Dr. Scher is also scheduled to perform an amniocentesis in the hospital's clinic at 10:30. At 9:36, however, Janet is already 10 centimeters dilated and pushing with the help of a nurse. Next door, Dr. Scher breaks Linda's amniotic sac. With her last delivery, labor had proceeded so quickly there was no time for pain relief. Because the same thing might happen again, she received an epidural early, just in case. "Okay, you're going to go fast," Dr. Scher says to her. "I'm not leaving the floor!"
As we walk out, I start to worry that both women are going to deliver at the same time. Dr. Scher assures me that has never happened. "Never," he repeats, dashing down the hall to the nurses' station to fill out some charts in the little window of time he has before the real action begins.
When Dr. Scher first started practicing medicine in London in the 1970s, he kept track of each baby he delivered by slipping a birth announcement or photo under the piece of glass that topped his desk. Two years later, the desktop became so crowded he could add no more. He's now lost track of how many babies he has delivered and no longer saves each and every announcement, but he enjoys receiving them nevertheless. After all, who wouldn't want to be thanked for a job well done? Today, some of his babies have become patients as they grow up and start families of their own -- perhaps the biggest thanks of all.
In the doctor's unassuming office on Park Avenue, a bottle of champagne -- a gift from a patient -- sits on the desk he shares with one of his partners. Next to it are stacks of files of patients he'll call to report test results or give advice on hormone replacement therapy. A people-oriented doctor, he's perfected the art of dispatching each call quickly without seeming to hurry a patient off the line.
About half his patients come in for gynecological exams; the rest are pregnant or hoping to be soon. Women call all day, too, with a grab-bag of questions: what to do about excessively heavy periods, whether to be concerned about spotting during pregnancy, and which psychologist he would recommend for marital problems (his truly empathetic personality makes him a natural confidant). Today, a woman in her 33rd week calls to say she's no longer feeling her baby move. Though Dr. Scher is pretty sure that everything is fine -- by 32 weeks, babies usually start running out of room to squirm around -- he schedules a sonogram just in case, but mostly to allay the woman's fears.