Two beautiful stories from OBGYN

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OBGYN is considered one of our “big” internship rotations. The hours are long, the calls are busy, the responsibility is huge.

I love when a baby is born. For the sake of honesty I’ll tell you that it’s not always a happy occasion. There are many, many babies born into seriously less-than-ideal situations. But in that moment that a baby gives his first cry, I swear the world trembles.

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A first-time mom needed an emergency Caesarian for foetal distress. She was a refugee. She spoke halting English. We had no Somali or Arabic translators. She was already at forty-two weeks gestation with a failed induction of labour, and was adamant to continue with the pregnancy. Back home, she said, her sisters had carried their babies to fifty weeks and they were fine. I don’t know if she was right (surely not, right?!), but it reached a point where her baby’s decelerations on CTG were so long and deep that we told her the baby would probably die if we did not do the section. We really are too busy and under-staffed to suggest any sections unless they are really indicated. So she consented.

She was Muslim, and conservative, and her sister was to accompany her into theater because “birth is not for husbands”. They sat quietly while we did a quick section. It was easy. After a bit of prompting, baby cried at birth. We showed her the baby – and that he was a boy – and their silence erupted into what I can only imagine were prayers of praise. They were so happy.

Even after the baby was taken to get some pampering in NICU – and to meet his dad, who would recite an adhan – the two woman excitedly carried on in their language. Such beauty, a little life born to people who had fled so far to find peace. I hope they cling to it.

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A mom was booked for an elective Caesarian section following two previous sections. Her husband accompanied her. It is not often that husbands here take leave from work to witness the births of their children, although paternity leave (a meager three days) is now an entity in South African law.

It was a slightly more difficult section due to adhesions from the previous surgeries. When the baby was born – another kicking and screaming little boy – his parents were obviously overjoyed. When the midwife took the baby to nursery, Dad tailed right after her. He kept running in and out of theater proclaiming to his wife, “It’s the most beautiful baby EVER!” He even gave her blow-by-blows about what the baby had done, you know: crying, passing meconium and grabbing Dad’s little finger. You’d have thought it was his first son, not his third.

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I love these stories. I love the joy I got to witness at the arrival of new little beings. In OBGYN, you see a lot of sad things, but these stories gave me renewed energy.

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12 thoughts on “Two beautiful stories from OBGYN

  1. My daughter Rachel was born via C-Section because of her mom’s incompetent cervix and Rachel was near fully ready to enter the world, so she was fine. Her brother David, born about 18 moths earlier was born at barely 16oz and then died rather peacefully. As tragic as the death was, it was not a bad thing overall and that’s not to say we did not love her, but destiny chooses our fates even those we think we control. LOL. Philosophy. You know, I am a scientist but I enjoy the mortality. The comings and goings are so precious because we afford our children the right to fail and to succeed and that is best blessing that one can experience, knowing your mom especially gets that. If more ladies were presidents there would be a lot less meaningless sacrifice. IMHO.

  2. This makes me happy, and happy for you. Those times when everything works and you see the joy! Good for you Mariechen!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed my OBGYN rotations in med school and earlier this year as an intern. I chose against it because I hated the OR and the hours were so horrible! I have to agree with you though, delivering a baby is quite a wonderful experience when it goes well.

      • That’s a bummer. It seems you have the fever for it. The hours don’t have to be that terrible. You just have to find a good group to work with. Maybe it is different in South Africa.

      • I REALLY DO. I actually can’t stop thinking about O&G even though the rotation ended in April. The environment in our public sector just really doesn’t give rise to happy OBs. My own gynae though, who has a shared private practice, is really happy. So it’s not impossible.

      • I guess my only advice to you is to consider that whatever you choose as a specialty is what you are stuck with. Don’t try to talk yourself into doing something that you aren’t absolutely passionate about. And remember, residency is only a piece of the journey – a very short piece. It’s over so quickly. The longest part is after you complete your training. You will potentially spend 25-35 years practicing your trade. It better be something you wake up each morning (and early wee hours on-call) excited about.

  4. This is a beautiful post! I had my first baby (a boy) in September, though I didn’t need a C-section. I was in there for 9 hours and what gave me the most strenght during the painful contractions (apart from my husband being there) were the cries of other babies who had just been born. It was a reminder that this process happens a thousand times each day and that every delivery is probably as painful as mine was🙂

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