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24 January 2011 @ 07:39 pm
hospital intern life: 101  
This marks my second full week interning at the hospital, and while I still feel incredibly new and inadequate, I can say for sure that I have seen things.  When I think about counseling, I always prepare myself to hear things.  It's mostly a profession of listening and digesting peoples' narratives.  I never anticipated how visual and visceral a hospital setting could be.  Sure, I've seen dying people before.  Sure, I've seen amputations.  Sure I've seen people with tubes protruding from every orifice of their bodies.  In a way, I pride myself on not being shaken up by people's ailments very often.  Now, smells, on the other hand, I just can't handle.  I'm sure I will vomit more than once in the course of this semester. 

Last week, I sat with a woman and her husband on the women's post-surgery floor.  She had just experienced a miscarriage (or premature stillbirth if you want to call it that).  The baby was 19 weeks along.  Nothing could have prepared me for the sadness of seeing a 19 week old fetus.  I could barely hold myself together, let alone offer counseling to the parents.  The concept of fetal demise is tragic to ponder.  Witnessing it is an entirely new level of mindfuck.  I mean...women can still get abortions at 19 weeks, and there I sat with a family who desperately wanted their daughter.  After I left their room, I stepped into the elevator and just started crying.

The research says that you should hold the dead baby.  Adore her.  Name her.  Give her a proper send-off.  Apparently this kick-starts the grief process and allows people to cope with their loss.  Some parents choose to spend the night with their baby.  I get the rationale, but it doesn't stop the whole thing from feeling utterly morbid and disturbing.  They tell us as counseling students that we need to process the things that bother us.  I don't know that any amount of processing is going to prepare me for the next time there is a fetal demise on my floor.  Perhaps I can rest assured that I will be less shocked.  I might find myself being able to stay in the patient's room longer.  Those hardly feel like progress.