On the afternoon of Nov. 8, 2018, I was in fixed prosthodontics class with an almost-debilitating anxious feeling. This was not exactly unfamiliar in this setting, but this time, I had just gotten a call from my doctor saying my hCG levels were through the roof, and we all know what that means.
I was pregnant!
So many questions flew through my head: What was it going to be like being pregnant in dental school? How much time will I have to take off? Will it affect my grades? What the heck is a ferrule?
I felt so overwhelmed by the challenges that would accompany this news but also overcome with happiness at the thought of my little miracle — the size of a pomegranate seed.
The first trimester brought more than its fair share of inconveniences. I struggled with morning sickness and fatigue through the last month of the semester. (And let me tell you — a pregnant woman’s heightened sense of smell and cadaver lab do not pair well.) Also, I thought “dental school tired” was bad, but “pregnant in dental school tired” is a completely different beast.
During the second trimester, most symptoms disappeared, and I began to feel like a “normal” dental student again with a few added excitements. Feeling kicks, even those in the ribs, were welcome during class because they kept me awake. As I moved into my third trimester, the hardest part was accepting the necessity to slow down. My morning runs were half the speed and distance, my biking commute became a thing of the past, and I felt like a full-blown ASA IV when taking the stairs to clinic. Yet when things got unbearably hard, I reminded myself that I am not the first woman to experience pregnancy during dental school, and I will not be the last.
Initially, I feared that being in dental school would take away from the experience I always hoped for when having a child, but it actually enhanced it. I was surrounded by a community of fully supportive classmates and faculty, who shared my excitement every day. My patients were eager to hear baby updates and share parenting advice. Despite being exhausted, I felt a new sense of motivation and commitment to the dental profession. Carrying my daughter from class to clinic made me feel empowered to learn more and provide better care for my patients.
Juggling the busyness of our schedules and expecting my first child was challenging but so rewarding. It put life into a new perspective, and made me realize that life doesn’t stop for dental school. Everyone goes through trials and tribulations that make us step back and look at the bigger picture.
As my due date approached, I was so anxious to meet my daughter and welcome another great change. Nevertheless, I went to school up until my due date, on which I completed a core buildup. Four days later, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl and began my truncated maternity leave. Returning to school and adapting to life with a newborn has been the biggest challenge thus far, but like always, we adapt to change and make it the new normal. This time, my normal just got a whole lot cuter.
~Emily Latteri, Georgia ’21, Chapter Newsletter Co-Chair