As a physician, I’m always accorded a certain level of respect, certainly among my peers, but most notably among the thousands of patients who have bestowed upon me the privilege of seeing them through their pregnancy, and the delivery of their child and, in many cases, several children. I’m always humbled by the trust they have placed in me. I’m fortunate enough to hear from many women — and their partners — who express their gratitude and appreciation days, weeks, months and sometimes even years after the birth of their child. It warms my heart, and I am so pleased that they continue to hold me in such esteem after so much time has gone by.
I recently came to the realization that, as an obstetrician and gynecologist based at Westmed Medical Group/St. John’s Riverside Hospital and Sun River Health in Yonkers, I have delivered more than 12,000 babies in my career. It’s an astounding number by any measure. You might think that after attending the births of thousands and thousands of babies it merely becomes routine. You might logically conclude that it’s just a procedure: A pregnant woman has carried her child through the natural gestation period, and she is now ready to give birth. The doctor — in these cases me — is contacted, I arrive at the hospital, I prep for the birth, and I work my magic. Actually, it is the birth itself that is magical. I am merely there to welcome the child into the world, to make sure that mother and child are healthy and to send them both to the maternity suite where they will await the requisite awesome adulation that accompanies this most blessed event.
Since childhood, I’ve been amazed by the miracle of life. After completing my residency in obstetrics and gynecology at New York Medical College in Valhalla in 1987, I opened my practice in Yonkers. Now, 34 years later, and after a decade as director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. John’s Riverside Hospital and site medical director for women’s health at Sun River Health, I am proud to be a part of providing prenatal and obstetric care to many of the most vulnerable and underserved people in the community. It inspires me to want to do more.
Yes, I am a clinician, and caring for a woman who is or wants to become pregnant is nothing new to me. Still — after all these years and after all these mothers and babies — the entire process is mesmerizing. Every mother is unique and, consequently, every birth and every baby are unique as well. You might think I’d be inured to the emotions inherent in the entire process, but that would be an erroneous assumption. Indeed, with every baby who enters the world in my care, every moment of the process, I am awestruck. And I can’t help but wonder, with these children, what roads they will take, what their lives will be like and how I played a role, albeit seemingly insignificant, in getting these little human beings off to a healthy start.
Today, with the world turned seemingly upside down by the pandemic, I want to reach out to mothers-to-be and stress to them how vital it is for them to take good care of themselves. This means maintaining a healthy diet, following their doctors’ advice, listening to their bodies, and, yes, taking precautions against contracting Covid-19. From wearing a mask in public to getting vaccinated, it’s crucial that women who want to become pregnant or who are carrying a child take advantage of these amazing vaccines. There’s nothing more important than the mother’s health and, by extension, the health of her baby. Vaccines work, and protecting against the virus is something tangible you can do to ensure your safety and that of your unborn child.
At this point in my medical career, there is so much to reflect on and so much to share. But I’ll finish this by expressing my gratitude — to the thousands of women who have trusted me with their care during pregnancy and with the birth of their children. It’s an experience that never gets old, trite or laborious. It’s a gift, a beautiful gift. I’m the one who is most grateful for all the wonderful memories.
My heart is full.
Shahman Razman, M.D., is director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. John’s Riverside Hospital, affiliated with Westmed Medical Group, and serves as site medical director for Women’s Health at Sun River Health — all in Yonkers. He is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. For more, visit westmedgroup.com and sunhealth.org.