The First of many…

Today was a surreal day.

I got to the hospital early this morning, taking my time to adjust to the new hospital system. As I am finishing my rounds, I received a call from the hospital midwife, saying a patient that I had sent home earlier in the evening had returned to labor and delivery, now 4 cm dilated and with her water broken.

Doing what most OB/GYNs would do, I walked into her room, introduced myself and explained that as a first-time mom, she has some time before she delivers. Given that she was in so much pain, from the contractions, the midwife had already ordered for an epidural (which I wholeheartedly agreed with).

As I am leaving the hospital for a second time, within 4 minutes I got a call from the midwife again, urgently asking me to return to the bedside.

The patient was nearly 9.5 cm dilated! The Magic number at this stage in delivery is 10 cm. That’s when a patient is ready to deliver. I couldn’t believe it. I was thrown aback!

“Are you sure?!” as I asked into my speakerphone.

As I was running back to Labor and delivery, I became nostalgic for my times in residency when I was eagerly jumping to deliveries and running to aid my attending and my junior co-residents with their deliveries. But now, it was me, I was the attending. The adrenaline was strong. But I took a breath; suddenly those years of practice, that muscle memory from 300+ deliveries came surging back.

“Push! You got this!

Just a few more!

Almost there!

The baby is here!”

Such a powerful, overwhelming, and yet genuinely incredible moment. This was it! Another beginning of this incredible career. A moment that will echo in my heart and my mind forever.

January 20, 2020. My First Vaginal delivery as an attending.

This moment is forever indebted to the incredible teachers, co-residents, mentors, and nurses during residency who molded me into an obstetrician. This is a moment that I forever tied to the incredible partners who took me in as a practitioner and gave me their confidence that I can do this on my own. This is a moment that is deep with thanks to the wonderful, spontaneous individuals who aided in this delivery at Cedars Sinai.

This is a blessing. I am forever grateful. Here is to the many more experiences ahead.

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Daniel Niku, MD, MS

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