I had become a little weary of chasing down CMOs, hospital admins, sisters, matrons and nurses at Manzini’s hospital, RFM. Even after some great progress and hopeful news, I was getting doors closed that I thought were open. Suffice it to say the doors kept closing, and I was frustrated.
At the end of last year, I joined a hospital committee to apply for a UNICEF grant. The grant would enable the hospital to bring in a doula teacher who would train ladies to become doulas. It would also provide a small stipend (for transportation or meals) for the women who chose to volunteer. Two weeks ago, I found out that was likely to not be approved.
Out of that birthed a doctor’s desire to still see this thing happen. He decided a lay-doula, volunteer program could still happen. The hospital staff could teach the doulas what to do. (This should be interesting since they don’t do ANY of the work of a doula, NOR have they ever seen a doula in action. I’m already coveting a certificate to teach doulas.) He called a meeting with myself and two of the head nurses. During that meeting last week, one nurse turned to me and said, “I think you should start working here. Maybe you can volunteer time, they we will know you and know this doula work. And from there we’re going to find other women to serve as doulas, and we’ll start an orientation.”
Just. Like. That. 15 months AFTER the inception of the idea to become a labor doula and be allowed inside the doors to the Labour Ward. 15 months after I started praying for doors to open. 11 months after I first took those nurses cookies. 5 months after I was told I had “permission” to enter the labor ward, only to show up there with a mom and be asked to “sit on a bench” while they tried to figure out if, indeed, I was allowed.
Yup. It’s been a while. I had almost given up. I had almost washed my hands. I had laid my head down on the table and yelled, “That’s it! I give up. I will educate women, but I won’t accompany them in labor or get my certification.” [Yes I actually did this.] I had wondered if I had listened to my community all wrong.
But now there’s hope again. The doctor immediately went to the Chief Medical Officer, who became very excited that I wanted to start volunteering. For now, I’ve committed to every Wednesday. If all works out, I would work a 7am-4pm shift. When I am ‘hired’ privately by a mother, I could accompany her in labor – even if she’s not delivering during my shift. This way, I’ll get to know the routines, know the nurses, they’ll trust me, and I can be present with these moms all the way through.
AHHHH! A big sigh of relief washed over me. Maybe, it’s gonna happen.
For now, I continue educating the pregnant women on Thursday’s at our local clinic (much like a doctor’s office here, it’s the closest medical facility where nurses serve the multifarious needs of the people – ARVs, shots, antenatal check-ups, broken limbs, sick check-ups, burns, infections, etc). Through that, I met a wonderful mom who’s eager to learn more about her body, baby, and how she can be the best mom.