10 April 2006
the circle of life
just as i was about to enter the men's dressing room after lunch today, i saw a doctor running my way. i asked if he was coming to the OR, and he said he was. i asked if he was late, not because i thought he was, but because i thought he wasn't--in my experience, late doctors walk just as slow as usual, unless knowing that they can be late because whatever will wait for them makes them walk just a little slower. he said "no--parto", which means he was going to do childbirth.
we discussed live births a little while we changed into scrubs, and i asked if i could watch. in my time here i've seen a couple caesarean-sections, but never a straight-up birth. so naturally i was pretty excited. the mother was already in there and ready to go, so things started pretty much once the doc was clean and gloved. after the first contraction, the doctor told me to help out by helping the mom sit up during the contractions.
it's hard to say whether the contractions were more evident on her face or stomach, or where they were evident first, but it was not hard to say when the contractions happened. as i moved my arm around her shoulders and held her into a sitting position, i first felt the heat flowing from her skin, and then felt her hospital gown damp with sweat. her hair, also damp and hot and smelly, fell across my arm. as the contraction intensified, i kept pushing her further into a sitting position until i had my arm all the way around her, and we were both leaning forward enough that i could see the baby's head crown, and then come out, and then the rest of the body follow.
relative to the husband nervously waiting outside, i have absolutely no qualifications that made my presence there more necessary than his. not that he wouldn't in some ways have been a liability, but it was a really unique event that i felt very privileged and blessed to watch. it was another moment i'll always remember when i remember why i'm glad i did this trip.