It was August 2022, I was walking down the hallway in a hospital in Maine when I heard a mother in labor in Room 1. I had been following and aware of all of the pending labors, always on my toes, and hadn’t planned on being needed for this delivery – usually i’m summoned if a resuscitation is anticipated. But, I had an odd feeling and figured, “Eh, i’m here, might as well go in and help.” I put on some gloves, casually stood at the warmer and watched the midwives have a brief dystocia – the baby got stuck on the way out. Instinctively i started unwrapping respiratory equipment and preparing the warmer to receive the baby. He was delivered, the cord was cut and I could hear my experienced Charge Nurse of almost 4 decades shout, “Coming to the warmer.” I was waiting. We called for back-up and thankfully the resuscitation was quick. As the baby had stabilized, I turned to grandma and the first-time father, “Oh. I’m sorry, hi! I’m Doctor Cabrera, the Pediatrician. Sorry i forgot to introduce myself.” The grandmother turned to me, and said such a casual statement that resonated so deeply with me, “Don’t apologize. You were exactly where you needed to be.“
It was February 2022, when I briefly stopped by a brewery to pick up some gifts to go, and when I walked out, found myself to be one of the last people walking around in the sub-freezing temperatures of Central Maine. As I walked down the old downtown sidewalk towards my car, a scared couple approached me – they were barely in their early 20s, their car had died and they didn’t know what to do. Luckily they had jumper cables and as they, so innocently, tried to google “how to jump a car” and read it to me, I had already fixed the problem and they were ready to go. “We don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t been here.“
It was sometime in 2019. Dr. H, a then Pediatrician in his fellowship training to become a Neonatologist, happened to be in the Emergency Department working on his ultrasound techniques when a mother came in in imminent labor and within minutes popped out a small baby of only 23 weeks of gestation (17 weeks or 4 1/4 months early). He swiftly intubated the baby, stabilized the situation and the baby survived. I will never forget the surreptitious hush that fell among our group and the Neonatology Director with a satisfied, “Wow. Good thing M was there.” For anyone outside of the medical field, something to know: Neonatologists are never working in the Emergency Department. Shear Luck.
It was August 2nd, 2010. The original Dr. Cabrera had died from a sudden heart attack only a few months earlier. In solace, we took a solemn retreat on a family vacation to Mexico to get away. After a few days enjoying the sun and trying to escape, it was time to go back home. As fate would have it, the airline we had booked to return to California had gone bankrupt the exact week of our return. In a haze, we rerouted our flight to southern California instead of Sacramento and found ourselves confusedly heading back to Los Angeles. We parted ways with my mom, brother and sister heading north as I, a junior in college, headed farther south to San Diego. After a bus ride to union station followed by a train ride back to Oceanside I found myself waiting at the station for a college friend to pick me up. As I waited in the crisp dark silence, a younger boy, only 16 or 17 years old wandered over with his suitcase and his guitar and started talking to me. “Hey.” “Hey, you look young what are you doing here?” “Well, my dad and I got in an argument, so I ran away. Why are you here?” “Well, i’m here because my dad just died, and, it’s a long story…… But, don’t take your life for granted kid.” “… Maybe that’s why you’re here, to tell me that.”
Featured Image: The one time I jumped the car for a young couple in a town in Maine I never in 30 years thought I’d ever find myself in.
You are exactly where you need to be…