In the film Parenthood, the master thespian Keanu Reeves utters one of my favorite lines of all time:
“You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”
The same goes for mothers.
On a recent job I was reminded that if we don’t teach people, kids, what sex and reproduction really are, they will no doubt deliver and raise even more clueless humans.
A woman is in pre-term labor.
I know, I know, I always laugh when I hear this dispatch. Then I wipe my eyes, grab the OB kit and get to work. As with every single one of these kinds of calls, our client is in a public area, in no immediate (within 4 weeks) labor and has no clue what contractions are, let alone her term status.
I too was clueless as to most of the facts surrounding pregnancy when I was her age, but at least I had the basics of anatomy covered.
As she sat on the chair enduring our “many stupid questions” about her previous pregnancies as well as the one now clearly evident, she stated something I think even my 5 year old knows to be inaccurate.
“My baby had a diarrhea today.” She tells me matter of factly, almost like I shouldn’t be surprised.
I immediately shifted gears wondering if she had been advised there was meconium present and just couldn’t recall the proper term. It was when I followed this new road that everything became frighteningly clear.
“How do you know the baby had a bowel movement? Have you been examined? Has anything passed from the birth canal?” I asked, hoping my words weren’t too confusing.
“No, baby had a diarrhea, then it came out my butt. Can we just go now?” Was her response.
Repeated questioning while awaiting the ambulance led us to the discovery that our patient had no idea about the separate plumbing that exists for birthing and defecation, nor did she know how many weeks until she was full term, or what that meant.
It is my opinion that “the talk” was never had and it is clearly far too late to have it now, but I tried anyway, as we always should.