8 Mar

When I was pregnant with Sam and my body decided that it was time to push, there was no stopping it.  The nurses begged me to stop pushing.  The doctor isn’t here yet.  Don’t push. Don’t push. Breathe. Breathe.  They chanted it to me with a desperation that I understand now that I am on the other side of health care.  And I tried to stop my body from doing what it must.  I tried to, but I failed. I breathed and panted and yet my whole body squeezed itself into the contraction.  Someone came into the room and said my doctor was “on the way” and had said to just turn up my epidural.  I refused.  I don’t want more epidural.  I won’t be able to feel anything at all to push once she gets here!  I don’t need more drugs.  I need to push!  I yelled out to them as my body pushed and they begged me to stop.

Craig jumped in and demanded another doctor be brought into the room to deliver my baby.

I wonder now who it was.  Who was this savior who stepped into place and pretended to be an authority?  Certainly it had to be someone unqualified.  First year resident maybe.  Been on L&D rotation for 2 weeks.  And here she was being brought in as the expert. I admire her, whoever she was.  She stepped into my room and assured me that all was fine.  Even though her heart must have been hammering away inside her chest.

And so my body pushed.

Later my actual doctor walked in.  She was angry with me that I had not followed her directive.  That I had not allowed her to medicate my body into submission for her tardiness to my birth. Craig asked her how are you Dr. D?  And she glared at him and said like a steel blade, “Harried.”

And we carried on. Later, in the pushing she made a point to make eye contact with me and said “if you can’t do any better than that with your pushing, I’ll get this baby out myself in the OR.”  I wanted to reach between my legs and grab her throat and strangle her.  But instead I pushed as hard as I could.  I pushed harder than I could.  And I ripped myself in two, very nearly, just to be rid of this awful awful woman.  And Sam was born and the world pivoted.  And we all forget about the Dr. that I later learned everyone in the hospital referred to privately as Dr. Diablos.


This week I admitted a baby that needed a to be intubated (a breathing tube.)  The doctor worked patiently with the residents and allowed them a moment to attempt intubation on this tiny human.  He spoke quietly to them, stopped them gently when they were about to do something that might cause undue discomfort, he encouraged them and even gently guided their hands and said yes yes, look, you are doing it. And then the baby cried around the tube and we all exhaled as he pulled the tube out and stepped in to do it himself, still offering praise and encouragement to his pupils. You very nearly had it!

He quickly (and easily) intubated the patient and then it was my job to secure the tube in place. I lined up the device and confirmed with my respiratory therapist that I was in good placement on the other side before pressing the adhesive to the baby’s face.  As she said yes and I looked to see if it was well placed on my side before I pressed down, the doctor grabbed it from my hand and slapped it down.

His patience had been bled dry for the residents. I was too timid, too slow, too hesitant and he was exhausted by it. Bled dry of his praise and encouragement.


Later, when he left the room, the therapist and I had to redo the job to prevent the patient from accidental extubation.

I’ve ordered myself a new daily planner.  It is a detailed planner created for high achievers like CEOs.  For people like my husband who are strategists for large businesses. Serious women and men who wear snappy suits and have meetings that require them to plan long range and talk about profits and quarters and employee engagement.  It is meant to help them set goals and then create plans to pick away at them and achieve them.

It was not made for 41 year old brand new nurses trying to keep tiny humans alive through the night.  People who have no discernible schedule or rhythm to their day to day life.  Who wake up and basically put out blazing fires all day (all night) long. It was not made for people who are so low on the totem pole at work they may as well be the part that is buried in the dirt.  It was not made for mothers of three school age children who all have such deeply different schedules and needs and all seem to be missing their mom in some secret message sort of way.  It wasn’t made for people who can’t seem to keep their house clean for more than 3 minutes or cook proper meals more than two times a week; people who can’t eat healthy or exercise regularly or volunteer at church or at school or at Scouts.  It was not a planner that was created for people like me.



My natural state is one of tension.  Not unlike my body was during labor with Sam.  Tightening, wrapping itself forward and pushing onward with no discernible plan other than to do more than what I am already doing.  Always this press to do better, do more, to excel in all arenas, to pick apart all my own minor failures and magnify them so as to better examine and fix them.  My list of what I’d like to accomplish is absurd. Yet, I press on with this list as if it is written law. And I exhaust myself in the absurd effort of it.

Well, I am using my planner to lasso this natural tendency  of mine to white knuckle it.  And I am strategically setting some goals to slow my roll.

Yesterday, instead of cooking dinner for my children, I threw some leftovers on plates, heated them up and then snuck into the living room while they ate.  I sat in the sunny patch on my couch reading Bel Canto and ate a big bowl of chips. And when I was done, I went and checked it off my list in my planner. Like a motherfucking boss.



Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s