Monday, March 28, 2011

Delivered of a baby girl

by FreshMD

I gave birth to a baby girl four weeks ago.

This is where the statistics go, the measurements and time of birth, precise - to the gram, to the minute.

What I really want to tell, though, are those other details. That my semi-retired doctor came up from a day at his cabin digging a garden for raspberry canes, for his last delivery. The warm blankets piled on me postpartum, white flannel with pink and blue stripes, the softness gone after hundreds of launderings - how they reminded me so strongly of both nights on call in the same hospital and my previous deliveries. The nevi simplex on my newborn daughter's eyelids, symmetrical flames, perfect.

Raspberry canes? Those are just the hormones talking, said my girlfriend flatly. So maybe it is. What does it matter what gives that magnification to the incidental facts around her birth? I'm still sifting through the experience, letting the details settle. I don't have any perspective yet, and I'm hardly coherent. And that's why, although I expected to post about her within days, I haven't.

Here's what I can tell you:

Her name is Ilia Tove. Yes, I realize the name has all sorts of possibilities for medical bastardization.* I proposed the name Imogen but that struck my software husband as sounding like a photo app. Ilia is the female variant of Elijah, and means 'My God is the Lord.'

Several times the entire family has spontaneously migrated to her room, forming an admiring semi-circle around her crib. Her siblings adore her. "Hey Ilia!" said my six-year-old the first time he met her, waving his hands gently in her face. "Dynamite!" and his fingers burst apart in a soft explosion. The four-year-old imitates her Moro reflex perfectly. And my nine-year-old has been poring over my baby books: "Mom! Did you know that in a few months you can mash up a banana and feed it to her?"

Her first week she attended three show-and-tells. "She breastfeeds," my son told his Grade 1 class. "She breastfeeds breast milk. From my mom's breasts." He patted my right breast for good measure. "All her life, my mom's body has been saving all the milk she ever drank to feed this baby," he went on knowledgeably. "It even saved all the milk my mom drank as a little girl."

And me? I feel rich. Three daughters and a son. I don't take it for granted for a moment.

Before I left the hospital the public health liaison took a history from me and asked after my occupation. "I'm a family doctor at a refugee clinic," I said, and I was almost startled to hear myself say it, as if I'd suddenly remembered it. I turned away as tears came. Hormones and lack of sleep, yes; and a sudden brief nostalgia for a life that seemed to have very rapidly receded. Most of all, though, the grateful realization, as I sat cross-legged in the hospital bed with my infant daughter in my lap, considering my work, that I have this - and I have that, too.


*cilia, milia, ill, iliac, ileum, ileus . . .

32 comments:

  1. Oh!

    I just went from literally laughing out loud (all the milk you ever drank...) to sniffling in the same 5 minutes.

    The guy standing next to me at the busstop is, I think, amused.

    Thank you for this post. And congratulations!!

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  2. What a beautiful post!And a beautiful family.

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  3. congratulations from one who delivered second son on the day of the written anatomy final first semester med school and third child 363 days later,my one and only wonderful daughter, and resumed medical school when she was 3 weeks old (full time--in the interim I had finished first semester exams and started practice of medicine course and worked my last jobs as an RN ) Barron is now 18 & will graduate from high school soon, Mary is 17. My older son was in third grade when I started med school and is now a professional lacrosse player!!! so don't blink...it goes by in an instant... I did manage to graduate, complete internal medicine residency and now primary care in Maryland....warmest regards & thanks to juliaink who took care of me when I was a med student and led me to this blog!

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  4. Kellie (General Surgeon)March 28, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    Congratulations. She is beautiful as are your other children in the picture. Ahhh, pregnancy/post pregnancy hormones!

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  5. I have missed your writing! Always beautiful. Thanks for sharing and congratulations! You are so blessed! xoxo Cousin Sheri

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  6. Congratulations Martine! She is beautiful......matches the rest of your gems.

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  7. I also just went from literally laughing out loud while reading this post to my husband to share the comedy (all the milk you ever drank...) to sniffling in the same 5 minutes.

    You are an inspiration. I still dream of med school (I was a single mom going through school to graduate from my BN/RN, married the love of my life and had a third baby, his first, in my fourth year, walked the stage with a huge, heavy belly, now with four children, and I suspect there is a fifth on the way, it's early yet) and dream of saying words similar to yours - "I am a doctor at a refugee camp" - and feeling a similar wash of emotions. And strength. And pride. And love.

    Be blessed.

    Laura
    lauraluyt.blogspot.com

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  8. you're amazing. love reading this little snippet of your life. wish you lived next door.

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  9. As an Aussie Medical mum in recovery mode from an ED paeds shift where I saw the incredibly scary vulnerability that our babies, our walking hearts, create....I cried happy,scared love filled tears reading of your total, post baby bliss...and more tears to read lucilu's comment...I can't imagine my one and three year old being all grown.

    Congratulations on your beautiful daughter and your lovely family

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  10. Lovely name, beautiful daughter (as other your other children). i feel blessed to read these instances of your life. thanks for sharing.

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  11. Congratulations.I love Hebrew names,and Ilia is such a beautiful name.Your family is lovely.God's blessings to you all.

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  12. Congratulations. Wonderful post about something so wonderful. Made me laugh and cry

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  13. Congratulations!! Thank you for sharing your new bundle of your with us!!

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  14. Congratulations! She's beautiful! God's blessings to you and your family.

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  15. Beautiful baby and fine looking family. Congratulations!

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  16. Beautiful post, I love the simplicity and clarity of the statement "I have this - and I have that, too." You are clearly living your calling and your purpose. Congratulations on your beautiful family and fulfilling career!

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  17. Congratulations! How wonderful :)

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  18. I've been reading for about a month now and finally moved to comment by this gorgeous post. Poetry. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. How sweet! And what lovely pictures. I love the innocence and honesty of your first grader. Awesome. I appreciated your unique perspective on the birth of your daughter. So happy that all are well and healthy... and cute!

    Warm blankets in the hospital... worthy of remembering. I just had a recent stint in the ER. I was so grateful for those warm blankets. :-)

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  20. How sweet! And what lovely pictures. I love the innocence and honesty of your first grader. Awesome. I appreciated your unique perspective on the birth of your daughter. So happy that all are well and healthy... and cute!

    Warm blankets in the hospital... worthy of remembering. I just had a recent stint in the ER. I was so grateful for those warm blankets. :-)

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  21. Beautiful! Beautiful baby, name, children, post.

    I hope to be alot like you one day.

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  22. Congratulations!! I loved every bit of this post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  23. Congratulations!

    I gave birth four months ago during Pulmonology in my second year of med school, and seeing all the stories of mothering while in medicine is a daily source of inspiration to us. Thank you for giving me a beautiful view of life on the other side. Your post is just precious.

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  24. Congratulations, Martina! I have been following your blog/MiM for the last three years since I was on bed rest with my now two year old daughter. It was one of the things that kept me sane during that time.

    I was very happy to hear about your pregnancy when you posted a few weeks back, and can fully relate to the feeling of not expecting anything.

    You must feel so blessed now. All the best for you and your family!

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  25. Hmmm for some reason only half the post can be seen. I tried reloading but still same.

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  26. Thank you to everyone for your kind comments. Much, much appreciated.

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  27. This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.

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