MRS. BLACK FOX (PART 1)
Louise called me at the house during the height of a fierce winter snowstorm. The flurries were thick and heavy, and there were already at least twelve inches on top of the picnic table outside our dining room window.
Louise’s voice sounded pressured. “Dr. Larimore, you need to get over to the birthing suite stat.” Then she hung up.
I quickly rolled out of bed, pulled on my scrubs, a heavy coat, and my snow boots and trudged through the snow down our driveway. The going got easier when I got to the road between our home and the hospital because the road had been cleared of snow by the county crews. It was usually one of the first roads cleared in the county.
The back door to the hospital was just across the street from our little green house, and within minutes I was in the labor area. Maxine met me outside one of the birthing rooms.
“Hi, Dr. Larimore,” she said almost lackadaisically.
“Louise called and said to get over here stat!” I exclaimed.
Maxine was writing on the chart. “Oh, she says that to all the docs. Gets them over here quicker than usual—especially during a snowstorm.”
I was a bit annoyed but made a note to discuss this with Louise later. “What’s up?”
Maxine continued to write as she gave me the patient’s story. “A twenty-two-year-old woman from Cherokee was just sent over. She’s due next week. It’s her first baby, and her prenatal care was unremarkable, other than obesity and type 2 diabetes—controlled with diet. She’s shaped like a bowling ball, short and round. Her great-grandmother, one of the tribal matriarchs, is with her. One bossy woman, if you ask me!”
I hadn’t, but I continued to listen as I took off my coat and sat down.
Maxine continued. “The patient’s nearly completely dilated, just a rim of anterior cervix. Membranes are intact. Her vital signs are normal, and the baby’s heart rate is fine. She’s ready to meet you, but I’m not so sure about her great-grandmother.”
“I don’t think she likes men.”
I smiled at Maxine. “Gives you all something in common,” I kidded.
Maxine looked over her glasses and the chart to glare at me. “One day God’s gonna send us some nice doctors to work with!”
I laughed and walked over to the sink to wash my hands. Then we walked into the patient’s room.
Maxine made the introduction. “Sylvia, this is Dr. Larimore.” Sylvia was lying on her side and just nodded.
“Dr. Larimore, this is Sylvia’s great-grandmother, Mrs. Black Fox.”
I looked at Maxine to see if she was kidding. Apparently, she was not. The ancient woman sitting on the other side of the bed looked to be ninety years old. Her face was wrinkled like a prune, and her disposition seemed to match.
She spoke in a husky voice. “Men are not good in labor. Sylvia needs a midwife.”
I smiled, thinking to myself, Me too! But I refrained and just nodded in the direction of the antique woman. “During this storm, I’m afraid I’m all that’s available. Sorry.” I smiled at her, but she didn’t smile back. Then I looked at the patient. “Sylvia, do you mind if I do a quick exam?”
Sylvia nodded her consent, but Mrs. Black Fox rather harshly commented, “Cherokee midwives tell by looking and listening. No need to touch.”
I looked across the bed at the matriarch, but she looked away—apparently disgusted with me or males or both. I did a quick external exam of the mom’s abdomen. All was fine, except that the baby seemed quite large to me. This baby must weigh nine or ten pounds! I thought to myself. I really wondered if Sylvia’s diabetes had been controlled—diabetics with less than optimal care tend to have oversized babies.
I nodded to Maxine, and she had Sylvia lie on her back. I put on a sterile glove, and Maxine squeezed some warm lubricating jelly onto my pointer and middle finger. I began my internal exam, relating my findings to Sylvia, Maxine, and Mrs. Black Fox. “Sylvia, your cervix is completely dilated and the baby is already heading down the birth canal. The baby’s head is in a good position, but I’d like to rupture your membranes if that’s okay.”
Mrs. Black Fox obviously didn’t think so. She turned to glare at me as she snarled, “Cherokee midwives never rupture water bag. It let in bad spirits.” She turned her head away again.
“Sylvia, it’s your call.”
Sylvia didn’t answer. I was quiet for a moment. “Sylvia, what do you want to do?”
She was quiet. Suddenly I realized I was putting her in the terrible position of having to choose between a doctor she didn’t know—a male one at that—and her great-grandmother’s authority in the tribe. “Tell you what, Sylvia. I think your great-grandmother is right. I certainly do not have to rupture the membranes. Okay?”
Sylvia, for the first time, both smiled and nodded.
Within just a few contractions, the baby’s head was down the birth canal and was beginning to separate her labia with each contraction. Like many Cherokee women, Sylvia was quiet during the contractions—barely breathing more heavily, or perhaps furrowing her brow when the pain was at its peak.
“Maxine, let’s set up to have a baby.”
As Maxine prepared to convert the birthing suite’s labor bed into a birthing bed, I stepped into the hall to scrub my hands. When I entered the room, Sylvia was in position for delivery. I put on a sterile gown and gloves and turned to my patient as she began to push.
“Mrs. Black Fox,” I said, “if you’d like to come stand by Sylvia, you’re welcome.”
She glared at me. I took that as a Thanks, but no thanks, Buster!
Louise, having been called by Maxine, joined us in the room, turned on the warmer above the baby crib, and began to prepare the layette for the baby. At the next contraction, Maxine helped Sylvia sit up and coached her pushing. Slowly the baby’s head began to appear.
During this stage of the delivery, I would usually just watch— hands off. The Designer of all design—the Master Physician himself—usually did not need help at this point.
This moment just before birth was for me one of the most miraculous of all. Those who believed that life just evolved and was only the product of time and chance could not have seen the delivery of a newborn or examined a just delivered little baby.
To me, both the delivery itself and the newborn baby were creations of the highest order.
As Sylvia pushed, the water bag began to emerge, and then it suddenly ruptured. The clear fluid looked completely normal. Then the head began to come into view. Looks kinda big, I thought—not realizing this would be the first sign of the disaster to come.
As more and more of the head appeared, I realized, This is going to be one big baby!
TO BE CONTINUED
PAST STORIES FROM BRYSON CITY SEASONS
- Dead Man Standing (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3)
- Eyes Wide Open (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Auspicious Accidents (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Answered Prayers (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), (Part 4)
- Rotary Luncheon
- Death by Emotion (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), (Part 4)
- The Invitation (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Barbecue and Bacon (Part 1), (Part 2)
- A Touchy Subject
- Family Time (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Chicken Pops(Part 1), (Part 2)
- Swain County Football (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Hospital Politics (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3)
- The Bobcat Attacks (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Dungeons and Apples
- A Tale of Two Surgeons (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3)
- Tanned Feets (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3)
- Wise Counsel (Part 1), (Part 2)
- An Anniversary to Remember (Part 1), (Part 2)
- Mrs. Black Fox (Part 1), (Part 2)
PAST STORIES FROM BRYSON CITY TALES
- The Murder (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Arrival (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Hemlock Inn (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Grand Tour (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Interview (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Settling In (Part 1); (Part 2)
- First-Day Jitters (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Emergency (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Delivery (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The “Expert” (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Trial (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Shiitake Sam (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina; (Part 2); (Part 3); (Part 4)
- White Lies
- The Epiphany (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Monuments (Part 1); (Part 2)
- My First Home Victory (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fisher of Men (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Something Fishy (Part 1); (Part 2)
- A Good Day at the Office
- An Evening to Remember
- Another New Doc Comes to Town
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1); (Part 2)
- A Surprising Gift
- The New Year (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Home Birth (Part1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Showdown (Part1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Initiation (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Home at Last (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.