Well, everyone, the other night I had a baby!
Our pediatric intensive care doctor came in even though it was his night off and asked me if I would be willing to be the nurse for a 16-year-old Afghan female and her soon-to-be born baby. Special Forces came upon her in a village and, supposedly, she had been pushing for several hours with no results, so they called it in to the Role 3. Because one of our doctors here is actually an OB/GYN specialist, he was excited to accept a patient that apparently needed a c-section. I have no postpartum experience except for a 3 week rotation in nursing school almost 13 years ago and I did a 3 week rotation through a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as well. I have cared for one neonate since nursing school at Naval Hospital Bremerton a couple of years ago, but sure, it sounded like something new and exciting! Besides, after being surrounded by so much tragedy including the recent injuring of almost 20 people here on base and the death of a young Army soldier from a rocket attack, it would be nice to bring a new life into our hospital.
So at 10:32 pm, a 5 lb 12 oz boy was born into the world via c-section in our OR. My friend Brenda was a Labor and Delivery nurse for 16 years before becoming an ICU nurse, so she was in the OR assisting with the delivery. She brought him out to me and his father was very ecstatic that it was a boy. He clapped and had a huge smile on his face. The child’s grandmother was there too and she also was full of smiles. Shortly after the baby came out, the mother followed. She looked very young too me, not even a day older than fourteen, but the family said she was sixteen. Supposedly the husband was twenty-five, but he looked well into his 30s. The Afghans do not really keep track of age the same way we do. They have a different concept of time, so who knows what their real ages are.
Momma was definitely exhausted, probably from all the pushing, but baby was perfect! We were not sure if he would even be alive because no one could tell us exactly how long she had been pushing, but everything went well. For the first hour after birth, the baby was very active with his big, dark brown eyes wide open, looking all around! He never cried, even when I had to give him four different injections with needles!
Later, once we got momma and baby settled and baby fed, we let dad and grandma into the ICU to be with her. Next to the bed where we had them residing, there is a big cart full of clothes, toys and toiletries that people donate for us to use on our patients. Well, grandma discovered the cart and began shopping! Pretty quickly she had a new pair of sunglasses, gloves, and socks as well as shaving cream, razors and deodorant. At one point when I came to check on the baby, the father was wearing a pair of women’s white gloves. It was pretty funny.
All-in-all, it was a pleasant change from what we usually have to deal with in the ICU here. In fact, we have one of the rocket attack victims in the ICU and he wasn’t doing too well that night. Several of the members of his unit were at his bedside all night and some of the females were crying. They heard about the birth of the baby and I let them come see him. One of the women said, “Thank you. That really helped me feel better.” It was pretty amazing to see such a small bundle bring so much excitement to our hospital.