The Baby Catcher

On our first full day in Nayngezi after the Americans had left and the Dr tried to get money from us, the other doctor came to ask if we would like to assist with a birth. I was working with Georgette on translations and thought Tammy would love to see what they do anyway so asked if she wanted to help with this first one. She followed the doctor to the clinic and I kept working.

About an hour later Tammy returned and asked if we could go relax in the room, she obviously was upset and needed to talk. Tammy talks when she is upset, I get quiet. It has been the perfect match.

We lock the door and close the windows and she tells me in one breath that she just almost watched a baby cry, saw them abuse the mother and is pretty sure the mother is bleeding too much but they don’t care. She told me bits of the story as she tried to calm down.

Tammy didn’t get called to help with a labor, they called to have us manage the birth. She walked into the clinic to find the mother tied to the table already crowning. One doctor asked if she wanted to cut the episiotomy, and when Tammy said “no, no” the other doctor seemed to say they don’t do that in America. They had no translator, told Tammy nothing about the labor and just expected her to come in and catch the baby.

One of the doctors started pushing on the mothers belly even between contractions and would pinch the mother to try to bring on more and stronger contractions. Tammy tried to tell her to stop, but she only stopped between contractions. Tammy caught the baby, put her on her mothers chest which amazed the doctors. The cord was cut before Tammy knew what happened, but the baby didn’t breathe. Tammy rubbed the baby’s back which got some small breaths.

The male nurse took the baby to the side bed while he and the doctors looked at the mother. Tammy got their attention about the baby needing help, and they decided to use the rescue breather donated by the previous group. It was obvious they had no idea how to use the rescue breather but they tried while they sent Tammy to deliver the placenta. The cord had too much tension for Tammy to feel comfortable having never assisted with a placenta before so she decided to wait. The doctor looked over, basically slugged the mother in the stomach and the placenta fell out. The doctor yelled at her to drop the placenta in the bucket: it was never checked.

Tammy then turned her attention to the baby and showed them how to use the rescue breather. She was still not satisfied that the baby was OK when they sent her out. She finally got them to give the mother a shot of oxytocin because of her bleeding. She walked out of the clinic absolutely horrified at what had just happened.

We had been told by the previous group that birth here is terrible, but had no idea it was that bad. Suddenly the problems women face in the United States seemed minor.

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)