The last laps and my survival kit.

There is no way around it folks, the next few weeks, nay months, will be all about baby. I cannot help it. It is such an all consuming life event. I once thought that nothing could be more consuming than taking the post- training exams. Boy! this is waaaay bigger.

Anyhoo, I digress (like always).

So, like the previous instance, this time too I have the feeling that things might progress earlier than expected. My poor babies, just cannot take it anymore at the end. Limited space in the tiny torso, too much movement, limited rest and haphazard nutrition I guess 🙂 So, they decide to take matters in their own hands and decide to “get outta there”!

Or will there be a final twist in the tale?


Everything involves a bit of gymnastics these days. Getting into my car (a car that is even otherwise too big for me and a 4X4 no less) involves holding onto the steering wheel and literally heaving myself into the seat. Making sure my midget legs are close enough to brake effectively while maintaining a safe distance between the tum and the steering wheel (and possibly the airbag in the unfortunate event of even a minor collision) is another conundrum. And waddling through the hospital corridors (albeit in  my apparently ‘small for 34 weeks’ tummy) makes me feel like a very conspicuous hippopotamus.

Pregnancy clumsiness, toddler carry- requests and the nature of my work means that I constantly have to bend toward the floor.

Of course I cannot bend over straight. Thankfully,  I have mastered the Bharatnatyam squat ..

stock-photo-portrait-of-dancer-with-arms-raised-performing-bharatanatyam-isolated-over-white-background-279896570


There are things though, STUFF- that get me through my days. Sometimes very long days. ’28- hour -days’.

rennie

I have these everywhere. Literally.

Bedside, couch- side.

Car, husband’s car.

Work bag, out- bag.

Every clinic table I have sat at in the past few months…

The boys at work have in fact started popping them in their mouths like mints these days because they find them randomly lying around.


knee-high-compression-stockings_78430bge_zoom0These are compression stockings. Never thought I would need them.

A couple of months ago, on a particularly long theatre day, one of the nurses noticed (they “SEE” everything!) that I was contastly flexing my toes and was restlessly hopping from one leg onto another. She kindly cut up some small sized Tubigrip and asked me to put them on. Nurses are brilliant at these sort of hacks, so I asked no further questions. She even helped me put them on.

The gentle compression made a huge difference. Why did I never think of that?

Then off I went – in search of size X- small knee length compression stockings (which are surprisingly hard to find in Doha – even at the hospital)

tubigrip.jpg

Calf soreness, restless leg syndrome and terrible leg cramps at night have been a constant with both my pregnancies. Only  this time, it has gotten worse. On a 24 hour call, by around the 12 hour mark, I can barely take my mind off the pain. The compression stocking/ Tubigrip on call days- really help.


rayyan-water-330mlx30-3

I have cartons of mini- sized bottled water in my trunk. My acidity/ reflux is worsened by consuming water with meals, and I cannot seem to remember to stay hydrated in between meals. So I try to always keep one of these mini bottles in my lab- coat pocket at all times.


pillows

The weird c- shaped maternity pillows don’t work as well as these generic ones, at least for me. My fancy, pink maternity pillow lay forlornly forsaken at the corner of the bed, while I tuck these humble, generic ones at every crook, crevice and contour of myself.


pill-box

Another surprising hit. I am never good with taking supplements. I used to forget to take them about 5 days a week, until I bought a cheap, gimmicky (as per Mr H), uncool looking pill- box. I have no logical explanation, but at the end of the week, I find it therapeutic to fill up the darned, little compartments. My motivation to take the pills is the emptying of the boxes so that I can fill them up at the end of the week. Does that make any sense at all?


cherokee-maternity

I am not sure why I waited as long as I did before ordering these. I wore XL sized, boxy, ugly, humungous scrubs at the hospital when my own ones stopped fitting me. The arm holes on those are the size of gunny bags and they were very, very unflattering in general.

As, a second time mum, things start “showing” much earlier but I refused to invest in maternity scrubs.

Some time after week 20, I gave in and ordered them over amazon (the US site, hence paying a ridiculous amount for international shipping). But they are worth every penny I say.

I bought the Cherokee ones, the exact top in the picture. The sizes seem to run large, but I don’t mind. The side panels are a soft, stretchy material and the bump- elastic on the corresponding pants (which you have to order seperately) are really soft, and doesn’t dig in (all the folks who have ever worn maternity clothes at some point would know what that means).

cherokee

I wish the pants were less flared though. I was never a fan of the boot- cut trend even when it was cool (sometime in the 90’s when I was in school).


bio-oil

I don’t care if this actually works, they make things less dry and itchy. I slathered it on the last time, and I continue to do so this time as well. For equality’s sake!


Till next time.

J.

Weekend tittle tattle.

How are you folks?

I’m in a bit of a chatty mood.

Most days, when I’m at home I’m passed out cold somewhere. On the couch with the laptop dangling over the edge, or with my face squished into the pages of a poor book. In the guest bedroom, with half- folded laundry. On the breakfast table in the kitchen with the coffee gone cold. You get the drift…

Therefore, even with the best intentions of keep up with the whole blogging, and online journaling thinggy- I never quite manage to put up even a couple of decent posts a week.

These days, I feel like I have so much to share. Mum and baby wise. “Coping with work” wise. Tips, tricks and hacks that have helped me survive. Alas, this knackered body, and the foggy, preggo brain are just not that cooperative.

Honestly, I thought the so called “pregnancy brain” was an urban myth. Propagated by lazy, pregnant mums who needed excuses to not do stuff that they do not enjoy doing. I hate putting the laundry to dry, or empty the waste bins. So, it is pretty darn easy for me to just say “Honey, I forgot”.

No folks, IT is truly a THING. A REAL MALADY. My keys, my stamp, my pager- I can never find them even if they are in the very same places that I always leave them. I forget my own pre- natal appointments and scan dates. I am so tired by the time I finish clinics (mind you- it’s not even a theatre or call day) that I forget simple, little details like the fact that my first born needs to be picked up from this thing called nursery before I head home.

I write everything down these days- then forget the bloody planner at home, or (the worst) in some random OR in the theatre complex. I then have to retrace my steps, hoping that some nosey consultant, or nurse has not been reading my most personal scribblings (e.g.notes like-mention to the doc the insane “lightening crotches” in the past couple of days!).

Baby Preparation wise, I am no where close to being ready. I had my first one, a little less than three years ago. But honestly, I don’t have much of the stuff with me anymore. Last time around, by this time, my hospital bags were packed and almost ready to go. Not so this time. I have picked up a few bits and bobs during the January sales (read- about 6 baby grows and a blanket) but no where near the amount of stuff that I might need to survive the first month.

I have a Grand 8 Weeks as maternity leave before I jump (and hopefully not sink and drown) back full throttle into work, therefore I need to get my pumping act together right from the get go. Last time, I had a good six months off and was therefore lax with the whole pumping shebang. A Medela Harmony worked just fine last time. This time though, I’m going all out- so the Pump In Style Advanced it is. Good news is the pump has been ordered, and I’m awaiting delivery (pun intended). It is ridiculously expensive to buy one in Qatar (read 2700 odd QAR), so I’m having Mr H’s friend (imagine! that too with other more embarrassing accessories) ship it from the U.S. The things we do to skimp on a few extra Rials here and there 🙂

The changing bag has arrived as well. From the U.K this one (seriously, looks like only the clothes will be bought here in Qatar). Will share more on that one soon.

And for those who have been asking- I plan to deliver at Women’s again this time. For several reasons. Might share more on that in another post.

That is all I have time for this morning folks. I have let Zoe have a lie- in to accomplish this. It’s time to wake the little, sleeping “monster” up, or I will end up ruining her (Okay, mine!) entire schedule.

Have a lovely Saturday folks.

Till next time.

J.

 

The pregnant, surgeon-in-training.

If you google ‘pregnant resident’ or ‘pregnancy during surgical residency/ fellowship/ training’, you will be privy to a select few articles that occasionally appear in mainstream media about this small, unique subset of working women. Even medical/ surgical journals occasionally like to amuse themselves by publishing articles such as :

Pregnancy during residency: II. Obstetric complications.

Pregnancy during residency: I. The decision “to be or not to be”.

An article quotes a female orthopaedic fellow on how she scrubbed in for a long haul case at 37 weeks, with two lead aprons and carrying twins!

Doing 24 hour calls, even the better ones at 31 weeks now makes me wonder if she or the newspaper was stretching the truth a bit. At least I rarely have to wear a lead apron, or lift and hold limbs weighing half my body weight. Then I immediately think of conversations that I sometimes have with my non- medical, female friends who cannot believe I can stand and walk and run and bend and stretch and lift, for sometimes over 24 hours with hardly any breaks in between, all while being heavily pregnant. They too might be wondering if I’m “stretching the truth”.

Mind you, this isn’t a whiny rant. No.

If pregnancy were a man thing, it would be considered a great, life- altering, occurrence which warranted special consideration at every instance. The “boys” often talk of crashing for 12 or 16 hours straight during the day after a mediocre call- day. For some of us, even after the worst of calls, we go back home to moody toddlers who need to be picked up from nurseries and then bathed and fed and “poo-ed” and put to bed after reading Room on the Broom about 16 times.

Yes. It is a choice we choose to make. And at every step, we seem to be berated and chastised for making it. Considering wearing adult diapers to counter the weak bladder, and wearing triple or quadruple- sandwich breast pads to counter leaky mammary glands are not glamorous Pinterest hacks, they are survival tactics in times of dire need.

THIS  video is funny satire at first sight, but it is the quintessential harsh reality of female existence, signified by the contrast in our reality and that of male colleagues.  A colleague who recently had a difficult birthing experience, is about 8 weeks post partum, healing, struggling; and is back to the full grind (on calls, surgeries, clinics). You know what her the biggest gripe is at the present moment?

Not the hours.

Not the fatigue her broken, yet to be healed body is burdening her with.

Not the boy talk.

Not the extra calls every month.

NO.

All she complains about is that she can never find an empty room of any kind to sit in and pump for a mere 15 minutes. To top it all, there is “joking- mention” of making up for missed calls during the measly 8 weeks that she was allowed with her newborn. Apparently maternity leave is “vacation”.

*OH, I’M CRYING HOT TEARS HERE.

I am hopeful though. Despite sniggers in the OR when my belly comes in the way or the talk of women being “stupid” for “doing this”, I shall plough on.

I know, even if I don’t shout it out to their faces- that I’m stronger, better and will survive this and probably outpace them all in the long run.

In the early years of my surgical training, having children never crossed my mind, I believed it would slow me down, make me less competitive, make my bosses (mostly men of course) see me as a weakling. What happened instead is surprisingly different. Yes, I’m often racked by mommy- guilt, and taking care of other people on days when my own precious one is sick at home is harder than I thought it would be but motherhood has also smoothened my rough edges (the ones that I once proudly thought were my badge of honour, my “edge” over the competition). I am more empathetic, better with paediatric patients, way better at multi- tasking and generally a tougher nut.

I hope one day things change. I am hopeful that the next generation of female surgeons will not have to masculinise themselves to fit in, and can be comfortable being a woman at the workplace.

My Fitbit says I waddled walked 25089 steps yesterday. Of course it cannot measure the hours I stood for. They are no less taxing than the walking at the moment. My ‘one day at a time’ mantra has now morphed into a new ’15 minutes at one time’ one.

Though I was delirious with exhaustion at one point, and could not string together words to type in my on call report, I kept telling myself – I AM FUCKING AWESOME AND IF ANYONE CAN DO THIS I CAN.

WE CAN.

We are built with stronger steel than we give ourselves credit for, ladies. Just when I think I have been through the worse there is, it gets even harder.  The crap piles on, and on some days I find myself swimming in it. I hold my breath, grit my teeth and wade through it. I ultimately find my way out of the crapmire and then give myself a thorough wash. And I survive, yet again. Better, a sharper version of myself. The next time life needs to work harder to scare me.

So, go ahead ladies, jump into whatever your heart desires. Scores of others are fighting similar battles across the world; discrimination, mockery and sniggers not withstanding.

Only you can define your impossible.

Till next time.

J.