Today was one of my most rewarding deployment days ever. While on my first international operation, Operation Continuing Promise, I had the opportunity to visit the obstetrics ward at Hospital Nacional Nor-Occidental Dr. Mario Catarino Rivas in San Pedro Sula.
It’s always surprising, sometimes shocking, to see how limited services can be in hospitals in the developing world. I learned that while this hospital offers care very different from care given in the United States, women labor in essentially the same way all over the world. It’s inspiring to see how women handle the process of labor in a situation where there is no privacy, limited supplies and often have to go through labor completely alone. Despite all of this, women are still giving birth in an empowered fashion. This is what happened today.
There was a woman in active labor with her second baby. She was without family or friends by her side, laboring under the watchful eyes of the resident and intern staff at the hospital. While I listened to her report given by the medical students, she caught my eye. I could feel her imploring me to her side; so I went. She was very close to the pushing stage. She had intense contractions, one on top of the next. I held her hand and with my rudimentary Spanish told her she could do it. At one point an intern handed me a glove and asked me to examine her. It was clear she would soon deliver her baby so we quickly moved her into the simple delivery room.
The end stage of labor can be overwhelming. However, it nearly always ends with a wonderful prize. This time was no different. In the presence of a dozen plus doctors and a midwife from the US she’d never met, this woman became a mama again. With the hospital staff cheering encouragement, she pushed her baby out into my waiting hands. He made himself known with a strong cry.
I never expected to be using my skills as a midwife while on a Team Rubicon mission. My midwifery practice can sometimes get in the way of availability to deploy with TR. Before my first operation, I worried that being in the presence of so many veteran strangers might trigger my PTSD. I finally overcame my fears and learned with time that my fellow Greyshirts truly are my TRibe. This is a place where I do belong and I am safe.
As I said goodbye to the mama and her newest son, she told me her choices for naming the baby. She then asked me to choose my favorite. I know i’ll never forget baby Josent Isaac or his strong mama.