August 3, 2012
By Dr. Allyson Brooks
Peer into the cars around you the next time you're zooming down Coast Highway or Newport Boulevard.Each driver is headed to a different destination, but odds are good each started in the same place.As an obstetrician and now a gynecologist at Hoag Hospital, I've delivered more than 2,000 babies. There was a time when my sons tried to banish me from running errands with them, lest we run into someone I first saw in the delivery room.
"Can Mom stay in the car while we run into the store?" was a popular refrain.Eventually, my sons let me out of the car, but they begged, "Mom, could you not talk to anyone?"Unfortunately for them the fruits of my (well, technically, other people's) labor are everywhere: at Ralphs, at the beach, at Fashion Island. And more embarrassingly for them: At my middle son's volleyball practice, my older son's graduation party and among my youngest son's friends.A woman will visit her O.B. anywhere from 10 to 13 times before delivery, often with her husband. And with deliveries increasingly becoming small parties (break out the video camera and invite the grandparents into the room!), people know you and recognize you as, "Oh, you're the person who helped start my family."No matter how hard my sons try to prevent it, I see the mothers, fathers, aunts and grandparents of kids I have delivered everywhere we go.Newport Beach is home to about 85,000 people. Because more than 175,000 people were born at Hoag since the hospital was founded in the 1950s, it's fair to say a dizzying number of us got our start under one roof.The early link so many of our residents have has always impressed me, but lately the wonder of it has really been driven home. I delivered my first babies in Newport Beach 19 years ago, which means the babies who started off bald and naked and clutching my finger are now on the cusp of adulthood.A woman dragged her reluctant daughter to me during volleyball practice at Corona del Mar High School this year to tell me that her now-teenage girl will be calling my office to schedule her first gynecology appointment. It turns out I had delivered the girl 14 years ago (I think she was more pink-faced in the gym than she had been the delivery room).More recently a 5-foot-8, bearded teenager approached me at a high school graduation party we hosted at our house and asked, "Mrs. Brooks? You remember me, right? You delivered me!" It was so sweet.He's shaving and going off to college, but he knows where he got his start. It was here in Newport Beach.Originally from Ventura County, I'm a transplant, but I delivered all three of my sons at Hoag and I've seen how this community's roots run deep.Even kids who leave for college come back. And when they do, this is where they want to be. At any given varsity volleyball game, former players who have gone off to Pepperdine or UC Santa Barbara will fill the bleachers at Corona del Mar High School, eager to cheer the team on and show their sense of pride, of connection to their community.There is a genuine magnetism to this place, a common link that gives meaning to people's lives here.And experience has shown me it truly starts at the beginning.DR. ALLYSON BROOKS practices at Hoag Hospital and lives in Newport Beach.