New Surroundings

I am in the Philippines now and have been for almost two weeks. I am near Subic Bay, for those of you who are familiar with the different islands here. I did not suffer any jet lag, which is a first for me and I hope a new trend. Even though this is my first time to the Philippines it feels quite familiar with similarities that only come from having been in SE Asia before. Two things immediately stood out to me that I hadn’t given much thought to before coming here, and that is the amount of English being spoken and written here and that the primary faith expressed here is Christian; mostly Catholic and then Protestant, there is also a fair sized Islamic community as well in the area. I realized this when I didn’t see any buddhist monks and temples, which is has been so common place for me with my previous travels.

The birth home is situated in a small neighborhood and it houses some of the staff midwives as well as the student/interns. Currently there are three of us (students) and prior to my arrival two other students were here as well, all from my class last fall. The house has two bedrooms, one for the staff midwives and one for the interns. There is a common room, kitchen/dining area and 1 bathroom for the staff and interns to share, and to my surprise a washing machine. 

There are two treatment areas, each consisting of two beds. One room is for postpartum and prenatal patients, the other room is the labor/birth room. The common area in the house also serves as the waiting area for mothers and their families. There are two scheduled prenatal days a week, we also do home visits to postpartum patients on the first and third days after birth, then at 1 week, 3 weeks and 6weeks the women come to the clinic to be checked along with their infants. I have been out on several occasions to do home visits since arriving and I have to say I have really enjoyed it. The two home visits the other day consisted of going to the landfill, yes I mean the dump, and the other required several minutes of climbing incredibly steep concrete stairs up the side of a mountain. Transportation to and from the different homes have included walking, taking buses, jeepneys and trycies.

I have observed and assisted several births here so far.  Two of the women have delivered on a birthing stool both, all of the births have been very peaceful and without any complications. One mother came in at 4a.m. and by 4:20a.m. a healthy baby boy was born, with apgar scores of 9 and 9 weighing in at 3kg or 6lbs 6oz. Mom and baby were doing great at both postpartum visits I attended. Oh, and we received a bag of mangos for our services, fAbulous….

It’s been a few years since I have been around laboring and birthing women and their newborns…I’ve missed it. I have also done several prenatal exams and I expect I will do many more, the two prenatal days during the week can be quite busy.

Earlier this week a team from Canada came to do some building projects for Mercy in Action. The have been working on the property and future clinic site which Mercy now owns and is about a 10 minute walk from the current clinic site. They have been helping build small bungalow type huts for women to come down from the mountains to stay in for several days before they are in labor and during their postpartum period after; these will also be available to the women living in the city. The team has also been working around the clinic laying a new vinyl floor in the birth room, making some repairs here and there and thankfully fixed the wifi! With them, they brought some supplies for the clinic. We were all but out of prenatal vitamins and now I believe there is a supply for several months.

I have enjoyed buying my many of my meals on the streets in the neighborhood and especially happy about being able to purchase a green coconut almost daily, having it ‘opened’ and drinking the water,  all for only 15 pesos (about .40 cents)….I have had  some of the best conversations at the local shops on our street, there are some really sweet and funny women in this neighborhood, they are always happy to instruct me on how to eat the different fruits and vegetables here and also to discuss my love life….

I am encouraged to be at this point in my training and looking forward to what it will bring. I hope to have much to write about in the upcoming weeks.

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