So there I was, in the middle of a dinner out with my husband and friends, when the jail phone rang. I didn't know of any inmates due soon, so was a little surprised. When I answered, the nurse informed me that they had an inmate being induced right away. She had just been transferred there from another county a few days before, and we had never met with her. I quickly finished my dinner and ran home to get my bag and change, and then headed to the hospital. When I got there I went to the room, presented my badge to the deputy, and then introduced myself to the inmate and told her what I was there for. She was immediately greatful that someone was there for her. She was so scared and felt so alone. She wanted her mother and had always thought that she would be with her when she gave birth to this baby girl.
She had been given Stadol and the nurse had just started pitocin. Her contractions picked up right away and she was in pain. I sat there talking to her, about her baby and her family, about who would care for her baby while she was in jail, about her fears...there were many...and her hopes for her future. The talking helped ease some of her anxiety, but not her pain, and she was ready for an epidural. She cried often, said she felt like she was going to die, said that she wanted her mother. She asked me to promise that I would stay and hold her hand while she got the epidural and I did. I cried myself, for her, when the anesthesiologist told me that I had to leave the room (hospital policy). I felt like I had let her down, and in some ways I had even though it wasn't my fault.
Soon after the epidural was given, baby's heartrate dipped drastically and continued to do this. The doctor made the call to stop the pitocin for the time being to let the baby rest and hopefully improve. I encouraged her to sleep then, but she was too overwhelmed with emotions, so we just talked until the sun came up.
Early Saturday morning Sydnie Arnold came to relieve me and to be with the inmate for her birth. She was still contracting and eventually they did restart the pitocin and baby seemed to tolerate it better. Sydnie spent time calming her and encouraging her to stay focused and positive for her baby's sake. This was not easy to do as she was so distraught about the situation that she was in, having her baby while in jail with no family or friends there to share in this joyous occaision. Sydnie did the best that she could, not trying to replace these people, but letting her know that we cared about her and were there for her. It did not take long once things got started, and it didn't take long for her to push her tiny baby out in to the world. Although she weighed only 5pds 1oz and was 19 inches long, she was perfectly healthy and just precious. Sydnie spents several hours after the birth helping the inmate bond and care for the baby. As we always do, Sydnie discussed the benefits of breastfeeding for the few days that they have together, but she was not at all interested in trying, so she shared other ways of bonding with her newborn baby girl.
The next day Sydnie returned to do a postpartum visit. Baby girl was in the NICU because she was not keeping any of her formula feedings down. Much to Sydnie's surprise the inmate had agreed to try breastfeeding to see if that was easier for baby to keep down, and it seemed to be working! She was now feeding every 3 hours and keeping most of it down. Sydnie spent time with both the baby in the NICU and the inmate in her room. She told the inmate that we would try to come out one more time before she went back to the jail.
On Monday I went back out to visit them. By then baby was rooming in, no more NICU, and she was still breastfeeding, had given baby a bath, and had spent the whole night snuggling and loving on her baby girl!
I had brought with me 2 preemie outfits and she was so excited to be able to dress her in clothes that actually fit! She put one outfit on and we took pictures and then changed her into the other outfit for more pictures. She was so excited that she would have these pics while in jail and thanked me many times for not only the pictures, but for all that we had done for her. Although she knew what the near future holds for her and her baby, we spent time talking about long term goals and how she was going to make a better life for herself and her beautiful baby girl.
I told her that we would see her again next week when we were at the jail to teach, and that I would mail her pictures to her as soon as possible. She said that she would be waiting for us when we came and thanked me many more times. We hugged goodbye and I walked out of the hospital room and drove back home to my children...wondering the entire way about how long it would be again before she would go home to her baby girl.