The Coolest Thing I Do As a Doctor

October 19, 2010

Hands down, the best part of my job is delivering babies. This is a part of my profession that rings true both as a doctor and as a mother.

Hands down, the best part of my job is delivering babies. This is a part of my profession that rings true both as a doctor and as a mother. I have the opportunity to participate in resident physicians’ deliveries of their continuity patients and that is neat.

But the best is being part of the delivery of one of my own continuity patients - a woman I’ve been able to take care of since the beginning of her pregnancy. Sometimes, when I’m particularly fortunate, we’ve done this before and I have the privilege of being able to deliver a baby to a woman for the second time. I’ve heard from older colleagues, that if I do this long enough, I’ll be able to deliver a baby to a woman who was a former baby I delivered. I guess this is a “grand” patient.

I remember with startling clarity the first moment I saw my own four babies for the first time. My oldest surprised us with a downy covering of bright red hair, my next - our first daughter - was a beauty from the very first with gorgeous big blue eyes. Our next daughter, and third child, screamed lustily right away (a harbinger of the colic that would be coming shortly) and looked so much like my baby pictures that I knew she’d be a kindred spirit. And our last little one had what none of his siblings had - a full head of hair, dark brown, starkly contrasting the white bedding of the newborn warmer.

The thing I liked best about this moment - the first sight - was that I knew these babies already. We had shared “space” for nine months and I knew what time of night they generally got hiccups, which rib was their favorite to kick, whether they were squirmy or wriggly or just seemed to dance all over. Meeting them face to face was so nice because I finally was able to see the person I already knew.

While nothing can compare to the absolute joy of holding my own son or daughter for the first time, delivering a baby that I’ve “known” for the previous nine months comes close. When it is my own patient I am delivering, I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate with my patient from the beginning - when she first found out she was pregnant but may not have told many people yet. We wonder together whether it will be a boy or a girl and I also usually find out this crucial piece of news when they do or wait with the parents until delivery when I’m able to announce the surprise of the gender to the expectant couple.

Sometimes, I’m asked to weigh in on a name, a day care, how the baby should be fed, or which carseat they should choose. In many ways, I share this pregnancy with my patient. Therefore, at the moment of delivery, when the mom and dad are meeting their son or daughter for the first time, I am also relishing meeting this new little person. Delivering babies is definitely the coolest doctor-thing I get to do.