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Typical Day

It's 6am and you're chugging down a Diet Coke and a granola bar...in the shower. By 6:30am you're on your way to your office at the hospital. You chat with the nurses coming off the night shift and check the vitals on the four expectant mothers in the maternity wing. One is scheduled for a Cesarian section at 7:30am and another for a vaginal delivery around 10. There's an email from the Nurse-Midwife about your 10am. You check your schedule and yup, you cleared enough time to deal with any of the complications she's mentioned. The third woman has been having contractions all night, but has not yet dilated past two centimeters. Number Four is past her due date, but you've discussed inducing labor this afternoon.

At 8am you've delivered eight pounds of baby boy via C-section (note to self: Get the Ceasar's salad at lunch today). You congratulate the parents, a young woman and the two gay men who are raising the baby. They ask you to pose for a picture and you get a little choked up. These people will have a very nice family. You scrub out and head back to your office and make case notes.

There's a staff meeting being held on your lunch break. You can't skip out on this one, it's mandatory. Another class about the "m-word," malpractice. Obstetricians get hit with them all the time. You've avoided one so far because you are honest and compassionate with your patients. You don't give them unrealistic expectations. You're also better off working in a hospital, where they have the insurance and resources to defend you if you do go to court. You know the only protection against socially transmitted diseases like lawyers and their suits is to dot your i's and cross your t's.

At 9am, you see your first office patient. Two more appointments and at 9:30am you write up your notes, call in prescriptions, and get changed for your 10:00. Your patient is right on schedule. She's dilated to 10 cm and has already begun pushing. She successfully delivers an eight-pound girl and you neatly stitch up the episiotomy.

You wonder how women ever gave birth in the first place, before modern medicine. Try swallowing a whole watermelon, you tell new mothers. That's what giving birth is like except it doesn't taste delicious and you won't be sitting in the park. Today, cutting the vagina to make the opening bigger is commonplace, but you had to wonder what the architect was thinking building a house with a front door the size of a keyhole.

At 10:30am you check on Two Centimeters and see that she has only grown to three. You make arrangements for a Pitocin drip and electronic fetal monitoring and plan to induce labor at 1pm. There's more than one way to get out of a meeting.

You see four more patients, do charting, sign off on labs, call patients with test results and quickly microwave last night's curry before running to the noon meeting.

Your 1pm induced delivery goes without a hitch (or stitch). You deliver a 25-pound girl and, after yelling at the nurse for leaving his bowling ball on the baby scale, you wish the parents the best with their eight-pound girl and get back to your office in time to for your 1:40pm.

Sweaty Betty is considering hormones. She is 45 years old and had her last period eight months before. Her weight is going up despite a good diet and active lifestyle. The night sweats are freaking her out and her husband is starting to spend the night in a room where the AC isn't on full blast in the middle of winter. They discuss her family history for cancer, her experience with birth control pills and refer her to an endocrinologist. In the meantime, you suggest putting a cooler next to the bed and filling it with cold washcloths dotted with a few drops of peppermint oil.

While you chart Sweaty B, another patient appears in triage at 2:15pm and you rush down to meet her. She's having a miscarriage and with each passing minute, more and more family members arrive, making the bad news even harder to deliver.

It's 2:45pm and you're running 30 minutes behind, but manage to do some PAP smears, a pregnancy test, an STD check, and an ultrasound consult before you drag yourself to your car and head home.

You swing through the grocery store for dinner and can't figure out why you've been craving nothing but watermelon lately. You pick up a home pregnancy kit and fall asleep watching Baby Mama.