New Castle News

December 26, 2013

Bye-bye, babies

After bringing more than 7,000 lives into the world, a New Castle obstetrician makes his final delivery

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — It’s a bit of a blue Christmas for the obstetrician who loves Elvis Presley.

Dr. Pek Teh has delivered his last baby — more than 7,000 — in a career that goes back to 1974 and includes 34 years in New Castle.

Even he jokes that the king has left the building — a phrase that’s often associated with Elvis.

All joking matters aside, three generations of women in the Crespo family are forever grateful for Teh.

Tammie Eversole of Wampum credits Teh for performing surgery to allow her to have healthy pregnancies.

The result — the birth of two children.

One of them, her daughter, Terra Palumbo, also of Wampum, is thrilled that her daughter, Harper, is a “Christmas baby” born Dec. 4, 2012, and delivered by Teh at Jameson Hospital. And that makes a fourth generation of the family under his watch.

Rose Crespo — Palumbo’s grandmother and Eversole’s mother — was the first of the three who was a patient of Teh.

This moment is bittersweet for the physician who quickly stopped thinking about the difficulty of getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. once he held a newborn for the first time.

“I stopped being grumpy and forgot everything,” Teh said.

That feeling is akin to a mother forgetting her labor pains as soon as the baby is born.

“I love to see the babies,” he explained.” They are so beautiful, so cute, so innocent.”

Then, his voice cracked for a moment recalling all the memories.

Teh’s reassurances went a long way.

About a week before Palumbo was due, Teh was on vacation. Because she was feeling nervous and scared, Teh called from Florida to put her mind at rest.

Eversole and thousands of other appreciative mothers won’t forget Teh’s dedication, either.

BABY BLESSINGS

After two miscarriages by Eversole — one of which was twins — more than 30 years ago, Teh diagnosed a unique problem after her mother suggested she consult with the physician. Eversole, who is a registered nurse, had a split uterus, which meant there was a wall built in the middle of the uterus that inhibited proper growth of fetuses. 

Teh performed a procedure called a metroplasty to remove the wall and repair the abnormality.

It was a success and she beat the odds. Eversole and her husband, Scott, have a son, Shawn, who is 29. Palumbo is 25. And Eversole has three grandchildren.

Accurate diagnosis was the foundation of her happy endings.

“I wouldn’t be here,” Palumbo said. “He is wonderful to have as a doctor. He was so attentive to me and my husband, and he’s so quirky and funny. I looked forward to appointments.”

There are many others who have several generations in the family seeking Teh’s medical services.

Eversole also highly respects Teh as a person.

“We love him and I hold him in the highest regard for his skills,” she said. “He has a big heart as a physician.”

His sense of humor also extends to his age.

“I’m 29,” he chuckled. Then he modified it to say, “I’m 66 plus.”

Teh will continue to provide gynecology services. And he will always have his pager.

CALMING INFLUENCE

Knowing his adoration of the King, Palumbo asked Teh to sing Elvis to her in the delivery room.

He complied.

That gesture put Palumbo’s mind at ease.

“He calmed me and helped me focus. He was amazing.”

She off-handedly told Teh he couldn’t retire in case she plans to have any more children.

In his nearly 40 years of delivering babies in this area, Teh said more were born from the mid 1970s to mid-1990s; then the rate slowed down.

While nothing has changed in the way babies are born, one significant difference is the number of young mothers.

In Canton, Teh delivered a baby to a 12-year-old.

“The mother’s age has definitely gotten younger.”

What he will miss most is the bond he made with mothers and their babies.

“A three-year-old told me, ‘I love you,’ ” Teh said. “Patients tell me they love me and I cry. I love my profession.”

His calming influence with little ones has also caused patients to tell him he should be in pediatrics, too.

THE END OF AN ERA

A native of Malaysia, Teh graduated from Taipei Medical College, Taiwan. His internship in obstetrics and gynecology was at Barberton Citizens Hospital, Barberton, Ohio, and his residency in that specialty was at Aultman Hospital in Canton. Before coming to New Castle, he spent one year at Youngstown’s Northside Hospitalfrom 1978 to 1979.

The physician said he was inspired to specialize in gynecology and obstetrics from a professor in Taiwan.

When he arrived in New Castle in 1979, he joined the practice of doctors French, Wright and Ginsberg before starting his own practice in 1984.

Dr. Sonia Paneser and Dr. Amy Shannon will take over the obstetrics portion of Teh’s practice, which will be called JHS Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Teh and his wife, JyHwa, have two sons, Eng Kat and Eng Khan, and two grandchildren.

He credits his wife for playing a large role in raising the children because of his unusual hours.

“My wife is a fantastic woman.”

It was a difficult decision to stop delivering babies, Teh said, and he made it with mixed emotions.

“I will miss holding all the babies in my hands but the happy part is there will be no more 2 and 3 a.m. emergency room calls.”

He still receives accolades from mothers.

“The other day at church, I talked to someone who said, ‘He delivered my son 21 years ago.’ ”

The age may change with each story that is told, but those tales always heap praise.

Eversole considers it a marvel that she has a family.

“He changed my life. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have two kids and three grandchildren.”

Teh said he is has been blessed to witness the most beautiful moment when a newborn enters the world.

His voice broke again.

“That’s been my reward — seeing these babies being born. They’re all beautiful in my eyes.”

He was there for the beginning of thousands of lives. That’s a miracle at Christmas and any time of year.

And during this season, what could be more perfect as an encore Elvis presentation than “Merry Christmas, Baby?”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com)