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Nov 16, 2007


This afternoon, I was catching up on lectures from the week and listened to three hours given by an expert from Texas: one on congenital heart defects and two on pediatric pathology.

The lectures were full of autopsy pictures of infants, fetuses, babies, children.

And I was at once enthralled and devastated.

I am torn because, on one hand, I want to be an Ob/Gyn. This congenital and perinatal stuff is right up my future alley. I was fascinated to learn what happens to cause things to go so badly wrong. And there are so many things that we can do! So many things that can help! I feel renewed energy to help treat these mothers and their babies, to help to educate them, to help prevent these deaths.

On the other hand, I want to be a mother. Those babies could be mine someday. My sister is a mother and I have a nephew. It could still happen to him. I cannot bear to look at these images. I think how lucky we are to have a healthy baby in the family and how easily things could have been different. There are so many things that can happen - so many things that can kill a baby. It is amazing that any of us come out okay. I just want to stay in my little blessed bubble and not think about all the horrible things that happen. And how much pain they cause.

I kept thinking about my classmates with kids of their own. How could they sit through that? How has the pathologist become so immune to the effects of these pictures that she didn't even see fit to warn us that they were coming? Will I be that way? Will I be so immune, so hardened that I won't feel the slightest twinge when telling a mother... the worst news she could image?

Then again, she will need me to be strong. At least enough to get her through it. How can I get to be that strong when I break down from a powerpoint?

3 Readers rock!:

Anonymous said...

As a mom, I am glad that you had that reaction. Knowing that you care and that you have a heart is one of the most important gifts you can give to your future patients. If I know you at all, you will never become immune to tragedy.

Your sister...who has now become an avid reader of your blog.

Jen said...

It is true that you do get used to it somewhat, but not everything. It means you are still human!

The Scrivener said...

We had a similar lecture a few weeks ago on intersex. The syllabus said it was supposed to be a lecture on the development of the kidneys and urinary tract, so we were all very shocked, not only at the situations that these babies and parents must find themselves in, but also in the lecturer's off-hand comments and jokes.

The more I learn about the reproductive system and human development, the more I am frightened to ever have a kid. I get gooey when I see a baby on the subway, but having one of my own -- that's just too much fear for me to handle right now.