From Sunday through Tuesday this past week, I joined the Idahosas for a family vacation of sorts while the kids were off from school for a holiday. We went to Lagos by road and traveled for 7 hours each way. There were frequent checkpoints along the way where police were checking for unregistered cars and bombs, according to our police who traveled with us. I am sure Bassey, our police, saved us a lot of time and frustration as we were able to just pass through each checkpoint. In Lagos, we went to the mall, to a movie, and swimming (my favorite part) and I enjoyed spending time with the kids even though it was chaotic at times. We took a quick look at Bar Beach, but didn’t go very far as it was PACKED with people on break for the holiday.
The rest of my week at the hospital was a bit more stressful than last week. Even though most everyone I’ve met here in Nigeria speaks English, they speak a British English with a thick Nigerian accent and I still have a hard time understanding others and others have a hard time understanding me. This, of course, makes communication with patients and hospital staff slow and frustrating at times. Sometimes, it’s funny though – like when a very pregnant patient thought I was asking her to lie on her stomach during antenatal clinic. She tried, but was really confused, and another nurse stopped her before she got too far into her attempt. We all laughed about it, thankfully.
Yesterday was particularly stressful on the labor ward as we had a woman with a cervical laceration after delivery of her baby that took almost two hours to repair. The doctors were really worried about bleeding from the laceration and were anxious to get it repaired quickly. However, it was extremely painful for the woman and she did not cope very well with the repair. So everyone was on edge until the laceration was finally repaired. All I wanted to do afterward was just comfort the mother as during the procedure the doctors and midwives had been scolding her for not cooperating. They also kept reminding her that she probably tore because she was pushing before she was fully dilated – basically telling her it was her fault for the tear and she needed to just be quiet and let them fix it. I know there has to be a better way to do that procedure, even emergently, so as to cause less trauma to the mother. At the end of the day, mother and baby were alive – thank the Lord. But I know that the mother must feel a good deal of shame and is probably terrified to have another child.
Oh, how could I forget – I caught my first baby on Wednesday! I had lots of help and direction and the whole thing was rather rushed, but I have officially caught my first baby! It was kind of disappointing because the birth process is so untherapeutic on the labor ward. I guess since midwives work on the ward, I expected it to be different, but the midwives here function like most Labor & Delivery nurses in the US (midwife means a whole different thing in the US). After birth, the baby is placed on the mother’s stomach and then taken away for suctioning and bathing. There are no congratulations to the mother, no telling of the baby’s gender, no time for mother and baby to bond. I’m sure that the labor & delivery system in the US is frustrating to midwives in lots of the same ways as baby is usually whisked away right after birth. But midwifery really stresses letting mother and baby bond and not doing any interventions unnecessarily. So I let the baby I caught stay on mom’s stomach as she was breathing just fine (and most babies don’t need suctioning) but everyone on the ward flipped out and rushed the baby away for suctioning. Then, here the midwives deliver the placenta by pulling on the cord gently until it comes out. I would have rather just let it come on it’s own time, but I did what the midwife told me as here they think letting the placenta come naturally increases risk for bleeding. This makes no sense to me – actually it seems backward – and is one thing I need to research. (All my midwifery friends, feel free to let me know if you find anything!)
So, all in all, feeling a bit more awkward this week because of struggles with communication and as I learn the routines and procedures here. But, it’s only Week 2 of 12!