Hola! I decided to add some variety to my routine volunteer placement at the hospital. I have been volunteering at the labory and delivery/maternity unit for the last few weeks in the mornings. What an experience! When I was in nursing school, we had to choose between pediatrics and L&D for clinicals, and I chose peds. It has been very refreshing to get to finally experience L&D. Regardless, I will never be an L&D nurse. Ever. Babies are cute, but vaginas are not.
So what exactly do I do at the labor and delivery ward? I help mothers in labor get through their labor pains/contractions, and hold their hands and motivate them to push that baby out. Then I try to distract them as the obstetrician sews up their vaginas from the episiotomy (which is standard practice here for every first-time mom). Then I follow them to the recovery room and help them breastfeed their newborn baby. I even help them name their babies! Which is weird for me, mind you. It´s so funny to me how ridiculously common it is for moms to not have a name ready for their baby. I mean they have 9 months to think about it, really! I had one mom ask me what my dad´s name was (Gerald). Who knows, maybe she named her baby, Geraldo, after my dad lol. The day after they announced the new pope, I suggested Francisco to one mom, haha.
Although L&D is not my cup of tea (too much blood and body fluids and way too many vaginas), I do think it is absolutely precious to be able to witness a mother meet her baby for the first time. The birthing process at the hospital is very strict against visitors. No family members, husbands or mothers or sisters, can be with the mother during labor. In recovery, only one family member can visit for only 5 minutes. There is probably a cultural reason behind all this too. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be for the handful of young mothers, and first-time mothers, to have to go through the birthing process without a single loved one. I have helped a handful of teenagers give birth now. Being a step-in support system for them has been especially rewarding for me.
I have not left my kids at the leukemia ward. I help out with births in the morning at L&D (if there are patients in labor), then I go to the leukemia ward to hang out with my kids for a couple hours. I can´t believe how fast these last 5 and a half months have flown by. It makes me so sad to think that I am leaving my kids in just a few weeks. Having had most of my nursing experience in acute care at a hospital, I learned to keep myself detached from my patients. Don´t get me wrong, I take good care of them, but I leave work at work. It´s the only way I can function as a good nurse without being an emotional wreck. Plus, emotional detachment is easier to do when your patient turnover is so fast. I remember telling myself when I first started volunteering here in Cusco that I had to make sure I would not get attached to my patients. These kids stole my heart. I fell in love so fast. Love can be so unfairly inconvenient.
Sorry I don´t have any pictures to share. I can´t exactly be taking photos during labor. My parents and little brother are coming to visit me for Spring Break this Sunday. I´m so excited! I also just realized that this is the first time I´m spending Easter with my family since I went off to university. It´s been 7 years since my last Easter with them!
Here´s to my last few weeks in Cusco. Ciao!