Not some simple little faux pas that nobody but you remembers. No, I’m talking about something epic – a real boneheaded misstep so infamous that it will get passed down from generation to generation.
You’d be getting warmer if you’ve asked a pregnant lady when she was due just to find out that there wasn’t anything growing under that protuberant belly of hers.
Unfortunately, I’d still have you beat.
In my defense, my heart was in the right place. There was definitely no malintent. Still, I wish I had that moment back.
Here’s what happened…
Ten years ago, almost to the day, my wife went into labor with our first son. Saying it was a difficult pregnancy would be an understatement. She had severe morning sickness, pruritic urticarial papules of pregnancy, and preeclampsia.
The labor was prolonged and they intensified it with pitocin.
Over thirty hours into it, something happened – but it wasn’t the birth of a baby.
Instead, alarms started going off. It was the fetal monitor.
Although it had been years since my Obstetrics rotation, I could still recognize decelerations.
Was the baby in distress?
Weak and tired from the ordeal, my wife looked to me for reassurance. A nurse quickly emerged followed by a request for a stat call to the Obstetrician. I did my best to hide my concern, but my wife could see right through me. I held her hand as fear started to set in.
Fortunately, her doctor was sleeping just down the hall and responded promptly. He took one look at the strip and said, “We need to go to the O.R. now.”
I knew he was right.
Again, my wife turned to me for reassurance and I nodded my agreement. With that, her grip and her resolve intensified.
A whirlwind of action followed – I mean these people were real pros.
Next thing I know, my wife is having a crash cesarean section.
Without any wasted motion, the surgeon had my son’s head out. He was purple and the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, not once, but twice.
I have never been more scared in my life. Thankfully, a surgical drape kept my wife from seeing what I saw.
Without hesitation, the surgeon freed my son from death’s grip. His color quickly returned followed shortly by a strong cry. If heaven above had opened up and angels started singing, it couldn’t have sounded any sweeter than hearing my son cry in that moment.
After checking on my wife, I was rushed to the nursery with my son. He was examined from head to toe and it was determined that he was just fine. Tears of joy welled in my eyes, as I knew that we had just dodged a bullet. Life was never going to be the same – but in a good way.
By the time I got to see my wife again, I was on cloud nine.
Our beautiful baby boy was fine and I let her know that. We both smiled from ear to ear, but in retrospect, I guess she really needed to see him for herself to completely believe it. Every time she asked me how he was, I told her that he was perfect.
“Oh, the doctor said he might have lost a few points off of his S.A.T., but otherwise he is just fine.”
You could have heard a pin drop. The silence was deafening, but the look of horror was unmistakable.
Open mouth – insert foot.
I was trying to bring some levity to the situation but failed miserably.
If only life came with mulligans like golf does.
You know, do-overs.
I would have totally done that moment very differently if I had a second chance.
I could say the same about residential real estate. You see, I spent several years in the minor leagues buying and managing four-plexes before I got called up to the big leagues. Don’t get me wrong, there is money to be made in residential real estate, but the bigger commercial multifamily properties have economies of scale that cannot be replicated with single-family homes, duplexes, and other residential properties.
I was mired in the headaches of property management bringing in marginal cash flows and slowly paying down the mortgages each month. My returns were only slightly better than index mutual funds and with a lot of unwanted involvement.
If I could do those years over, I would have gone directly into commercial multifamily real estate. The returns are larger and more predictable. I also could have avoided the property management thing altogether.
Had I done that to begin with, there is no doubt that I would be retired from medicine today. Despite my mistake, I am still on track to hang up my stethoscope before I hit my 50th birthday. Not bad when you consider that the average physician doesn’t retire until he or she is almost 70 years old.
I’m happy to report that my son is a really great kid and sharp as a tack to boot. I couldn’t be prouder to be his dad. I’m also happy to report that my wife is a very forgiving person who doesn’t hold a grudge. At least not forever…I hope!
To Your Wealth!
Dennis Bethel, M.D.
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