Thursday, March 11, 2010

Over Lunch with a Pediatrician

Over lunch we try to dream freely but not too desperately about the things we want to do with the house we hope to buy. Olivia astonishes me by wanting to have a "hosting night" once a week - presumably to host other human beings. in her plans for a children's garden, she explains the tension between organization and enough disorder and chaos that would allow room for the kids to experiment and explore on their own.

We imagine that we'll actually want a house that will take alot of work - we would rather avoid the pristine and packaged readiness of a modern home - if it's going to be our home, we want to put ourselves into it.

above Olivia's little cramped desk which sits in our little cramped bedroom overlooking Front Street, there hangs on the wall a densely printed photocopy that begins simply "The most important and effective action in neonatal resuscitation is ventilation of the baby's lungs with oxygen." things get a bit more complicated as the sheet continues with various diagrams, flowcharts and lists explaining how to assess the newborn, different actions to take depending on different presentations, intubation precedures and medications for resuscitation. although it doesn't happen very often, neonatal resuscitation is probably one of the scariest things about being a young pediatrician. but Olivia puts it right there where she can see it every day - I imagine it gives here a sense of perspective, but it also reflects her determination to face what she sometimes refers to as "the abyss."

the other day she wrote, "I am a physician in need of meaningful work, something that will make me proud to come home to my husband and children. Something that will give me stories to tell. Something that will let me stir the quiet pool of Truth with my extended index finger, even if only to see a few ripples result. I am learning to listen to the chattering voices of the Abyss, because they have a message to tell me. Instead of screaming in terror and fighting, I am willing now to lay my head agains the cool granite wall of the cliff and, panting, listen for a melody rising from the murmuring below as it crescendos and decrescendos in my consciousness."

above the photocopied neonatal resuscitation paper is a little wall of quotes, scribbled on pastel-colored sticky notes. These are the ones I like the best:

"The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it."

-William Faulkner

"It's not by imitating anyone that you'll open anything at all. One doesn't buy keys, one makes them for himself."

-Elie Weisel

"I have nothing against questions: they are useful. What is more, they alone are. To turn away from them would be to fail in our duty, to lose our only chance to be able to lead an authentic life."

-Elie Weisel

As I sit across the table from her, at Mya's cafe, enjoying a good thick cheesburger, I admire the way her face has become the face of a woman. There is wisdom sprouting at the corners of her eyes, a mysterious depth that falls away behind her pupils, a sense of rest and identity that is beginning to play into her smile. Her cheeks are flush with pregnancy hormones as she carries our third child and I am stunned. I like the way she believes in key-making and wants desperately to take her chance at leading an authentic life.


darren-jenn said...

You both seem so happy you make me want to say "yawn, why don't you hate your lives a little more." But I'm not going to say that because life should be fun, not exhausting. Sounds like you want to make the most of it...can't wait to see you and the new baby in May.


Dawn Wenger said...

I enjoyed reading your words and musings. You give me hope for life and the reminder that life is "the process" not the end.

Lilian said...

You're happy???? YAY!

You're happy five hours away???? Awww.....

adalong said...

Your last paragraph about your lady is beautiful!