We joked and giggled heartily at the expense of another colleague. I was warm and tight cheeked with laughter. I hadn’t laughed like that in weeks.
Moments later I sat next to a woman 8 weeks pregnant fearing the death of her tiny embryo. I sat silent waiting for her exam to end; I would then take her back to her room. I watched the ultrasound image, a blob move around the screen in scratchy black and white. She told us of her two terminations when she was young. She felt a need to apologize. She had no need to apologize to me. She wanted this baby to live. She’d been sent in by her doctor for fainting and bleeding. I waited as the technician completed his exam. Then he found a heartbeat, she was overjoyed but cautious. I was in awe that a life so small could have a visible heartbeat. I was relieved. It truly is a privilege to witness the most intimate, intense and private moments of strangers. How could I have been laughing so heartily a moment ago and then sit next to this mother-to-be and witness her despair and hope unfold before my very eyes.
** These are based on events, but genders, details and so on have been changed to protect identities. When appropriate, consent was obtained.