Day 23

I guess I never really finished up yesterday– Nikki, Maci, and I headed out to Camps Bay for some Tuesday night karaoke at Dizzy’s. We met up with Skylar and Elijah, two of the Mercer interns at the clinic and caught up on what we had missed while shark diving. The answer? Nothing much. We sang “Take Me Home, Country Roads” then Elijah absolutely murdered “Drop It Like It’s Hot”. What a wonderful night!

But TODAY, we finally broke the dry spell at the clinic! After about an hour of paperwork, Nikki, Maci, Skylar, Madison, and I all started shadowing Dr. Prinsloo, the neonatal specialist who comes in every Wednesday. While this was fun, watching her check out all of the preemie babies, we crowded her a little bit so I went to hang with Elijah in the labor ward. Lo and behold, 10 minutes after I arrived, two mothers began pushing (one who was much louder than the other).

One woman (the loud one) didn’t speak any English and barely any Xhosa so we really had a tough time communicating with her. She kept pushing when, in reality, she wasn’t ready push which could’ve been very damaging for the baby. Eventually, the sisters got her to calm down and just lay on her side until the baby was ready to come out.

However, the woman next doorway ready to push and that baby was ready to come out. After a few painful minutes and some coaching from Elijah and me (wow, this really makes me sound so much more qualified than I am?), she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! We cut her cord, measured her, warmed her up in the incubator, then gave her back to the mother to begin breastfeeding. The only problem was this mother was a first-timer and, unfortunately, had inverted nipples, meaning that the sisters had to use a syringe to pull them out. During this whole process, I was lucky enough to be the designated “baby-holder” (my favorite job) and got to bond with this little bundle of joy. After handing her back to the mother, I decided that this was the perfect way to introduce my new baby hat concept. As a way of thanking the mother for letting students deliver her baby, I gave her a pink baby hat knitted by yours truly. This woman was so grateful and even let me take pictures of the baby with the hat on :’). Those are featured in the gallery.

The rest of the afternoon was relatively slow but that birth made this past 1.5 weeks of waiting all worth it. I returned home for a classic afternoon of going to the gym, calling home, etc. This time, though, I got to talk to my brother, Russell, who just returned from a 2-week wilderness adventure! As fun as SA is, I’m definitely missing my family. On my way home from the gym today, I finally decided to try Nando’s, a large chain restaurant in Europe and South Africa specializing in their roasted chicken. I got a leg/thigh with mild peri-peri sauce and thought it was pretty good! 8/10, convenient and tasty!

I spent the night hanging out with Tess, Morgan, and Sarah, listening to Big Bootie mixes and admiring the beautiful view out of their 13th floor window (we’re only on the 4th floor, facing another building). I’m on this new kick where I’m trying to go to bed earlier so I’m off to the snoozer at approx. 10:30… progress? Xhosa word of the day is “hat”: umnqwazi (there’s a click in this one! and I can do it!)

Day 15

It’s crazy that I’ve been here long enough to say this, but today was a pretty normal day in the clinic. Since mothers are required to bring their babies in every other day until they are over 2.5 kg, their cord is off, and they’re over 5 days old, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are very busy. Tuesdays and Thursdays are slower, especiallywhen it’s raining so today was pretty empty. In the meantime, Nikki and Maci did a lot of reading and I wrote a lot of postcards. As a side note, I have SO MANY postcards if you would like one please let me know and I’ll send one. Warning: takes 10 business days to get to the USA so no return letter needed.

We took our lunch break around noon and ended up having a 2-hour conversation about sororities at each of our respective schools (Skylar and Madison: Mercer, Nikki: UT Austin, Maci: Oklahoma State, Me: UVA). Interesting content. We returned to the labor ward desperately hoping for a birth but, alas, there were no mothers ready to push.

Upon return from work, the afternoon was pretty standard: gym, hanging out with roommates, etc. For dinner, I went to The Codfather in Camps Bay with some friends. This place not only has a sushi conveyor belt that you can choose from but also has a huge case of fish where you choose your cut, how it’s cooked, sides, etc. We all split some edamame, tuna rolls, seared tuna, and kingklip and WOW it was all fantastic! This is a pretty notable restaurant in all of Cape Town so I don’t need to promote it too much but would definitely recommend that any seafood fan check this place out.

After dinner, we met up with some of the UVA people here with iXperience (all staying in Camps Bay) to attend a Tuesday karaoke night. We watched some older men (minority demographic) conquer Ice Ice Baby, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and Country Roads before deciding it was time to head out. Tired and ready for sleep, I now sit here writing this post! Xhosa word of the day is “postcard”: lokuposa.

Day 6

If I lived today a thousand times over, that still wouldn’t be enough. Today was truly one of my favorites. We started the morning with a lunch trip to Kloof Street House, a delicious and eclectic restaurant on (you guessed it!) Kloof Street. When I asked for her guidance, my cousin Tabor, a Cape Town pro, insisted that we head to Kloof Street House for Sunday lunch because of the live jazz performance they have! Thank you x10000, Tabor, because the jazz made the meal absolutely unforgettable. If you’re ever lucky enough to spend a Sunday in Cape Town, definitely head there but beware: you should probably make a reservation ahead of time!

After a lovely lunch, we browsed down Kloof, popping into a few shops and gathering inspiration for Tess’ budding fashion line that she’s building while here in Cape Town. We ended up in the Company’s Garden, right behind the parliament buildings of South Africa. We strolled a little bit, laughed a little bit, and (I) fed a few squirrels (including an albino one??). Fantastic photo evidence can be found in the gallery. As we were leaving, we ran into the cutest dancing troupe. I’d love to know more about the specific culture/area they were representing, but for the time-being I’ll let you indulge in a video of their performance:

Following a quick walk home (and also a quick change of the Facebook profile picture post-Garden), we grabbed our books and headed out to Camps Bay for the sunset. We lounged on a blanket in the sand and pranced along the coastline, almost as if it was summer! But, sadly, it is, in fact, winter and our toes got quite chilly quite quickly. Around 5:45, we finally watched the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean… not something that people see very often. With the view of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, and Lion’s Head in the background, this view was absolutely stunning. So much so, that I literally had to FaceTime my parents (and my second half, Matt Gillam) to show them the gorgeous vista. We stayed in Camps Bay for dinner, grabbing some delicious pizza at a beachside restaurant (Mantra), then headed home for an early night. A few Mad Men episodes later, here we are. Xhosa word of the day is “beautiful”: entle.

Day 4

This morning, we walked into the clinic and there were 5 mothers “on deck”, waiting in chairs until their contractions. After a slow hour, two mothers went into labor at once. However, both of them had very long labors. After a few series of pushes, one was transferred to the Khayelitsha hospital because of her “high-risk labor”. While the clinic offers many services, unfortunately it doesn’t have unlimited resources and must transfer many patients to the nearby hospital. While it is only a ten minute drive away, sometimes EMTs can take up to six hours to arrive due to high demand. Thankfully, in this case, they arrived after only twenty minutes. However, when I was working in the emergency unit, patients were waiting for at least two hours before being picked up. This follows a trend of townships being offered too few resources for the demand and population it’s catering to.

After the first mother was transferred, the second mother neared birth. The sister taking care of her gave her a hard time mid-labor because she wasn’t pushing hard enough and the baby was “getting tired”. For the first time, I thought I may see a stillborn baby. I was put into action as the “pusher”, using all of my weight to push down on the abdomen to force the baby down. I swear I thought I was about to crack a rib. About five minutes later, the baby was born but seemed to be stillborn with blue extremities. After about thirty seconds, though, this child came to life, absolutely wailing and thrashing around. Watching this little alien-baby-thing enter the world was still as amazing as watching it the first time. I don’t know if I could ever get tired of that. We were tasked with measuring the baby again and I got to put on the baby’s first “nappy”!

All other interns only work Monday-Thursday so we took a half-day and arrived home around 1 (instead of 4). Due to the early mornings, I took a nap that lasted 4 hours and may be the best decision I’ve made since I arrived in Cape Town. For dinner, I headed down to Camps Bay with some Connect friends and ate at a restaurant called 41. It was here I adventured out enough to try ostrich and it was INCREDIBLE! Definitely would recommend to anybody who has the chance to order it. After stopping by Café Caprice, we headed back to Bree St. to check out the nightlife scene (surprisingly dead for a Friday night) before returning home. That’s a wrap on the first week of work! Very excited for a fun weekend of exploration! Xhosa word of the day is “push”: dudula. Heard this one and an English version (“poosha”) a lot today.