After the first day in the delivery room I lost my heart. The delivery room is one big culture shock. The room consisted of 30 beds, between each bed there is maximum of 50 cm, and that is more rule then exception. On the 30 beds lay 30 women with their legs wide, pushing, yelling, moaning and groaning. And everywhere you hear, musawo, musawo, please help me.
Time to keep track how the dilation was going we did not have. Mother give birth, are semi-cleaned and friendly requested to leave and go to the room next to it, so that there could be made room for the next women. Because besides 30 beds, we also have extremely hard uncomfortable benches were “new admitted” sat. Some women were already to push and only waiting for a bed. And so you go from one delivery to the next, literality!
While I was helping one mother to give her baby the breast, I was called to come quickly to the next mother. The head was already visible; I was just in time to remove the umbilical cord from the baby’s neck and to catch it. So two minutes after finishing the first birth, I held number two in my hands.
On day 1; I had counted 5 births that I had done on my own. I felt rich as a king, the children were beautiful and the mothers did not have any complications. A big confirmation of my carrier choice as tropical doctor.
Living on a pink cloud, day 2 started a bit less positive. The first baby had made a bad start and had to be transferred to the special care unit immediately. The second birth at which I was present needed to reanimated, it was not meant for this child to live. The mother had been on the list to have caesarian all day because of fetal distress. There even was a gynecologist willing to operate even with the waiting list, but the Anesthesiologists refused. There we stood, not able to do anything.
My first introduction to Africa was of course the children that had been neglected and dumped. At a certain point you even start to think that Africans do not like their children. But here you see the opposite. Mothers yelling for help, because nearly everybody knows somebody that has lost a child and they do not want to be one of them. Also this child was amazing, with the little body in my hands to tell the mother that she had just lost her daughter, in the meantime the doctor was already beside the bed of the next patient, because life on the ward continues.
An hour later I was assisting the next birth, all hands on deck! Luckily this time a healthy baby. Then quickly home, enough emotions for one day.
After a lovely weekend with the children of Noah’s Ark, were I could enjoy healthy happy children around me without stress, I started today for my second week in the delivery room. Rested and well, I am ready for it!