Today was one of those days when everything comes full circle.
I was in Triage this morning scanning the board for a patient to sign up for. A patient whose chief complaint was “labor” was checked in and I signed up to see her. I walked in the room and began to introduce myself. She was a big and beautiful African American woman with her hair tied back in a brightly colored scarf. She looked awfully familiar. “I know I’ve taken care of you before. What did I see you for?” Her partner smiles. “You were the one who told us we were pregnant back in August!” I was blown away. Here she was, 8 months later, full term and in labor. Had that much time really passed since the start of my intern year? Was I really nine months into my career as an Obstetrician?
After the shock wore off, I ran to clinic expecting a long afternoon of prenatal care, annual exams, and gynecology follow-ups. Fortunately, it was one of those rare clinic days where everyone who comes in is straightforward, on time, and in and out. I was done with clinic by 4pm. On my way back to Triage, I stopped by the labor floor to check out the action. I am nearing the end of my second OB Days block and have been working closely with our midwives to get “signed off” on deliveries. Most OB residencies require an intern to do a minimum number of deliveries before they can run the labor room independently. Our program is a little different. Our midwife faculty members evaluate our ability to control the delivery room, monitor fetal well-being, and carry out the delivery prior to letting us loose. Needless to say, I was scoping out the labor floor to see if I was going to be lucky enough to have The Official Sign-Off Delivery.
As I meet up with the labor floor midwife and my 2nd year resident, a nurse comes out of a delivery room. “The patient in here feels rectal pressure. Can you check her?” And of all patients, who could it be? Yes, it was my Triage patient. The one I first saw as a wee, insecure, and intimidated little intern just six weeks into my residency. Now, just a little bit older and wiser, I sat on the edge of the bed to check her cervix. Immediately I feel baby head. And no cervix. She was fully dilated and ready to start pushing.
It was one of those flawless deliveries. The baby’s heart rate remained perfect throughout pushing. He was delivered after maybe 5 minutes of maternal effort, and that’s being generous. The baby was strong and vigorous as he slid into my arms. I placed him immediately onto his mother’s belly for his first dose of maternal affection. The placenta delivered quickly and beautifully. To top it all off, she had no tears to speak of. Like I said. A perfect delivery. One to remind me exactly how far I have come as an OB intern. From the days when the delivery room made me tremble with anxiety, when the cervix felt like mush I couldn't describe...to this. A bit of pride swelled in my chest and I walked out of the delivery room beaming.
By the way, yours truly, is now officially signed off on vaginal deliveries.