The great Hippocrates said: “The doctor is a philosopher! There is no great difference between wisdom and medicine.” The doctor, obstetrician-gynecologist Fatima Hajiyeva, who is the head of the surgical department of the Scientific Research Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and associate professor of the Baku branch of Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, builds her professional activities on the basis of this saying. Treatment begins with the inner thought process, she believes, and applies this tactic to work with patients who are preparing for motherhood.
The conversation with Fatima Hajiyeva took place in her officein the Surgery Department. Bookshelves full of various manuals – in particular those of her own authorship – views of the hospital yard, with happy families leaving the clinic with their newborns, and desktop books about Azerbaijani sport; these details were enough to form an impressive first impression.
Today Fatima is fully engaged in conducting social activities and participating in charity events. For her services in this field she was awarded the “Golden Heart” honorary order by the Dede Qorqud National Foundation.
BY SALATYN MIRZAYEVA
AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
Question: What predetermined your path?
Answer: I decided to be a doctor when I was six years old. At that time, not just my immediate family knew about it, but our whole family (laughs). This profession wasn’t passed down to me hereditarily. My father is an engineer and my mother is a teacher. I decided to become a doctor when I first saw my dentist as a child. This woman sharply imprinted in my memory and predetermined my future path. My dreams began to come true when I graduated from school with a gold medal and at the age of 15 I entered the Azerbaijan State Medical University with a high score. I was a student of the famous scientist and surgeon, Alik Kurbanov. In 2013, I received my Ph.D. in medicine and began to engage in practical activities.
Q.: At what point did you decide to become a surgeon?
A.: To be honest, I never had any particular passion for surgery, until I tried my hand at it. I’ll tell you a little background. I often represent Azerbaijan at various international conferences and events related to my profession, and I bring back honorary diplomas and medals to my country. In 2011, “IV Congress of Obstetrician-gynecologists and Andrologists” was held at Queen Elizabeth Palace in London. The event was attended by a large number of researchers from different countries. Only I participated from Azerbaijan. I was awarded a gold medal for the best presentation of scientific work, in which I made a study of 120 patients.
Upon my arrival in Baku, I was invited by the chief obstetrician-gynecologist of the Republic, the former director of our institute, who said: “You brought us such a significant award. Since you have such knowledge and abilities, it is necessary for you to practice surgery”.
As soon as I stepped into the operating room, I was gripped by the whole process. I realized that I wanted to explore all the depths of this difficult field. In the beginning, I was gaining experience as a physician’s assistant at Baku Medical Plaza for seven years, before I started to operate on my own.
I climbed up the career ladder step by step. I started my scientific career in the Scientific Research Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology as a junior research associate and and rose to the rank of associate professor. Today, I have my own students, who participate in my surgeries and receive the knowledge that I have gained throughout my years of study and hard work.
Q.: Your work is directly related to women during the most sensitive period of their lives – during pregnancy. Is it easy to find common ground with them and guide them properly?
A.: Being a doctor is my vocation. But frankly speaking, it is a very hard profession. I don’t just mean treating people, but also being part of their lives: getting to know their social problems, knowing their mental worries and family relationships. Often many health problems begin with an internal state of mind. Did you know that every woman can give birth on her own without surgery if she is just determined to give birth? That’s why a doctor must be strong in their psychological approach, in the ability to competently inspire patients with a positive attitude. I pay a lot of attention to gaining knowledge in the field of psychology, participating in various seminars, trainings and lectures. Last time I took six modules on the psychology of women. This course was conducted by Turkish specialists. It is this knowledge that helps me find way to the consciousness of a woman.
Q.: Do you have time for yourself?
A.: (smiling) Right now I try to plan my affairs in such a way that I pay attention to my social activities. Apart from that, I am interested in all activities related to women. These can be various scientific conferences as well as beauty and grooming seminars. If we talk about hobbies and entertainment, I currently get a lot of energy from playing sports. Sports and everything connected with them is very close to my soul. You could say that I am completely absorbed in the study of this field.
Q.: Which sport do you prefer?
A.: I used to practice fencing but at the moment I’m doing professional Pilates. This is not a sport in its pure form, but rather a mixture of sports with psychology and yoga. My advice to all women is to pay attention to their physical development. Instead of going to indoor shopping malls on your day off, spend time outdoors and enjoy nature and clean air.
Now I am studying books given to me personally by Khazar Isayev, the vice president of the Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan. How many interesting things I’ve learned about the history of our sport! I am very proud of the achievements of our athletes.
Q.: Is it enough just to play sports for a woman to achieve a healthy physical beauty?
A.: First of all, it is necessary to include proper nutrition in sport.
Q.: Proper or organic nutrition?
A.: Although these are different concepts, there is a connection between them. Eating the right way is effective when the food is organic. That’s why you have to be careful about your diet. Every nutritionist with a scientific specialty in nutrition offers different types of diets: carbohydrate diets, vegetarian diets, etc. But my advice is not to resort to mono diets. I’ll explain why. Biologically, women were created by God to become mothers. Thus, we affirm the fact that we are healthy, fertile. The best thing for a woman who is of reproductive age, which is between 18 and 45 years old, is a proper intake of vitamins and minerals in a complex form. But again, this is individual and requires a doctor’s prescription.
Q.: Are there signs that you can visually determine whether a woman is healthy or not?
A.: Independently of myself, I first of all pay attention to the condition of a woman’s hair, teeth, nails and skin. They say a lot about her health. Then I observe her behavior, facial expressions and gestures. They tell me about her lifestyle. Of particular value to me is the presence of education. There are cases, of course, when a woman is not quite literate, but she has such charisma that she unwittingly disposes herself. And sometimes, on the contrary, a woman is very educated and well-groomed, but her coldness and lack of external personality, discourages.
Q.: “Lack of external personality” as a result of cosmetic surgery?
A.: Exactly. I have traveled to many countries and I can confidently say that Azerbaijani women are the most beautiful women in the world. As you know, each nation has its own characteristic constitutional features. Under the influence of the country’s mental features, climate and nature, the beauty of our Azerbaijani women comes with time, after the age of 30. God has given us a wonderful geographical location, where the sun shines all year round, with nine climate zones. I love my country and my people very much. But it upsets me so that women, especially at a very young age, inexplicably try to reach the ideals that are dictated. And this ideal is a certain template, which makes everyone the same. For example, sharp cheekbones. It’s not peculiar to our women, because by nature we are round-faced. So I’m a supporter of preserving zest, natural beauty. It’s appreciated by the male sex as well!
Q.: You mentioned that you like to attend beauty trainings and seminars. Don’t all these events try to inspire women to do the opposite?
A.: There is such a very beautiful and attractive concept – individuality. All the beauty industry is aimed at, is making a woman feel and look beautiful and well-groomed. This sphere is quite well developed in our country, and there are highly qualified specialists who approach the work from a competent point of view. There should be indications for external changes, which are given by professional surgeons and cosmetologists. If your goal is not to distort, but rather to emphasize your personality, then consult with a knowledgeable person before any procedures are performed. Sometimes one little touch from an experienced doctor can give you so much charm!
But most importantly, start creating beauty from within by eating right and leading a proper lifestyle. This will all be reflected in your eyes and, of course, in your appearance. A woman who is smart and knows how to present herself correctly will always win!
Q.: In today’s reality, women are striving for independence, and the number of women starting their own business is increasing. Although previously a woman was more associated with the home and family comfort. How do you assess the changes that have occurred?
A.: Today, women are active, free and more intellectual. They earn on a par with men, which means they put in the same amount of work as men. This is very good. But it seems to me that step by step it changes the structure of women. Notice, even in clothing, feminine attire and jewelry are giving way to practicality. I believe that no matter what today dictates to us, we must not lose our femininity and grace. There’s a reason that we are called the weaker sex. Our mothers and grandmothers passed this down to us. This is how God created us – as mothers and caretakers of the home. In the pursuit of success we should not forget our main role in this life. Still, I believe that our women are very devoted, patient, economical and family-oriented. No matter what career they build, their family comes first.
Q.: You are very attached to our traditions and customs. How do you feel about the fact that many traditions are being erased?
A.: As I noted above, each nation has its own constitutional characteristics, biophysical profiles, mentality, traditions, etc. This makes each person unique and helps them retain their pristine nature. Many things may lose their shape over time, but they certainly retain their relevance. And so are our traditions: they may change, but they don’t lose their core fundamentals. We are a very traditional and colorful people. It is our duty to preserve and pass on to the next generation in the right form all that was created by our ancestors.
Q.: Tell us about your social activities.
A.: It is multifaceted. But I will touch on one of its main parts. The year 2021 was declared the Year of Victory. In this regard, I published a book in Georgian and Russian languages in Georgia. This is my PhD monograph on women’s diseases. I dedicated this book to Shehids (Martyrs) who died heroically in the Karabakh war. I am a great patriot of my country and I try to instill this feeling in my children. It is the duty of all of us to love and promote our country, no matter where we live. Recent years have been very significant and difficult in the history of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We won the Karabakh war, for which I congratulate all our people. But the victory was not easy for us. We lost many of our young men.
But the hardest point was when a woman came to us when she was 24 weeks pregnant, and a month later we found out that her husband had died in the war. Imagine what it was like to deliver this woman’s baby. I wish us all a peaceful sky over the earth and that every child grows up in a full-fledged family.
I would like to say a few words about Professor Jamila Gurbanova, director of the Scientific Research Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a wonderful person and we are good friends. First, she created all the conditions we needed during the war and engaged the whole hospital in active work with the families of the dead and wounded. Secondly, during the whole period of my activity, taking into account my thirst for knowledge and desire for innovation, she created favorable conditions for implementing my ideas. In our hospital I had the opportunity to put all my knowledge into practice. I now have six scientific textbooks, which I use in my clinic work. In this regard, I would also like to thank my parents, who have always supported me both morally and financially.
Q.: Since you talk about parenthood, you are a mother of two children. On the other hand, you are a doctor who helps babies come into the world. What is your advice to parents on parenting?
A.: My father was a civil servant, my mother a housewife. I grew up in a very strict family where there were clear boundaries that could not be crossed. I could never feel independent. If I went to school, I had to be accompanied by a driver. And today the word “driver” doesn’t exactly evoke pleasant feelings in me. It was not about his personal qualities, I was just not satisfied with the fact of his existence in my daily life.
All problems begin in childhood, with all kinds of psychological traumas we receive. We give our children what we ourselves lacked as children. This is human psychology, and there is no escaping it.
Today I give my children complete freedom to solve their problems on their own, to make mistakes and choices. If there are no mistakes, then there is no development. Let them get themselves into different life situations and learn to get out of them on their own. The result may not always be successful. But they will grow up to be self-confident and able to stand on their own two feet. That is my understanding, and maybe someday they will judge me for my approach. Who knows!?
So I am only sharing my approach to parenting, but by no means advising you to do the same. Because everyone gives their child what they lacked as a child. But I can confidently recommend not to engage in constant lecturing. It is better to look for the strengths of your children and develop them in this direction. Your child doesn’t like math, it’s not his forte, so just accept it. But he surely has other abilities, and the task of a parent is to identify them and steer him in the right direction. The value of a person is determined by his education and knowledge. For me, very important are achievements in science and sports, which are very interrelated. Raise educated children! And, of course, instill love for your country! It is the duty of each of us to put a part of ourselves into our prosperity and development.
Q.: Thank you for the interview. We wish you success in your professional and social activities.
A.: Thank you! I wish all women to be beautiful, well-groomed, and most importantly, loved! Love yourself and ennoble your inner world and outer beauty.