Labor and Delivery Unit, San Francisco, California

The patient’s hospital door was closed, and the taped sign said Do Not Disturb. I knew the nurse would suggest that I try later, but as I made a note on my hospital census, the door opened and a social worker left, so I knocked. A faint voice said, “Come in.” I was a chaplain intern making my rounds, new to this hospital, new to chaplaincy—a Reform Jew with spiritual leanings but with the San Francisco Reform Jew’s typical lack of religious training.

I pushed the heavy door open and found myself in a large space without the balloons and flowers that usually decorate rooms with new babies and mothers. All I knew from the morning chaplain was that the patient had delivered her baby yesterday at thirty weeks, about two months early.

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