OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

What’s in a name?

           I was basking in my glory this week on the postnatal ward at Lewanika General Hospital.  Labour and delivery and postnatal are two areas of nursing I am very passionate about.  On Monday I met a little guy I fell in love with.  He had a difficult birth and wasn’t breathing when he came into the world.  He needed to be resuscitated and was oxygen deprived for an unknown amount of time.  He was put into an incubator in the “special care” area of the postnatal ward for close observation, routine medication administration and IV fluid.  When I was first introduced to him, he was struggling to breathe and was very pale (a sign that he wasn’t getting enough oxygen), even with oxygen on in the incubator.  He was unable to regulate his temperature, had poor tone and no sucking reflex. I was very concerned for his well being.  The baby’s fourteen-year-old mother and grandmother were reluctant to get close with the baby.  If there is any reason to believe that a baby may not survive, the mother will try not to develop too much of a personal attachment.  Once I realized how sick the baby was I decided that he shouldn’t be alone while I had the time to sit with him, so I planted myself in the “special care” area and held the little guy, rocking him and doing my best to keep him comfortable.  Eventually I was able to encourage the mother and grandmother to come spend some time with the baby.  I tried to explain the severity of the issue.  I asked the baby’s mother if she had any questions for me and she asked me if her son would be okay.  I told her that I wasn’t sure, but that he was very sick.  It was hard to tell them something like that.  I wanted to give her any hope I could, but I didn’t feel hopeful.  As the day progressed, the four of us spent more and more time together, taking turns rocking the young baby.  I asked her what she was thinking of calling the baby.  She then asked me what my name was and then said she liked my name.  I didn’t understand what she was saying, but she explained that she wanted to name her sweet baby boy after me.  I was overjoyed and completely flattered.  What an honor it was. 

           When I left that day it was bittersweet.  I was excited that a baby would have my name, but I was also worried for the baby’s health.  I thought about him and his family a lot that night.  Then next morning when I went in I was pleased to see that he looked much better.  His colour was better, he had better tone and was more active.  Each day since the first, little Megan seems to be improving.  I believe that it will be a long recovery from his traumatic birth, but I think he’s got some good fight in him. 

Megan H
            

One Response to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Unknown

    Dear Students, Teachers,

    This will be my fourth try to post this comment, so I hope it sticks this time. Not a hardship compared to your walks in the sand, or to those especially of your Zambian sisters and brothers. Thank you for sharing your stories and your hearts – it is a gift to follow this journal and see what this journey means to each of you. We all wish you safe travels during the rest of your Zambia work and as you return home.

    Take care,

    Patricia Marck, Director, UBCO School of Nursing

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