have to get used to. I saw a patient today- I was helping out. It was supposed to be a quick injection visit, which turned into a check infection visit. Which just meant more face time with the patient. And appropriately she asked about my pregnancy.
“Are you having a boy or a girl?”
Quick smile “I don’t know”
“Wow! You’re big for not knowing!” she said eying my belly. Clearly she thought I was less than twenty weeks and hadn’t had my ultrasound.
“I’m 30 weeks. I could know, I just chose not to. We’ll find out when the baby is born.”
She was young, 21 years old and had a baby earlier this year, so she was familiar with how pregnancy and finding out the gender works. To me it was kind of funny that she didn’t even consider someone wouldn’t want to know the gender in advance.
Now that I’ve spent a week in the office, I feel more acclimated and I think I’m ready to start seeing patients. Next week I’ll feel more useful. I’m not filling up my schedule until we have a better plan in place (it’s hard on everyone to schedule then cancel then reschedule patients) and right now it’s unclear at what point I go back into the hospital (if at all) for monitoring and to stay until delivery. I’m hoping to make that plan Wednesday, after my next ultrasound and an appointment with the neonatologist.
In the meantime, I passed my glucose test! No gestational diabetes for me. Since I feel like I haven’t “passed” many tests in pregnancy so far, I was worried I wasn’t going to again. And having gestational diabetes would add another component to what kind of monitoring we’d do- making it all even more complicated. But finally, some good news! My midwife says I can eat a cupcake to celebrate!