My car says it’s 2:10 a.m., 17 degrees. I just left my warm bed — and snoring husband — threw on scrubs and my contact lenses and quickly brushed my teeth and hair. I’m shivering as the car warms up and I hear the crunch of the snow as the car rolls out of the driveway. I’m the first one out on the fresh snow, and it glistens in the light of my headlamps. Trying to shake the sleepy fog in my head, I breathe in this beautiful moment and tell myself I would have missed this if I wasn’t driving into the hospital for a delivery. The car fishtails little as I drive down the hill, turning the corner, the shiny metal railing on either side guiding me down the street.
I begin to ruminate about how my night will go. Will she deliver quickly? Outside is a winter wonderland —the trees powdered with snow. Will she deliver on my shift? Suddenly — a deer runs out in front of me. I brake and wish her well. Will I get home before my kids leave for school? I drive through the sleepy town of Franklin, being careful to heed the speed limit as I have received speeding tickets here before. Will I have time to rest before going to the office? Quickly, I look at my pager as it is going off again. How many patients are scheduled at the office? I stop at a red light and realize the car is finally warm. Will I be too tired after the office to go for a run?
As I make a left turn and see a few cars here and there, I feel the shift. How will she feel about the new baby? I slow down for the salt truck ahead of me. How is she managing the pain of labor? As I stop for a light, all I hear is a siren in the distance; otherwise, I am alone at the intersection. Does she have good support in the room? I see the bright lights of the hospital up ahead. Does she have good support at home? I turn in, park, and walk up the stairs into labor and delivery, fully awake.
Each time I drive in, I find that 20-minute transition from home to hospital allows me to transition from me to the patient, my needs to theirs. I remind myself what a special moment this is for them, their transition from being a nonparent to a parent or a parent again. Every delivery is unique. I park my car and leave my agenda there.
Andrea Eisenberg is a obstetrician-gynecologist who blogs at Secret Life of an OB/GYN.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com