“Bring us into your world. What is something about your work (past or present) that outsiders typically don’t understand? It can be something required by the job, something that happens on the job, something you feel about the job—but whatever it is, do not exceed 800 words.”
It’s 2:00 AM and I’m driving to work. The only drivers on the road are me, the drunks, and the occasional squad car. I figure it’s the most dangerous hour to be on the road and I’ve driven it many times.
The call came about ten minutes ago. I was sound asleep – probably dreaming; I don’t remember for sure, but I did have to wipe the drool away before I answered the phone. “I’m on my way,” I said. There was only time to dress quickly and head to the car as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
In the car, I turn the music up loud as Ozzy wakes me up. My hair is sticking up in crazy directions and I try to smooth it down. I search for a stick of gum to tame the dragon breath as I wait at the light.
My phone rings again. “You almost here?”
“Yeah, I’m pulling in to the parking garage. Be there in a minute.” I hear a scream on the other end. I quicken my pace.
I run down the corridor and enter the unit. There is a bustle of activity around room three and I head over just as another scream pierces the air.
“Doctor, it’s about time you got here. Grab some gloves,” the nurse said. “Jenny, this is Dr. James. She’s going to deliver your baby.”
Another scream. Nothing is registering with Jenny except pain. I could be the housekeeper as far as she is concerned. She just wants it to end.
Jenny has a moment of clarity. “Can I have something for pain?”
I feel for the baby’s head. “This baby’s going to be born before we can get the medicine drawn up. Next contraction, push hard and baby will be here.”
Fear clouds her eyes followed by determination as the next contraction builds. She closes her eyes and bears down hard. The top of a wrinkled head with thick black hair emerges. She takes a breath, bears down again, and the entire head pops out.
“Don’t push, Mom. There’s a cord around the neck.” I move it out of the way easily. “Now push gently, and open your eyes,” I tell Jenny. She sees her baby for the first time. She smiles and the look of wonder is always the same.
The baby – a boy – takes a breath and wails. It’s music to my ears. Totally amazing – I am holding a brand new, tiny human being with a unique personality and destiny. So much potential.
Dad cuts the umbilical cord; we all cheer and I place baby on top of Jenny’s belly. She reaches down to hold him, goo and all.
“Hi baby,” Jenny says, and he stops crying. They always stop crying when they hear Mom’s voice. I see it all the time, but it never gets old.
Mom and Dad talk to their new son. They marvel at how much he looks like his big brother. I deliver the placenta and stitch up a tiny tear. Not bad.
Jenny meets my eye. “Thanks Doc,” she says.
“My pleasure. Congratulations.” I smile. “He looks like a keeper. Enjoy him.”
She smiles and looks down at her new son.
I take off my gown and gloves. I leave quietly.
It’s 3:00 AM and I’m driving home from work. With luck, most of the drunks have safely reached their destinations; the police officers are still doing their best to keep people safe. My job took less than an hour, but it was an important hour. A family has a new addition, and even though they probably won’t remember my name, I had a part in that.
Halfway home, fatigue hits me like a steel fist. The “high” from the delivery crashes when the clock reminds me that I have to get up in three hours and go to the office for a full day of pap smears and hot flashes. Reality descends like a bird of prey.
Birds… Isn’t the stork supposed to deliver the babies?
The stork parks her Camaro in the garage and hopes for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.