Yes, you read that right. I’ll get to it.
Today the ward was buzzing with local midwives, which was funny as I was just telling a friend who has been there that I haven’t seen many. But there were bunches present today. I tossed down my backpack and quickly snuck out the back door and ran some little stuffed soccer balls I bought down to my buddies in the children’s ortho area. I zipped straight back and there were four women delivering so I jumped right in. We were descended upon by a group of med students from Australia and New Zealand. I had a long talk with one of them who was trying to process the kinds of things that go on here and how different it is than home. Ah, we should start a little club. They all got interested in something else somewhere else in the hospital and disappeared as quickly as they had come. We had one retained placenta with a failed attempt at manual removal (not by me, by someone else) and that woman was taken into surgery to deal with it. One of the babies was born with a super short fat cord and he was kind of refusing to join us in this world. I did some light resus while the other midwife went to get help. She was a long time returning and I decided to take matters into my own hands using the techniques we do at home. Normally we have the parents talking to their baby as we are working on them but this mother was still out in the stars (to borrow a phrase from the lovely Aussie Dr. Sarah J. Buckley)and unable to talk…I might guess she was out there with her baby as when I got bossy and told the baby it was time to come now, that we were really ready for her here, baby gasped and cried and mom snapped to and helped me gently rub the baby down. I listened with my stethoscope as the lungs expanded and filled with air in repeated movements (aka, “breathing”) and I could hear the fluid draining with each breath. Wonderful sounds, indeed.
Other than that it was just busy-busy as we say here. Mamas, babies, relatives…all the good stuff. And I finally mastered cleaning up and setting up the delivery rooms all by myself. The cleaning agent they use makes me wildly ill—it is extremely potent (so much so that it is a carcinogen which they cannot dispose of anywhere on this island). (Clorox, take me away!) I try to scootch out of the room while they are using that but I can help with the rest of the cleaning and the setting up competently now. The mom with the slow-to-start baby had no family with her today and she asked me to help her with holding her baby while she had some food and got settled in which I happily did…it is really hard to argue with a bundle of cuddly love.
After my shift I went back to the children’s ortho area and plei-plei’d with them for a while. The moms had strung the soccer balls up on the contraptions that are holding the babies legs up in the air and there were happy babies batting at dangling soft soccer balls.
I decided to go into town and check out the much touted “music festival” tonight. It turned out to be bands of two or three people with a keyboard and a microphone or two singing Bob Marley Songs. It was not what I expected but as I walked past one group gathered around a band the singer belted out “I Shat the Sheriff, but I didn’t shat the debutyyyyyy”…I couldn’t believe my ears so I stayed for a few refrains and sure enough, he shat the sheriff but he didn’t shat no debutyyyyy. I walked around for a bit, night time is a busy time in town, the farmer’s market is in full swing and there are people everywhere. As I was walking to a good intersection to catch a bus home a giant crab went flying across the sidewalk in front of me. I shrieked a bit and started laughing. There was only an old lady nearby and she wasn’t impressed with me laughing out loud for no apparent reason. I used my best broken Bislama to tell her to come take a look and I pointed. It was dark so it was hard to see but when she got close enough, she shrieked too! The Crab was bent on getting across the street for some Bob Marley, regardless of the rendition or lyrics-slaughter going on and it side stepped its way down the curb. She tried to pick it up but it pinched her, which seemed to make her more determined. There was a steady flow of traffic and the crab made its way out into the street. It looked like a really bad game of Frogger and the crab would creep forward and the woman would creep after it then jump back between cars. No less than 12 vans drove over the crab without crushing it and the woman was so determined she actually stepped out and held her hand up to stop traffic, which is unheard of here. She bent down and grabbed the crab again, this time out of pincher range. She came back towards me laughing and smiling and tried to give me the crab for dinner. I tried to show the proper respect while refusing and telling her she could keep it. She proudly carried it back to her family who seems to own one of the tables at the farmer’s market and they all seemed quite pleased with her find. I took the bus and got a big lecture from the bus driver about the dangers of drinking Kava every night and the wisdom of limiting myself to two or three (maybe) nights per week. No worries there, I don’t need Kava to be entertained when I can just walk downtown and hear songs about shatting sheriffs and watch old ladies chase crabs across three lanes of traffic…