Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last week of 2011...

My silence this week has stemmed from a fierce desire to stay sane despite a post-Christmas birthing spree.

Apparently, a large number of babies were dead-set determined on being born in 2011. Three of the labors were teenagers.

The first was only 15 years old, but she was strong and resilient. She awed me with her determination and trusting spirit. Although her labor was painfully long, she rallied at the end and pushed with all her might. When her baby girl was finally born the whole room sighed in relief. She was amazing! 

Sweet baby born to, Elizabeth, the 15 year-old girl.
The next teenager was the exact opposite. She argued with me, ignored my advice, and fought me at almost every turn. Despite her attitude, her mother and I got along smashingly. We understood it was the pain talking, and found ways to laugh about it. When her baby boy was finally born, we laughed even harder at his enormous eyes! Apparently it’s a family trait. 

What big eyes you have!
However, the third teenager to deliver brought much sorrow. She had only been in labor for 2 hours by the time she got to us, but she was already fully dilated. There was no way to prevent the birth.

Since we weren’t sure how premature she was, we prepared for the worst but held on to hope.

After the birth, her baby needed some initial help breathing, but her APGAR scores were good. We were hopeful she’d do well despite her 1.2 kgs.

Long story short, we had to resuscitate her three separate times and start intravenous fluids. Although her color was good while on oxygen, she couldn’t maintain her own breathing without it. 

The preterm baby girl born this week. She lived only 5 hrs.
She quietly died 5 hours postpartum while we watched on and prayed.

Her young parents wept openly as I prayed for them. But by then, their family had gathered and was able to comfort them in their grief as well. They even comforted me. This might seem strange, but I’m grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of her life... if only for those few hours.

Thankfully the rest of the births were less complicated --but not by much.

This week I also had another severe hemorrhage. But fortunately I was on my guard after last week’s hemorrhage and I was able to control it much faster. Her birth was a blur to be honest as she arrived at 1 a.m. and delivered mid-REM cycle. 

It was almost a full day before anyone thought to tell me that she was one of our translator’s wives! Thinking back, I thought it was strange that he’d showed up at 1 am for no apparent reason, but in my foggy, sleep-deprived brain it never occurred to me that it was because she was carrying his child!

Yes... I really am that slow. But it would have been easier to believe if someone had bothered to tell me he got married! 

Peter Malok, his wife Akutet and baby girl.
So let me be the first to say (for anyone who has been to Tonj and reads this blog) that Peter Malok got married --there is still an issue with cows of course-- but he’s married, has a beautiful wife, and now a delightful daughter!

Let’s see... what else happened this week?

Oh, I also had to transport a woman for CPD (cephalo-pelvic disproportion) after an unsuccessful trial of labor. She arrived before dawn in a frantic state, saying she had been pushing for hours at home.

This was her 10th pregnancy --but only 4 were living. The rest died during delivery or shortly afterward. Fortunately, we had enough time to diagnose her situation and ready the ambulance for transport at first light. 

Transporting for the CPD.
I’m happy to say she got to Wau and was taken to surgery almost immediately. Both of them are doing well, I’m told.

There were a few other straight-forward births this week with happy moms and healthy babes. But the most memorable of them was Arop’s birth.

I’ll end with her story.

Arop lives 3 hour away by foot. But after her first three babies died during delivery at home, she decided to see if we could help for this next one.

She was faithful to come for prenatal care and we watched her closely, encouraging her to deliver with us no matter what.

She took our advice and started walking to the clinic once she was confident her labor began. She arrived fully and delivered a precious little boy 40 minutes later. Her birth was delightful and remarkably simple.

Afterward as I watched her breastfeed for the first time in her life, I was overcome with joy. She has carried 4 babies to term; she has labored 4 separate times; but this was the first time she’s ever heard her child cry. This was the first time she’s ever held one to her breast! 

Arop breastfeeding her baby. What a smile!
What a delightful way to end a year!

Happy New Year!