At the Still Point of the Turning World
Residency is over, NOW what? (While I'm waiting for the answer, I'll get some spinning done....)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002



EARLY, AT THE BEDSIDE

A question for those of you with children: Did your own doctor deliver your baby? Or did she introduce you to the doctor (or midwife--I don't mean to use exclusionary language here, just using the terms of personal significance to me) who would be covering for her? Or did you meet the doctor or midwife for the first time while you were in labor?

The reason why I ask: I got paged at 3:45am, 4:10am, and finally 4:29am this morning. When I finally realized it was my beeper that was waking me up, I called in and was told my patient was in good, hard labor. Was I coming in for the delivery? I had one moment of yearning for another 30 minutes of sleep, a leisurely cup of coffee and some self-indulgent web surfing before going to work--my usual morning routine. Then I pulled on some scrubs, poured the coffee into a travel mug and got to the hospital at 5:00am. The baby was born at 6:21am--a nice big boy, a lovely delivery, a good start to the day.

But not a great end. I'm not as young as I used to be, and shaving an hour off the end of a night's sleep catches up to me after lunch. I got back home this evening and had no energy for spinning, only some half-hearted, error-prone knitting. So I'm asking the question: How important was it to you to have your own doctor/midwife present at your delivery?

I'm struggling with boundaries here. I have two other patients at the end of their pregnancies, and over the past few months I've seen them on Labor and Delivery and in my clinic for everything from threatened miscarriages, headaches, round ligament pain, potential preterm labor, low back pain, swollen feet, family problems, childrearing questions and the vagaries of a woman's appetite during pregnancy. Along the way we've also talked about baby names, sibling jealousy, marital problems (solved and unsolved), deep-seated fears about birth defects, feuding grandmothers, family tragedies, and fashion dilemmas among the maternity set. (Are flip-flops in the last weeks of pregnancy a faux pas or a matter of survival?) It's hard to explain the attachment that developed between me and these women over this series of fifteen-minute visits, but it makes me want to be there--and I think they want me to be there too.

Yet the time adds up: a night of call, fourteen days in a row of early-morning rounds, a few late evenings, and then these early mornings at the bedside. Not the minutes, but the fatigue. I begin to notice my eyes glazing over, the need to sit down frequently, inattention, apathy. I'm also feeling more and more protective of my off-time--the weekends with my family, my few hours of fiber time in the evening. It makes me feel guilty, the realization that I can't be present at every delivery, but I'm trying to cast around for solutions. I try to be up-front with my patients, telling them when I'll be away for the weekend and who might be called in for their delivery if I can't be there. So far they've taken it well, but this yearning remains to be there. That's what I'm really struggling with.

I'd like to know what the mothers out there think. Really.

BRIEF UPDATES

Indigo dyepot: Day Three: Still no color change. I gave in and moved the pot over to the stove, which now means I'm going to be eating salads, microwave entrees and take-out food for a while.

Fascination sweater: Ever since I joined the sleeves to the body, this has fallen out of the portable project category. I'm working on it here and there, and tonight got four rounds done. Made a bit of a mistake in the decreases, but soldiered on. Hope it doesn't show.

Opal sock: I'm on the second sock, knitting the heel flap and--if I don't bonk--will get it turned and the gusset stitches picked up tonight.

Project SOAR yarn: Five skeins are still drying as we speak, and there's still a bobbin full I'm leaving to "rest" on the bobbin before plying. My goal is to start knitting swatches on Saturday.

That's about it. I'm on call tomorrow evening (not overnight, thank goodness), so probably won't post again until Friday. Until then--cheers to all of you!

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