Out of all the wonders of medicine, there’s one that tops them all.
You certainly see a lot of interesting things during medical school – surgeries, psych patients, etc. However, in my mind, nothing tops the site of watching a baby being born. Is it gross? Yeah. But there isn’t a moment in medicine filled with more goodness and joy than when a baby makes its first cry. Most of the time when people come to the hospital, it’s because something is wrong, and as doctors, we’re always trying to "fix" some sort of problem. However, when you show up to the hospital to deliver your child, everything couldn’t be more right, and as a doctor, performing a delivery is the one moment where instead of preventing death, you’re actually giving life. Words can’t begin to describe overwhelming awesomeness of those moments, but I’m going to try…
The first delivery I ever saw was a couple who were having their first child via c-section. In the hour leading up to the delivery I actually had some time to talk to them and try to calm their nerves. In retrospect, I don’t know how calming I could have possibly been as I’d never seen a baby being born before, but it was nice to get to know the people who were going to be prominently involved in my first delivery. Everything went off without a hitch. Things I remember from that moment was being amazed how blue babies are when they first come out and how quickly they turn to pink once they begin to get oxygen. I also remember watching the father hold his child for the first time and bringing it over to show the mother. If seeing something like that doesn’t get to you, you’ve got no heart.
Some more humorous moments from the birthing process…
When you’re doing a c-section, those operating rooms are cold! So when the doctor finally cuts through the uterus and releases a huge gush of warm amniotic fluid which flows all over the table and onto your hands, it can feel really, reeeeeeeeally good! Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly disgusting, but you tend to overlook those types of details when your hands are going numb.
Usually during a vaginal delivery, the baby comes out facing towards the floor. Occassionally the baby will mix things up and decide to exit face up. The one time I saw this happen, it was amazing! You can’t imagine the unintentional comedy of that head popping out, and a wide-eyed mother staring down at her groin with her baby looking right back at her. I just simply can’t comprehend what it must be like to look down in that direction and see a baby’s face. It must be utterly surreal!
After the baby is all out, you still need to deliver the placenta. When it comes out it basically looks like a big puple uncooked hamburger patty, with a thin film hanging from it. It’s extremely important to make sure that none of this extra film gets left inside of the mother or bad things can ensue. To assure that everything gets out, as soon as the placenta is delivered you need to stary spinning it around like pizza dough to make sure that this film gets wrapped around the placenta and out of the mom. This is by far the grossest, and, potentially, the most fun part of the birthing process. While discussing the "pizza dough" routine with a collegue, he brought up the fact that some families like to take the placenta home and eat it. Besides being completely revolted, I was in total disbelief that this was actually true. To solve the argument we turned to the most accurate source of information in the world – Google. As it turns out my buddy was absolutely correct. To top it all off, at the top of the search results was an article in which Tom Cruise discussed his desire to take home the placenta for a post-partum meal after the birth of Suri!
Just goes to show that there are some delicacies even money can’t buy. Caviar: $100 Cristal: $300 Truffles: $1,000 Katie Holmes’ Placenta: Priceless.