Andrea has been an obstetrician/gynecologist in the Metro Detroit area for nearly 25 years. Through her many years in women's health, she has shared in countless intimate moments of her patients, and shared in their joys, heartaches, secrets, losses and victories. In her writing, she captures the human side of medicine and what doctors think and feel in caring for patients. She has documented her stories on her blog www.secretlifeofobgyn.com. She has been a contributor in Intima, A Journal of Narrative Medicine and Pulse, Voices From the Heart of Medicine. Andrea is also a guest rotating blogger on KevinMD and Doximity. Andrea holds a Doctorate of Medicine (M.D.) from Wayne State University School of Medicine. She is also board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellow of ACOG (American College of OB/GYN).
The nurse grabs me. “You have to check my patient now! She is screaming and bearing down.” Without letting go of my hand, she leads me into the labor room. I don’t even consider saying no, I know not to question this nurse. She has been a labor and delivery nurse nearly as long as I have been alive — she knows much more than I about everything.
“Sorry, I’m running late… sorry, to keep you waiting…” How many times a day do I say that? Sometimes it is every time I walk into a patient’s room, as if it is a normal greeting. Sometimes patients respond with “oh, you aren’t late” or “I haven’t been waiting long.” I can be so obsessed with not being late that I don’t realize I’m actually running on time!
Walking into the back hallway, all seemed calm and quiet. The hallway was dimly lit with several closed doors on either side. The dark gray carpet was broken up by shafts of light here and there as the sunlight sneaked in through the windows. The bathroom was immediately to the left and as I turned toward it, I breathed in the scent of burning flesh. Such a familiar scent. A scent I’m used to from performing surgery when I use cautery to stop bleeding. Feeling at home, I walked a little further, drawn to the scent…Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks--this wasn’t just anyone having surgery, this was my child!
Sometimes it is a light breeze across my face, sometimes it is a flutter in my heart, sometimes it is a glimmer of a memory, and momentarily, you are with me dad. The sensation never lasts long, just a flash sometimes as I’m talking to a patient or writing notes in a chart, and as soon as I recognize it, you are gone. But in that moment, it is like you are tapping me on the shoulder and saying “stop, take a breath, remember.” And so I remember moments, like a still picture in a slideshow.
21 years ago, I saved a life. Yes, I have helped many women over the years, perhaps changed their life in some way, but this one time… this one time, there is no doubt in my mind, I saved this baby’s life.
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