Day 28

  • Closest a day at the clinic has gotten to hellish
  • Madison took the day off, so Skylar and I were the only two interns
  • USUALLY, mothers in the post-natal ward check-in at reception and drop off their baby book so that the “folder men” can pull their files and then deliver the mother’s folder, baby’s folder, and “Road to Health” baby book to us
  • With these three documents, we can finally process the mothers and do their paperwork in the post-natal ward
  • We always complain about the folder men because it feels like they take forever to bring us folders, so we get kind of backed up
  • But TODAY, the folder men were both out sick and we discovered that they truly are the absolute backbone of the clinic
  • Every package we got was an odd combination of one folder (sometimes mother, sometimes baby), maybe a baby book, but never the full collection. Without all documents, we couldn’t finish paperwork or do it properly so we had about fifty mothers waiting until we could get everything sorted out
  • For reference, we usually start paperwork around 9 and end it by noon but today, we couldn’t really start anything until 11:30 and didn’t finish until 2
  • The only bonus of today is that I had time at the end of the day to take a video walking through the post-natal and labor wing
  • Hit the gym then returned home to cook some soup and down some leftover pasta courtesy of Morganne

Day 21

I’m not sure what the Mother Nature thinks is so special about June 25, but this morning was the prettiest sunrise I’ve ever seen. Pictures featured in the photo gallery. I spent the drive to Khayelitsha watching the beautiful pink sky and also speaking to our third (yes, THIRD) new driver this morning, Nomalady. This was one of the first times I’ve seen a woman driving a car in South Africa so hooray for gender equality!

Unfortunately, this dry spell at the clinic is really dragging on. We arrived this morning and spent half the day filling out paperwork, you know, the normal grind. But when we took our tea break this morning, we saw that Maci had a new puzzle book filled with crosswords, sudokus, etc. Most of the afternoon (after the paperwork was all done) we spent solving said puzzles as a group of six– an interesting task. Unfortunately, in line with some days last week, today was rather anti-climactic. However, we did spend some time today planning our shark cage diving trip… details will be covered tomorrow!

When we returned home, I hit the gym, talked to my mom on the phone for a while, and went grocery shopping with Morganne– also rather anti-climactic. BUT after this grocery shopping, Morganne took me into what may very well be the cutest stationery shop I’ve ever seen called Fabricate. Thank goodness I had my hands full of groceries because otherwise, my wallet would’ve been in trouble. Big time. Before we left, I headed down to Pick n Pay (imagine Kroger vs. Whole Foods (Woolworths)) to purchase one of those puzzle books for myself… I was missing my sudoku fix.

I returned home, whipped up some cauliflower noodle and veggie stir fry, hung out with Austin, Charlie, Morgan, Sarah, Morganne, and Tess, and am now headed off to bed for tomorrow morning, we have a 6am wake up call for shark diving. Xhosa word of the day is “sister” (or daughter, little girl, etc.): sisi.

Day 18

Not sure what’s been up with the birthing population this week, but today was another slow and rainy day. We started doing our usual paperwork but soon enough, the nurses found themselves with nothing to do and wanted to help us. The usual system was a bit thrown off but we worked quickly, chatting with the nurses Toto and Maseko in-between babies.

When we took our tea break around 10:30 (as per usual every day), I grabbed my typical snack of hummus with carrots, cucumbers, and celery. Today, however, the nurses/sisters/administrative ladies were particularly interested in what I was eating. First, they asked if it was liver then proceeded to ask what the heck “hummus” was. I ate about half of my portion in the tea room then brought the rest back to the maternity ladies for them to try. They always eat such exotic food that I thought they’d love the hummus but they weren’t pleased. One woman said she was “okay” with it but the rest were not fans. I pled my case about hummus being the nectar (paste?) of the gods but oh well.

After our half-day (a new Friday tradition), Nikki, Maci, and I headed back to the CBD and to Truth for lunch. Their porridge, eggs, bacon, avocado toast, etc. was out of this world as per usual. We headed back to our apartments to change/hit the gym/watch Netflix/chill out for the rest of the night.

Morganne and I ordered some incredible Chinese food (thx you Monks) and snuggled up to watch “Sing”, one of the most iconic animated films of 2016, save Finding Dory. After an emotional but triumphant rollercoaster, here we are, another day into my South African adventure ready to sign off. Xhosa word of the day is “pregnant” to mourn the drought of new babies: ukhulelwe.

Day 11

Today we celebrated Youth Day at the clinic! All week, the sisters and nurses had been talking to Nikki and me about how we needed to wear school uniforms on Friday to celebrate “the 16th of June” (which was actually on Saturday anyway) !!! After some outside research clarifying what exactly that holiday celebrated, I stumbled onto some really interesting information about the tradition of Youth Day. On June 16th, 1976, thousands of black students in a Joberg township (Soweto) left school to protest against the Apartheid regime. They rallied against a new order that made Afrikaans compulsory in all black township schools across the country, prohibiting the use of local languages. The rallies were meant to be peaceful but once police started to break up the crowds, riots erupted and more than 500 students were killed. Though celebrated on the anniversary of a tragic event, Youth Day celebrations around the country are meant to  empower youth of all ethnicities and commemorate their anti-apartheid efforts.

While we didn’t have full school uniforms, we did locate some plaid in our suitcases and wore it under our scrubs to give some semblance of school skirts. All of the maternity employees came dressed to the nines this morning. They wore their old/borrowed uniforms from a variety of schools, dressed in blazers, ties, skirts, and pigtails. They laughed at our plaid concoction and asked if this was what our American uniforms looked like (scrubs included). Nikki and I spent the morning getting thirty-ish women in and out of the post-labor ward while the sisters and nurses ran around taking pictures, singing school songs, and enjoying their Friday. For the first time I felt like I was really helping out in the maternity unit, making the employees’ jobs just a little bit easier. Thankfully, they felt the same way, praising us when we emptied the room out around 11. Since our Friday shuttle wasn’t coming until 12:30, we had some free time to hang out with the dressed up maternity ladies before taking off for the weekend. They demanded some photoshoots, performed again for us, and showed us pictures of their young kids. My favorite was one woman’s 3-year-old daughter who applied a panty liner as “mask” and used her mother’s stethoscope to check on a family member who was under the weather. All of these wonderful photos with Njemna (our paperwork queen) and everybody else are in the gallery, as per usual. Below is the school chant they performed for us.

I spent the afternoon reading, napping, working out, and packing in preparation for our Safari this weekend. Around 6, I went to check out a store called “The Book Lounge” on the corner of Roeland and Buitenkant known for its homey nature and frequent book releases and was very impressed. I purchased “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer (on my summer reading list!) and resisted many more potential reads until I finish the three books currently on my shelf. It comes in just behind Strand in New York City as my favorite bookstore. V cute picture of this place featured below.


For dinner, I headed to The Fireman’s Arms, one of Cape Town’s oldest pubs, on Bree to catch the Spain-Portugal soccer game. I met up with Rex and some other UVA friends (all from iXperience), chowed on some fish and chips, and got a little bit too much into soccer for the first time in my life. #TeamSpain all the way. Now I’m back home, finishing my packing in preparation for the Garden Route Game Lodge this weekend! Xhosa word of the day is “fish”: intlanzi.

Day 8

This morning, we woke up at 6:30, as per usual, and headed to the clinic, only to be met with an extremely slow day. One mother was “on deck” but looked like she’d need more time before really going into labor and only about fifteen babies were waiting in the post-natal ward. After working through them at lighting speed (paperwork train back in action), we were left with relatively nothing to do. The Connect interns working in physical therapy didn’t have any appointments for the rest of the day so they were also sitting around and waiting until our shuttle at 3:30. The only problem was all of us had finished our duties at the clinic around 11 and waiting 4.5 hrs was not going to be easy. Instead, we bid a sweet goodbye to the nursing staff and split an Uber back to the city center. Our Uber driver, Martin, was one of the most interesting men I’ve met in South Africa with revolutionary ideas on Cape Town politics, especially when it came to Parliament’s treatment of the townships. Thanks, Martin for a great ride and 5 stars to you!!

Left with a beautiful day (75 and sunny) and a free afternoon, I decided to hike Lion’s Head, one of the three mountains that surrounds the CBD (central business district) of Cape Town, the other two being Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. To push it even further, I decided that it’d be a great idea to also hike from my building to the base of Lion’s head: 2.5 miles straight uphill. This was a fantastic idea until about 1.5 miles in when the sidewalk abruptly ended and I was forced to Uber the rest of the way. The first half of the hike was beautiful, forming a corkscrew around the mountain and giving 360 views of the city and surrounding areas (Camps Bay, Sea Point, Atlantic Ocean, etc.). However, as the climb got steeper and steeper, it suddenly turned into r o c k c l i m b i n g sans guides/fences/literally any form of safety (sorry mom and dad). If it tells you anything, a mother with a toddler asked me on my way down if she’d be okay doing the rest of the hike with him on her back and I laughed. See picture below for example.


However, with one healthy ankle and a whole lotta Taylor Swift, I made it to the top for some absolutely stunning views. All of those pictures are in the photo gallery. The hike down was much easier and as a finale, I was met with a concession cart with only sparkling water. The perfect thirst quencher for a long day (said sarcastically) !

After a nice, long shower, I went with Morganne, Tess, (another) Morgan, and Sarah (both from Michigan State) to the Waterfront to have dinner and see the new movie, Tully. The movie was fantastic and I highly recommend it. An interesting modern take on motherhood (even though the birth they depicted was completely unrealistic, coming from a labor intern). Back at home, I’m ready to pass out as soon as this post is finished. Xhosa word of the day is “mountain”: intaba. Sala kukuhle!

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.