Friday, June 6, 2008


Well, I hit a wall yesterday. I'm not exactly sure why, since my shift yesterday was a pretty easy one. Casa is only open until 11:30 on Thursday mornings for citas. Then we take our lunch break and afterward the interns do deep cleaning. We re-stock all the cita rooms and the birth rooms, while wiping down all the shelves, doors, and drawers with disinfectant soap. There were only 5 citas scheduled in the morning, and cleaning and re-stocking is a no-brainer job that offers some time for reflection. Maybe it was the reflection part that caused me to crack a little.

I did a postpartum check on a family who's birth I was at as second on. The father spoke fluent English, so for the first time since I've been here, I was actually relaxed with a client and could share the information that I actually do know about postpartum and breastfeeding. I did have a moment when I couldn't come up with the word "colostrum." Pretty basic stuff, and since I don't even know the Spanish word for it, it's a little pathetic that I couldn't come up with the English. This was probably my best cita yet. I didn't do the newborn heel stick for the PKU, but got a good training on it, and feel a little more confident that I could do it.

So, we're going on our merry way, having a pretty relaxed day, when in comes two unscheduled citas toward the end of my shift. Since most of the interns had already disappeared by this time, I took both of them. The first one was ok, though I did need to say "voy a preguntar a la patera," (I am going to ask the midwife) and get some help. The second appointment was a registration, meaning a new client, so we are required to do a complete exam, from cabeza (head) to pies (feet). A very patient and helpful staff midwife, walked me through the whole thing, by my side the whole time. She explained everything in Spanish to the client, and in English to me, helping me to do the exam. This, as you might imagine, took some time. Registrations are longer appointments anyway, but with the new kid on the block, and doing it in Spanglish, it ended up being a hour. I'm grateful that it was such a slow day, and the gift of this whole situation was that there wasn't anyone waiting in the sala for a cita, so we actually could spend this time. This is the first time since I've been here that I've felt like my learning could be a little leisurely, so this is all good.

We set the date and time for the next cita, then LaVerne (the staff midwife who was helping me), started taking me through all that we have to do for the client's chart and the paperwork. I just burst into tears, saying "how will I ever do this exam on my own?" It all just got to me in that moment--learning so much all at once, missing my family, the fatigue.

Lucky for me, midwives are good people. LaVerne didn't even miss a beat and she was hugging me, and offering up tissues. Another intern came by and asked if I'd like to join the night crew for dinner. Since the cita took so long, it was now an hour past when I should have been off, and I was starving. I gratefully accepted the invitation, and had a lovely meal of mashed potatoes, chicken and roasted garlic. Everyone told funny stories, and it felt like family. We had cookies for dessert, three rounds. God is good.

So, I guess the biggest lesson for the day isn't really how to do an initial appointment, or how to re-stock the birth rooms, but rather that this is hard, and I'm not alone.

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