After spending years in the military, we have been trained to follow orders regardless of how tired one feels or what emotional state one is in. Over the years, we have learnt how to keep our emotions in check and be stoic and almost robot like all the time. Or so I thought until I was posted in the Obstetrics & Gynecology (O&G) department.
The past 4 months saw me learning the the ropes of how an O&G unit functions. Consisting of consultants, specialists, residences, medical officers, house officers, staff nurses and midwives; each plays a specific role and man respective stations, ensuring the whole unit functions as it is designed to be.
One of the most essential part of an O&G department is the labour room. The labour room is a battlefield ruled by the midwives, they are at the forefront literally fighting for every birth. And it was there that I witness and conducted many a labour.
After witnessing so many labour, I'd describe it as watching a football game. With the mum as the home-team player, the baby as the ball and the midwives as cheerleaders (but not the pretty young cheerleaders mind you, these cheerleaders are fierce & scary).
A labour is a very happening event. The mum would be lying on a special bed which can broken from waist down and the legs can be put in stirrups, she would be surrounded by midwives to "cheer" her on and a houseman would usually be present to conduct the delivery.
Once the opening of the uterus is fully dilated, at every uterine contraction, will be followed by thunderous cheers of PUSH!! DON'T LIFT YOUR BUTT!! PUSHH!! PUSHHH LOONG LONNG, DONT PUSH SHORT SHORT!! COME ON COME ON A BIT MORE! (direct translation from malay la). And on top of all this commotion, the regular thump-thump-thump from the CTG machine (a machine to monitor the heartbeat of the baby) and the intermittent screams of the mother add more melody to the ongoing symphony. The symphony of chaos.
This whole process brings you on a emotional roller coster ride. No matter how heartless or stoic you might be, your spirit can't help but soar when all the midwives start to cheer and you see the mum pushing with everything she has and you see the descend of the baby's head slowly leaving the womb of the mother..
And your heart drops with disappointment as the mother gives up halfway and you see the baby's head go back in. And at times, you can't help but feel frustrated when the mum is whining and don't want to push.
The ride also brings you to the scary zone where your heart is beating with fear when the fetus is in distress and the mum needs to deliver as soon as possible. And not to mention the moment of waiting for the baby to cry after a delivery especially a difficult one. The silent moment where even time stand stills and seconds feels like hours and everybody fervently waits with bated breath for the cry of the baby. And at the sound of a baby's cry, joy and relief blossoms in our hearts! Never has a baby's cry sound so sweet and melodious to our ears.
But the most touching moment for me has and always will be the first time I witness a mother holding her newborn baby for the first time. The joy radiating from her face when she held her baby, her smile that said everything she just went through was worth it and the look of happiness shared between the husband and the wife was something to behold. The tender moment when the mum started shedding tears of joy with the husband made me shed a few tears too. This beautiful moment will forever be imprinted in my mind, although it might be a little blurry cause I was teary eyed.
So yeah, an emotional roller coster ride alright. A whole spectrum of different emotions of ups and downs has been experienced in the battlefield known as the labour room. This actually made me realize a few things:
1) I'm not as heartless and emotionless as I thought I was. Buried deep down inside me is still a viable heart that can feel and be touched. Over the years of training and experiences have taught me to bury it deep down and to turn it off to function efficiently. This changes nothing though, I still will function efficiently but now perhaps with a little more empathy.
2) I understand now the greatness of a mother's love. No matter how unappreciated a mother's love is, a mother will forever love her children regardless of age or distance. After carrying a child for 9 months in the womb, going through childbirth (normal or Cesarian) and breastfeeding her child, there is a special bond between a mother and child. As cheesy as it might sound, I now kind of appreciate the things my mum has done for me all these years. You might have to witness firsthand how traumatic a labour can be to understand what I'm trying to say.
3) I think O&G is fascinating! From the moment of conception right till birth is a magical process. Biggest respect to all the O&G consultants, specialist, medical officers, staff nurses, midwives around the world helping mothers give birth. It is the highest honour and trust bestowed upon you to welcome new lives into the world. Keep up the phenomenal work!