I'm an assistant today, but a skilled one. Nobody has to give me instructions. He laughs, as he's putting in the stitches to close off a particularly noxious little bleeder. "You pulled the suture wrong, misled me."
A hubbub in the hallway, muted, as if trying not to draw attention. Afterward, I look for the scrub. "There's quads. 28 weeks. Doc's coming to evaluate, probably going to section." My heart jumps.
There's time for me to make my phone calls to patients and round on the postop folks before the 9 goes back. This OB stands on the surgeon's side if I'm going to assist, and usually tells me why. This time, it's the father's expensive camera. "He's going to take a lot of pictures."
I call clinic, make plans to come over if it happens while I'm seeing patients. And then the eleven becomes the one, and they wheel in three more baby warmers, and we're playing baby-go-round with the bandage scissors and the clamps and he let me cut...
I am in love with medicine all over again, standing in the NICU staring at four warmers, writing down weights. Smallest baby weighed a kilogram, all of them wriggling and crying as his big hands lifted them out of the uterus, tiny wrinkled naked creatures now connected to tubes and wires, oxygen support but no ventilators yet. The NICU nurses smile when I come in to see "my babies," the little ones I deliver with the perinatology service, and they let me stand and watch.
I carry the news back to the parents in recovery, reciting weights, accounting for forty fingers and forty toes. They glow, and smile at me - a stranger an hour previously.