On Wednesday, I did several things including shopping, getting a massage, hanging out with Nolan and then some of the midwives, and finally spending some time with Salem in the clinic. I was against getting a massage, because I felt like that was too “vacationey.” But after Nolan talked me into it, I was glad! It was definitely an authentic Thai massage. I could go into detail of my entire day, but I feel a heavy heart to describe my night with Salem.
We were all hanging out at the Silvey house when I asked Nolan to text Salem to see if there were any active labors that Sara (Salem’s mom) and I could come watch. Salem said one woman was 7cm and to get there fast! We rushed to the clinic with just enough time to see a beautiful Philippina baby girl born. Salem caught the baby, and of course made the whole experience look like breeze.
I was able to bathe one of the newborns that was waiting in postpartum. This little girl was absolutely precious. She didn’t like to be bathed on her back, but as soon as I turned her over to wash her back she stopped crying. There is something special about giving a baby his or her first bath. The midwife who was with me gladly let me do the entire bath. She said her back always hurts from bending over, the baby cries almost the entire time, and she always gets hot and sweaty. All of those things were true, my did hurt, I was sweating profusely, and the baby cried for 85% of the bath, but it is one of the only ways that I can serve these people, which makes it worth it to me.
I believe it was approximately 45minutes later, when yet another midwife announced that this woman was ready to push. Everyone rushed between the curtains and I stood as a wallflower in the background. Salem was documenting the birth, the midwife catching the baby and the supervisor were scrambling when the baby came out, and the extra midwife was trying to get an IV into the woman. Salem was then getting oxygen to the baby, and the supervisor was yelling for another midwife to come and give an injection. In that moment I felt helpless even though they needed so much help. I gave them towels, gloves, tape, and stethoscopes when they needed it, but my expertise stopped there. Apparently the baby’s chest was retracting and they needed to transport him to the hospital. Salem looked at me and said “Elise you ready? We are going to the ER.” Salem rushed into the back of the van while I followed her with the oxygen tank. The guards let us past the registration desk straight into the “NICU” room of the ER. They weighed Salem and the baby, then just Salem to check for the baby’s weight. They had her set the baby in the plastic cold bassinet. Salem and I both agreed that this baby needed warmth and human contact in the first hours of his birthday. Salem went to help the baby’s father with registration and paper work.
I cradled this baby boy holding an oxygen mask over his tiny nose and mouth. His tiny wrinkly fingers and hands were dusky and almost white, but he clutched onto my finger the entire time. A man tapped my shoulder and asked to get the mop that was stored right next to the bassinet. I looked down to realize that there was also an open trash can and a few blood stains that still needed to be cleaned up. That’s when I really took notice of what was going on around me. On the other side of the bassinet was a bed where two children shared the bed. The walls were dirty and covered in bits of left over tape. The room we were in was simply a 3-walled room that was still exposed to the rest of the ER. We were 10 feet away from what looked like telephone booths that were big enough for people to sit in and hold their IV’s above them. There was a row of around 40 “booths” that were back to back with another 40 booths. On the far side of those, there were beds that were more like rusted gurneys. These were raised, and more than 1 patient shared many of the “beds”. Several people held handkerchiefs over there mouths to prevent from getting any disease exposure. There really was no method to the patient placement. It was just a huge room filled with kids and adults with all types of sickness or issues. I saw several people with open wounds that were yet to be treated. I then realized that everyone was staring at me. Salem and I were the only white people in the facility. I realized that many of the people staring back at me were malnourished and exhausted. These were both the patients and the family members of the patients.
I turned to just face the wall and just pray over the people in there. I prayed for healing and restoration. I prayed that they receive Christ’s love this Christmas. My heart was continually breaking. These people needed help, but to receive attention they have to go to a place that is just as dirty, if not worse, than the streets. Although the windows were open, I still had a steady stream of sweat trickling down my face. The baby I was holding was considered a “dirty baby,” because he was born at Mercy Maternity Center (MMC). Therefore, he wouldn’t be able to be admitted into the OB ward with the other newborns. He would be admitted into the ER ward with the other sick babies. By this time my tears accompanied the sweat streaming down my face. Its hard to explain the brokenness in that hospital, but I knew that God was still there and He was still taking care of everyone despite the condition. I just sang for the next 30 minutes until Salem came back to get me. I gave the baby over to his Dad and reminded him to hold his baby close.
I don’t have any pictures of this, but the scene it etched in my memory. The dirty white walls, the teal and rusty gurneys, and all of the curious stares from the Philippino people. Salem told me that all of this breaks her heart as well, but she does what she can and delivers babies at the MMC. It was heart wrenching for me, because there was nothing that I could offer or do proactively. I’m wresting with the thought of how I could even be a SLP in a facility similar to this hospital. I doubt they had any of the technology I would need, and I’m sure that they don’t have any speech pathologist working in that hospital. I wonder how God is going to use my education and me to love on people when Josh and I are missionaries.
Please take a minute and pray for the people in the hospital right now. We just don’t realize how amazing our technology and sanitation is in the US. I am still processing all that I saw last night and allowing God to prep me for what is in store tonight as I join Salem for her night shift.