I keep a book with the names of all the women whose births I've attended. It starts with the first baby boy I delivered as a fourth year medical student, and ends with the little boy I delivered last Friday. During my third year of residency, I mislaid the book for several months, so I missed at least 40 births during that year. I gave myself a low estimate of 293 births by the time I graduated; the actual number was probably higher.
While bringing the book up to date last weekend, I was amazed to discover that I have delivered 461 babies during my short time as a family doctor. That includes two sets of twins and a whole bunch of second babies for women whom I'd attended for their first birth. It does not include C-sections, which I never count. Along with date of the birth and the woman's name, I make notations about the circumstances of the birth: "I arrived to see someone else. She was on her hands and knees at the nurse's station, wailing."
Four hundred sixty-one births. That's almost 500, a number I associated with wise women and elders in a community. Me? Maybe I was wrong.
From time to time, I'll write about a memorable birth story. Glad I kept track all these years.