Tierra Nueva, Dominican Republic
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Daniel Lee ~
1. Bipolar disorder
2. History of postpartum psychosis
3. No custody of her children
4. In treatment for cocaine abuse
5. Regular smoker
I digest each of these facts on the computer screen in rapid succession, progressively cementing the picture of Renee Pryce, a twenty-eight-year-old woman in her final months of pregnancy.
I’m a first-year resident in a large urban county hospital.
Laurice Gilbert ~
4th January 1986 / opened the journal and wrote the first entry:
swapped completely from mercury to digital thermometer
basal body temperature: a colorful set of graphs that each invests
3 months with footnotes, asterisks and inexplicable numbers
Reading: Birth Without Violence / The Paper Midwife
A Guide to Responsible Home Birth
21st January / passed my Distance Learning exam in Horticulture
Human Biology next
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
I had visited this place, this stifling humid ultrasound room, a thousand times in my fears. But now it was real, and I had a choice to make. All the grinning, stupid hope I had embraced, the idea that this was a walk of faith I could use to teach others, rose up as a dark maroon flush in my chest. Hubris. The ancient Greek kind.
Although I do not believe in medical miracles, I rejoice in the reality that I have experienced two—when I became pregnant with (and ultimately gave birth to) first my son and then my daughter.
From the age of thirteen-and-a-half, when I began menstruating, until age eighteen, I endured a great deal of pain whenever I got my period. My parents took me to the gynecologist, but he did nothing but assure me that “this too shall
She burst into tears when I asked if she wanted to get pregnant.
Eman, a beautiful young woman from Jordan, sat in my family-practice office with her husband, Ali, and two adorable children about one and two years old. With her scarf and dark clothing covering all but her pale face and enormous sable-brown eyes, Eman looked closer to fourteen than twenty-four, and scarcely old enough to have any children.
I am trying—and failing—to wrap my mind around those four words, to grasp the weight of their meaning, but every time I try to speak or swallow, the sharpness of the word “never” lodges in my throat. Never, meaning never counting the number of fingers on an ultrasound, never feeling the flutter of little toes against your abdomen, never arguing about whether you prefer the name Sophie or Sophia,
Monday, 7:30 am, DR two. I’m circulating,
the nurse who isn’t sterile, the surgical team’s link
with the unclean world. Before the incision,
I have ten things to do. I keep the list in my head:
check suction, position lights, turn on Bovie, toe
the steel bucket next to the surgeon’s feet.
The scrub nurse and I do the count: sponges, needles, clamps.