Day 7

Instead of learning information in the labor ward, today was all about learning paperwork. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the post-natal ward is always packed with mothers and their newborns. Mothers need to come in every other day until their baby is at least five days old, weighs at least 2.5 kg, and its cord has fallen off. At that point, they can be discharged to the pediatric ward of their local clinic and don’t need to come back for six weeks to get their immunizations. So when each of the mothers come in with their babies, they must weigh them then we ask a series of questions to document the baby’s growth/status in each of these categories to determine if they need to return or be discharged. Then, a summary of all of this information must be written once in the baby book (for mothers to keep) and again in the patient’s file. Basically, it’s too much paperwork for one woman to handle when forty mothers are waiting at once.

Today, the “Jemsta” taught the four maternity interns how to handle all of the paperwork and we had a beautiful system going. Sa’haara asked the mothers all of the questions and wrote the file summary, Skylar put the baby stickers on clinic records, Nikki wrote the baby book summary, then I ran the books back to the mothers and explained (sometimes with a translator) when their next appointment was. At a few points, I was also pulled aside to watch one of the nurses remove stitches from some of the mothers. These ladies barely grimaced, again, demonstrating their immense strength. We worked all of the women through the post-natal area (I hesitate to say room because, technically, it is one continuous room with the labor and infant care areas) just in time to catch a birth at 2:35 before heading out for the day.

For dinner, Morganne, Tess, and I hit up a delicious ramen joint about two blocks from our apartment and returned home to snuggle up and take Sporcle quizzes. If you’re ever bored and haven’t heard of it before (like Morganne and Tess), check it out. I swear it’s the best pointless time-killer out there, if you’re in the market for that kind of stuff this summer. Xhosa word of the day is “wife”: umfazi.

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