Pujale! Pujale! (Push! Push!)
That was all I could say as I sat at the foot of the bed waiting for the baby to come out. This was my first delivery where I was gowned up and receiving the baby. I had seen many deliveries and I made sure I knew what I was doing before agreeing to deliver. There were other interns in the room making sure I was doing everything correctly and talking to the mother who was screaming something in Spanish. I felt odd not being able to communicate with the mother who was in crying in pain. I wanted to do more than just encourage her to push. But did she even register what I was saying? Did she care that I couldn’t speak any Spanish? Did she know that I had never delivered a baby?
As these thoughts ran through my head, one of the interns watching over me said that she needed an episiotomy. Panic struck for a brief second before I reached for the lidocaine. I made sure the baby was protected as I performed the episiotomy. Soon after, the baby’s head was out, followed by the anterior shoulder as I pulled the baby down. And just like that, with fluids gushing, the baby was out. I grabbed the suction bulb to suction and clamped the umbilical cord to cut it before handing the baby off to the nurse.
I sat there pulling on the cord, as the nurse and other interns were attending the baby. The placenta delivered without any difficulty. After making sure that all of the clots were out, I repaired the episiotomy. I was very careful not to mess up the repair because I had heard horror stories of poorly repaired episiotomies. The Obstetrician on call approved the repair before I finished.
As the new mother was waiting to be moved to the recovery room, I gave her the baby so she could hold him. She said, “Gracias,” with the happiest smile. Again, I wished I could communicate with her and say more than just congratulations.
It was an amazing feeling to bring a new baby into this world but it was hampered by the fact that I could not communicate with the mother. The entire delivery probably could be done with zero communication. Somehow, it didn’t seem right. We connect with other people and patients through communication. Perhaps verbal communication is not always necessary but at that moment I really wished I knew Spanish.