Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I can't believe this is my life.....part 4,328

Yesterday I had an experience that I think will be hard to top in the “is this really my life???” category.

I was in the OB ward. It was 2:30pm and I was in the middle of passing out the 3pm meds, while anxiously awaiting the next nurse to come and relieve me. I had two meetings that evening and wanted to do a little baking for one of them. Banana bread….yum. I could taste it already. A few minutes later the ambulance man came and told me that we had a call. He looked around, saw that I was by myself and told me to go find someone else who could go with him (the ward was really full and he saw that I was busy). I asked him how far away the call was and he told me it was “far small.” Translation: bring your water bottle and Dramamine…it’s going to be a long bumpy ride. I glanced down the hall but knew that everyone else was getting ready to go home too, so I couldn’t ask someone else to go on this long trip. I called my friend, and asked him to finish handing out the meds and keep an eye on the ward until my replacement came at 3.

Fortunately I’d stocked the ambulance emergency box earlier that morning (learned my lesson by not having my BP cuff on me the time before) and off we went. As I hopped into the ambulance the thought crossed my mind that I should grab an OB pack (the packs we use that have clamps, drapes, etc…everything you need for birthing a baby). If this place was as far as everyone said, who knew what could happen. I ran in to get it and then the ambulance driver and I set off, sirens a blaring.

I asked him how far he thought it was. Two hours? He thought about it and said…maybe. We drove for about 20 minutes when he pulled over to ask for directions. Way to go Man Driver!! Asking for directions! J He asked where Mabumpu was and the people directed him where to go. Awesome! It didn’t sound too far. We drove for another 20 minutes or so and arrived at Mabumpu. When we pulled up and asked if this was the village the people said that yes it was the village, but they don’t have any pregnant woman in trouble. Hmm. We asked someone else. Nope, nobody called for the ambulance.

We called the guy who dispatched us and he told us that we were supposed to be in Mafumpu. Mafumpu. Not Mabumpu. Oh dear. After a few angry words in one of the many languages I don’t understand, the driver turned the siren on again and we headed back out. We turned off the main road and headed down a side road about the width of a car, branches crashing at us the whole way.

We arrived at the real village of Mafumpu and asked where the pregnant woman was. After a couple different people directing us in a couple different ways resulting in us literally doing a circle in the middle of the village, the driver got out and tried to find out what was going on. Turns out, the woman was in a village that was not passable for a vehicle, so they were bringing her to us. Ok. We’ll wait.

I stood next to the ambulance and in a few minutes had 30 kids standing there staring at me. Someone came to offer me a chair, telling me the place where they were coming from was far, so we were going to wait for a while. I expressed my slight annoyance that they’d known we were coming for at least an hour…and we’d even given them more time because we’d gotten lost! Why didn’t they leave to start coming before now? (I need to just learn to keep my big mouth shut about these kinds of things….this guy had no control over it. I’m learning….small small).

Another 10 minutes later we heard that the woman had given birth. Alright! I thought. We can just head home and I’ll make my meeting! Well, then we heard that she’d given birth, but there was a problem. Ok well, let’s go see her and we can take her to the hospital if she needs it. One man told us he would take us to her.

We hopped into the ambulance and started driving. We turned down an even narrower road that clearly had not had a vehicle on it for a long time. It started to rain. We drove for a bit and came to a junction with a man waving his hand. The vehicle could go no further so we headed there on foot now. Ok, I thought. It must be at the woman’s house.

I grabbed all my supplies and we headed up a hill. By this time the rain was really coming down and it took about 2 minutes for me to be completely soaked. The guy who was guiding me walked a lot faster than me so I kept running to keep up. As we came up over the hill I saw a group of women in a circle. In the middle of a field! All of the sudden it hit me. This woman hadn’t given birth in a house. She had literally given birth in the middle of the road while walking to try and meet us. Oh. My. Gosh!

I ran up to the group of women. They were encircling the woman and were holding lapas (pieces of fabric) over the woman to try and keep off the rain. Every once in a while it would get too heavy and a big stream of water would dump down around the woman.

As I knelt down beside the woman, I quickly tried to figure out what I had here. They lifted a lapa from the woman’s belly and I saw the baby lying there. She was alive. I asked if the placenta had been delivered yet, and they said no. I followed the baby’s umbilical cord and sure enough, the placenta was still inside the woman. One of the helpers was trying to clamp the cord with her two fingers.

Thank. You. Jesus. I had grabbed that OB pack. The first thing I did was clamp the cord and cut it. As I did this, the placenta kind of just shot out of the woman. Everyone cheered. I gave one of the women some dry drapes to use to wrap the baby and keep her warm. She wasn’t crying, which concerned me. I took the bulb suction and sucked as much out as I could, but she still wouldn’t cry. I told them to hold her close and keep her warm.

I turned my attention to the mother who was laying there, naked as a jay bird, shivering in the rain. I checked her blood pressure, which was fine. Her uterus was nice and contracted. Good. I told them that I still wanted to take them to the hospital because I was concerned about the baby. There was some chit chat in another language and then one of the women explained that the girl’s (she couldn’t have been more than 15 years old) parents weren’t around so she couldn’t go. I said, “So this girl just gave birth but you’re telling me she can’t decide for herself if she can go to the hospital or not?” I got some blank stares. Oh Emily. That’s just not how things are done here. There was some more chit chat in another language and then they said she did not want to go. “OK,” I said. “That’s fine. I can’t force you to go. I want to be very clear though, that I’m afraid if we do not take this baby to the hospital, she will die. Just so you know.” More chit chat and then they started gathering everything up.

They still weren’t coming. To be honest, I have no idea what will happen to that baby. Maybe she’ll be fine. Maybe she won’t, but wouldn’t have even if she came to the hospital. It’s a fine line to walk. I don’t want to bully or belittle because I want them to call us again the next time there’s trouble. I’m just going to assume that the baby will be fine. :)

As I was packing up my things to leave I chatted a little with the girl and told her this was the first time I’d EVER seen this happen and she really did good today!! Giving birth in the middle of the road in the pouring rain?? Yup, she’s tough. And is this really my life?!?!? :)

1 comment:

  1. Emily you are the best. It was awesome to meet you this past week! You are definitely doing Gods work! I am sorry to have cut the visit short between you Robin and the kids......on the other hand the Church service by Abdul was awesome to be able to attend.....Thank you for making that easy for us. What an awesome, scary, frustrating and neat experience you had AGAIN! Thanks for sharing your future book with us ;-). Also please send me your e-mail to mobitsmobitz@yahoo.com so I can let you know about your computer. God Bless you Emily. Dave