There’s a programme on BBC iPlayer at the moment called This is going to hurt.
I haven’t had the courage to watch it yet, but when I do, I’ll have my finger on the remote control. It’s based on the diaries of Adam Kay from the time he was a registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology – the job I used to have. It sounds as if it’s a very accurate depiction.
It’s an enormous privilege seeing babies born and being part of something usually so joyful. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that any one of them could die or suffer brain damage on your watch.
And you make decisions in the light of that. Many times a baby’s heart rate dropped and didn’t come up. I’d shout “Crash”, help wheel the patient into theatre, ask the anaesthetist to make it a GA because there was no time for anything else, and a few seconds later, pulled out a perfectly healthy boy or girl.
No one likes unplanned Caesarean sections, least of all consultants examining the heart rate of a baby that came out screaming. Yet, it is a truth universally acknowledged, at least by Obs and Gynae registrars, that however dreadful the thing looked in the middle of the night, it will look perfectly fine at a lunchtime meeting.