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Powerless

“I know it wasn’t really your fault, but I blame you on some level,” said my patient Aisha, sounding husky over the phone. “I’m working on forgiving you, but I’m not there yet.”

Tears sprang to my eyes, but I kept my voice steady as I replied, “I understand. I’m sorry about my role in what happened. Please let me know if you ever feel ready to come back to see me, but I can

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None of My Mom Friends Are Dying

Editor’s Note: This piece was awarded an honorable mention in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

I’m squarely in the middle of my friends, in terms of when we became “mom friends.” However, one aspect sets me apart: None of my mom friends are dying.

None had excruciating pain during pregnancy, unrelenting constipation or unexplained blood in their stool. None went septic five days postpartum or were ultimately diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer with

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What Little Separates Us

Among the handful of patients who visited the emergency department one night in June with abdominal pain, rashes or fevers, I especially remember Michelle. She was a woman in her late twenties, eight weeks pregnant with her second child. I was a second-year resident, and she had come for help with something I’d already encountered over a dozen times in my training.

“I think I might be having a miscarriage,” she said. She stopped herself, then looked at me

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The Role of a Lifetime

In our first week of neonatology, my third-year classmates Jay, Em and I donned PPE and filed like ducklings into an operating room on the birthing unit.

A young woman sat slouched on the operating table, her unbuttoned hospital gown revealing the S-curve in her spine. Her name, we learned, was Elise.

Beside her stood the anesthesiologist, Dr. Lane. He put a hand on her shoulder.

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Toxemia of Pregnancy

There was the bed bent in half,
the needle in the wrist,

the crack of bathroom light under the door.
Your father tried to sleep in the hospital cot

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Dignity in Childbirth

My interest in women’s health began when, in high school, I became aware of the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Learning about that conflict’s impact on women in terms of sexual trauma and maternal mortality opened my eyes to the depths of inequality that women face in the Global South. This, combined with the fact that I’m a first-generation Nigerian-American, led me to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology, with a global-health focus.

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A Child Is Born

The miracle was that this baby had lived at all. His mother called 911 while in labor, with heroin easing her pain and numbing her conscience. The paramedics arrived at the empty warehouse where she’d been living. She delivered her newborn son in a toilet. The paramedics scooped him out, cut his umbilical cord with her razor blade and brought mother and son to our hospital.

The fact that all this took place should be

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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 of a Midwife

Birth of a Midwife

As a nurse, I was brand new to labor and delivery–and I was on my third night shift in a row. Walking back from a quick break, I was called over by the charge nurse.
“You have the next admit from triage,” she told me. “She’s a live one–and so is her family. They’re carnies.”
“What’s that?” I asked, bewildered.
“You know, the people who do the circus and carnival circuit–gypsies,” she said, innocently using

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Ode to the Uterus

They call it

A woman’s coin purse
Buried away like an afterthought
In the folds of her body.

But hers is a feral little thing
Throwing away angry outbursts
With the tide of each moon.

It scoffs at being
Belittled and unused
Writing her opinion in bloody letters.

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A Good Cry

I was a second-year resident, doing a twenty-four-hour shift on maternity care. I’d spent some arduous nights on call with my attending physician, Dr. Campbell; now we sat at the nursing station, joking about what this one might bring.

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My Friend, My Patient

Andrea Eisenberg ~

Seeing patients in my ob/gyn office this morning, I try to stave off the mild nervousness rumbling inside of me. My good friend Monica is having a C-section this afternoon, and I’m performing it.

We met ten years ago, when I walked my three-year-old daughter into Monica’s preschool classroom for the first time. Monica sat on the floor, a child in her lap and others playing around her. Like them,

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