I barely started the 4 hours I committed last night to help the short night crew, when the Charge Nurse handed a medical chart and requested if I could see a pregnant female prisoner. Already on her way from her unit. Complaining of increasing contractions and back pain. She was on her later term of pregnancy. 39 ½ weeks to be exact. Anticipating an eminent arrival of a newborn baby, I prepared the Labor and Delivery Kit, a sterilized package that housed the needed things in case she delivered in the jail.
We called for an ambulance. I saw her grimaced as I asked her to try to walk and be transferred to the exam table instead of sitting on the waiting area. So the IV and oxygen could be started. We heard her trying to push.
“Oh no! Don’t push! Try to concentrate on your breathing,” I commanded, as I touched her upper back and reassured her.
“Trying to relax is the best you can do. I know it’s not easy. But you are not fully dilated yet. We’re just waiting for the ambulance so you can get the better care at the hospital.”
“Thank you,” she uttered. As the wave of the painful contractions seemed to have come and gone.
It was her first baby. A baby boy she told me. A baby who was sentenced along with her while inside her womb. After birth, the baby would go to her mother to care for him. As she had to be returned to the prison after and served the rest of her sentence…Few months…To maybe a year. It wasn’t only her. Many women, young as she was, entered the prison. Pregnant…Some wanted the babies. Some opted for abortion… Some trapped with the habits of abusing illegal substances.
“I’m glad you never used street drugs and seldom drank alcohol,” I whispered to her right ear, her back facing me as I continued to coach her with her breathing.
“I hope you’ll get a chance to be out of here to be with your first baby…He is precious,” I added.
She smiled. Alternating with some grimaces. As two paramedics walked in, pushing the guerney and the heavy emergency bag. I started cleaning up the exam room as soon as she left. Thinking how awful it was. That she wasn’t alone in her suffering. But the baby had to face that, too… All I could do was pray. For her and the precious gift God had given her. For her to be able to go home…And be able to make her remember how it would be like…To be a loving mother to her first child…And make that child… BE NOT FORGOTTEN like the other children…Born by their incarcerated mothers…
I prayed…for her to be a loving mother like how God was and always is…to His children…
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. – Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)