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Aisle Seat: The Doctor Will Scare You Now

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

While ob-gyn shopping on Long Island in the ’80s’, I was looking for a progressive doc, familiar and comfortable with the Leboyer childbirth method.

During this technique, the delivery room is kept quiet, dimly lit

to guide the infant gently into the world.

The newborn is not held upside down (do they still do that?) or swept away for immediate examination. Likely for scoring on the Apgar.

The Apgar score is a test given (twice) to newborns soon after birth.

It checks the baby’s heart rate, muscle tone and red flags potential problems.

Five minutes after the first test, a second is administered.

Getting back to Leboyer.

After birth, babe is gently placed on the mom’s tum and lightly massaged.

What a great way to enter the world: a quiet room and a free massage!

After the umbilical cord stops pulsing, it’s cut. Après mom-bonding, the infant is bathed (warm water) by the partner of your choice.

Lew, my husband, would be mine.

After researching available doctors who fit my specifications, I found a keeper, 20 minutes from our home.

Dr. David Shobin of Smithtown Hospital aced his interview.

His credentials were outstanding, top-notch experience and a boomer, like me!

Impressive background. He was not your mother’s doctor. Not only a lauded physician, he was also a dedicated writer who wrote about what he knew.

Pregnancy, hospitals, doctors and evil insurance companies. (It’s not entirely fiction!)

With a twist.

Horror-lite. Sometimes, not so lite. Always entertaining. And romantic!

His most renowned title, The Unborn (1981) ominously telegraphs Twilight Zone vibes, with verve and vigor.

I really liked Shobin–he had a great sense of humor and compassionately listened to my pregnancy woe worries .

He assured me my weight gain was fine and

not to fret about it.

He didn’t realize that for a food-disordered human, weight fretting was a given!

Especially after having Orlando doctors admonish me for gaining six whole pounds in a month

when carrying Emily.

“You’re the one who’ll have to lose it, so watch what you eat,” snapped the least likeable doctor in the Florida practice.

But Shobin was laser-focused on keeping me

physically healthy and emotionally nourished.

He knew about my college food disorders.

He said most of his patients dealt with an eating disorder at some point. Not to worry.

At the time, I was a Newsday columnist and wrote about his practice, (including his work with midwives) and writing avocation.

Not to mention his tendency to scare the bejesus

out of expectant waiting-room moms-to-be after they noticed his proud wall art:

An enlarged cover of–you guessed it–The Unborn.

I found it very amusing, but understood if others found it untoward.

Shobin’s The Unborn is a nail-biter/heart attack-y tale about Samantha, an unwed mother in a sleep-study program.

She develops an uncanny ability to communicate thoughts with her unborn. What ensues: fetus runs amuck, causing grave tumult and agita.

And more!

Now, when friends confide their fear of going to the doctor, I laugh to myself. Not in a mocking way, mind you. They’re overly worried about knees, sciatica and migraines. With the aura.

There’s even a word for physician fear:

Iatrophobia, which could trigger “White Coat Syndrome,” causing high-blood pressure and heart palps when medical professionals register on your radar.

I get it.

Who isn’t on edge after two (hundred?) years of


A meditation teacher encourages calming self-reflection but not obsession. It’s essential to stay relaxed, in any situation.

Meditators are big on the breath.

You can feel the body moving on the rhythm of each breath.

How does that make you feel? asked the instructor during a recent Sunday morning Zoom meditation session.

What happens when you become aware of the feeling? How does the mind state feel? Painful, pleasant or neutral?

Coffee, tea or me?

We’ve all been coping with “cascading collective trauma”, coined by psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver, at the University of California (Irvine). She’s researched trauma for decades.

In a recent article published in the Nature Human Behaviour journal, Silver described how the pandemic has layered a new trauma on our psyches, because of its ambiguous endpoint.

Who knows how bad things will get or when recovery will really begin?

With an indefinite pandemic, anti-Black police violence, frequent mass shootings, record high inflation, white supremacists threatening democracy–

not to mention the erosion of abortion laws, voting rights, and high-profile pedophiles getting their comeuppance.

No wonder we’re fed up, fearful and phobic.

But cheer up, find joyful reasons to get out of bed (a sweet pup can help!).


Lately, I've been motivated by reality-based Buddhist teachings to make executive, non-fear-based decisions.

It's not so easy.

But recalling F.D.R.’s succinctly brilliant wisdom: "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” I've scheduled an ultrasound of a persistent swollen gland.

It couldn't hurt!


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including

1 comment

1 Comment

Jun 22, 2022

Good decision. We sometimes fear more about what we don’t know then what we do know.

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