On December 7, 2020, Maternal and Child Health staff worked together to safely deliver a baby girl in modular 5 at the Department of Health’s Interim Health Center in Estate Richmond. Babies born in this generation can’t say they were born at Charles Harwood, also known as the “old hospital,” but this special baby will have a unique birth story to tell. Midwife Makeda Kamara shares her account of the joyous day:
A Day in the Life of a Community Midwife and Public Health Nurse
“On my way to the clinic on December 7, 2020 I received a text message from Assistant Head Nurse Jacqueline Canton to see if I was coming in. I told her I had a mini problem at home and had been delayed but I was near. A few minutes later, I arrived at the DOH trailers, proceeded to the clinic and forgot my briefcase in my car. I turned to retrieve it and Nurse Canton yelled, ‘come in, we’ll get it.’ ‘Hmm,’ I thought, ‘Something is up.’ She gave me a report on the way to trailer #5. One of my ladies arrived at the clinic in active labor. She was wired. I laughed. It’s such a joy to see a woman in her primal state totally unaware of her labor. Those are the joyous deliveries. She said she’d been contracting all night but didn’t think it was the real deal. She walked from the John F. Kennedy Housing Community to our clinic– her safe space to be checked. I proceeded to calm her down recognizing she was in transition and in a primal state. She was concerned that she was not prepared. She said, ‘Everything is not in place. I’m not ready.’ I responded, ‘you have all that you need.’”
“She continued to labor and I told her, ‘you’re ready ‘cause it’s happening.’ She called her partner to come with their still young baby. She wanted him there. I proceeded to check her strip as she was on the monitor – very reactive. I told her what an old OB sage told me a long time ago, ‘you can’t have a good baby and a problem baby at the same time.’ I took off the monitor to give her more ability to control her movement desires after her exam. She was full with a bulging bag of water and +2 station. I informed all present (Nurse Canton and CNA Narcisse) that we’re about to catch the baby here. She’ll have the baby before the ambulance arrives or on the way from our office to the ambulance. I carry birthing supplies in my car. As an old school midwife, I’m always prepared. One never knows what will happen. A colleague went and retrieved the suitcase from the car as we prepared for the impending birth. She complained of feeling like having a bowel movement. I told her, ‘it’s the baby…you can push if you feel like it.’ After a couple of pushes she was in her zone and ‘Voila!’ We had a natural waterbirth of a baby girl born in the bag at 10:05 a.m. to the maternal abdomen with hefty, healthy cries. I delayed cord cutting so that the baby could be adequately perfused as it transitioned from the womb to the outside world as I started to assist in the clean-up of the room. The father cut the cord and the baby was on its own suckling away at her mom’s breasts as we delivered the placenta. It was a very nice birth and a healing one for the mother.”
Assistant Head Nurse Jacqueline Canton is always on the ball. CNA Narcisse is a kind, gentle soul and caregiver to all. Maternal Child Health staff did what we do – – loving our families as we try to provide woman-centered care and promoting humanized birth. Additional staff that assisted with the delivery included Family Care Coordinator Anna Browne who held the mother’s toddler until the delivery was completed and Data Entry Clerk Elisa Carmona who brought supplies to the area as needed to avoid nurses moving out of the delivery area.
The baby’s mother expressed her gratitude and shared, “The nurses and my midwife were my support team and the entire office assisted in making sure everything turned out perfect and I’m forever grateful. I didn’t expect to give birth there nor that day. However, thanks to my midwife, the nurses, and the office staff’s swift actions I was able to give birth safely and I’m forever grateful.”