In the middle of the day on Friday, I had this thought: I want to do this forever.
I can't really pinpoint what I was doing, or what it was about the patients I saw that day, but there was this joyous surge of energy in me. I went to a surgery in the morning, saw a case presentation at noon, and spent all afternoon in the clinic seeing patients. I didn't even get to eat lunch, and I was tired and starving at the end of the day, but it didn't even matter. As I left the hospital, I had this serene but energetic feeling of well-being and contentment.
Some friends and I tailgated at the Brewers game on Friday night, and as we huddled around the grills for warmth we were comparing stories about our rotations and what we had decided to do with our lives. I couldn't stop telling everyone: I'd been holding out my judgment (and hoping OB/GYN was for me!) but now that I'd done it for a week, I was hooked. I wanted every week of my life to be like that week: surgery and clinic and ED consults and laboring patients.
I held off writing this because I wanted to "be sure" and I wanted to have my first call night under my belt before proclaiming my love of my chosen field to the world (who am I kidding. I wear my love for women's health on my freaking sleeve). I wanted to have some kind of mythical origin story to recount, where I deliver my first baby on call and hear choirs of angels or see a light shining from above, calling me to do this work. But the reality is this: I had two gyn consults in the ED last night, both of which were super interesting (a really awful labial abscess and a probable vulvar cancer), but the universe heard my selfish plans and gave me two slowly laboring patients and no deliveries.
I hesitate to admit this, but I was crushed. I was disappointed, stupidly so, and heartbroken. My classmates had all had these fantastic delivery experiences (one of them, a future orthopod, calls them "A Whole New World" moments, because he learns something astounding about the female body every day) and I desperately wanted to have one, too.
I came home from call, brushed my teeth (finally! they were gross), and fell sobbing into bed. Yes, I'll confess: I was so tired/upset/disappointed that I literally cried because I hadn't seen any deliveries. Not my proudest moment.
I woke up five hours later feeling much better, pretty damned foolish, and selfish to boot. First, I don't need a specific delivery/event to know this is the "right" specialty. If anything, I had those moments already (I have actually already seen a couple of deliveries when I've shadowed doctors in the past) and I've felt a calling to work in women's health since my first year of medical school. Hanging all these expectations on a single call night was silly and set me up to be disappointed. Second, I should know better. The patients on L&D aren't there for my amusement, but because they are about to bring another life into the world. That's freaking amazing, and if it didn't happen in the middle of the night so that I could bear witness to it, that's okay. I'm on call on Saturday, too, and three more times after that.
Actually, I have the rest of my life. I want to do this forever.