Sometimes I forget. Okay, at my age that happens a lot. But sometimes I’m not as appreciative about the good things in life.
I work two jobs. It’s a blessing for us now, but it also gives me two different experiences. One hospital is a local community place, where having babies isn’t a diagnosis, it’s about being a family. Being able to help bring their babies into the world is more about joy than medicine. The other job is in the city where we specialize in high risk pregnancies. “High risk”. Just that qualifier means grief. Each person starts out with pink and blue dreams and sweet innocence. That “High Risk” just crushes those feelings right from the start. You have to acknowledge that and respect that they are struggling with this just coming in the door. Some of the problems they face are really scary, and sometimes it’s also scary for us.
One of the problems unborn babies can face is extreme anemia. This can be caused by various things including outside (think viral) attacks or by the momma’s own body. The anemia can lead to other problems, without going into too much here, it’s lethal. There is a treatment available called PUBS. We do that here. Basically, a long needle goes through the momma’s abdomen, through the uterus and into the womb where the doctor will guide it into the blood vessels in the umbilical cord and take out a tiny sample. They stand there, needle in place, while the nurse sends the sample to the lab (via a very enthusiastic relay runner/medical student). Then, with the results called back the doctor will give minute blood transfusions to the baby based on the level of anemia. My role in this is not difficult. Any labor/delivery nurse could do this. Why is it that no one wants to? I think because it is stressful. The patients are worried, their loved ones as well. The hardest part is to help keep the atmosphere calm. It all is done under the guidance of our wonderfully skillful ultrasound goddesses. Don’t think they aren’t under stress! The great unspoken truth is that this procedure is also incredibly hard on the doctors. This isn’t done every day. Most doctors never do this, the need isn’t predictable or frequent. Each time is also different. You can have difficulty getting at the right spot in the cord due to the babies position. The baby can also move suddenly. Imagine the doctor’s stress level while waiting for the results, holding the needle and seeing the baby start to squirm. I really like the doctors that I work with, and being able to help with this procedure reminds me how lucky I am to be a mother, and how lucky I am to have a job that isn’t just about a paycheck. To be a part of something as important is this is a gift. So when they asked me if I was willing to come in Sunday morning, on my day off, the last day of my aunt’s visit…I said “I’ll bring breakfast”.
“Mom’s Peach Coffeecake” from Jim Fobel’s Old-fashioned Baking Book (1987) (With a tiny bit of tinkering)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Allen- yes, it’s just another name for plain old flour)
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tblsp softened butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
4 large peaches (about 1.5 lbs)
2 cups sifted cake flour (or 1.5 cups all purpose flour plus 4 Tblsp corn starch)
2 tsp baking powder
12 Tblsp butter, softened (1.5 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 heaping tsp grated lemon zest
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350f
2. Prepare the topping bu combining all dry ingredients in a small bowl, cut in butter until all crumbly and stir in walnuts.
3. Prepare the batter: Peel, pit and cut peaches into 1/2 inch slices.
4. In a medium-sized bowl stir together the cake flour (or flour/corn starch) and baking powder.
5. In a large bowl combine the butter and granulated sugar and beat with mixer until well blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then the lemon zest. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the milk. The batter will be thick and fluffy.
6. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar with the cinnamon. Spread half the batter evenly in a 13×9 inch pan. Arrange all of the peaches over the batter and sprinkle with the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the top, pushing in any peaches that are not completely covered. Crumble the topping over the batter and bake about 40 minutes. When done a toothpick inserted into the cake layer will emerge clean. Cool in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.