mission trip: Belize
Note: With his signature line “Today, I invite you to consider…,” my friend Rolando Salinas starts some of the most spiritual and spirited e-discussions on Facebook. Guatemalan by birth, Buddhist by practice, Navy veteran and now cultural business consultant, he regularly takes his translation skills on the road for Centura Global Health Initiative (GHI) missions. Thanks so much, Ro, for sharing your Belize Baby Story. C.
Our day started out pretty mellow and normal. We had breakfast at 7 AM and headed out to the hospital by 7:40. We got all our meds and other stuff loaded up, arriving at the village by 8:50. At about 9:10 we had our first patient show up. We had just started chatting with her when a guy walked in and asked if we could go see his wife because she was in the process of delivering a baby and was having a tough time. So Linda (the GHI physician) grabbed a few things and we ran all the way to their home, which was more like a shack.
When we walked in the mom was on the bed and the midwife was there with her. The mom was in excruciating pain and the midwife had a look of shock and fear on her face. When the delivery began, the baby had been head first and in the proper position. Some how, at the last minute, the baby had turned around and was now breach. We could see one little foot sticking out and that was it. Had we been back in the States, it would have been an emergency c-section, but that was not an option. The midwife held the mom’s head and I her right leg to open her pelvis so Linda could reach in and find the second foot. The mom’s pain grew as Linda pulled. She had been in labor for over 24 hours, so she did not have much strength left. And she did not have access to any pain medicine.
Linda was able to get the feet out. As she continued to pull, we both hoped that the umbilical cord was not wrapped around the baby’s neck. Finally, we could see both legs, then the baby’s waist. The mom was completely exhausted. The midwife was trying to comfort her and I was wrestling with her leg as she was fighting so hard to put her leg down. Her husband came in at this point and he grabbed her left leg and did the same as I was doing.
Linda then realized the baby had both arms pointing straight up and, because of that, was not coming past its mid section. By now we are all sweating profusely and all praying to whatever god anyone believed in or spirits and realizing that it would be a miracle if the baby survived. We could see the baby’s skin color start turning blue and even though the little body was really limp, it was still not budging. Finally, Linda was able to reach in and pull one arm down and get it out, but the second one was still sticking straight up. After a lot more struggling and praying, Linda was able to reach in and get the other arm pulled out. We got really optimistic because we thought we were almost there, but now the head would not budge. The 30 minutes Linda had been working on the delivery seemed like an eternity.
After much more struggling and praying, the baby’s head popped out. It was not responsive at all, and its skin tone was blue. Linda started CPR and I massaged the baby’s body, trying to promote blood flow and awareness. I held the umbilical cord trying to feel a pulse. I must admit, I was not completely sure I felt one, but at the same time I thought there was a very faint pulse. It was as if we both knew the odds of bringing the baby back to life were a million to one, but neither of us said it and we didn’t want to accept or believe that she would not. We wanted to believe in a miracle. We continued trading off giving her CPR.
There was something magical and surreal in giving this little being air and feeling its lips. As we pushed on her little chest and continued to breathe life into her, I realized there was no logical or rational thought process going on. It was as if time was not real. About 10 minutes into giving her CPR, we caught a glimpse of the baby starting to breathe on her own. Then she opened her eyes ever so slightly. We continued to work on her for about another 15 minutes until she was crying and her body started becoming a bit stronger. Those are the best tears we’d ever heard!
I watched a miracle of life occur in front of me. I got to see how fragile it is to attain the human life we have, how precious it is and how fleeting it can be. And I really understood that, no matter what anyone believes, how dare any of us waste this precious life we have.
All the beliefs we humans regard as better than someone else’s are irrelevant. It does not matter what will happen to us after we die. It does not matter where we have come from. It only matters how we show up today!