“Alright Espino, you’re up!”
It’s the start of Day 2 during my Obstetrics-Gynecology rotation and these are the words my preceptor tells me as we get paged into Labor and Delivery. I feel a surge of anticipation rush through my body as I realize what those words mean– it’s time to for me to deliver a baby!
During the first day, my preceptor helped to orient me to the hospital and reviewed a number of pertinent topics, fortunately including labor and delivery. Although it had been months since I first learned these concepts during didactic year, the material remained surprisingly fresh and familiar in my mind. With this bit of reassurance, I proceeded during my first day doing a variety of tasks, such as helping with admissions, documenting histories and physicals, assisting with prenatal care, and rounding on postpartum mothers. The amount of information coming my way all in the first day seemed slightly overwhelming at first, but I did my best to retain as much as I could and made notes of what I needed to review after the shift. The final hour of my first day proved to be the most exciting part as I was able to witness the delivery of two beautiful babies. Up until that point in my life, I had only seen the birthing process in lectures and videos, so to be blessed with the opportunity to see the event in person was absolutely amazing. What was even more amazing was that my preceptor told me that the next day it was going to be my turn to deliver a baby, which is something that not every PA student gets the opportunity to do.
True to his word, it’s Day 2 and the aforementioned scenario unfolds. I warmly introduce myself as a Duke Physician Assistant student to the soon-to-be parents, who then enthusiastically tell me that their entire family is filled with Blue Devil fans. Hearing such an immediate connection, my preceptor makes sure that the mother is comfortable with me delivering the baby and assures her that he will be overseeing the entire process. Much to my excitement, she graciously agrees and I immediately gown up and get ready for the big event.
The nurse tell us that the mother’s contractions are becoming increasingly stronger and more frequent, meaning that the baby could be here at any moment. Sure enough, I barely have time to get my gloves on before the baby’s head starts crowning. Doing my best to maintain a calm exterior in spite of my racing heartbeat, I grab a sterile towel and get ready to support the baby’s head. My preceptor quietly reminds me of the cardinal movements of labor as they are occurring and encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing. I pay the encouragement forward as I tell the mother that she is doing a fantastic job and, together with the nurses, we instruct her to time her pushing with the next major contraction. This proves to be the final push as the baby’s head comes fully into my hands. I make the necessary maneuver to deliver the shoulders just like my preceptor had showed me and before I knew it, the beautiful baby boy is in my arms, letting out a healthy cry. I give the newborn to his mother, who is crying tears of pure joy as she meets her baby for the first time. The parents express such heartfelt gratitude to myself and the staff and I nearly tear up myself from the beauty that had just unfolded. In my opinion, there is truly no greater miracle to witness than the miracle of birth and I walk away feeling even that much more honored to have been a part of it.
Hearing the stories from my classmates as we share experiences with one another reminds me just how fortunate we all are to be going to a PA program such as Duke that offers a number of wonderful rotations. Everyone’s experiences thus far seem to be so rich and diverse and we are barely halfway through the year. I look forward to seeing where the rest of the year takes me, as I do my best to represent the Duke PA program with an eager mind and a humble heart.