Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Perfect Mess.


Maguet said she was in labor but didn’t look active.
    --They rarely do.

As my helper readied the room, I tried to count contractions and ask her questions. She had never come for a prenatal, and I needed a few facts.

But getting her to talk was an exercise in futility. She just flat out couldn’t.

Only then did I see the first contraction. Saying it was strong just doesn’t cut it --intense to the nth degree --powerful the the power of ten. Okay. So they were strong!
    --How could she be so calm?

As I stood by her side trying to measure their intensity, a sudden rush of wet warmth gushed down my legs and hit the floor with a audible splash!
    -- Had someone emptied a bucket on me?

Maguet and I locked eyes in surprise, then looked down in unison. Black, murky fluid stained our clothes as if we had waded knee deep in a lake of amniotic fluid.

My first response was to laugh; but Maguet was a bit more hesitant. She looked embarrassed. Or was it horrified? Eventually she realized I was not mad and laughed timidly along with me.

I didn’t have heart tones; I had not measured her fundal height; and I still did not even know her gestation... but she wanted to push.

Did I have time to change? --Unlikely.

My warm, sticky pant legs clung to my skin, growing colder by the minute. My shoes squished loudly at every step. Eek.

I really wanted to go get changed... and perhaps take a long shower with bleach.
    --Could I risk it?

The midwife in me worried the murky fluids could mean a compromised baby. Heck, I still didn’t know if the baby was alive! However, the non-midwife in me was thoroughly disgusted and ready to run for a decontamination shower.

What is the protocol when a total stranger expels ink-flecked slime all over you?

My translator didn’t know what to do or where to stand. The horror on his face was evident. I had to tell him more than once to get the mop.

Only when I rolled up my pant legs and started moving her into position for the birth, did he push past his disgust and prepare for the birth.

He ran for the mop. I slipped a pad under her. She got in the squatting position.

Ten minutes later her little girl was born.

The baby came out with another splash of blood and water coating me in a second layer of grime. But I didn’t have time to notice.

Green-gray meconium coated the baby and sputtered from her lips. I suctioned her mouth and dried her off before handing her over to her mom. Then I took a long look at myself. A mess.

A. Cold. Sticky. Wet. Mess.

What a bad week for the water to stop working at the clinic!

Once the baby was stabilized and breastfeeding well, I ran off to the compound for a quick shower. A bar of soap never looked so great!

Her baby was initially fine, but by the second day she developed an infection --most likely due to meconium aspiration but also possibly due to untreated STDs.

We have her on antibiotics now. Please pray she recovers quickly. Thanks.