Going to Battle
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Going to work is like going to battle. We walk in, gear up, and face an enemy we cannot see. The battle is complex, emotional, harrowing, and feels never ending. We, the midwives, doctors, nurses, janitors, chefs, technicians, aids, volunteers, and all hospital staff are on the front lines. We show up every single day and we fight. We know that at any moment it will be our turn to have that dry cough and fever. We know that one day we will be the ones to bring it home to our loved ones and families.
The labor and delivery ward is always a place full of extremes. The happy aspects are joys that cannot be expressed and the sad moments are full of despair that cannot be imagined. Birth and tragedy are often mingled in one shift while extreme pain turns immediately to extreme elation. In the days of Corona everything is compounded. While working to keep all our patient separate with no cross transmission or contamination the regular drama, emergencies, and complications are going on around us.
The ambulances never stop calling, “patient, 3rd birth, positive for Corona, symptomatic, pushing, ETA 8 minutes”. Two midwives gear up and run to the Corona ward to meet them.
Now we are two midwives down. Seven left on the regular ward. Two in the Corona ward.
The alarm bell sounds from room 3. A patient is bleeding out. We all run to respond and assist. We stabilize the patient with IVs, fluids, urinary catheter, medications, and uterine massage all the while talking to her, explaining what happened, calming and reassuring her.
The phone rings again, "patient, 7th birth, home isolation, exposure to Corona patient, symptomatic, fever and cough, ETA 14 minutes". A second midwife gears up and runs.
Three midwifes down. Six left on the regular ward. Three in the Corona ward.
The head midwife of the shift sends out a text to all the midwives, “We need help. Who can come?” Eight midwives at home respond. Two are asked to come ASAP. The rest standby for the next call.
Room 10 alarm bells. Newborn delivered not breathing. We run, resuscitate, stabilize, and call the pediatrician. The baby begins breathing and crying long before the pediatrician arrives. We return the baby to the anxious mother, talk to the worried new parents, reassure them, and move on.
In the meantime Corona patient number one has delivered. The midwife who treated her transfers her to the Corona ward, disinfects, changes her clothes, and runs back to the regular ward to continue caring for her patients.
Room 6 alarm bells, prolonged fetal heart rate deceleration. We all run, assess the situation, rush her into a stat cesarean section. Her baby is born in need of assistance. We resuscitate, stabilize, reassure, and move on.
Ambulance calls, “patient, first birth, no fetal movement, isolation, no symptoms.”
My turn. I gear up.