Melissa Fournier ~
Inked footprints on paper
a one-ounce trial size
of Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash
a striped receiving blanket and knit hat
folded inside a clear plastic bag
zipped to preserve her scent
a vial of holy water
a dried white rose entwined with baby's breath
two hospital bracelets
one sonogram picture at seven weeks
three sonogram pictures at twenty weeks
a urine-imbued double-pink-lined stick
which I hold like proof
the way Thomas held out his blood-
after removing it from Christ's
Tess Timmes ~
"Please walk slowly," cautioned Sunita, my interpreter, as I crept down the stony switchback trail towards the rural Nepali village of Dhulikhel. Sunita, in her petite navy ballet flats, hopped down the rocks as easily as the speckled goats grazing nearby.
Emboldened by her speed, I stepped along eagerly, only to catch my size-ten neon running sneaker on a root and splat face-first into the dust. Looking up, I saw four women standing outside their clay-walled homes, their hands pressed to their mouths, their eyes sparkling with stifled laughter. Talk about making an entrance....
After finishing my third year of medical school, I was taking a year off to pursue my masters degree in public health. Through my research that year, I'd learned of an opportunity to spend a month in Dhulikhel, located in the Kathmandu Valley, south of the Himalayas, interviewing the region's women about their use of primary-care and mental-health services. Passionate about women's health, and eager to escape another Boston winter, I signed on.
Andrea Eisenberg ~
Many years ago, on a busy day in my obstetrics-and-gynecology office, one of my partner's patients came in for "bleeding, early pregnancy." Since my partner wasn't in that day, I saw the woman, whose name was Sarah. After we'd talked a bit, I examined her and did an ultrasound. As I'd expected, she was having a miscarriage. Feeling sorry that Sarah had to hear it from me, rather than from her own doctor, I broke the sad news.
We discussed the options: Did she want to have a D&C, or let nature take its course?
"I'm not sure," she said. "I need some time to decide." I agreed that this was understandable and left the room so that she could dress. Having notified my partner, I thought no more about it.
A month later, I received a letter from Sarah accusing me of callousness and insensitivity in our encounter.