Other doctors deal mostly with unhappy occasions, from a sniffle to serious illness, but obstetricians are there for the happiest times – the birth of a child – which is why I always say I have the best job ever.
I was reminded of just how wonderful my specialty has been to me by an e-mail from a patient transferred to my care 16 years ago, who eventually had to undergo a complicated cesarean delivery. As a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, I was called in by her obstetrician for difficult cases like hers.
She was carrying twins and had been in the hospital for a week. The night before the delivery, she’d had a very rough time. To help get through it, she’d watched “The Sound of Music” on TV.
The next day, in the delivery room, I delivered her babies by cesarean, fraternal twins, one boy, one girl. As I sent the babies off to the nursery, I noticed that her ovaries were very large and purple and asked if she’d been on fertility drugs. She hadn’t been but I called in two more specialists to consult and chatted with her as we reviewed the situation. Despite their enormous size and color, the ovaries did not pose a threat to her health and I decided to leave them where they were and just watch the situation.
We got to know each other better as I visited each day. When she mentioned the movie she’d seen the night before the delivery, I told her that it was one of my favorites and that I’d copied Maria’s wedding veil for my own wedding. After she and her babies went home, we stayed in touch and I sent her a copy of my first memoir, THE DITCHDIGGER’S DAUGHTERS.
Just last week, those twin babies turned 16 and my patient sent me some photographs of them looking all grown up. It brightened up my day to see them, and to know that I had a hand in bringing them into the world. She also spoke of how she loved my book. So I can’t wait until my new memoir, SOMETHING TO PROVE, is published this fall. She’s going to be one of the first people I send a copy to.
– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH