I was mid-way through my third year of medical school, post-call, exhausted, and curled up on the couch with my son, watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood together on my laptop: he with a sippy cup and some snacks, me dozing off intermittently, remembering the past 27 hours on Labor and Delivery:
Wheeling the ultrasound to triage to confirm a vertex presentation, teaching an excited father-to-be how to hold counterpressure on his wife’s lower back as she settled into the contractions that meant labor was finally happening.
The team huddle at board rounds with the nursing staff, reviewing the strips, the numbers of dilation, effacement, station.
The scrutiny applied to a screen full of fetal heart rates and tocodynamometers; the hills and valleys of category I and II tracings.
A stat section: chaos finely controlled as a symphony, a team galvanized by the necessity of the moment. APGARs of 5, pinking and shrieking to a 9.
Mr. Rogers was now on the screen again, telling us about caring, what it means to have parents take care of you, what it means to take care of other people. I recalled the downcast eyes of a tough young woman who came in to the medical students’ clinic for a 3-month postpartum depo shot. It wasn’t until the end of the visit, when I asked about her upcoming appointments, that she told me about her depression, escaping her abusive partner, her hope for new life with her baby. I had found out, almost by accident, a really fine thing about this patient. And just like Mr. Rogers had said, I wanted to take the very best care of her.
Miriam Segura-Harrison is a 4th year medical student at the Boston University School of Medicine. Her interests are, in no particular order, women's health, parenting, Jewish studies, feminism, medical education, and lactation counseling. She lives in Brighton, Massachusetts with her husband Josh and their son Hasdai.