Ep 200: Celebrating 200 Episodes!

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Wow! Can you believe it’s been 200 episodes?! Thank you, thank you, thank you for being on this journey with me. If you had asked me a few years ago if I thought I was going to be a podcaster, I probably would’ve said “What’s a podcast?”

I never could’ve imagined having this opportunity to help and serve so many people beyond what I do at the bedside. Whether I realized it or not, I was guided along a path here. Thanks to God, the “Universe,” or whatever it may be, I wound up in the right place to do the most good. Everything fell into place and I’m so grateful to have what I never knew I wanted.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How my medical school epiphany struck me
  • What aspects of medicine I was specifically drawn to
  • How I wrestled with parting from a career in academia
  • Why it’s important to remember that you can get what you want and still not be happy
  • How the universe lined up some coincidences that set me on my way to becoming an OB/GYN hospitalist
  • What a twisty-turny path it was to go from a health coaching side-hustle to this podcast
  • How this show has changed my life
  • What’s next…

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Dr. Nicole (00:00): I cannot believe it, but we are celebrating 200 episodes of the All About Pregnancy and Birth podcast. Welcome to the All About Pregnancy and birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway, Rankins, a board certified ob b gyn, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy in birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer@drnicolerankins.com slash disclaimer. Now, let's get to it.

(00:54): Hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 200, and whether you are a new listener or a returning listener, I am so glad that you are celebrating 200 episodes with me today. So what I thought I would do in this episode is give you a little bit of an origin story of the podcast and share with you how I got to be to this point. I cannot tell you how much of a surprise this podcast has been to me and how meaningful of a part of my life it has become in terms of the effect that it has had for all of you in helping you have a beautiful birth experience. Honestly, if you asked me 10 years ago, would I be a podcaster? 10 years ago, I don't even think I knew what podcasts were. Okay. So it is absolutely crazy to me that I am here today really.

(01:54): I started this podcast in 2019, and that entire year for 2019, there were 54,749 downloads. I looked up the exact number. Well, now that is what I get for downloads on a monthly basis. Just last month, there were 54,000 downloads of the podcast. Last year in 2022, there were 629,000 downloads of the podcast, and there have been over 1.6 million lifetime downloads of this podcast. And again, I am so grateful for this opportunity and the ability to help serve people in a way that I never could have imagined that I could do beyond what I do at the bedside. So I'm just so grateful. This is also an example of how you're going to hear in this origin story. Things happen in your life for a reason, and God or the universe or whatever you believe in, orders your steps even when you don't realize it.

(03:01): And even in the midst of difficult times, and I'm going to share some difficult challenges that I had getting to this journey today, you are often being guided to something greater, to something better. You just have to be open and keep moving forward. And that is exactly how I ended up being here today. And you're going to hear that in the origin story today. So before we get into the story, if you're listening to this on the 21st, it's being released on the 21st. Then tonight at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time is my live class, make a birth plan the right way. This is the class in order to learn how to make birth plan the right way because those online, online templates and forms just don't cut it. You can print out one of those forms, fill it out, take it to the hospital, and then what happens if the hospital looks at it, the doctors look at it and they're like, yeah, we don't do none of this stuff.

(03:55): So essentially it's like, okay, good luck, and you're stuck in the hospital. So in my live class, I teach you the questions to ask so that well before you get to the hospital that you have the support for the things that go into that birth plan. And then of course, I share what you should include from my perspective as an OBGYN, who's been in practice for 20 years, the things that are important that are not important, how to get folks to pay attention to it. All that good? Great stuff. Head to dr nicole rankins.com/register to sign up for the class. It's live, and I'm not going to do it again probably for a couple of months. Now, if you're listening after the 21st, I will be teaching the class again. So you can hop on my email at drnicolerankins.com/email, so you can be the first to know when the class opens again.

(04:42): Okay. All right, so let's get into the origin story of all about pregnancy and birth podcast. Well, in order to talk about how this podcast came about, I got to take it kind of way back. All right. And tell you how I started or how I decided to go to medical school because in undergrad, I majored in mathematics and mechanical engineering. Yes, I am a super smart cookie in that regard, like math and science are my jam. So I majored in math, mechanical engineering, went to Spelman College and North Carolina, A& T State University. Shout out to HBCUs. And I decided to go to medical school. This is going to sound crazy, but it's true After I was in the dorm and I was in the bathroom and I looked in the mirror and I saw myself wearing a white coat, and from that moment the seed was planted that I want to go to medical school.

(05:38): And if you have my mother tell it, she says, she said in fourth grade when I was in fourth grade that I was going to be a doctor. But for me, it connected at that moment when I was in college and I followed that little carrot that was dangled in front of me and decided to go to medical school. Now, in medical school, I knew pretty early on that I wanted to work with my hands. I wanted to do something that involved procedures and surgeries and things like that. I didn't want to just be in the office. So I thought in my mind between general surgery or OBGYN, and I didn't like general surgery because I did not want to have male patients. I really, really disliked having male patients because I got hit on quite a bit when I was in medical school, and I was like, I'm just not dealing with this nonsense anymore.

(06:31): So fell upon OBGYN. Now, as I said, I really like to operate. I like to do things with my hands, and I had every intention of being the type of gynecologist, the type of obgyn that operates the most. And that is a GYN oncologist. A gynecologic oncologist takes care of women who have GYN cancers like cervical cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and they do a lot of surgery. They also do complex surgeries for people that don't have cancer. So I thought for sure that is what I wanted to do. Now because that is a very competitive field, I interviewed at some of the best places for a residency. I was a good student in medical school and was able to secure some excellent spots for residency. I interviewed at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Penn, and ultimately ended up at Duke, which I absolutely loved in terms of my OBGY residency training.

(07:30): Absolutely loved it and went through my training. Honestly, being an obstetrician are focusing primarily on obstetrics, never really crossed my mind. And because again, I was like intent on being a GYN oncologist. And let me back up and say, normally I don't completely script out the episodes, but I write notes. And this one, I'm kind of free flowing a little bit more. So forgive me if I'm a little bit meandering. I'll try to keep it not too crazy, but I'm just sort of talking off the top of my head and the things that I remember as I'm sharing the story of the podcast. So in my fourth year of residency, I changed my mind, decided that I did not want to be a GYN oncologist, and I can't say what it was that just made me say it's not what I wanted do, but I knew that it wasn't what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to stay in academic medicine.

(08:22): So academic medicine means being at a medical school, you're on the faculty, you teach medical students, you have resident physicians, and I really perceived academic medicine as the place that is the forefront of medicine, where research happened, where change happens, and that is something that I wanted to be a part of. I thought that's where you had to be if you wanted to be sort of a " mover and shaker" doing things within our specialty and our field. Not that I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I thought I wanted to be in the spot where I thought it could be done. Okay, if that makes sense. So I decided that I think what I'll do is I will practice, but I will also do clinical research. So clinical research is not at the bench research and in the lab kind of thing.

(09:13): Clinical research is research at the patient side at the bedside. So it seemed appealing to be able to do clinical research working with patients and then practice at the same time. So in order to get some additional research training, I did a research fellowship just down the street at UNC Chapel Hill. I got a master of public health in epidemiology. That was a great experience. I learned tons there about how to do research and science and understanding all of that stuff. During that time, I had baby number one, and you can hear my birth story on the episode of the podcast where I talk about that. That was a whole nother thing that got thrown in there. She was born eight weeks early, had Duana Latricia, which is a rare intestinal malformation that happens in about one in 10,000 pregnancies. She was in NICU for a month.

(09:58): That's a story on another podcast, my birth stories podcast, but had baby number one. And then after that, I wanted to go back home to Virginia. I was really certain that I wanted to go back home to Virginia. Virginia is where I was born and raised, the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. So I wrote a letter to my medical school. I went to Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, and I said, Hey, I want to come back and work there. I want to come back and be on the faculty. So, me being the go-getter that I am in some respects, I said, give me a job. They gave me a job. So I went back to my old medical school. I had the support, great environment, the colleagues, my chairman, all of that. And I was there for four years. And unfortunately it didn't work out.

(10:46): I thought that I needed to be at a bigger kind of more well known place with more financial resources in order to really get my foot in the door for research. Turns out that was not true. I'll explain what was really going on in a minute. So I ended up moving to Richmond, Virginia, which is where I am now. And I was on the faculty at an institution here in Richmond, and I was there for three years and things still weren't working out. Despite having financial resources, despite having good available mentors, I couldn't find my footing and figure out what I wanted to do with research. You have to find something that you focus on and you really kind of go all in on that one thing. And I was just interested in a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

(11:42): I couldn't really identify anything that I just wanted to do 1000%. This is the only one thing that I want to do. Now, in hindsight, it turns out that it was because research wasn't the right path for me. It took me seven years and an unfortunate incident, which I will explain in a minute to find that out. But that just wasn't where I needed to be. That wasn't where my talents lied. It was not my path. Now, I knew that things were not going well. I hadn't been like writing papers. You have to write papers. I hadn't really gotten anything started in terms of research. And I had a meeting with my department chair and what I thought was going to happen, because what often happens when you're in an academic research setting and things don't go well, somebody has to pay for your time in order to do the research.

(12:38): And what I figured would happen is that I would have to go 100% clinical and I would just have to spend all of my time doing clinical work. Because up until that point, I had three days of clinical work, two days for research, something along those lines. So I figured, okay, I'm just going to have to be 100% clinical and go down a clinical pathway, which I was okay with. I wasn't thrilled with it because clinical being in the office had its own challenges. I always felt like when I was in the office, I would always be behind because I would take more time, and we didn't have control over our schedule, and I get overbooked. And so that part was a little bit stressful, but at least I'd still have a job and be able to practice and I could kind of figure things out.

(13:29): Well, in this meeting with my department chair, he sort of casually mentions that, well, it was actually recommended that you get fired. And this is me like high achieving Phi Beta Kappa, math and engineering, graduate, alpha Omega, alpha Honor medical school, society graduate. Someone telling me that it was recommended that I get fired. And the way that hit me in that chest was hard. Let me tell you something. I was straight up ugly crying in this man's office. It was so awkward, so embarrassing, I was a mess. I was a mess. I was a mess. I was a mess. So I left his office and then let me back up and say I didn't get fired. It was just kind of dropped that it was recommended that I get fired, but I was going to be able to stay. That doesn't make anybody feel good.

(14:28): So again, left the office ugly crying. And once I got my wits back about me, got myself together, I said to myself, you ain't going to fire me cause I'm going to quit. All right? I couldn't stay in that type of environment. I knew I had to leave. But here's the thing, I had to stay in town. I had stay in town. My husband had followed me already twice. We had moved by this point, we had had baby number two. So our children were in school. We had kind of settled. I liked the area, so I knew I had to stay in town. I wanted to stay in town. And then this is how things happen. This is how things show up in your life in ways that you can't even see or understand or predict about how I ended up being a hospitalist. I went to my annual GYN appointment, okay?

(15:32): Now, mind you, I'm always forever late. I knew I was late for the appointment. I finally got it scheduled. I'm talking to my OBGYN, and she's just asking me how am I doing? How are things going? And I spilled my guts about how things weren't going well with my job and all of this, that and the other. Now, mind you, one, she didn't have to ask me how I was doing. Two, I could have not said anything. I could have said, oh, things are fine. But I told the truth that I was a mess, that I was looking for a new position. And she goes on to say, well, you know what? This hospitalist position just opened up at my hospital. And I was like, huh, okay, hospitalist. Now being a hospitalist, this is completely different. This was going to be a huge change for me, all right?

(16:29): Huge change for me. I was no longer going to be in academics, and I had kind of tied up my worth or not my worth, but my ability to be a mover, a shaker, do things with being in academics. And so that was going to be a huge change. I kind of perceived it in a way as, I don't want to say a step back, but kind of a step back in terms of being perceived as, I don't want to say in an important position, but being perceived. I had a prestigious position, so to speak. So I was stepping back from that. I was not going to be in the office anymore, so I wasn't going to be seeing patients in the office. Now, that part, I'm going to be honest, I had mixed feelings about that in the sense that, like I said, I was always behind.

(17:23): I was taking notes home, trying to get things done. The office wasn't necessarily the greatest place for me, although I was going to miss being able to have an ongoing relationship with people. But I have to say, giving up the office wasn't as hard as I thought. But then also remember, I thought I wanted to do GYN oncology and hospitalist work is primarily obstetrics. So I'm doing this huge flip switch. Totally, totally different. All right. Now, here's the other thing that happened. I was very worried. I don't know, is this right? For me? It turns out that the person who had left the position was actually my neighbor. We didn't know each other well, but she lives a few houses down from me. And so I just reached out and was like, can I talk to you about this job? So do you see how all of these things were lining up for me to follow these paths, these steps in order to get to where I am now with this podcast?

(18:34): So I became a hospitalist. And to say that I fell in love with it is an understatement. I absolutely positively love being a hospitalist. I work in the hospital. I work a certain number of shifts per month. I come and do my 24 hours and then I leave and I don't have to take work home with me. But while I'm at work, I get to do some incredibly fulfilling things and helping people bring life into this world, support them during one of the most important events of their life. So I love it, love it, love it. But it also opened up my eyes to other things, and I should back up and say, in academics, I didn't do necessarily a lot of births myself. So I went from residency straight to academics and seven year in academics. So in academics, you do a lot of supervising resident physicians.

(19:25): So you are not necessarily in the thick of birth as much as when you're in private practice. So I hadn't had in those seven years tons of exposure to being in birth myself. I was more like training, which is one thing. And then I was supervising, which is a different thing. But being a hospitalist really put me into the thick of delivering babies, and I absolutely loved it. I love it. Love it, love it, love it, love it. So around that same time, I was really just trying to figure out, okay, well, what do I want to do with my life? What do I want to want to do? And just figuring out how to be the best version of myself. And I started doing some self-help work. I came across this article from Oprah that was seven books to read for Spiritual Advancements. I think it was seven.

(20:17): And I read all of them. It was a couple by Eckhart Tole, like a new Earth Power of Now, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zoff, the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, which is a book I really like. So I was reading these books. I started doing meditating, and I just was kind of going through my own personal transformation. And then being a hospitalist, I could see that this is what practice is outside of the ivy colored walls of academics. And it was very different. It was very, very different. I had never been outside of academics. And let me tell you, the private practice environment is just different. And I could see how in one room someone might have an experience because they have one doctor, and in another room, it would be completely different because that doctor practiced a different way. I could see how different doctors practiced.

(21:17): I would talk to the nurses and hear what they were saying about how different doctors practiced. And I just had this epiphany and real realization that the way we practice in academics, which tends to be pretty by the book, evidence-based, is going to be more evidence-based, so to speak, can be very different than what people do in practice. Not everyone stays up on the latest things, the most up-to-date research, and practice guidelines. People kind of practice with what they know, and especially when they've been out for a while, they may be hesitant to change. So I was just mind blown, flabbergasted at the way different people were practicing. And I also, at the time, again, just being part of birth, I just started just paying attention to things and wanting to show up in a way that was reflective of being my best self.

(22:15): I've said this and shared this before. I certainly used to be the doctor that rolled my eyes at birth plans, and didn't understand it. I was the one who, Hey, I'm, I'm getting, I'm here to check your cervix. Not asking all of those things. And just kind of coming to this realization through my own work as a person, that is not how I wanted to show up as a physician because it was not in the best service of my patients, and that it was an inappropriate way to practice. And especially coming to that realization as a black woman, being from a community that is generally marginalized, it was again, mind blown, Hey, I need to do better. I can do better. And one instance that I remember in particular that kind of hit me in my chest and I will forever remember, is when this young Black girl and I went to ask her, can I check your cervix?

(23:08): And she looked at me and she said, do I really have a choice? And it just hit me that that is something that I wanted every person to know that they have choices about what they do in their life and definitely in birth. So around that same time, and sort of figuring out what I wanted to do, I actually decided to get training as a health coach. I thought this was going to be a nice side hustle thing I could do to help people make lasting changes in their health. Because again, in the office, you're kind of like a pap smear factory. You don't get to talk to people. And I thought getting trained as a health coach would help me, had this sort of side thing that I could do in add addition to being a hospitalist, and it would have that sort of continuity of care of seeing people back.

(23:52): And at the same time, I decided to write a blog. I'm doing all the things. So decided to start writing a blog. And I found a couple of things between being a health coach and doing the blog. Number one, having a health coaching business practice is hard. It can be challenging to find patients. I mean, not patience, but clients, I should say. It was just challenging. And again, it still wasn't exactly quite what I wanted to do. And writing a blog consistently was was also a challenge. Like writing takes work. It takes work and writing and keeping it up and doing it every week was a lot. It was a lot. So that was probably back in early 2018. Also, around that same time, for that past couple of years, I had started listening to podcasts. All right? I became a podcast junkie. Serial season one is what got me hooked on s.

(24:52): If you have not listened to serial season one, that is perhaps one of the best podcasts, if not the best podcast that has ever made, that has ever been made. So I got hooked on podcasts in that regard, and it was like I just had like, huh, what is it like to do a podcast? Can I do a podcast? Can I do this? Can I do this thing? How do you do a podcast? And when I looked into it, I was like, you know what? This actually is not that hard. Anybody can really start a podcast. All you need is a microphone and you just upload it. The cost is very minimal in terms of what you have to contribute financially. It's really more of your time. And I said, you know what? I am going to start this podcast. I found this great guide by this guy named Pat Flynn that walked you through all of the steps you needed to start a podcast.

(25:47): So I took the plunge, and in January of 2019, I released the first episodes of the podcast. And then those early years, I was doing everything, writing, uploading, editing. I taught myself how to do all of that. I was doing all of that for many, many, many months, maybe even the first year, almost a year I was doing that. I realized quickly that I could not continue to do that because it was taking up all of my time. And now I have an amazing podcast editor who does that for me. But yeah, in the beginning, it was just me, sitting in front of my computer, which is where I'm sitting today as I recorded this, as I record this in my home office with my microphone, I have a much better microphone now. But with my microphone and just talking into the mic, I had no goals, no anything in terms of what I wanted to accomplish with the podcast.

(26:44): I just knew that there was n information void. I knew particularly there was an information void for evidence-based information, especially from physicians that really centered people in the birth experience. And I just wanted to show up, provide information, put my MD credentials behind it, and just really support people and be in service in a way that I couldn't do at the bedside. Again, I had no idea that it was going to blossom into what it has today. This has been one of the greatest joys of my life, of my life. Now, interestingly, the format has not really changed of the podcast. In this guide that I had, it wanted you to walk through what do you want to do, and what types of episodes it helps you think through. And from the very beginning, I've had three types of episodes, birth stories, solo episodes with me just talking and interview episodes.

(27:43): That format has not really changed. I don't anticipate that format changing at all. I love it, and I think it works out very well. And here we are today, 1.6 million downloads later. Now, we'll say that my favorite and your favorite episodes to the podcast, because this is what y'all tell me are the birth stories. I love the birth stories because they give me a view on birth that I can't understand. It's definitely helped me to be better at the bedside to hear people's perception of their births after the fact, because I think we get so caught up in doing things sort of over and over again that we don't necessarily step back and understand that every time this person coming to this experience, this is their first time for them or their second, or maybe their third. And we need to understand that they bring a whole nother different perspective to it.

(28:42): So that's just one of the things that I really, really loved about the birth stories, is just hearing that perspective of birth and learning, and it truly has helped me to be a better physician. And then I will say the interview episodes kind of selfishly, some of those are for my own benefit, I want to learn different things. For instance, I had a birth photographer on because I was like, I don't, what does birth photography do? How do you know about birth photography? Like, Ooh, that seems cool to learn how to get your dog and your baby to get along. Ooh, let's talk about acupuncture in pregnancy. Oh, let's talk about chiropractors in pregnancy. So I have learned so many things myself, and again, things that have helped me to show up and be a better physician at the bedside and BF service to you.

(29:27): So again, thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your love and support to help me get to this moment. So what is next for the podcast? We are 200 episodes in. What are we going to do going forward? Well, I'm going to put it out there and see if from my lips, to God's ears in the universe, I really want to start doing, are you ready? Okay. I really want to start doing live events, live events of the podcast where we are recording in person. We can have folks in an audience setting, record, live, ask questions, live. So I really want to start doing live events with a podcast or live events in general, supporting people during pregnancy and birth. So live events. And then the other thing is that I would really love to do some type of video show or TV show where I interview women about their birth stories.

(30:34): So I'm not talking about those vlog birth stories. Those are great. Those are nice in terms of giving snapshots of what is happening during birth, but they don't go into, what were you thinking? What were you feeling? What was the pregnancy like? What is the postpartum period like? So really just taking the birth story format and turning it into a TV kind of show, small group of women where we just kind of sit around and chat like girlfriends about birth stories. Wouldn't that be fun? Wouldn't that be fun? If you have a hookup for me, a contact, please let me know so I could get on tv, video. We can talk more about birth stories, reach and serve more pregnant folks. All right, so that is it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed the origin story of the podcast. Again, this is, I can't say this enough and I'll just say it over and over again. This has just been one of the greatest joys of my life, being able to reach and serve more women and pregnant people in a way that I never could have imagined. And I'm excited to see where the next chapters of this journey go.

(31:47): And also, speaking of live events, if you are listening to this on the 21st and it's before 7:00 PM Eastern Standard time, you still have time to sign up for my live virtual class "Make a birth plan in the right way" where you can learn exactly what you need to know. Make a birth plan in the right way to help you have the birth that you want Drnicolerankins.com/register. Okay, so that's it for this episode. Do me a solid, share what the friend sharing is caring helps me to reach and serve more people, helps me to live out my passion and purpose of serving pregnant folks. Subscribe wherever you're listening to me right now. Leave me a review and Apple Podcast, or shoot me a damn on Instagram. Let me know what you think of the podcast. I love to receive messages. I love to receive pictures of both mom and baby, not just the baby. I like to see both of y'all to see how you're doing and just your thoughts on how the podcast has impacted you. It really warms my heart. I really, really, really, really love it. All right, so that is it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.