While running back and forth between patients, I peeked my head behind her curtain to check on her. “You okay?” I would say with a syringe in one hand and a medicine cup in the other, and she would nod and I would keep running.
After the emergency cesarean section was finished, another hypertensive patient delivered her breech baby and finally got her blood pressure under 200/120. I gave my postpartum patients their medicines a little late, and then finally turned my attention to my patient behind the curtain. I felt almost bad, like I had neglected her all morning, but the honest truth was that she just wasn’t as urgent as the other cases. I went in to hang an antibiotic and apologized.
I brushed hair away from my face and said, “Crazy morning! Sorry I haven’t had time to look at you.” She smiled playfully and said it was okay, that she had seen me running back and forth and understood that other people were more critical than her.
I hung her antibiotic, felt her abdomen, and listened to her baby’s heartbeat. An empty chair was sitting by her bed, so I sat down in it. Her face went from playful to worried. “Is my baby going to be okay?”
I explained to her as simply as I could that her water had broken way to early, and that her baby was only 27 weeks along when normally a pregnancy lasts 40. I told her that we were encouraged by the fact that her contractions had stopped and that her baby’s heart rate was doing good. “We are going to keep a close eye on you and your baby until you deliver, but we want to give baby as much time as possible to develop.”
“But when he comes out, will he be okay?” Her brow furrowed. This was her third pregnancy. The first was a miscarriage, the second a similar situation to this when her water broke at 25 weeks and the baby died. No wonder she was worried.
“We really can’t say,” I said honestly yet compassionately. “I’ve seen babies smaller than yours live and babies larger than yours die. We don’t always understand why, so we just have to trust that God is in control and what he decides is good because he loves us.” We prayed together, and I wholeheartedly asked God for a miracle, for it just didn’t seem right for her to lose her third baby. After our amen, I looked up and saw relief and peace in her eyes.
I stood up and went back to running back and forth between my other patients, passing meds and checking temperatures and heart tones.
I hadn’t gone into her room to pray with her, only to hang an antibiotic. But when I saw an empty chair and sat down in it, and the rest just happened. It’s funny. When I’m trying too hard, the opportunities just don’t seem to be there. It’s when I’m not looking that they pop up, and then those spontaneous, unexpected moments become the most meaningful.
Live authentically, love people, and sit down in empty chairs. Hang your antibiotics, serve your tables, write your reports, answer your phone calls phone calls, feed your toddlers, do your job. Do the task in front of you, and while you are at it, offer hope. Sometimes all people need is for you to peek your head behind the curtain, to see them where they are, make sure they are okay, and maybe tell them about a God who does everything out of love for them.
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