Kristyn Brandi, MD, MPH, FACOG, ACOG Darney-Landy Fellow
I have always been certain that I wanted to be a doctor. I remember my first little doctor kit as a child: a black bag with fake stethoscope and reflex hammer. I would go to family members and practice as I was growing up. I was in an eight-year program in college, meaning I signed up in high school to be accepted into medical school once college was done. There was no question about it. But I was also fairly certain of something else: that while I loved helping others, I never wanted children of my own.
As a reproductive health expert, I have had a lot of experience helping others through their reproductive journeys. For many people of reproductive potential, there is a constant juggling act of whether or when to become pregnant for about 40 years of their lives. I have been lucky to help so many patients navigate those uncharted waters. I have delivered a lot of babies—a lot—in so many different situations. Times where this delivery has been the best moment of their lives, and times where this moment was one of the hardest days, either when complications occurred or this pregnancy was undesired. I have also helped many people find the right birth control for themselves so that they could decide when was best for themselves to start or grow a family. I have helped countless patients seek an abortion for that exact same reason. Each intervention I have been a part of has been a great honor. I am thrilled as an obstetrician–gynecologist to help each person achieve their own reproductive freedom and justice.
But I rarely reflect on how I have also benefited from reproductive health advances by accessing reproductive health care myself. Without birth control and knowing that I had access to comprehensive health care, including abortion care, I would not have been able or be able to live out my life the way I felt was best for myself and my family. I was lucky that at an early age I was introduced to birth control options. While, like many of my patients, I went through a trial-and-error period during which I tried different options, I am glad to have landed on the option that works best for me. I have also been so privileged that I was able to talk honestly with my own obstetrician–gynecologist about my reproductive health goals including not having children. I am fortunate that if I needed an abortion, I currently would not have to travel to a different state to get the care that I would want and deserve.
I have always thought that I am just so lucky. Lucky that my life has turned out the way that it did. That I was able to become a doctor. That I get to be an obstetrician–gynecologist and take care of people when they are making huge decisions not only about their health but also about if and when to start or build their families. I am so lucky that my job every day is to help people live out their reproductive goals and dreams so that they can have the family they think is best for them. But I am also lucky that I have been able to do that for myself too.
Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions observing Women in Medicine Month reflect experiences of individual ACOG members and do not represent official organizational opinions of ACOG.