At my cabin's cracked door, amidst the non-stopping howl of the sub freezing wind came a plaintive call "Missy". Little Imani, daughter to the camp laundress, could only wave to me to follow her. We stopped at James' shambled cabin, where she plaintively called "James Sir" breathlessly. Trying to out-shout the wind.
At first, James could only stare at we two shivering figures in the darkness. With us scrambling inside, his Pookie merely raised his head off a floor blanket to acknowledge us. "Please, Sir, come", as she pulled at him and me. "Maman needs help".
"Maman" hadn't made her pick-up for 2 days. Eight months pregnant, swollen and slow-moving, she continued to struggle with her camp 'job' to earn some income to supplement her spouse's wages for some fresh water fishing. He would accompany James on those prolonged boating excursions, weather permitting. But the weather was not in any kind permissive mood in recent days, so income was scarce. Research was on hold as air flight was down and land travel relegated to perilous sleigh.
With his team down to only weary Pookie and the inexperienced novice dog, Apple, even our sleigh travel was seriously doubtful. But how to convey this to Imani who looked pleadingly to the few researchers lingering on as the saviors for her stricken mother. I was the clinician, James was my tech support. Hardly a 'crack' team of professionals for a population of indigenous Artic natives with health issues.
Imani pulled at us again. I could only look at James as he steeled himself. Pulling on his heavy duty travel garments, he then harnessed the dogs to the sleigh. We packed what meager supplies we thought we might need. With Imani in tow, we set off into the darkness to her isolated village.
Travelling in blizzard conditions, we reached their shelter. Barely a shelter. Secretly I feared an anticipated imminent childbirth. Local midwives and doulas were usually the norm to 'run the show'. But I was now on my own with only James for my support.
Long buried nursing assessment skills in maternity flooded back easily. But I feared my worst concern was about to become a reality.
This baby was to become a breech ...