My first day on the job I observed my first two childbirths. The first was relatively straightforward, what you would expect, if you will. The nurse reached in to massage out the baby’s emerging head while the doctor pressed on her abdomen to accelerate the process. The second was more gruesome, dramatic, violent even: forceps, episiotomy, and nurses holding down a writing mother during a tug-of-war over the baby. I left a little lightheaded, but composed, and totally confused about why women choose to have children in the first place.
The next day was cesarean sections. I made it past the first incisions into the fat and muscle layers, but fainted when the doctor separated the stomach wall from the uterus. Sitting on the operating room floor I stayed to watch the baby lifted out of her, but had to leave when the doctor began removing fistfuls of placenta. Recovering from the visceral reaction and contemplating adoption on a bench outside the OR, a sister came over and invited me to help her resuscitate the baby from the second of the two c-sections. I was all for it, thinking a teachable moment would be a nice break from the horror of the operating room.
They called in the grandmother to inform her of the baby’s poor status and relay the news to the rest of the family. She left and returned with this: the father refused to see his dying child because it not a boy. All I could do was swallow my outrage– It was just a passing detail for the medical team focused on sustaining the baby’s heart and lungs manually.
So, working there is a clusterfuck of an experience, even though I know most of my shock is because it’s just new to me. I’ll get used to the blood and guts and return to the delivery and operating rooms, but I’ll always be in awe of the fact that before the FRU, for many of these women the delivery room was the floor of a mud hut. I’m eager to alleviate the staff’s workload, but when three students with no medical background are asked to tend to a dying newborn alone, the glaring lack of material and human resources becomes painfully clear. And I can handle the death, although sadly, but I’ll have to figure out how to manage my anger and frustration
when the worst of Indian culture rears its ugly head but is passed over for the laundry list of other problems that take priority.
One thought on “From the delivery room”
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