Sunday, February 21, 2010

2/19/10 Stillbirth

I see why everyone told me to stay for 6 weeks. I have been here for nearly 3 weeks and I am just getting fully competent in the procedures of the hospital. Now I can really be useful. If I had stayed a month then they would only get a week of that. Yesterday I was the admissions girl. Doing the initial evaluation of the multitude of women coming in to the hospital. A young 18 year old woman with gorgeous skin and an infectious smile came to me and handed me a card, I got her chart and brought her into the admission room. I felt her belly determined which side I thought the back was on and asked her then normal run of questions. Had her water broke, has she seen any blood, has baby been moving, when did her contractions start? I put the the Doppler on her belly to check the fetal heart rate, nothing. I tried the other side of her belly nothing. I slathered her with gel and glid the Doppler across her lower abdomen, occasionally a rate of 50 something would flash but no beat. I went to get the midwife and inform I couldn’t find a heartbeat. She came and repeated my steps, still nothing. And in fact she hadn’t felt the baby move since yesterday. She went and got a doctor so that we could send her for a scan or ultrasound. He found nothing, she was four cm, plenty of time for a scan. About twenty minutes later I saw her walk past the admission room, tears streaming down her face. They hadn’t found a heart beat. For the rest of the morning I saw her walking gracefully, moaning through her contractions all with sad eyes brimming with tears. She delivered that afternoon, a small quite blue baby. We wrapped it blankets and the family passed it around rocking it and wailing. I sat behind the curtain just listening to it the melodic wailing. Some peace corp workers told me this time is important. It is essentially the only time they are allowed to express their grief. When someone dies they wail initially and until the funeral and after that it becomes inappropriate. I will always remember the father. He came into the delivery room with his sunglasses on and tears streamed out from underneath, covering his cheeks. I was surprised at the amount of emotion displayed. He did not wail, he just cryed. He watched as I weighed and bathed the baby. The room was silent except for his sniffling. Its true, they are still born. Several babies were born after that, and I often caught him standing at the door, watching me as I weighed and bathed the other babies. These little ones screamed in discontent and being uncovered and I would try and soothe them with my silly little cooing noises. I wonder what was going through his mind.

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