Day one was rather enjoyable. Aside from the fact that they were not expecting me (surprise! surprise!), we all made the most of a rather busy day. It’s moments like the many that I experienced today that remind me, not so gently, that I live in the lap of luxury.
One of the nurse/midwives that I was with today pointed out that they do with what they have, and what they do not have they’ve always done without so why would they need it? Point taken. They DO so well without all the amenities and accoutrements that I take for granted in the states. They use each and every piece of everything in ways that I had not previously considered.
These ladies are understaffed and oftentimes there is one midwife for three, four or more clients in the delivery rooms. I witnessed this first hand today & was taken aback by the efficiency and speed at which these women work. The other side of that coin is that there are things they understand warrant more careful time and attention, and by default the new mothers sometimes get less than the best. It’s what must be done when you are one person and you have four women who are sitting at six centimeters; a multip, one grand multip and two prims (first time mother). We would all do well to learn to do more with less.
The women share 4 to a room while in labor and postpartum as well. They are moved to a delivery room when the time comes and rest on a bedpan after the baby comes until the midwife can tend to them & repair what seem to be fairly routine episiotomies. Meanwhile the babies are set to rest two or three to a warmer to keep one another company until their mother is wheeled back to her shared space at which point she may choose to breastfeed her baby. The most glorious thing about the shared rooms is the brilliant breeze that flows through as if 50 fans are blowing, and with this heat and humidity it’s better than AC.
After a cesarean birth today, a nurse & I took a baby into the nursery for safe keeping (about 24hours) until the mother can look after her baby on her own. Women who have had “normal” deliveries stay on average 2-3 days (if space allows), no idea how long women stay post cesarean. The nursery is very small, and the “NICU” even more so, with even smaller babies. I think about Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and shudder to imagine how the surroundings here would be perceived. These folks here have done an amazing job with these preemies and micro preemies; cards a plenty attest to this with words of deep gratitude and heartfelt warmth for the care their tiniest of tiny received.
I know that this day is just the tip of the iceberg; I am so delighted by the women I got to share time with today. They stepped up to show the ‘fair skin’ around and to orient me to the ways in which they operate with smiles and generosity to boot. The women in labor allowed for me to share in their experiences without question and offered a smile where none was needed. I stand to learn a lot here, to be humbled and am very anxious to soak it all up. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, my second “first” day.
Thumb-sucking in mom's absence...