“Where is my baby?” I awoke upset that my belly, which hours before was bulging through my doctor scrubs, had surprisingly been flattened. No one had asked for my permission to deliver my baby. They told me he was delivered emergently — at 32-weeks gestation — to save both our lives.
I was a third-year pediatric resident, the senior for the pediatric ICU, on the night of my son’s birth. My overnight call had just started with an admission of a 12-year-old in pain of a sickle cell crisis. As I began writing up the admitting orders, I felt a sudden descent in my pregnant belly, and then an intense, halting stab of pain down my spine. I thought maybe, I could pass through what I conjured was a contraction, but the spikes of pain were unrelenting — and set in the sirens of an alarm. I quickly stood up. Somewhat conflicted, I began to work some courage to tell my attending faculty doctor that I needed to be seen by my OB doctor. In response to my request, she smirked and without even looking up, dismissed me. The nurse, standing behind her, insisted I take a wheelchair. “You don’t look like you can walk, doctor,” she said.
It was 2002 and residents were supposed to be superhuman. We weren’t expected to ask anything for ourselves. This time, however, heeded the nurse’s advice.
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