Blog it for Babies: About How I Almost Wasn’t

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In keeping with my general broodiness and my current Neonatology rotation, I couldn’t let “Blog it for Babies” go by.

BIFB is an attempt to raise funds and deliver equipment to a clinic in Bangladesh, where infant mortality is extremely high. They want to raise awareness too, so if you can’t afford to donate (like me), just be aware.

BIFB encourages bloggers to write about their own birthing experiences and reflect on how things could have been different. I don’t have children (being a student), but both my and my sister’s births were extremely difficult, so I’ll share that.

We were born in a time where many non-white South African citizens did not have access to good healthcare. I’m pretty sure that if I were of a different race, or if my struggling parents had not managed to give birth at a private facility, my mom and I may not have made it.

Mom’s pregnancy went well. I was her first, so she did everything by the book. As with a primigravida, labour progressed somewhat slowly, but surely. There was no cause for concern until I was supposed to be crowning and things weren’t going as anticipated.

I was in occipito-posterior position. Normally, babies are born occipito-anteriorly. This basically means that instead of the sharpish backside of my head crowning, my forehead was the presenting part.

But that’s not always a problem. Last year during obstetrics I delivered two occipito-posterior babies. My head was poorly flexed, so much of my face was presenting. If you think about physics, this is not conducive to an easy passage.

Mom had a wonderful obstetrician. He did shout at her often, she recalls. There were times when he shouted that if she did not stop pushing now, she would break my neck. And then there were times where he threatened her with a C-section if the baby didn’t come now. After all that exertion she did not want to be wheeled to theater.

First an episiotomy happened. When that didn’t help, they decided to attempt a ventouse delivery. That’s basically delivering the baby by means of a vacuum. It’s not an easy procedure and can often lead to a massive subaponeurotic bleed.

Fortunately it was successful.

Things that could have happened in the absence of good doctors:

  • they could have not realised that something was wrong and tried to deliver without further interventions
  • they could have not performed an episiotomy, leaving Mom to experience a third-degree tear
  • the episiotomy could have been poorly looked after, leading to infection
  • I could have died

The same thing recurred with the birth of my little sister four years later, so the doctors diagnosed cephalopelvic disproportion and my little brother (four years after that) was born via C-section.

My family, even in South Africa, were so blessed with access to good healthcare. If possible, please donate to any organisation that helps mothers and babies. And if not, count your blessings and be aware.

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14 thoughts on “Blog it for Babies: About How I Almost Wasn’t

  1. loved reading your story (well, you and your mum’s). We are so lucky aren’t we. Glad you survived! My Blue is good now – thanks for asking: Nearly 3 yrs in remission – 2 more to go for the all clear – another reason to be thankful for western medicine.

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