There was a dark, empty space. / Stillness, / Where there should have been movement.
The nurses noticed the behavior first — how he answered for her, his arms on her shoulders, and, on the day of discharge, his refusal to leave her room to retrieve her medications. The labor & delivery floor was already in full swing when her nurse came over.
It was 2 a.m. and I was downward-dog in the call room. Earlier during this maternal/child health rotation night shift, I had labored with three other moms in so many different positions that my back felt like it might actually break.
“One” / It read. / Unassuming in black and white
The recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court raises concern about the future of reproductive health, particularly access to abortion and affordable contraception. Although his impact on reproductive rights is to be determined, those who will be disproportionately impacted by further compromise of reproductive rights will always be the most vulnerable women among us. This includes the uninsured, poor, and incarcerated.
The baby’s hat is bright orange, knit with vertical ribbing to mimic a pumpkin’s ridges, and topped with a tiny green stem. The cheeks below it bulge in perfect crescents. I turn to the mother to ask if she made the hat herself. Her eyes don’t leave the muted cartoons bouncing across the television screen as she mumbles, “The nurse or someone gave it to her.”
On night shift as an OB/GYN resident, you are not the same person you are when you’re among the living. It might be the long hours, the lack of sleep, or the darkness creeping in from the windows, but your temper is shorter, a pager sounding sends you over the edge, and simple nursing requests leave you sour.
Back in that operating room, I am dutifully holding onto the basin just beyond and under the table edge. What I see is what the mother would never wish to see; being a part of her care, we accept that burden for her, and in a much different way that she ever could from her intimate connection with it. It is our service to her, to alleviate that pain, to be an open support to her health and well-being. It is an acceptable cost, but a cost all the same.
In 1894, the State Ministry of Culture, Religion, and Education in Vienna commissioned three paintings for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna to celebrate the institutions accomplishments of Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence. When the artist who painted these works chose to make a bold stylistic statement, all three were heavily criticized for their eroticism, obscenity, and “ugliness.”
March 18, 2016. I had been anticipating this day for months and I could not believe that it had finally arrived. I woke up that morning, sat on my couch, and began to journal as I do pretty much every day.
As I contemplate the future of our country, the future of medicine and the future of reproductive health and justice, I am truly frightened of what is to come. Since our president appears to base his desires on what makes him popular, I fear that he will gut Planned Parenthood, turn over Roe v Wade, and make it even more difficult for women to afford and access care, all in the name of ego.