Friday, July 06, 2007

Rozzana Rufina

No, I do not have new baby girl and named her after me.

The baby you see here was born on May 2, 2007. Though she's not my daughter, she's named after me. She was born in a barangay hall, and joined the rest of humankind without the aid of a doctor or a midwife. And to me, she's special.

Let me tell you her story.

In the afternoon of that day, we had one of our house to house campaigns that were meant to boost our candidacies in the final stretch of the campaign period. Election day was just barely two weeks away, so we intensified our campaign.

One of those who joined us that afternoon was a lady who was pregnant. She was advised by some of her companions not join, considering her condition, but she insisted that she was fine and that she needed to walk as part of her pre-delivery exercise. Besides, she said, she was just seven months pregnant so she wasn't due to give birth in two more months.

But as fate would have it, she started to have cramps in her belly. She was walking near the barangay hall, so when the pain intensified, she decided to go to the hall to rest. But by the time she got there, she already had contractions.

It was a Sunday, so the barangay office was closed, except for a utility staff. Unfortunately, even the barangay health center was closed. As her contractions intensified, she lay down on a bench in the barangay hall security office, while somebody went out to fetch a midwife.

But as it turned out, the midwife didn;t make it on time to actually deliver the baby. The mother just grunted and groaned and out came the baby girl! The midwife arrived late, but just in time to clean up the baby and check her out, including the mother. A crowd had gathered outside to watch the mother and child.

By this time, I was near the barangay hall shaking hands. One of the people around told me about the birth. Curious, I went to the barangay hall to check the news.

As I entered the barangay hall office, I saw the mother lying on the bench, seeming totally exhausted. The midwife was checking on the baby.

I noticed that the baby was smaller than my baby when he was born nine months before (For the first time after three kids, I was able to join my wife Trina in the delivery room when Enzo was born last year). I voiced out my observation.

The midwife then said that the baby needed to be placed in an incubator since she was born premature. The midwife also said that the mother also needed to be brought to the hospital because she was severely weakened and had high blood pressure.

It was then I realized that an emergency situation was in our hands. A premature baby. A mother with eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnant women). We need to get them to the hospital quick.

Immediately, I ordered all the people milling around to move away to make room for adequate ventilation (typical of Filipino behavior, everybody and everyone crowded to view the scene as if it were a movie set) and space to move around.

I instructed the barangay staff who was there to prepare the barangay ambulance. He sheepishly told me there wasn;t anyone around to drive it and the keys were with the driver who was on his day off.

Without any vehicle around and knowing the urgency of the situation, I decided to bring them to the hospital in my car. But with the house to house campaign we were doing, traffic was at a standstill along the road where the barangay hall was. It took a few minutes before my car was able to pull up to the hall.

We loaded the mother and child into my car, with blood splattering on my car seat and floor, and I told the driver to step on it.

Some of our campaign workers who had their motorcycles with them served as escorts, clearing the way for our "ambulance". My driver, who was probably on adrenaline overdose at that moment,. even almost ran over some pedestrians in his rush. I reminded him to hurry but not be reckless, since I didn;t want another emergency case in my hands. My dad, the senator, who was with us during the house to house sortie, was tailing us in his car.

We intended to bring the mother and child to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa but from where we came from, we had to pass through narrow streets and a very busy public market which woudl tkae time. One of my staff was calling ahead to have the hospital ready to receive us.

I was very much concerned that the baby might suffer from from hypothermia (since she was premature, she wasn;t prepared to be out in the open yet) and the mother might succumb to eclampsia (of course, I learned about how critical eclampsia is since my wife was just pregnant several months before).

The bad news we got was that the Ospital ng Muntinlupa did not have a vacant incubator so they couldn't accept the baby. They could, however, accept the mother.

But she seemed to be getting worse, so we decided to bring her to a medical clinic nearby. AS we brought her into the emergency room, we asked if they could handle her condition. Satisfied with their answer, we turned over the mother to them so they could treat her.

The clinic was private, so my dad stayed with the mother to guarantee that the mother will be treated (as we all know, private medical institutions usually ask for a deposit before they accept a patient, so my dad served as the guarantor).

leaving them behind, we sped away to bring the baby to another hospital. AT that point, the nearest hospital was Asian Hospital. With the baby's life in danger, I decided to bring her there.

We entered the emergency room and I turned over the baby to the ER medical staff.The baby's grandmother was with me, but she didn't have any idea what do or say. The only important information she could give was the mother's name. The hospital staff didn;t know who I was and had puzzled looks on their faces when initially I said the baby wasn't mine. It took a few more minutes for me to explain the whole thing.

Then of course, they uneasily asked the question..."Who will pay for this?" I guess in their minds they were thinking, "this baby of a mother who lives along the railroad tracks is now being admitted in one of the Philipines' only world class hospitals (meaning to say EXPENSIVE) ; who is going to foot the bill?"

I said I will.

So they gave the baby the world class medical attention she needed. Is tayed beside her the whole time until she was stabilized. In the meantime, I was coordinating with my dad via cellphone who was in the other hospital making sure the mother was being treated.

When things settled down and the baby just needed to be observed, I took this picture with my cell phone.

Later on, when the baby was stable, we transferred to the PGH pediatric ICU where she was confined for about two weeks. The other stayed in the other hospital for two days before she was reunited with her baby. Both have since back to their home along the railroad tracks and are doing well.

As I tell this story to other people, many comment that I must have done those things because of my fatherly instinct or even because it was the right thing to do during a campaign (I just stop myself from punching the faces of people who say that).

But what really drove me was the compelling urge to prevent the death of another baby.

I say "another" because in the morning of that day, we were doing our house to house campaign in another community (we did our house to house campaign morning and afternoon), and I came across a wake of a new born baby who died soon after birth.

The wake was being held in the house of the poor family (also living along the railroad tracks). As I viewed the dead baby in his little coffin, an intense sadness came over me at the sight of that little human in a wooden box, instead of being in the loving arms of his parents.

At that time I was also emotional, since I also had a baby but I was missing him and the rest of my children whom I hadn't been with for a long time because of the hectic campaign schedule.

So when the midwife said that the baby's life was at risk since she was prematurely delivered, I told myself that "No, I'm not gonna see another dead baby in a coffin!"

That day was a really bizarre day for me, with a baby's death facing me in the morning and a baby's new life presented to me in the afternoon.

When I got home that night, I gave my sons one of the best hugs I had ever given them.


Cocoa Puffs said...

Hi -

I am a filipino and I live in New Jersey and had a similar experience when I visited the Philippines last December. Please, let's chat, we need to do something for these "railroad babies".

Enrique Carlos

Joanne Andrea said...

You made a great job Congressman Biazon on helping the mother and the infant. You deserved to be named after the baby and I'm really proud that our Congressman, as well as the Senator, really has a helping hand when it comes to those who are needy. Keep up the good deeds! :D

We, MuntinlupaƱos, are supporting you. God Bless :)

J.A. Morales, RN