Memo to self: Don’t bring new girlfriend to the birth of your child by old girlfriend

Obstetrics, the saying goes, is 95% boredom punctuated by 5% terror. Most of the time childbirth is routine and the doctor shows up to catch the baby and make sure it doesn’t fall on the floor. Every now and then, though, someone tries to die; usually it’s the baby, but occasionally it can be the mother or both. Common obstetric emergencies include hemorrhage, fetal distress, and pregnancy induced high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia).

Only once in my career was there a weapons emergency.

That’s not because of a lack of weapons brought to labor and delivery. Hospitals don’t have metal detectors, so visitors (and probably patients, too) are free to conceal knives and guns in their clothing. Every now and then I would glimpse the handle of a father’s gun exposed at the top of a pocket, but no father ever drew a weapon in the hospital or threatened the staff. The same cannot be said of the visitors.

The key lesson to be drawn from the one weapons emergency is that the father should not bring his new girlfriend to the birth of his child by his old girlfriend. The participants in this particular drama were the teenage mother in labor, her sister who was her labor coach, the teenage father, and the father’s new girlfriend.

As near as the nurse could tell, the dispute started when the participants were speculating on what the new baby might look like. The dad was hoping the baby would look like him. The sister expressed her hunch that the baby would look like mom, and the new girlfriend weighed in with her opinion. She hoped that the baby would not look like mom, since “the bitch looks like a pig.”

As anyone knows, them’s fighting words. The sister pulled out the knife she kept in her pocket for just such events, and wrestled the new girlfriend to the ground where she attempted to stab her to death. The nurse stat paged … the chief resident. He arrived in a flurry, looking around for the medical emergency. The woman in the bed looked fine. The baby looked fine on the fetal monitor. He directed his gaze lower and took in the scene of the two women locked in mortal combat on the floor, and fled.

The nurse followed him out the door and he rounded on her. “Why did you page me?” he cried. “I’m a doctor, not a policeman. I’m not getting in between those two. Page security.”

Security was paged and duly arrived: two middle age men moving as fast as they could, breathing heavily and jangling keys. Somehow they managed to pry the women apart. I still don’t understand how no one was hurt in the melee. Although the sister was the one who pulled the knife, she was the labor coach, and it was agreed that she could stay if she handed over the knife, which she did reluctantly. The new girlfriend was banned from the room and left in a huff.

The baby was born 8 hours later. I don’t know whom she looked like.