A longtime obstetrician delivers a debut medical memoir with heart.
Aladjem has seen thousands of women through pregnancy and birth. Here, in short chapters, he illustrates the process of bringing new life into the world, depicting moments of beauty and tragedy. As he writes in his introduction, “Over the years, I have witnessed events of all kinds…events from which we learn about ourselves, about others, about life, love, joy, sorrow, and about who we are.” The author’s prose gives space to both the medical and personal sides of obstetrics, and his literary bedside manner is both meticulous and caring, unobtrusively touching on the many philosophical and ethical questions that arise in the course of his profession. The circle of life is of particular interest to him: “Every birth encapsulates the past while looking into the future. Babies grow up and become parents, mothers get older and become grandmothers…. It all starts in the delivery room with the birth of a child.” Aladjem recounts quiet acts of heroism, such as implanting an IUD for a woman whose abusive boyfriend has been “subjecting her to miscarriage after miscarriage.” In each story, Aladjem treats his patients with dignity, rather than as a simple constellation of medical facts. Some readers may find his frank and detailed explication of medical procedures troubling, particularly during his stories that end in tragedy. However, the bulk of the book is given over to narratives of successful pregnancies and births, subjects of such wide relevance that nearly any reader will likely be able to enjoy a story or two.
A deftly written book of medical and personal accounts of the beginning of life.