We were scrubbed and gowned, standing in the OR around a pregnant, sterilized belly.
My attending said to the resident, “you’ve done enough of these, right? Right. Okay, then let the med student take a turn.”
My pulse rate doubled. Shit. And so I reluctantly turned to the scrub nurse, “Scalpel, please.”
Scalpel in hand I sliced through the skin and into the fascia, trying to hold my hand steady and maneuver a straight line. At first I was too shy, “Come on, med student, CUT.” But as I neared midline I had the hang of it. Not bad, I thought, and found myself secretly hoping the procedure called for another incision. A number of steps later we’re through the rectus sheath, pulling in either direction on the rectus muscle, and there it was, the uterus. Inside that ball of a compartment is a tiny little human being. The resident made the cut through the uterus, fluid gushed and spurted, and we saw the head. Well, I guess they saw the head. I saw fluid and smooth surfaces, shiny surfaces, dark surfaces and blood.
Extracting the head out of the uterus took some muscle. I applied fundal pressure on the upper abdomen while the resident pulled. And finally, a baby. I was so wrapped up in things I forgot to notice whether it was a boy or a girl.
I was sweaty and tired and ready to de-gown but looked up and realized the abdomen was still wide open. Oh right, not finished. We pulled out the uterus and plopped it on her abdomen. Oh hello, uterus. Wait, what? Really? This is how we do this? Through the blood we stitched it back together and shoved it back inside so we could could start putting her back together, layer by layer. When we got to the rectus sheath, the only part of the procedure in which the sutures are proven to make a difference, the attending handed me the needle and pick-ups. Shit. Okay, I guess I’m gonna sew this up.
Once again, my hands were shaking, my mask was foggy, and by this time I was wondering if they would make fun of me for sweating through my gown. I was taking my sweet old time (because that’s all I’m capable of at this point) and everyone in the room (scrub nurse, circulating nurse, anesthesiologist, attending, resident) was willing me to hurry-the-f-up with their pissed-off glares. Sorry guys, I know it’s 2am, did I mention I have never done this before?
But I did it. I cut her up and sewed her up. And she got a little baby girl.
To the scrub nurse: “Suture scissors, please.” The resident cut suture 1cm above the knot. “Needle down.”