the smell of placenta
I remember the first baby I delivered.
It was my third night on Labor and Delivery. I knew my time was coming. I had been waiting for this for over a year, when my world was turned upside down after seeing my first birth. I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. The woman was pushing. I asked the doctor if I could do this one. Keep pushing. Time to gown up. Get the gown on! I started shaking so bad. “It’s ok, there’s nothing clean about a vagina,” a nurse said to me while I was stumbling to put gloves on with sterile technique. And I’m back. Pushing. There’s a pause, the doctor cuts an epis, and all of the sudden, a baby is in my hands. I grab him – no way I’m dropping this one, as I think back to comedic comments from friends that “those things are slippery!” I lay him on my forearm in the “football hold,” and the room suddenly goes completely silent. Time stands still, and I just gaze at him. He’s so beautiful.
“Put him on mom!” “Clamp the cord!!” Brought back to the present, I scramble to set him on mom and grab my cord clamps. Cut, dad! The nurse takes him away, and I’m left with sweat on my brow and epinephrine coursing through my arteries. Placenta delivers, and now there is a bloody cut to deal with. My mind starts to wander over to baby as the doctor places a suture in my hands. Time to repair the epis. I’m still shaking at a frequency comparable to a Parkinsons patient. Here goes nothing.
An unknown amount of painfully slow minutes later, the woman is repaired and baby boy is as cute as ever. I sit down to take a breath, but the doctor is already telling me to finish the discharge orders and delivery note. What. Just. Happened.
And so began my love affair with obstetrics – despite the distinct placenta smell that you couldn’t forget if you tried.
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