I’m finally post-call after my first 26-hour stint on obstetrics call.  It’s a weird sensation for sure, especially since I came back to my apartment and slept for a few hours.  Now, mid-afternoon, it feels like late morning and late evening at the same time.

That doesn’t really make sense.


This entire week has been a bit weird – for 3 months I’ve barely seen one or two of my classmates and have been immersed in family medicine almost exclusively.  Now I’m hanging with half a dozen of us on a daily basis, dealing with ornery pregnant ladies, lots of surgery, an awful lot of vaginas, and happy newborn babies.  I still can’t quite believe I’m actually working in hospital (mostly).

Anyway.  Back to the topic at hand.  For those who aren’t aware, being “on-call” as a medical student on obstetrics means you’re essentially seeing everyone labouring, needing assessment, or who might be labouring from 6:00am one morning until 8:00am the next.  And given that it’s obs, that generally means a sleepless night.

I wanted to give those who’ve never experienced call a sense of what goes through your mind as the day (and night) carries on…

  • 6:00-12:00

Groggy.  Semi-comatose, more like… didn’t hardly sleep last night, anticipating a day of sleeplessness.  Gotta round on (i.e. see all of) the pregnant ladies, gotta wake them up all mean and stuff.  They’re tired and grouchy as is, why can’t we round later in the morning?

Finally on the obs unit.  Let’s see, I should meet all of my labouring ladies so that I get a chance to see their deliveries without causing stress and duress by the approach of a stranger to a rather private area.  Half are quite pleasant (usually the ones with an epidural), half are struggling under painful contractions.  One or two are absolutely not coping at all, it’s a mess.  What the hell do I do?!  Oh, the nurses have got it covered.  Thank God for them.

Bit of a lull.  I should see my preceptor’s patients.

  • 12:00-18:00

Been snacking all morning and all afternoon whenever I get a chance to stuff something in my mouth.  Which is great!  Food is great!  Pregnancy is great!  Babies are great!  I love delivering babies!  And placentas!

Wow, too much sugar.

Settle down.  Okay.  Not much progress on our ladies, but lots to see in assessment.  It’s like the pregnant lady’s ER – they come in with absolutely anything, only difference between here and downstairs is the little person growing inside.  Wuhoo, diversity!  Oh.  Scratch that.  90% labour assessments.  And 90% of those are early labour, if not false labour.  Ah well.  Always nice to send people home.

Hmm, quiet again.  I should have time to grab dinner before people start pushing.

  • 18:00-23:59

OMG NOPE NOPE NOPE, NO TIME, NO TIME.  No eating – just babies.  Everybody delivering at once, gahhhhhhh…

Runrunrunrun, get to that next delivery… damn.  Missed it.  Ooh!  Another one’s starting!  Gogogogogogo…

Cool – perineal tear repair!  Hold thread.  Dab blood.  Hold thread.  Snip snip.  Another lady’s close to delivering?!  Wahhhhh…

Done.  All done.  All delivered.  Caf’s closed now, bummer.  Ah well.  Guess it’s roasted pecans and an apple for dinner.

I’m surprising myself, thought I’d be absolutely dead by now.  Feeling… well, pretty great actually!  Energized by all the excitement.  Plus now there’s lots of ladies piled up in assessment again.  Time to chat with some more people.

Uh oh.  Oh… oh no.


So… tired… I’ve been hit in the face by the sleepy freight train, express to Drowsytown.  All adrenaline gone.  So quiet.  Lord almighty, still 8 hours to go…

  • 00:01-3:00

Still lots of assessments to see.  Gotta keep moving to stay awake.  Gotta stay focused.  Meet all the incoming labouring ladies, they’re almost all quite nice.  It seems like a small miracle that I can really connect with these people at an hour like this.  Little victory?

  • 3:00-7:30

Absolutely nothing going on, so the resident and I head to our call rooms to take a nap.  Ahhhhh… finally.  Any more tired and I might actually cry for sheer joy.  Feet off the floor, snuggled up under the sheets in my warm hoodie and scrubs, feeling pleasantly dopey…


OMG WTFBBQ WHAT IS THAT SATANIC SOUND – oh.  It’s my pager.  Oh!  Pager!  Babies!  Gogogogogogogo, get up get up, get shoes on you stupid person, where’s my stethoscope?, shove things in pockets, runrunrunrunrunun…

What?  No babies?  Oh, you wanted to show me this tracing?  Ah.  Yeah, looks odd to me too.  Yup.  Not much help there.  Ah well, better see who’s new on the ward.

Visiting done.  Nothing new.  That means nap time, huzzah!  But… awake now.  Come on, brain, shut off.  Go to sleep.  You can do it, you stupid organ…


It’s my alarm this time.  No pages?  Hope I didn’t miss anything… nope, everybody still pretty early in labour.  Late enough, I should probably just stay awake now.  Wow, my voice sounds funny.  Tee hee.  Gah, focus.

  • 7:30-8:30

YAWN.  Nearly there.  No point in seeing most of the new labouring ladies, they’ll be here for hours yet.  Brain functioning near-normal, with the exception of the occasional spell of zoning out.  And I thiiiiink… YAWN… what was I doing again?

OOH, HE’S HERE, HE’S HERE, MY DELIVERER!  The next medical student on call, anyway.  Run over a couple things about the patients, round on the antepartum ladies… wow, am I done?  Holy sleepy, Batman.

Slightly dangerous on the roads.  Just can’t seem to keep my focus from drifting.

Breakfast then bed time.  Menial tasks only.  Then… then… zzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

 – Atalanta

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic | FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Filed under Medicine, Personal & Blogs

4 responses to “Hours

  1. Dasha

    I absolutely enjoy your blogs Jessica! They’re quite in helping me in getting mentally prepared for next year..Oh God..

  2. Pingback: Rotation roundup: obstetrics and gynecology | Atalanta's Antics

  3. Nav

    I never sleep cuz I get too groggy, so I end up watching tv on my phone. I’m so tired by the end, though, that I’m semi-delusional.

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