As a first time mom, pediatrician, and medical trainee, Megana thought she would be well-equipped for her first pregnancy. She and her husband talked about starting a family after a wedding planned in March 2020. When it was cancelled, and they were plunged into COVID-19, they decided not to put our lives on hold any longer. They had a small wedding in a dog park in New Mexico where they had lived for three years, found out they were pregnant the next month, sustained the loss of Megana’s beloved grandmother, and packed up their lives and two dogs and moved cross country to Pittsburgh where they were starting the next phase of training and where their families are close.

They were nervous about COVID and especially nervous as the dating ultrasound had not shown a fetal pole before they left NM. Despite the chaos of moving cross country during a pandemic, they settled well into our lives in Pittsburgh. At 10 weeks, after Megana’s OB was unable to find the fetal heartbeat and they were sent for an ultrasound, they finally knew the pregnancy was healthy. Megana had an uneventful pregnancy, running every day until 39 weeks.

The world, however, continued to be eventful. Megana was privileged to be among the first offered the COVID vaccine while there were no clear recommendations about receiving it while pregnant. Because of restrictive policies in pediatric fellowships at the time, Megana was scheduled to go back at 5.5 weeks postpartum. As the pregnancy ticked past its due date, they scheduled an induction right before the 41st week and she met her daughter 36 hours later.

Because of significant tearing from a precipitous labor,  Megana was physically debilitated for the first time in her very lucky life. She was not at all prepared with how emotionally and physically difficult postpartum life was. She had PPD/PPA, could barely walk without her knees together, and though loved her daughter, did not love being a mom.

Her sister sat her down to make a plan for making maternity leave more bearable. She started a moms group, started walking in the park, and attended a virtual conference. Going back to work so early, she struggled—lactating inopportunely, continuing to bleed. She could not perform as she did prior to mat leave, and it was difficult to admit and recognize. She wrote an op-ed while breastfeeding about how shortsighted the policies around leave were for trainees.

Megana slowly regained the ability to run after about 12 weeks, which helped her mental health, but balancing work and motherhood felt impossible. One year later, she realized just how big her village needed to be. She finally feels whole: her colleagues and supervisor, her therapist, her moms group, her partner, and family have been instrumental in her recovery. As a pediatrician, she had to let go of perfectionism and embrace her emotions as they came. She can confidently say now those emotions around motherhood are joyful ones.

Megana Dwarakanath Bio

Megana is a pediatrician and adolescent medicine fellow in Pittsburgh. She lives with her husband, Rahul, their 1 year old Meera, and two dogs. They have their parents and her sister closeby and are grateful for the community in which their daughter is being raised in. Connect with Megana via email


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