The Miracle Of Life

“In terms of rape victims who get pregnant from their aggressors, would it be okay for an abortion?”

“What if the baby has a life-threatening condition, should one still continue with the pregnancy and go through the trauma of giving birth, when knowing that the baby has no chance of survival?”

“What if the baby has a serious condition requiring lifelong medical care, leading to the child having a poor quality of life? Should one still continue the pregnancy?”

As a Catholic doctor as well as a woman, I have had difficulties with these questions. I have long pondered, if a patient asked me for an abortion because of these reasons, what would I say? Or perhaps even, what would I do if I was put into that situation?

A few months ago, I was doing my anaesthesia rotation. The next patient to come in for surgery read “abortion,” and it was for a baby just about in the Swedish legal limits for a woman to have full autonomy in having an abortion – 18 weeks. As a medical student, it was my job to receive the patient from the waiting room. After introducing myself to the patient only a few years older than me, we started walking together to the operation room. On the way to the operation room she said: “I can’t wait for this to be over, and for this thing to be out of me.”

I was filled with sadness, for both the mother and the baby. I was sad for the mother for failing to see God’s gift for her, and sad for the baby who was robbed of God’s greatest gift for them, their life. After escorting the patient to the operation room, followed by a quiet prayer to myself for both the mother and the baby, I excused myself from the surgery. At that moment, the teachings and answers provided by the Church regarding my questions on abortion all made sense.

*

Right now, I am in the Philippines for my Obstetrics/Gynaecology clinical rotation. Right before leaving, my boyfriend Jonas and I decided to do the First Saturdays Devotion together, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima. On the day I was leaving for the Philippines, we went to mass together on the first Saturday of December, followed by praying the Rosary and afterwards meditating on the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary for 15 minutes – which are all parts of the things to do during the First Saturdays Devotion. I chose to meditate on the Nativity.

As I began my meditation, I pictured Mary. Already from the moment the Angel Gabriel announced her miraculous conception of Jesus, she decided to accept and trust God’s plan for her. As crazy as it may sound that she became pregnant despite being a virgin. Even St Joseph her spouse was fully supportive, after being spoken to by an angel of God in a dream. Mary and Joseph both trusted God’s plan for them and embraced this blessing fully until the very end. Even when Mary was about to give birth. Even though Mary and Joseph were not welcomed in any home in Bethlehem, they had no fear. In the end, Mary gave birth to the Saviour of the world, in a manger.

Then I pictured Mary with thorns in her heart. Unlike Mary, many women today fear pregnancy, and see it as a “disease” needing prevention and treatment. Unlike Mary, many women today do not love their children, in the same way she did. I could feel Mary’s pain for all the children both born and unborn, who are unloved by their parents especially their mothers. These children are so unloved, that some mothers even decide to kill them before they are born into the beautiful world God created for us. I realized what Mary was telling me. No matter the circumstance, every child conceived is a miracle and is God’s most precious gift to the world, life. And just like her, I will love every child God will bless my husband and I unconditionally.

*

I have always said Obstetrics (the medical specialty concerning pregnancy and childbirth) is the happiest specialty. The patients are usually healthy mothers excitedly waiting for the birth of their children. Doing my obstetrics rotation here in the Philippines has been an absolute joy, as it makes me happy being surrounded by expecting mothers, as well as happy mothers with newly born babies. Last week, during the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, I was given the opportunity to deliver my very first baby.

When the baby had just been successfully delivered, I was standing there in silence and awe, looking at the baby in my hands. It felt as if time had stopped, until I heard the doctor say, “You can pass the baby to the midwife now.” I passed the baby to the midwife, who then passed the baby to the mother. After the delivery, I changed out of my scrubs and rushed to mass.

I cannot explain the emotions that ran through me as I was holding that baby. As I held that baby, the miracle of life, I could just feel the immense happiness and love for this child. Just like every one of us, this child was born because of God’s love for us. What a blessing it was to be used as an instrument to deliver life, God’s most precious gift, into our beautiful world.

*

Every child is a miracle of life and a gift from God, out of His love for us. Just like the child Jesus, God loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to save us from our sins, so that we can join Him again in Heaven. This Christmas, let us thank God for this blessing of salvation, and celebrate our Saviour’s birth. Let us also pray for all the children born and unborn, and their parents. Let us pray for all parents especially mothers, to always love their children unconditionally, in the same way Mary and God love us.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten son: that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world to judge the world: but that the world may be saved by him.

A night in Radiology

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Evening shifts at Manchester wasn’t really a thing, unless it was within obstetrics, so I was quite happy to find out that we had a evening shift at our first clinical placement. I didn’t really know what to expect but, who knew sitting in front of a computer looking at images for several hours could be so tiring. I’m in bed writing this and it’s not even 10pm…

If I could summarise the night with one word, it would be -ish. Or the Swedish equivalent, typ. For example:

  • “It is bigger-ish from the last image”
  • “There is -ish a lot of gas and faeces in her bowel, probably the reason for her constipation-ish symptoms?”
  • “There is a white-ish, shaded area on the inferior-ish lobe of the lung. Infiltration/inlammation/infection-ish?”

Like the Radiology trainees/registrars/ST-läkare told us all, even after a few years they’re still getting the grips of analysing radiological images. Many of the times, they’re pretty clueless too. You’ll never really know for sure they said.

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Nevertheless, despite our lack of radiological expertise, it was still quite an exciting and educational evening. Sure, sitting in front of a computer for hours might not sound that great, but when you get to see images of medical emergencies happening literally at that moment, that makes it pretty damn exciting. For example, we saw images of someone who fell off an apple tree, someone who jumped in front of a train, and lastly ended the night with images of an aortic dissection (when the biggest and most important artery from the heart gets a tear and could lead to a rupture). As you see, knowing that the correct analysis of those images could lead to saving a person’s life, makes what we were doing a lot more than just sitting in front of a computer looking at images. Pretty damn exciting. I was happy to be a part of that, at least for one evening.

My groupmate and I luckily had a very nice doctor who showed us so many different types of radiological cases, and gladly explained them all. When we were looking droopy, tired and hungry, he gave us a break for however long we wanted. Possibly the best part in my case, he had patience for my Swedish-as-a-second-language difficulties. Luckily.

At the end of the day, my head was just such a big mush. I was wobbling from side to side on my way home, and accidentally bumped onto lamp posts a couple of times. My first 12h “shift” at the hospital done, and I’m sure there will be many, many more to come. Until then, hats off to everyone who works at hospitals who can keep their minds sharp even until this hour. I am clearly not there yet.

But tomorrow is another day. Another 8am start at Radiology. Our second to last 8am start at Radiology that is. Better make the most of it. Good night! 🙂