On a Sunday afternoon in June, I sat down at my desk in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
I was at the edge of a cot in the neonatal unit’s nursery, where the nurses were putting a newborn’s first few days into his life in order to determine if he would need to be transferred to a larger unit.
After all, this was the day he would be put into a nursery, but it was also a time when the doctors and nurses were making sure I would not suffer another night of severe heart failure.
And because I was not an American citizen, I did not have an American passport.
So, I was a bit of a double-agent in this scenario, working on behalf of the baby’s best friend, the staff at the hospital.
It was a surreal, surreal experience.
The nurse was sitting at my right side, watching me carefully as I walked down the hallway.
She smiled and said, “Congratulations, you’re here!”
I was, like, “Thanks, thank you.”
And I told her about the first time I saw her face in a neonatal nursery.
I asked her if she remembered seeing her when she was a baby.
She said, she didn’t.
I had a very bad memory, she said.
But then I started thinking, “That is my mom.”
And then I said, I remember thinking that my mother looked very much like me.
I just felt really honored to be there, she explained.
She had been born in a nursing home, and when she died, she was buried in a cemetery.
But I could not imagine that I would be there when she would have to die.
As I listened to my mother speak, I thought, I could be her best friend.
That’s when I decided I wanted to be a pediatrician.
But before I could become a pediatric nurse, I needed to go to medical school.
I applied for a fellowship and was accepted.
I got accepted into the residency program.
But my dream never happened.
I started the residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
I knew that I had to do this.
I needed this.
And I did what anyone who is in a position of responsibility would do: I went to work.
After my residency, I started working as a pediatric internist.
The first two years I was in that position, I saw more than 100 babies.
That was great, but after three years, I felt like I could do more.
I wanted more.
And so I went back to my home country of South Korea, where I had studied nursing and was fluent in Korean.
I worked at a pediatric hospital in Seoul for five years, and I started a residency program in the Philippines, which was one of the most difficult countries I had ever been to.
And after five years of working at a hospital in a country that had never cared for an American child, I decided to move to the United States.
So I took a job as a physical therapist at a children’s hospital in Houston.
After four years there, I took the job at a large public hospital in the city of Houston, in the state of Texas.
But while there, one day, my boss called me over to his office.
I didn’t know what to say.
I said I was going to take the job, and he was like, You know, you have to go.
So he called the other day and said he would like me to come back to the hospital and do a residency.
I thought about it for a while, and finally said yes.
And we were there for six weeks, six months, seven months.
It’s a long time to go, I realized, and then I just sat there, holding my breath, waiting for the call that finally came.
And when I got the call, I just burst into tears.
This is what it was like to work at a major pediatric hospital.
I can’t believe it.
I’m the youngest, and they’re the oldest, but there’s no other way to describe it.
It is a very hard job, but this is what I had dreamed about since I was six years old.
And that’s what I would have been doing if I had been working in a hospital.
But here I am, a pediatric resident at a health care facility that cares for tens of thousands of babies every year, in a place where I have to deal with a newborn, a baby with a disability, and a newborn who has a heart condition, and this is the hardest job I have ever had.
And there’s a lot of pressure, there’s an enormous amount of fear, and it’s really challenging, but I am very fortunate to have found a way to do it.
But the hardest part is not knowing what to do next.
The most difficult part is to be honest with myself and to know