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Code Pink

Code Pink

When a code is called in the hospital, it means two things: A caregiver’s day is about to be turned upside-down, and a patient’s world is about to fall to pieces. If you’re a caregiver, when a code is called you look up from your own work and wonder who’ll be sprinting through the halls and whose story is unfolding.

This time, the story was ours.

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Birth

Albert Howard Carter III

(for NCC and RAC)

My wife lies in the little room,
tight as a drum, and even more convex.
She breathes hard as the contractions come.
The doctor, some 20 feet away,
shares his lunch with me,
the husband and coach;
My wife, lunchless today,
hears this act of betrayal
and resents (I learn later)
that we are eating cake:

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She Lives in a Small Cell

Linda Evans

She lives in a small cell
on the Maximum Security Unit
pregnant with her tenth love child
the other nine scattered 
like dried leaves in the wind. 
Beneath the baggy government-issued jumpsuit 
her belly swells and shifts with the weight of life
a heaviness of never hearing first words, 
seeing first steps, or kissing cherub cheeks goodnight, 
thoughts as chilling to the bone 
as the December blizzard outside.
Over the intercom Officer Ryan’s

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The University Hospital of Somewhere Else

Paula Lyons

July 1. My first day as a family medicine intern, assigned to Labor and Delivery, and my first night on call, 6 pm sharp. Enviously, I watched the other interns smartly packing up to go home.

“See you in the morning–maybe!” they joked.

I glanced at the status board: eight patients in labor.

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Cleft

As Caroline was born

the doctor saw
the split
from lip to nose–
purple rimmed,
going down deep–
Deep enough
to hurt
generations.

And the imperfect doctor,
tired of wounds
tired of divisions,
saw the small
wholeness
Chose that moment
Chose tenderness
saying simply,
She is beautiful.

And the imperfect mother,
tired of pain,
held her

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Second-Guessed

Andrea Gordon

It was a good night, but it’s been a brutal morning.

As a family doctor who does obstetrics, I generally enjoy my time with laboring patients. When I arrived on the maternity floor last night to start my call, things looked pleasantly uneventful. Several patients were in labor. Only one wasn’t progressing well: Ana, age twenty-two. 

I was told that Ana had come to the floor two days earlier, leaking puddles of clear

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Miscarriage

Jessica Bloom-Foster

From the moment I walk into the room, she breaks my heart. She has just been sent to obstetrical triage from the ER, where an ultrasound has revealed a twenty-two-week pregnancy and a cervix dilated to four centimeters–halfway to delivery stage. She is moaning from her labor pains and moving restlessly on the narrow cot.

I am a second-year family medicine resident in a Midwestern hospital, and well past halfway through a busy

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Jeannie

Andrea Gordon

“The person with the contractions gets to pick the channel,” I reassure Jeannie, as she tries to talk me into watching The X-Files. It’s not my favorite, but I’m just the moral support–oh, and the doctor.

When she first came to see me, eight months back, Jeannie already had a four-year-old boy and didn’t think that there was much my little white nulliparous self could teach her about pregnancy. I’d offer her my book-learned

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