The fourth stage of labor

'My labor was a breeze! Nine minutes and out he came!'

As promised, here is my “wrap-up” post about my OBGYN rotation!

There is a lot about pregnancy and womanhood that was exciting to me at first, then I got more used to it. The exciting small things became routine, as they often do in medicine. But I learned on this rotation that just because something is routine doesn’t mean it becomes less interesting or less magical. Watching a woman’s stress-filled face relax and break into a huge smile as she hears the heartbeat of her unborn baby never gets old. Routine? Yes. But it’s so wonderful to be able to provide a sense of relief with such a simple thing! And labor, delivery, and C sections get to be pretty routine. Seeing the babies all come out with cone-shaped heads and covered in slime and gook gets old. But the act of physically being the first person to ever hold a new life in your hands is breathtaking. And handing the new babies to their parents and watching them take in their child’s face and eyes and perfect little hands is an incredible thing to see. Making the Pfannenstiel incision for a C section and pulling the baby out becomes a step-by-step process. But watching the terrified new dads gently take the baby in their arms as if made of glass and show the moms never loses its charm. All in all, there is always beauty in routines if you just look for it.

There were also some crazy cases I got to see! The attempted external cephalic version of a breech baby- where the doctors literally lubed up this woman’s belly with ultrasound gel, identified the head and booty of the baby, and used extreme force to try to turn the baby! She said no student had ever gotten to see that since they’re pretty rare! It was definitely an experience to remember! There was also the 10lb2oz baby who had a double chin and looked more like my friend’s 7-month-old than a newborn! There was the patient who came in for her postpartum check-up who had ankle clonus, a rare thing we learn about in medical school but hardly ever get to actually see! Plus the fact that I was just able to be in the room and experience these life-changing moments with people will always stay with me.

In addition to the routine and crazy things, there are some things I honestly never got used to. Telling a woman she has had a miscarriage is never easy- and it never should be. But telling a woman with a history of 3 miscarriages that her 20-week healthy-thus-far pregnancy has to come to end due to renal dysfunction is worse than you can imagine. Staying cheery while discussing someones nearly 90% risk of breast cancer is rough… especially when she’s 28 and excited to start a family, but it’s in her best interest to remove her breasts and ovaries to protect herself. Attempting to relate to a woman with severe preeclampsia who required an emergent C section at only 26 weeks… who then had to go home from the hospital without her 1lb11oz baby (he has to stay in the neonatal ICU until May, his due date).  Watching a 27-year-old woman who was born deaf and has overcome breast cancer feel the vibrations of the baby’s heartbeat though she couldn’t hear. Knowing a pregnant patient is being abused at home and separating her from her controlling husband to confront her about it, only to hear her say she’s lifted the restraining order against him and she loves him again. Seeing a woman who has lost everything- her husband, custody of her child, her job, her health, and even her ability to wash and feed herself due to a severe neurodegenerative disorder- smile and talk about how beautiful the weather is and how blessed she is is just humbling.

Overall, this month was really interesting, at times fast-paced and others pretty slow. I liked OBGYN in general but it was exhausting to me emotionally because of the extreme emotional spectrum we faced each day: STD results vs. successful pregnancies vs. miscarriages vs. cancer free results… it was like a roller coaster! I’m so grateful for the experience but am happy it’s over… the lifestyle is not one I could ever stomach either so I am looking forward to my 8-5 family med rotation starting next week!

'What?  Didn't your parents ever tell you who delivers babies???'