Monthly Archives: November 2015

Night and Day on Labor and Delivery

Hello? It’s me

I was wondering if after all these sleepless days you’d like to chat.

To go over everything.

They say that time’s supposed to heal…but I ain’t done much healing (sleeping).

Hello? Can you read me.

I’m in California, dreaming about who I used to be. Before 3rd year.

When I was younger and free.

I just finished 2 weeks on L&D, which means I lived at the hospital and yes, Adele was on re-play in the workroom the entire time. Now I hum my life thoughts to her amazing lyrics. Today marks the half-way point in my 3rd year of med school. How have I changed? Well, with each passing rotation I feel more and more like I deserve my white coat– that I’m not just playing dress up. I remember stepping into my first patient room on my first day of internal medicine thinking what the heck am I doing? I literally know nothing. And now, with each passing week I feel more and more comfortable in my future profession. It’s amazing how on the job training will do that to you. The training is merciless but when you get to the other side you definitely feel like it was worth it. My ob/gyn rotation pushed me to my absolute physical limits. Especially the labor and delivery service. You pretty much have to acquiesce to the fact that you will not be leaving the hospital. Once you are OK with that, it’s an amazingly fun ride.

Here is what happens when you spend 15+ hours a day delivering babies:

  1. Pandora is your new best friend.
  2. Adele’s “Hello” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” will forever bring me back to 4 am trying to get a second wind to finish up the night shift.
  3. You learn to eat and walk at the same time and make smart eat and walking choices at the cafeteria— like getting fruit or french fries. Soup regrettably doesn’t work.
  4. You learn to sleep sitting upright at a conference table. Even 15 minutes can be life changing.
  5. You NEVER forget to put shoe covers on when entering a c-section or a delivery room. You make that mistake only ONCE in your life.
  6. Updating the list is the fastest way to get your residents to love you. You update the list, you are loved. Oh that and doing the AFI scan for them. Extra love.
  7. You begin to have daily strange dreams about your own future pregnancy and the various complications that can happen. Enter baby with imperforate anus.

I did my Ob training at a particularly busy institution, I’ve heard 300 deliveries a month being tossed around, which means we see A LOT of laboring mammas. That also means I got an amazing experience. The highlight of my medical training was a 15 hour day that included 3 c-sections, 2 vaginal deliveries and countless rule-out laborers at our Ob ER. The day shift on Ob is non-stop. If you fail to eat a gigantic breakfast before you show up at 6am you may not be eating again until 2pm. That makes for hangry residents. Not always avoidable. But just DON’T skip breakfast.

The night shift on the other hand is a strange beast. Because I wasn’t really seeing night ever, it felt like one continuous 96 hour day when I was on. It was my own personal groundhog day, leaving and coming into work on the same day. Even though I was sleeping about 5-6 hours in the daytime, I was in a perpetual zombie-like-state. Only an IV infusion of coffee kept me going and my “dead zone” nap from 2am-4am. Of course, as a med student I didn’t want to miss anything and on L&D emergency crash c-sections are not the kind of thing they think to call the med student for. I was too afraid to find a couch to sleep on and miss out, which relegated me to sleeping in a conference room chair, pretty much with one eye open looking at the labor strip.

What made this entire experience so amazing though were the residents, particularly my senior, who allowed me to be her “right-hand” shadow the entire rotation. She was so gracious at taking time out of our insane day to allow me to close every surgical case and even taught me to close fascia and perfect my surgical knots. I will never forget how much time she devoted to my learning. I promise to pay it forward one day!

This time next year I will be on the interview trail for residency. Crazy how fast this experience is passing by. It has left me exhausted and drained yet completely aware of how special what I am doing is. I still wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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