Part 2: Pucallpa Land

Posted on May 10, 2010

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Part 2: Pucallpa Land

“This is where I started to panic”

At this point it was still only Mayra and I. We went to a little room in the hospital where they immediately put her on a stretcher. This is where I started to panic. The hospital system in Peru is different than what I am used to. Luckily, this was probably my 6th time in one since our trip started (it was… a crazy trip) so I was familiar with the fact that things are done differently. The doctor gives you a list of medicines/materials and you go to the pharmacy outside and pay for them. Being that I was alone, dealing with a screaming pregnant woman, lost in linguistic never-ever-land, I was getting overwhelmed. Most importantly, I wished my brother were there because if that baby were coming soon it would be a great shame he miss it.

I managed to buy the things we needed so Mayra could get an IV. Then they wheeled her to another, more spacious, room. At this point I had tears running down my cheeks from the confusion. She was drugged, asking where Eric was, and I didn’t know what to do or what was happening. I just knew she had no one so I had to be that person (even though I just met her two weeks earlier). I had to remain supportive.

After 30 minutes or so I was calming down. It turns out that, again being completely lost in translation, they were not going to do the C-section right then. So while I didn’t really know what was going on, there was time to breathe. And then Eric, Luz, and James came walking through the door. What a relief! I started crying all over again in sheer joy that everybody was going to be together.

Here is a cultural sidenote: a very high number of pregnant women elect to have C-sections in Peru. Why? They are often persuaded by the hospital since it is cheaper and easier for the hospital to do a C-section than having women stay for hours, sometimes days, with contractions until finally the baby naturally decides to come out.

It is also odd, at least through my eyes, that Mayra was given the option of having a C-section. She was only 7 ½ months pregnant, her water hadn’t broken, she was only a centimeter dilated, and the contractions had just started. They can last for a long time- sometimes a week! And more so, there was no reason to have a C-section.  My impression of C-sections were that they were performed when the health of the mother or baby was at risk. I never thought of people “electing” to have them. I’m sure they do in the states, and it is probably becoming even more common, but to me it seems off. In Peru, however, women overwhelmingly choose to have C-sections. Mayra followed suit.

My brother was very disappointed that Mayra wanted the C-section. After all, he had brought us on this trip in the first place so she could have a natural birth in an indigenous Shipibo village with an experienced midwife. This was the absolute furthest thing he had imagined. But it was what happened. Atma Lluvia Ganesha Budd Rodriguez was born around 11 pm, February 26th and immediately wheeled to a respirator. For being premature, she was very healthy and strong. Mayra was well, Atma was well, so despite the hesitations going in, it was a beautiful time for the family.

Atma Lluvia Ganesha Budd Rodriguez

Since we could not see or hold Atma, we (James, Luz, and I) decided to go get food and bring some back for Eric.

We got a taxi, went to the center of Pucallpa, and treated ourselves to a delicious meal. Then we got something to take back to Eric. James was in an odd mood, very tired, and wanted to go back to the hostel. Luz and I said we’d take the food to Eric.

Part of the reason I spent so much time documenting my experience earlier in the hospital with Mayra is so right now you would understand my mental state. It had been a very emotionally taxing day and I was completely out of it. I had no idea what time it was and my mind was still racing from all the events that had happened. If it had been a normal day and my head wasn’t wrapped up, I doubt I would have made the next move.

View from our hostel

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