To the 32 year old woman with no kids: “It’s cancer.”
To the 21 year old woman raped in a foreign country: “I’ve found an HIV prophylaxis drug that you might tolerate better.
To the first time mom whose baby died of prematurity complications at ten days of life: “I’m just so so sorry.”
In my days at work this past week, I have said many banal statement- reassuring pregnant women that their single pain is a normal growing pain that comes with pregnancy, telling a pregnant patient’s husband that yes, it’s okay for her- no, good for her- to walk the long distance at the work parking lot, informing patients that their genetic test showed they don’t have a risk for Down Syndrome and yay (sarcasm- sorry some bitterness there) it’s a girl. I talk to women about how they want to plan a pregnancy. I really want to get pregnant next September- well, good luck with that. I listen politely to how people complain or brag about their second pregnancy.
When I was struggling with all my little annoyances and grievances I had with patients throughout the week, I would remind myself of those other patients. The ones who had terrible things happening to them too- cancer, rape, babyloss- and how I was able to help them each in their own way. They don’t make me less annoyed at some of the interactions I had, but they do make me feel less alone. And they do help remind me that, yes, sometimes I can still be a good midwife. Sometimes…
Have you had any reminders that as bad as life is for you, others have it just as bad (if not worse)? How does it make you feel? Grateful? Bitter? Comforted?