Saturday, May 22, 2010

Brief Snapshots

     Although I'm still smarting from my recent customer service crises (I didn't even mention my vacuum cleaner or dishwasher malfunctions!), a rather pleasant memory floated into my consciousness one night as I lay in bed quieting myself to sleep. Fatima - I think she was Ecuadorian or Guatemalan. She was my discharge nurse after I had Julia. She thoroughly instructed me with a mini-course on newborn care. I didn't feel I really needed it, but I did learn several new things! Wow. It just goes to show you that after 6 kids it was confirmed what I already suspected - I have a lot to learn! I will never be an expert at this "pregnancy, childbirth, baby, mommy- of- lots- of -kids" thing. (I'm often asked by incredulous-sounding people, "How do you do it with six kids?" If I'm being particularly honest that day I'll answer, "Not very well."  The look of surprise on many faces is rather, well, amusing. Not that my answer is meant to generate entertainment for my sake. But, really, some days I have "it" together, but most days I don't.)
     I listened carefully and patiently to all of her information. In her thick accent, but excellent English, she explained to me all of the reasons I would call my pediatrician regarding concern for my baby. OK. The list was frighteningly long and I'm glad I never had to make calls for any of those things she mentioned. Although I was focused on what she was saying, I was also incredibly eager to leave the hospital. By 7:00 am that morning when my doctor had arrived to check on me, my room was totally cleaned up, bags packed, and birth certificate info filled out; I was ready to go home ASAP. The day's events just 18 hours prior were such that they almost catapulted me home as soon as I could leave. Every hospital stay prior to Julia's birth was stretched out to the full amount allotted. (I wanted the rest!) Not with Julia.
     After she completed her mini-course on newborn care, we began to talk about her life. She had aspirations as a young woman to become a medical doctor in her country. She married, though, had children, and eventually emigrated to the U.S. For economic reasons, she became a cafeteria worker, then gradually became a nurse and here she was today.  The look of longing and pain on her face that her dreams had not been fulfilled was palpable. Perhaps due to my extra-sensitivity, postpartum, hormonal, and trauma-induced vulnerability, I really absorbed her sadness. She told me about her daughter who was at UCLA medical school and was studying to become an OB/GYN. I pointed out that she could enjoy her daughter's success, but I could tell that her derailed career dreams were too great to be overshadowed by her daughter's burgeoning medical career. It was rather heartbreaking to see, but I so appreciated her transparency. I remember hugging her two or three times, touched by her story and so grateful  that she cared enough to teach and instruct me about caring for my sleepy, chubby Julia. I'm not a hugger, either. In my short stay at that hospital, she is the only medical professional  who I felt genuinely cared for me as a person, and not just a patient to process and get through the system. I didn't mention her in my grievance to the hospital, however, because it was a grievance, not an evaluation of my overall care. I did mention how helpful she was to the nurse manager of labor and delivery whom I spoke with the week after Julia was born, though. "Yes, Fatima is an excellent teacher," the nurse manager responded.
     I'm pondering the idea of writing Fatima a thank you note and sending it to the postpartum unit. I want her to know how much her excellent care made such a difference in my life that, after almost two years, I would still remember her and be grateful for her professional and human touch. Perhaps, in some small way, the sadness at her "second choice" career might be lessened. I am persuaded to believe that her career course was exactly the one God had for her. I was the blessed beneficiary of "all that didn't go according to plan." Sometimes, there are those brief snapshots into others' lives, as well as our own, where we get a tiny peek at seeing how trusting God for the disappointments and "what could've/should've been" broadens and deepens our vision of how amazingly kind and wise He really is. Oh, Lord, help me to see more of you in increasing measure!

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