by Michelle Kiprop, FNP, serving in Kenya
I don’t have a picture of her, there just was not time to take one. Jesca is 42-years old, but her eyes look older than that. She came to me 33 weeks pregnant with her 6th child. It was her 7th pregnancy, she had lost a baby along the way. She shared that ten days ago her water had broken. Let me repeat that–TEN DAYS ago her water had broken. She had been passing blood clots since then, but had not gone into labor.
My heart sank… I thought to myself, “this won’t be my first fetal demise, but I sure wish it could be my last.” My gut said that the baby had probably already died a few days ago; and, for whatever reason, her body was refusing to let it go. I told her that we would do a quick ultrasound scan, exam, and then write a referral to get her appropriate treatment at the hospital.
After putting the ultrasound probe on her abdomen we saw something unexpected, the baby’s heart was beating! Slowly, but beating! We confirmed that there was virtually no amniotic fluid inside the uterus. It was a miracle that this baby still had a heartbeat; and that Jesca didn’t have a raging infection, given the history. But with the frequent episodes of the heart rate decelerating, she needed to deliver quickly.
As I reviewed her forms, I realized that she had not had enough money to get adequate prenatal care. The government clinic had ordered lab tests, but she didn’t have the money to get them done. She had waited these 10 days to seek help because she had nothing she could make a payment with. Her husband was with her. There was a desperation in his eyes. Neither of them had a phone. It’s one of the most basic things here: everyone has a phone since no contracts are needed, and there are many cheap, burner-style models readily available. But neither of them could afford one.
We placed our hands on Jesca’s belly and prayed for her and the baby. Then we activated an emergency referral, and provided resources for transportation to the hospital an hour away. And then we waited. This was one of those times where I wasn’t sure if we would ever know the outcome. Especially given that there was no phone number to call and follow up. But the next day Jesca’s husband was in my office. With tears in his eyes, he kept repeating, “I thank God for you. I thank God for you. They are both alive.” Jesca delivered a baby girl through an emergency C-section.
Michelle Kiprop is a family nurse practitioner and MedSend grant recipient who has served in Kenya since 2007. She is the Executive Director of Hope Matters International, the organization she co-founded with her husband, William. Read more about Michelle here.
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