Art & Poetry in Medicine, Clinical, Featured, OB/GYN
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The Hug

There was a dark, empty space.
Where there should have been movement.

No rhythm, no dance to take me across the screen. Floating, falling, weightless.
Stillness. Silence.
The heart. His heart.

My heart.
Loud and bounding.

In the small triage room, silence was my call for help.
Scan, search, more gel.
Maybe if I keep looking, I will find it.

38 weeks.
Labor check.
Uncomplicated pregnancy.
Contracting painfully for the past few hours.

As a first-year resident I had not yet had this experience.
I knew what to say but did not feel ready to say it.

“I am so sorry. There is no heartbeat.”

Shock. Silence. Tears.
Pain, intensified by the contractions of active labor.


My heart.
Loud and bounding.

With each push there is movement.
Movement within myself.
An echo between him and me, beating louder only
in one of us.
Me, through him. Feeling me.

I am nervous.

Can she see me?
Does she know I am afraid
to make this final.
I am afraid we both will shatter.

And then it happened. I held a baby without life.
A body without breath.
A beautiful, precious infant.
Still silent. Still still.

“Can I give you a hug?”

She reached out.

The sweat on the back of her neck,
The rise of her chest against mine.

Our hearts.
Loud and bounding.

Image credit: Week 31 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Chupy

Celeste Arden Swain, MD Celeste Arden Swain, MD (1 Posts)

Resident Physician Contributing Writer

Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco

Celeste Arden Swain MD is a 4th year OB/GYN resident at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. She attended Bowdoin College for her undergraduate degree and Drexel University College of Medicine for her medical degree. She will be starting a Minimally Invasive Gynecology Fellowship in Portland Oregon this summer. Celeste enjoys trail running, surfing, and spending time outside with her husband.