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Journal from Libya: Part 3

In celebration of National Midwifery Week, Medelita presents daily entries from the journal of Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM, an American midwife recently in Libya during the ongoing revolution. May 8, 2011 7:08am In Misuratah, Libya, I sit on the marble patio of the beautiful house we are staying in and listen to the sounds of people waking up. It is cool and I am thankful for the sweater that I put on. Roosters crow in the periphery and a light breeze wafts north-eastward. It would be a peaceful place to have my morning quiet time, but I hear shelling in the distance. Black billows of smoke from the flaming city diesel reserve blow in the sky over the house. I wonder to myself how many of those parachuted mines dropped into the city last night and who will find them today and in the weeks to come. I yawn. Plans, nerves and sleeping on a blanket on the floor hinder normal sleep. Another five staff arrived yesterday with pharmacy stock. We were supposed to find another house for our team, but have not been successful so far as the city citizens are now moving north as the fighting line moves south. With 22 of us now, there are five in my room and it is cozy. Really, who can complain, though when the townspeople are 5-6 families in home? I debate with myself whether I post this for people to see since my family is likely to read it and be nervous. The project is with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and we are trying to help the city maximize maternity and pediatric services in the new, too-small facility that they have found themselves in since last Saturday. They moved main services twice due to heavy shelling and finally landed in a small hospital with 18 beds. In this culture, women are accustomed to going to the hospital to deliver, but due to difficulty in movement and security, many are delivering at home with their frightened female relatives. Imagine if, all of a sudden, American women were forced to face shelling or have their babies home or both! High rates of previous c-sections increase the risk for many. In the hospital, where the staff have shown remarkable resilience and ingenuity, they deliver sometimes 20+ patients a day using two labor beds and two delivery beds. Sometimes we don’t have a place for a woman to go after she gets off the delivery table and she has to sit in a chair for a bit before we discharge her. Today, some volunteer engineers start moving containers onto the hospital lot to increase our capacity. We plan to move the outpatients to bungalows outside and to hopefully open up new beds for our patients. We would also like to have a place to put post-op patients where we can keep a better eye on them. Pharmacy order needs organizing into a useable pharmacy…lots to do today. Better go look for some breakfast…have a lovely, safe day! Becky Carlton, BSN, CNMMedelita Guest Blogger: Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM. Becky is currently working as the Midwifery Dean at Gimbie Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia. Becky has been doing missionary work for many years, with such organizations as the Peace Corps and Doctors without Borders (MSF).