From Nursing School, I vividly remember our postpartum rotation…especially my least favourite part: the Labour Ward! Coming on this “Introduction to Primary Health Care” most of the ladies were really excited at the thought that they could possibly witness a birth. I thought they were insane! But quite enjoyed their keenness to assist in deliveries since that most likely meant that I could possibly get away with not getting involved at all! Now, as the title of this blog suggests…. it didn’t quite happen this way! Here’s an excerpt from my outreach journal (yes, I sometimes keep a journal on outreach… ;)
May 3rd, 2013
Last day at St. Margaret’s Hospital. When we came in, the schedule wasn’t done. I didn’t really want to do triage again… I’ve done that so much, I get that the nurse in charge realizes that I’ve got the skills to do triage, but I wanted to switch it up a little… Plus I thought: I’ve never actually seen a third world birth… As much as births disgust me, I think I should at least see one PNG birth, just to say that I have. So I asked Casey if I could work in the labour ward today :)
I spent the whole day with Leoni from Hanau. She’s a 27 years old mother of two baby girls; one is 2 years old, and the older one is almost 5 years old. She was hoping to give birth to a baby boy and came to the hospital since both previous births had been prolonged labours. She had already been in labour the whole night… At 8h00 she was dilated to 8cm, had contractions quite regularly and wanted to push. We told her to walk it off, that she had to be fully dilated and break her water before she could start to push.
By 11h00, nothing had happened and I felt like this would be the golden opportunity to try to get some lunch… so I left for my break. At 11h15 Christina came to get me to tell me that Leona was ready to give birth; she was fully dilated and had just broken her water! Liz and I were in the room, and asked if we could do anything for the mum. That’s when Leona asked for prayer and shared that she believed her sister in law had put a curse on the unborn baby. A commonly heard thing in PNG. We reassured her that her baby would be ok and that she had nothing to worry about. We prayed for her, but it was obvious to see that she was still afraid. I held her hand and tried to reassure and comfort her.
12h15 came around and the baby was still hiding inside, mum wasn’t pushing properly, she felt too weak, she started saying that she wanted to die “Mi likim die!” and see her family before she died. I had never seen that before… OK, OK, people in Canada mostly give birth under epidural, but still! At that point, Sister Nancy told the student nurse that if the baby stayed in there too long, it would start to inhale the muconium and it’s life would be greatly endangered. We told Leona that she had to get it together and get that baby out… it was her third pregnancy, she had delivered two “pikinini” before, she knew how to… But she was so weak, she was falling asleep between contractions, we thought about putting in an IV line, but the supplies weren’t available. The mum seemed to be on a different planet altogether, completely disconnected from what was happening. I remember thinking “OH WOW… I wouldn’t want to give birth by myself in the middle of the jungle as most women do here!” This is SUCH a battle for life!!!
Woah! That might had been why I had to be here today… To hold her hand, pray with her, tell her that it would be ok and of course… catch the baby ;)
This was the longest hour I had ever felt… At 13h20 the head finally came out, we checked the cord and it wasn’t around the neck, it was however around the shoulder so we slipped it past and at 13h25 the rest of the baby came out.
Sister Nancy picked it up by the feet and held it upside-down over mommy, and tapped it’s back for a few seconds in order for fluids to come out of the lungs and baby to breathe… which it did, I was so relieved to hear it cry! I put the clamp on the baby’s cord. Cleaned off the muconium and as much or the vernix as I could and auscultated it’s little lungs… It sure needed suction! Which Sister Nancy did with her mouth to suction device! Fascinating! But also quite nasty!!! (Glad I didn’t have to do that… I probably would have puked!) Once cleaned and suctioned up (all 20ish cc of mucus), we weighted her and brought her to mommy!
Mummy wasn’t thrilled to have another girl, she wanted a boy, but she was quite relieved that it was over! We prayed this little Angel into the world! And discussed the value of life with mum, how important women were in this world, plus how much she brought to her nation and her family as a woman. Leona then decided to name her newborn baby girl Angelica.. What an honour! I explained the meaning of our name, and gave her the scripture that I was once told goes with my name: Psalm 89.1 “I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”
Such a precious little girl Angelica Goto (Angie Goto from Hanau), alive because of the faithfulness of God.