By Crystal Meeks and Evelyn Pullis (Head Midwives at our Bugnay Clinic)
Brenda and I had planned this trip to Tabuk for eight days. We had received cell phone signal during hikes to Locoong and Proper. During that time we had learned that Samaritan’s Purse Canada was going to help sponsor the surgery for a baby in Bugnay born with a congenital heart defect and we needed to go to Tabuk ASAP to get the papers for them to have a followup check and confirm exactly how much the surgery would be. The change of plans caused me to leave exactly ten days from when we had originally planned. We still felt well prepared, not so rushed, no big deal. We had planned to drive the Pajero and get lots of supplies from Tuguegorao. Even though it was cloudy I packed and ate breakfast feeling confident that we would make this trip easily. I threw our stuff in the car, cranked it, yelled we were leaving and walked out the door. Hmm what was that feeling? Where did it come from? It was drizzling rain should I not drive? I walked back in the house down the stairs where Blyn and her husband Ramon were eating breakfast. I remember her exclaiming, “Wow, nice shoes!” I was wearing the sparkly Bridesmaid sandals from Elizabeth’s wedding. I made eye contact with her. “We are going.” Yeah you said that already she laughed. “We are taking the Pajero.” Yeah I know she rolled her eyes at me. Why was I being weird? Blyn seemed fine so off we went. Halfway to Tabuk sliding through the mud after the drizzle turned to a torrential downpour, the road was washed out up ahead. Too far to turn back we did what we always do… keep driving and find out if it’s our time to die or not? I confess my prayers during those times have more to with words my granny taught me than the expected, “Jesus keep us safe.” I was sure the unexpected road conditions were what caused me to second guess driving to Tabuk. However later that night we got a letter from Bugnay… I gasped! I wasn’t supposed to stay because the roads were dangerous I was supposed to stay because my name had already been repetitively spoken that morning in Bugnay by the village midwife. Thankfully I left behind a highly skilled, faith filled midwife that knew exactly what to do. I’ll let her finish this story…
Hi, I’m Blyn and I work at the clinic with Crystal. It’s Sunday Morning, after I ate breakfast with my husband I went to take a shower and get ready for church. I was about to change my clothes after finishing my shower when I heard a voice in the birth room. I thought we had a patient in labor but when I opened the window, I saw the village midwife, Sabel. She was saying, “I suctioned it.” Confused I asked if we had a labor and Sabel said, “Come here, Blyn and check this baby. He got choked!” I did not bother to change my clothes and entered the room to check the baby. I looked at the baby he seemed blue. I checked the heart rate and breathing rate. They were normal but it seemed the baby was having a hard time breathing. Our oxygen tank was leaking somehow and we couldn’t get it to work properly so I couldn’t administer free flow to the baby to see if that would help. I suggested that they take the baby to Bontoc Hospital for a checkup. While they were waiting for the mom of the baby to come over from the village my husband and I continued trying to repair the oxygen tank. I got the ambu bag to give to Sabel just in case they needed it during the trip to the hospital. I was in the living room when I saw out the window that the baby’s mother had arrived from Bugnay. Good everything was fine and a jeepney was here to take them. Then suddenly Karen (one of my companion midwives at the clinic) and Sabel entered the living room and said that they weren’t going to take the baby to the hospital anymore. I asked why? They both said at the same time that the baby was DEAD! Of course my first reaction was Really? Oh no! But when Sabel said they were starting to carry him back to Bugnay I said no bring him to me maybe I can try resuscitation. We started full resuscitation with chest compressions and using the ambubag there in the living room on our desk. So many people were in the room watching me. Some were yelling at me to “STOP! Alangan ijoy ken oon ju aat ja mataku!” which means you better stop you can’t bring the baby back to life. I ignored their demands and continued resuscitation. After many minutes, I’m not sure how long but it seemed a long time the baby’s heartbeat and breathing came back. Once the heartbeat was stable we went to transport and I finally changed my clothes so I could go to the hospital with them in case it needed resuscitation again. Luckily the baby was staying stable. Halfway to the hospital the baby started looking around and even smiling at us. I was thinking back to how hard we had prayed during the resuscitation for the baby to survive because the parents’ first baby had died. Then once we were about thirty minutes from Bontoc I noticed the baby was beginning to turn blue again all of a sudden. We ended up having to give resuscitation again. At this point the mother and grandmother seemed relaxed and I was really frustrated that I felt like they didn’t care about the baby. So I yelled at the mother that she should pray! Once we reached the hospital I threw up a lot and felt so dizzy. I thought I was finally getting over my morning sickness but it seemed this emergency had given it back again. Sabel and Crystal had done prenatals on this patient during her first pregnancy. They had urged her to go to Bontoc repetitively because she had extremely high blood pressure. She never heeded their advice. Once in labor, Sabel made her go to the hospital. The baby’s head was born in the jeepney just a ways down the road past where on clinic is now. It wasn’t until later the baby’s body was born dead. We suspect shoulder dystocia and the village midwife just hadn’t been trained in that type of emergency. When her blood pressure spiked with this pregnancy it seemed one of us was at her house almost everyday watching her blood pressure rise and trying new tactics to persuade her to go to the hospital. Miraculously she ended up delivering this baby at the hospital. Then five days after being born it was brought to us having apparently “choked on vitamins.” We later discovered that the baby was actually hypoglycemic (low sugar) because the mother had not been feeding him enough.
The baby is still very small most likely because the high blood pressure was depriving him from essential nutrients he needed but he’s alive and for that we thank God.