2nd Quarter, 2008
Medical Professions Scholarship Winner
“I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this coming Fall 2008. I am excited to study Biology and later go on to become an obstetrician/gynecologist. It has always been a dream of mine to work with medicine but I was unsure of which path to take until my very own sister became pregnant in 2008. At this point I was introduced to my sister’s doctor and immediately recognized my calling. As time passed, I felt more and more reassured that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I was present at her labor, which unfortunately came with many difficulties, but even these tribulations did not stop my determination. After thirty-six hours, my beautiful niece was born!
That moment has shaped my future forever. I plan on finishing my undergraduate at Chapel Hill and then continuing my medical studies at the Medical School at Chapel Hill. The years laid out before me will come with many hardships and problems, but I know that my niece will be a constant reminder to remain loyal to my dream.”
A Portion of Isabel’s Winning Essay:
Allow me to introduce you to my sister, Paula Andrea Ruiz Castro. She is nine months pregnant, excited, and exhausted. Like most women at the end of their pregnancy, she is ready for her daughter to be born, but she refuses to rush her. She speaks to the baby everyday, telling her not to feel hurried and that she can take all the time she needs.
Strange. I admire my big sister for her amazing strength; she endures nauseating mornings, sleepless nights, and constant questioning from the people around. She has not complained once during these drawn-out forty weeks because, instead, she looks forward to the future. She knows better than anyone else that once the baby is born, everything will change.
The birth of a new life brings more joy than anything else imaginable, because suddenly, there is a life that is more important than your own. The doctor’s office building is made of burnt brick, baring a white sign with green trim, which reads “Carolina OB/GYN”. The examining room contains thousands of pictures of newborns, babies Doctor Latika Patel has delivered over the years.
I remember when I first met Doctor Patel, she encouraged me to become an obstetrician/gynecologist by saying, “This is probably the most rewarding job out there. Being able to witness the beauty of life is not something many people get to experience in their lifetime, and I make my living of it. It never loses its beauty.”
If I had had doubts about obstetrics before that moment, Doctor Patel cleared them up with a few simple words. I am driven to becoming an OB/GYN because of the experience I endured with my sister. Her kindness and happiness radiates from within her, cheering up even the most exhausted women in her office.
I want to be this person for these women; I would love to have the opportunity to touch the hearts of so many lives through my career. I accompany my sister to her monthly check-ups, learning more and more about the baby with each visit.
I still remember the first time I set eyes upon the baby via ultrasound; we were in the picture-filled exam room, staring at a small black and white screen. Nothing could have wiped the smiles off the faces of my sister and I. She is beautiful. I return every week, anxious to see the baby’s progress.
It all started with the news of her pregnancy, grew into a heartbeat, and developed into a beautiful, baby girl. Even though we cannot meet her yet, I can feel her perfection and grace. I swear she listens when we speak to her. When my sister told her she could not be born over the weekend because she had to close on a house, she listened. If there is music playing, she will kick and wiggle to the beat while she dances in my sister’s belly. I can tell she is just as excited to come out as we are. Everyday, we imagine what she will look like. Dark hair? Light hair? Hairy? Bald? What color will her eyes be? What about her skin color? All of us have had dreams about the baby, crafting our own image of her in our mind. Some of us have envisioned her at a young age while others have seen her as a toddler.
Unfortunately, none of us will know what she truly looks like until she is born. Time is our enemy as we go through these last few days. As the baby grows bigger, our patience grows weaker. Every phone call is approached with excitement, every night is slept with anticipation, and every wince of my sister is tended to with hope. We cannot wait for the moment we receive the call, everyone is ready for the day. Hopefully soon, a picture of my precious niece will be added to the collage in Doctor Patel’s office. In the meantime, we wait. We wait in anticipation with warm welcomes, ready to give this baby all of our love and passion. —
The call. I wake up drowsy when my mother calls my name. “Isabel, wake up. Your sister started her contractions. We need to head over, hurry up!” I look at my plastic alarm clock and the bright, red numbers confirm my suspicions. It is early, too early. They proudly glow 5:27 a.m., laughing at my exhaustion. I drag myself over to the bathroom and taste the minty toothpaste as I hastily brush my teeth. Quick, quick Isabel! Hurry up! I jump into some sweats and a t-shirt, noticing I match for the first time ever. Even my shoes!
Haha, what a strange time to do this! We rush to the car and race the clock to my sister’s house. Everyone around us seems to be going five miles per hour. Why are cars even out this early? My mother and I cannot find the right words to speak so I turn on the radio in hopes of drowning out the silence.
After it comes back from commercials, my mom interrupts The Plain White T’s to tell me about her labor experiences. I was born a mere two hours after her first contraction, and she hopes my sister is just the same. I say a silent prayer, asking God to give her strength through this troublesome day for He knows she will need it. We arrive at the house as soon as possible and rush ourselves upstairs to the bathroom where my sister awaits. She is ready to hop into the shower and does as soon as we enter, and as she finishes, I play with Shadow. He did not leave the bedside all night and has barely slept. I can see the exhaustion in his black eyes, but he refuses to leave my sister’s side. He knows. It amazes me how animals have the sixth sense for things: storms, earthquakes, pain, everything. He cries as we leave the house and head for the hospital to finish this memorable journey.
In the car, we jot down the times of Paula’s contractions as the radio plays “Breathe”. Funny. When we arrive, I can see my sister’s relief on her face. The emergency room is surprisingly empty, only one lady sits alone in a corner and she smiles at us when she realizes our reason for the visit. I always imagined emergency rooms to be packed, crowded, and hectic, but no. It is quiet and still, not a sound is heard aside from the ringing of the phones. The room is just a blur; details escape my mind because the only thing I can think about is stupidities. I still have homework to do. I am going to miss the AP Prompt! I am going to be so lost in statistics! The paper! Concentrate Isabel! Concentrate!
The nurse arrives, puts my sister in a wheelchair, and the lady in the waiting room wishes us good luck. We make our way upstairs to the maternity ward and enter the “observation room”. Observation room? Why the name? It sounds like an experiment! She lies down on the bed and the nurse starts hooking up all the doctor’s toys up, one for the baby’s heartbeat and another to monitor the contractions. We all tense up as the nurse checks for dilation, praying strongly that she has dilated further. I know this day will be full of many, many prayers, and I hope God stands by our side through her pain.
After checking the cervix, the nurse says the words no one wants to hear, “She’s still at one centimeter.” No, she can’t be. Not after all her pain. No! She encourages us to walk around with her in order to relax her and hopefully quicken the process. We willingly agree, just glad to get out of the room. The cafeteria invites us to a heart-healthy breakfast, lulling us in with its fresh aroma. Breakfast consists of everything under the sun: eggs, toast, grits, bacon, sausage, bagels, muffins, biscuits, everything. Mom and I grab our shares of food and start nibbling at our breakfast. I have been starving for quite some time now, considering it is 8 a.m., but for some reason my mind stays on my sister who is walking around impatiently, anxious for the baby to be born.
I return to the room and for the first time notice the bright, playful posters hanging up. The room smells of Febreeze, fresh laundry scent. Why is the wallpaper always so ugly? Considering people will be here a while, why not put some care into the walls? This wait is driving us all crazy. The sad part is, it has only just begun; we have not even reached half the journey yet. Prayers keep circling the room, praying for her to dilate, praying for the contractions to continue, praying for it to be quick, praying for it to today, praying for the baby to be safe, praying for Paula to be safe. Prayers will be our only comfort until the moment of delivery.
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