Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A night at the labour ward

Its late at night.

The place is quiet as if only ghosts walk the dimly lit corridors. The tiled floor smells of disinfectant, the ceiling fan spins lazily and the mothers are sleeping on the green leather covered beds. The bleached white bed sheets and pillow cases have blue letters – MGH - written on them. It is late at night at the Modilon General Hospital’s labour ward. Close to 30 mothers are in the labour ward, some having already given birth and sleeping next to their babies while others are just entering the labour process.

I sit on a wooden bench next to the nursing sisters table. I am waiting.

The nurses talk in hush tones and scurry along the corridors to expectant mothers. There are a couple of women who walk past me with their bellies protruding infront of them, their hands at their backs and the pain is written all over their faces. The pain is so unbearable, so relentless, so sharp, so unjustified! They hang onto posts and bed frames begging for the pain to stop. The nurses tell them to keep on walking. I am surprised at how the women in the labour ward don’t scream when they have birth pains. It’s as if there is silent understanding that you do not scream until you are on the delivery bed or maybe the women are afraid the nurses might scold them.

However, inside the delivery room, I hear women shouting from pain and agony. My partner is in there too behind the closed doors. I can only look down the corridor and imagine what they are going through. My mother has been with my partner throughout the afternoon and now it is night and i can see that her eyes are bloodshot and tired from the lack of sleep. I sit still. Worried, tired, apprehensive, and biting my finger nails for the umpteenth time today. My mother comes down the corridor and signals me to follow her. She pulls me closer and says that my partner wants me to go to her. I walk past her to the delivery room.

As soon as I enter, I feel the air is cool. The air conditioner is running in the background. There are four beds and one other one for the intermediate is on the opposite side of the room. The first bed is occupied by a woman who is sleeping in the foetal position. Only her feet are visible under the hospital issued blanket. They are as pale as a bed sheet. I only later on learn that she came close to dying because of the lack of blood. I turn to the last of the four beds and see my partner on one of the bed. She lies on her side. She is the only one from the group of mother who came today, that has not given birth yet. I can see that she is in pain. She opens her mouth and screams. I have known this woman for seven years now and never heard her scream and shout like this. Tonight, these terrible and agonising screams I hear carry a terrible pain and rock me to the core. She cries out but the nurses tell her not to but to breathe and exhale when the contractions come. I hold her hand and don’t say anything. What could I say. I didn’t know what to say. She had been in terrible pain for the past 20 hours. I rub her back with a wet cloth and hold her quietly. I read in the papers that 2 babies had died in this very ward last weekend and I witnessed two more die this weekend. To further compound my uneasiness, I have heard that nine mothers have already died from child birth complications this year in this very ward.

The nurse comes in for the umpteenth time today and checks to see if the baby’s head is ready to come. This time she finally nods and says ‘its time’. They instruct her take a deep breath and to push when the contractions arrive. She does so but the baby doesn’t come. She does the same thing for almost 20 minutes. The nurses wait on her and keep instructing her on how to push. She feels weak from each push. I see the blood from her hand go back up the water drip. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that the nurses are eye signalling each other and at the clock. Earlier one the nurses had told me that if the labour prolonged from up to 24 hours, they would induce the birth or use the vacuum the baby out, both methods not without their risks. After a few minutes, they look at me as if to gauge my approval for the use of the other methods. I quickly turn away and look at my partner. I think she quickly catches on and asks us to wait for the next contraction to come. I know that in the next few minutes could be very crucial to both the mother and baby.

She waits and then when the next contraction arrives, and through the urgings of three nurses and one to-be father, she gives a mighty push and my daughter arrives. The nurse clips the cord and cuts it and gives the baby to the mother. I am left stunned. I mean this is another human being that is removed from the body of another human and is a person of its own. She is complete in every way yet she is so fragile. She is beautiful in every way possible and her spirit is impossible to numerate in words. One look at her face is enough to light my whole week. She has my cheeks, my nose, my lips and, I dare say, my eyes too! She is perfect! They quickly take her to a machine and quickly drain the mucous from her nose, mouth and eye. I hear her cry and then a few seconds later, my mother comes in, holding her in a warm blanket and she is silent as the rising sun.

My life has surely turned for the better. If there is anything with which I was ever proud of, this would be it. The moment my daughter was born beat my every other achievement in life by a mile. This is surely what life is all about.

1 comment:

SALAMET said...

Brother, the story is well written and feels straight from the heart.
Welcome to fatherhood and the challenges that lie ahead.