The nervous soon-to-be mom and I continued to chit chat.
“Oh, you’re a high school Biology teacher? I actually had a great Biology teacher who inspired me to go med school in the first place…”
I stopped myself mid-sentence as the woman, dressed in only a thin hospital gown and with a cold washcloth across her forehead, cringed.
These simple pleasantries and jokes with her, her husband, her mother, the attending obstetrician, the resident physician, and the labor and delivery nurse had become a much-needed source of distraction from the immense pain she was experiencing: childbirth.
I had never witnessed a delivery before, but I was loving every intense minute. At the first sign of another contraction, the labor and delivery nurse flexed and held one of our patient’s legs and I grabbed the other, while we all encouraged her to round her chin towards her chest, take a deep breath through her nose, and “PUSH PUSH PUSH PUSH PUSH PUSH PUSH!” and “GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!” and “HARDER HARDER HARDER HARDER HARDER HARDER HARDER HARDER!” When the contraction passed, she would rest until another one came again and we would resume our positions to cheer her on for another round.
One hour later we were still at it. Two hours later we were still at it. Two and a half hours later we were still at it. And our patient was losing hope.
Yet somehow, through tears and screaming and even a few threats of giving up, three hours since she began pushing, that brave mother introduced her beautiful baby girl to this big wide world, so cold and bright compared her her previous home the past nine months. (The baby was “occiput transverse,” meaning her head was turned to the side, not an ideal way for her to come out, which explained the long time pushing!)
And it. Was. Awesome!
I immediately called my own mom on my way home from work to thank her for not only giving birth to me but also my brother and sister. She endured that kind of pain not once, not twice, but three times for us?!
Equal parts medical professional and cheerleader, I found the experience of assisting in my first vaginal delivery to be both thrilling and beautiful. What a privilege it has been to witness several humans’ first breaths and a mother’s loving fortitude in delivery while on my obstetrics rotation.