For lay people : Residency means postgraduate training of a doctor after mbbs. So the time they serve in a hospital while specialising in a specific field, and studying at the same time. At the end of that training period, doctors have to pass a board exam to be certified specialists in that field. It is considered the most testing and difficult time in a physicians life universally.
In my personal opinion, there is no better mother than a nurse! I just watch them work day in and day out with so much passion and love and I am in serious awe of them. But somehow when I look at my own job too, I feel that any woman who has completed an ER residency, has just been trained for motherhood too. Congratulations!!
No really nothing can actually train you for motherhood, but once you get your specialisation degree, you might as well consider it a certificate for formal training in mothership ? Because this is the closest you will get!
I know by now it must sound like a bunch of bullshit to the non-medical people, but i can see the resident mommies all nodding their heads, so let me dive into the specifics.
- Patient needs come before yours – Isn’t this the universal rule of mummyhood? keeping another human’s needs before your own? not that i agree with it completely, but it just tends to happen, doesn’t it? The same is true when you are working with sick people. Are you so hungry you might collapse? guess what, the patient who just had a heart attack cannot wait for you to fill your tummy even with an energy bar. So keep calm (and hungry) and carry on ?
- You have been “trained” to perform well under pressure – since you are in a specialisation program, you are supposed to work and study at the same time, and ace in both. There’s nothing you can say you don’t know because people will judge. You haven’t seen your friends in a year? nobody cares. You forgot what your parents look like? no one cares again! for me this is an analogy for the pressures of motherhood. You are expected to be a perfect parent and are continuously judged for every move or decision you make. And you only make through both if you learn the art of balancing between not caring and caring just enough to affect you positively.
- You barely get time to eat, sleep, poop – Yeah so as i said earlier, patients’/kids’ needs before your own. When you are in the emergency, you are always surrounded by patients, it’s not like being in the wards, where you can just do the rounds and get done until a critical case comes. All this stimulus makes you savour your bathroom breaks on shift (which you sometimes won’t even get if you are in a busy area of the emergency!). Reheating your coffee and forgetting all about it sounds familiar mommas?!
- You can think clearly in the middle of the night – Since the emergency is open at all times, we do all kinds of shifts including all nighters, where we don’t have the luxury of oncall rooms. We are continously seeing and treating patients all night long and that requires us to be rational even if we are sleep deprived. This comes in handy when we have to mother while being sleep deprived.
- Body fluids don’t gross you out – ignoring the fact that newborn body fluids don’t really smell that bad, but as they grow so does the intensity of those odors ??. I have personally been vomited and urinated upon by both my daughter and my patients, and to be very honest, it did not upset me as much as it would have if i did not have either background!
- Multitasking much? – Another superhuman power that all moms need, is found in residents too. My multitasking favourite is the juggling between home, work, studies and a child *sigh*
- You can treat your kids at home – Being in the emergency makes you paranoid. Very paranoid. For yourself and for everybody around you. The paranoia helps in a way that you might be able to keep them away from harm (up to some extent), but the best part is that you KNOW that you are just being paranoid so *thumbs up*. On the other hand, you can treat your kids at home. So i remember once my daughter was sick and i examined her throat and saw small red spots all over her throat. I did not realise how freaky that would be but i took photos and sent it to my friends for their opinion on it and treated her according to our experience. The next day my husband came across the photo and freaked out to no end (it might even make you look like a bad mother btw ? ). It took me a while to explain to him that this was not something serious and we don’t need to rush to the ER every time she sneezes!!!
- You are so tired and fed up, but once you are away, you miss your patients – Residency is all about confused hormones and your feelings are all over the place, thanks to your timings and haphazard routines. Welcome to motherhood!! The whole day you strive to get your kiddos to bed, and once they are asleep you miss them ? . It’s the same with working in the ER. The reasons are different definitely, the former being run by motherly emotions, while the latter run by the adrenaline rush (which is btw addictive!) , but the feelings are the same and you cannot keep away from both for long!
For me motherhood and residency almost happened at the same time, so i feel both the experiences augment each other. Motherhood taught me things that helped me be a better doctor and vice versa. But like everything has it’s pro and cons, this does too.
One of the side effect of being a mommy in the emergency, and i speak for myself, is that i cannot bear to see sick children. It just does not break my heart, it breaks ME, seeing them even more helpless than they already are, and feeling helpless myself because i don’t know what they are going through!
Another pet peeve is that since in Emergency medicine we are “trained” to have some degree of paranoia for our patients (read as: assume the worst), and motherhood brings with it it’s own fears and phobias, my level of paranoia for my child is at the maximum level, and that keeps me even more sleepless (if that’s even possible!)
So in conclusion for me, being an emergency medicine resident, prepared me to be a mother. In great depth, it made me a very strong mother, but at the same time, a very weak mother.
featured image by Bart Everson from following link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/editor/33308864