Written by Tom Taylor, a member of the June vision team:
There are so many experiences that I could write about on this truly rewarding trip to Haiti, but the one that stands out the most was my first day as Joe’s helper.
After a long trip from Port-au-Prince to Terre Blanche on Saturday and a relaxing Sunday, highlighted by a church service and a concert, I was chomping at the bit to get going. As an EMT with a high enthusiasm for action, I was ready, willing and hopefully “able.”
My excitement was palpable at 4 a.m. Monday morning when I heard the locals lining up outside the clinic. By the time the clinic opened there were over 100 patients in the courtyard waiting areas. Clinic opens at 8 a.m. and that morning I would be working as Dr. “Papa” Joe’s assistant. The very first patient was a woman in labor.
After a quick inspection, Joe assessed that this Haitian mother was 4 cm dilated and would deliver shortly. He promptly informed me that I would be handling the delivery. My excitement for getting to do something I’d never done before overshadowed the nervousness I was feeling. While the woman progressed through her labor, we saw at least 15 other patients while checking in from time-to-time.
As the frequency and volume of the labor moans increased, we knew the time was getting near. Joe gave me a good overview of what would happen during delivery. He showed me where to stand, how to position myself when the baby came, where my hands would go on the baby’s head, what to do when the baby’s head breached the birth canal and what to do with the baby once it was born.
The woman had had 11 previous pregnancies, so we assumed this would happen quickly … and it did. A couple of pushes and the baby’s head emerged. I positioned my hands as instructed and Joe said “pull” … I guess I wasn’t pulling hard enough and he assured me that I wouldn’t hurt the baby. I did as instructed and in less than a minute, with an audience of about eight standing at the door, I helped deliver a healthy 9-plus-pound Haitian baby boy. Wow! You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. In a country with so much adversity, poverty and death, it was amazing to help bring new life into the world.