Monday, May 08, 2006

Tales of a Super Babycatcher

Sitting at my desk job in the baby nursery, my ears suddenly perk up in anticipation. Was that it? Yes, there it is again. Easily distinguished from the high-tech mp3 ringtones of cellphones and the bone-chilling deedleedoo, deedledoo of an on call pager--the old-fashioned bbrrrriiinng of the red rotary telephone on the back wall rings pure and true. But no time to wax nostalgic; Brrriinng means that someone, somewhere (read: a local patient, downstairs) is about to bring a baby into the world. And I, Super Babycatcher, am needed. We put on our capes (read: overwashed yellow scrub gowns) and fly down the stairs, suit up in our super masks, caps, and foot covers so no one can recognize us in our superhero disguise (read: we put on disposable paper accessories so we're sterile and don't contaminate the poor kiddo), and rush into the operating room to complete our mission. I speedily don a pair of super sterile gloves, whisk a super sterile sheet onto my outstretched arms, ready myself in position behind the ob/gyn, sheeted arms outstretched at perfect 90 degree angles like a first-class waiter holding an imaginary tray, and then....

And then, it takes another 20 minutes befor they get the baby out. But of course, I'm sterile, so I can't budge from my now biceps-burning 'super position'. Not feeling so super now, are we? In fact, now that the initial adrenaline rush has subsided, I realize that I'm about to catch a real live newborn baby in my outstretched arms. That's when I shudder with horror as it hits me: "what if I drop it??"

Don't drop it, don't drop it, don't drop it. I repeat over and over like a mantra as the minutes tick on and my muscle fibers start to drop out of the game one by one. What happened to Super Babycatcher? She seems to have stepped out and left the old me, Super Incompetant Med Student, in her stead. Stop it, I tell myself. Act confident. Pretend you know what you're doing. It's all any of us can ever claim in this world, anyhow. Super Babycatcher slowly returns...

Just in time! With a pop, baby's head pokes out from mom's belly like a prairie dog checking out the scenery. Well hello there, little one. Another twist and pull, and out comes slimy baby--the cord is snipped, baby gets flashed in front of mom, and then--plop!--baby gets dropped into my arms. I grab a leg *and* an arm for good measure, even though my instructions were just to hang on to one or the other as I spin around and set baby down on the table for livening up.

I have to say, life starts out pretty good these days. Now that spanking's no longer in fashion, we greet our newest species members with a vigorous body rub and massage, give them a free knit cap and diaper, and get them all cozy again with warm swaddling in freshly laundered blankies. Sweet!

Well, my work here is done. Another baby has successfully been caught by the horns and yanked into this thing called life. Welcome, and adieu!