Written by Pradeepa Sekar
I asked my 100th patient of the day, a pregnant woman with a charming face about how she was doing. And she let out a long sigh and said I am well. We both looked into each other’s eyes for a moment and burst out laughing at our hidden truths. It was our antenatal day, when pregnant women from the 20 villages our PHC serves and many from other neighbouring villages come in for their monthly checkups. It is one of the most chaotic days at the PHC (with footfall of hundred patients) for both the staff and our patients yet such sweet moments are what brings us respite. It is funny to see this army of women, carrying life in their bellies, walk about without any idea of their greatness. A woman came, head held high, mustering all her strength and demanded for Injectable Iron.
It is funny to see this army of women, carrying life in their bellies, walk about without any idea of their greatness. A woman came, head held high, mustering all her strength and demanded for Injectable Iron.
I admired her confidence and hoped that her hemoglobin levels matched the clinical criteria for injectables. But it wasn’t so and with a heavy heart, I tried to convince her that she didn’t require these injections as her levels were normal and advised her to take nutritious food and the daily medications. As her face fell, my heart sank. Some of the other women murmured amongst themselves about how injectables aren’t given in this PHC. I patiently explained to them the basis of giving injectables and the importance of good food habits in maintaining one’s health. They listened intently yet I knew this wasn’t a battle that I could win today.
Another woman walks in, pregnant for the 4th time, hoping that it would finally be a boy this time. I asked her what she would do if she were a girl. She laughs uproariously saying she can’t do this anymore and I join in as well, subtly also advising her to do family planning.
As We laugh, a woman pregnant for the first-time stares wide eyed wondering about her own moment of delivery. Even as we laugh, we both wonder if she can make her own choice when the time comes. Through the chaos, one can spot a few men, quietly offering their support to wives or sisters. They carry the blood reports, enquire if ultrasonography has to be repeated and solemnly ask if the mother and baby are well. One such father, expecting his first child, asked if he could hear the baby’s heartbeat and it felt like words of promise to the three of us in the room.
It is an honour to take a peek into their lives, to watch them have conversations about their pregnancies, relate to one another, and take care of each other. It is a tiring day, but we take time out to discuss lipsticks, earrings, marriages and husbands.