It’s been a while, but give me some slack. I had a baby!
To continue with the series “What’s It Like…”, today I bring you the latest episode entitled “What It’s Like to Have a Baby Via C-Section in a Third World Country”. (The short version.)
For a myriad of reasons, my husband and I decided to follow our favorite doctor to his new hospital in Soroti (a 8-10 hour drive on the other side of the country) instead of having the baby in Midigo (the quality and cleanliness and privacy of the facility being the top reasons).
So after being in Soroti for 3 weeks, and still not seeing anything that looked like labor, we got a phone call from Midigo with some ridiculous but hilarious rumors about us. All of Midigo thought my family from America had come and they were all surrounding me, petting me, catering to me, and spoiling me during this time. Bosco and I looked at each other since we were very much alone (no one from America had come for the birth) and we both started laughing hilariously. Which is when I started leaking fluid. That was on a Saturday night. After a false diagnosis that I was in labor (inexperienced nurse), it continued to leak until finally on Tuesday I was induced. The situation was getting dangerous and the baby had to come out. Tuesday afternoon labor began and I labored through the night, but around 4am, the contractions began to reduce and I went to bed and slept.
When morning came, another examination was done, and we discovered that natural birth was going to be impossible and an emergency c-section was the only option left. The problem was, the operating theatre at the new hospital was still under construction, so I had to be taken to the government hospital in the middle of Soroti Town.
Let me describe the scene: The maternity ward is one long skinny building with rows of beds the entire length down both inside walls. Half of the building was for women who had already labored and half was for women who were waiting or were actively in labor. There were about 80 beds total, with only about 2 feet of space between each bed. There were no bed sheets or mosquito nets. If you don’t bring your own, you go without. There are no screens on the windows or the gaping doorway. Dozens of women were sitting outside in the dirt, listless in the heat. 6 or 7 stray dogs wandered between the women, sharing the dirt and doing their business wherever they wished. An open water ditch ran along the way a few yards away – the muddy water being the perfect place for mosquito breeding.
I was taken to the receptionists table which was sitting in the middle of the long room, and it was only through pulling some strings that I was attended to as quickly as I was. (One of the doctors from the new hospital used to work at the old hospital and had accompanied us over there for exactly that purpose.) I sat there, still having contractions until their gynecologist could confirm that a C-section was needed.
We then walked to the operating room where I was given an IV in both hands to get fluids into me. I lay on a tiny table waiting, when a woman was rolled out on a stainless steel table, half on her side with her neck in an awkward position. She had only a sheet that didn’t cover her properly. They wheeled her right next to me and we stared at each other for a while until she was taken away.
Now it was my turn. While the operating room was cleaned, I was led into the room, stripped, and told to get up onto an impossibly narrow table for the operation. Huge as I was and still having contractions, I had to have help. Not long after that the anesthesiologist gave me an injection to the spine and the lower half of my body went completely numb. I watched as the doctors scrubbed up and put their backwards facing green gowns on, then a sheet was strung between my two IV poles so I could not see the lower half of my body. The sheet was threadbare with holes in several places. For the next 20 minutes I alternated which side of the room I wanted to look at as I turned my head from side to side. Soon I heard a cry and little baby Jazzlyn was born. They gave me quick peep at her and then the doctors began sewing me up.
I soon found myself on the same kind of stainless steel table the woman before me had been on and in the same awkward position. I could only really look down at the white plastic rain boots of the surgical team that were splattered with my blood. Nice view. I was then wheeled outside through the hospital to my private room.
I’m calling it a private room because that’s what the hospital calls it, but storage room is the better description. It was one of 6 rooms in a long building that had a shared bathroom. The toiled didn’t work, the porcelain sink was cracked off in half and there was no running water. My room was piled with old mattresses, weighing scales, IV poles, and various other paraphernalia. I was put onto a bed that was set up with a mattress and thus began my 2 days and 2 nights stay. When night came we discovered that the room was swarming with mosquitos, so Bosco and dear Dr. Elizabeth (another of our favorite doctors who works at the new hospital) strung up a mosquito net for me using various things from around the room.
A hospital nurse brought a box of my medications to the room and plopped the box in the corner. She then disappeared and never returned again until her shift was over and she was leaving. The new nurse said hello and then disappeared the same way, never to be seen again until her shift ended. There are no nurse call buttons on the beds or any way to get their attention other than yelling and hoping they respond. Dr. Elizabeth was the one who did everything for me. She gave me my pain medications, checked my drip IV, bathed me, emptied my colostomy bag, and made me as comfortable as she could. If she hadn’t been there, I would not have received any medical care except for what Bosco could do or he could convince the nurse to do through monetary bribes.
After two days there I was able to get up and walk very slowly and we fought until we got the doctor to release me. I then spent two more days at the new hospital until I could return with Bosco to where we were staying.
Even though Soroti Hospital is not a nice place, I’m thankful it was there and that my baby was born healthy and safely and that I have recovered and am doing well also. Our sweet girl is now 7 months old and the joy of our lives.