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Monday, September 2, 2013

in my former life

i was a midwife, running a birthing center. here's a memory of one day in my former life...

Well, today at Gentle Hands Clinic here in Metro Manila was a litte bit interesting.

I was working away diligently in my office when a breathless voice
called me on the intercom. "Ate (older sister) Dini, can you come and help?"

So I trundle downstairs to the first floor. There are about 50 women
sitting there waiting for their lonely little midwife is methodically working her way thru the stack of charts. I peek into the delivery room. Two midwives in scrubs, gloves on, one baby just delivered, and two more moms about to "pop". We are shortstaffed today for some reason- one midwife is on vacation and one has gone out.

"How much time do I have?" I ask.

"They're both 10 cm!"

So, ok, I don't have too much time...but something has to be done about these check-ups.

I rush thru half-a-dozen checkups, apologizing profusely to the poor
women who i'm assembly-lining through the bed, then suddenly Melody
(midwife from the delivery room) peeks in the door-

"Ate Dini, come now!"

I run into the delivery room.

Both moms are sitting on the birthstools, husbands behind them. Both
vertexes are visible. I say, "Which one is the multip?"- assuming
she'll go first and I should be there.

"This one!" says Ate Elizabeth, my Scottish midwife.

So I glove up and get down on the floor in front of "Leni" to assist in the birth of her 4th baby. I hate to come in at the last minute like bonding time, but Leni is gracious, she has given birth at Gentle Hands before and smiles as she recognizes me even while pushing with all her might.

I soon realize I am in the wrong delivery room. I should have stood in the doorway. Leni's baby's head slides out, lovely, so quiet and peaceful.

But in the other room, in the meantime, Melody has put gloves on the other mom's sister who is pale as a ghost but bravely willing to assist.

I call to Melody, "Head's out!" Melody shouts- "this head's out too!"

I throw off my gloves, put some more on, and run in to help her. (lucky the rooms are adjoining)...

This baby is not coming easily now. Tight cord wrap. Melody does a
masterful job of sliding the cord down over the shoulders of the baby as we manouver, twisting and turning, and the body slides out.

I hear the other baby cry- which makes me happy as i jumped ship when just his little head was out...

But this baby is blue and limp...she's been stuck a little too long.
However, i lift her up on mom's tummy- the cord is too thick to clamp and still pulsing so we leave it to give oxygen to the poor little thing- and mom and dad admire her as she slowly begins to expand her little lungs and adjust to outside-womb life.

Finally, as this baby begins to breathe and the placenta oozes out, and all is well, I change gloves again, and go back to Ate Elizabeth, who really doesn't need help since she delivered babies by herself for 40 years in Scotland, but it makes me feel needed.

20 minutes later, I'm back doing checkups. Don't even have a drop of
blood on my uniform- didn't have time to change into scrubs!

I crank thru about 20 more women. They are more understanding now that they know 2 babies were born at the same time! I tell them, "If it was you in labor, you wouldn't want to be left alone just for some check-ups, would you." They nod in agreement.

oh my.

At 1:30, the afternoon batch of women is sitting there waiting for their check-ups. There is one more in labor, but it turns out to be either early or false, so we just let her rest in one of the beds. The new babies are all fine. Visitors come and go. The workmen outside are welding and hammering on the gate. The construction workers on the 3rd floor are hammering and dropping cement chips down below.

I go upstairs and have my lunch and a catnap. Back in my office at
2:30...the intercom rings...Marijo calls, "Ate Dini, can you come and help?"

And it begins again.


and...i'm glad i'm retired...