February marks the beginning of V-Season: a time when “The Vagina Monologues” are performed globally in colleges, communities, theaters, and even medical schools.
A brief background: “The Vagina Monologues” is a play written by Eve Ensler in 1996 which has since grown to include more pieces every year in order to direct public attention towards female-centric issues such as birth, domestic violence, sexual assault, female sexuality, orgasms, and of course, vaginas. Since its founding, “Vagina Monologues” has also created a sister project “One Billion Rising”, which raises awareness of the global female rights violations of physical and/or sexual assault that will victimize 1,000,000,000 women worldwide at least once in their lifetime.
I had the privilege of attending my medical school’s “Vagina Monologues” arranged by our AMWA branch, which featured discussions after performances mediated by an OB-GYN faculty member, which allowed us to merge emotional significance with medical fact and clinical experience. Incredibly fulfilling. I would advise anyone interested in catching a performance to check out the event locator for V-Day events (which are not exclusive to Valentine’s Day as the name suggests), by going to the following site: http://vspot.vday.org/vday/events.
I just completed my OB-GYN clerkship, and although this will sound incredibly clichéd, I was not able to comprehend, fully, the awesomeness of human life until I was able to watch a birth. So, I offer the following homage to one of the original performance pieces written by Eve Ensler in the wake of her granddaughter’s birth: “I Was There in The Room”
“I Was There in the Room…. Elective C-Section Edition”
by Elora Apantaku
I was there when her uterus was cut open.
We were all there: the scrub tech, the anesthesiologist, the first year resident, the circulating nurse and I,
and the outspoken obstetrician, her size seven sterile gloved hand
drawing the imaginary lines of the intern’s next incision,
managing to whisper now, confiding her trade’s secrets to this new year’s apprentice.
I was there in the room when she called out from behind the blue drape
asking, “How much longer will this take?”
Not out of anger but anxiety
waiting to welcome her first born child.
I was there when each of us, her doctor and I,
waited with our hands like catcher’s mitts right outside the transverse cut–
to receive the eight pound neonate that had decided to stay breech
through to the end of its term–
while the intern wriggled her two pointer fingers
into the invisible-to-all-but-sonography abyss.
I was there when the surgical field changed from an orderly sterile field in a Chicago hospital–
with its retractors and probes and laps and kellys–
into an antiquated salt marsh in the Carolinas,
the warm tide of amniotic fluid carrying with it a small child who’s eyes slowly open up
and who immediately begins to cry, winning itself an Apgar score of 9.
I was there when the baby was pulled away and swaddled up under the radiant warmer,
when the father momentarily leaves his significant’s side
and timidly asks the nurse if he can hold his first daughter.
And I was there in the room as the attending told the intern how to stitch the uterus back
to something that resembled what it once was,
before it had been stretched and bruised and inundated with blood and life.
I was there.