Sunday, September 25, 2011


We have three more births on Saturday. I wake up and by six there are three women in labor and all the families on the porch watching through the window as I scurry about setting up a third birth room and walk in a circle bringing water, charting and taking vitals. They are all in hard labor and we wait to see who will give birth first. I think to myself " this is hard but I have it under control. " I walk around again. I catch one baby and Marie another and it goes well.

There is pause and number three who is having her first baby does not push. I look at her chart. Her name is Rosealine. It is common to to have an aline at the end of names. I say, "Rosealine" and she opens her eyes. I then witness what I now know as the shaking method of medicine which is if you don't know what's wrong and why, just shake or smack it and it will all turn out. A wide variety of relatives come and yell at her and shake her hard, despite my protests. Then the TBA comes in and thinks a good yelling and shaking will also help and then I scream at all of them and get the baby out- slightly premature and covered in meconeum ( baby's poop) which is not good. I am trying to suction the baby and they decide a good shake of the baby is good for whatever ails it too. But the baby is little and slippery and I am trying to make sure it does not breathe it in. Shake, rub. I say "no". A word they understand. I put the suction back in my mouth and the TBA grabs the babys face and starts to push dimples into its tiny, green face and I become hysterical. I loose all patience. The mother is bleeding so they pounce on her. Rubbing and punching her stomach. I say it is not her utereus. You have to feel and watch- not just grab mothers and babies and utereus's and pound and rub and smack them into existence.

When the bleeding has stopped and the baby is nursing and no longer green, I pick up and walk outside. I think about how frustrated I was. How I just wanted to be alone and take care of the mother and baby without all this yelling and rough treatment. Later I think about how if you could not read and had no books or medicine you would develop customs that might help and if you thought someone might die, it might just help to shake and yell the life back into them and I suppose in the case of babies and moms and utereuses it might have sometimes worked. At least worked better than nothing at all. I feel ashamed and tired.

The TBA brings me warm tea and gives me a kiss. I am so sorry I was not more patient. I show them pictures and try to explain but they think I know some things but not everything and a good smack helps many things. I try to say a good smack doesn't help anything - not really and they look at me but do not believe me.

After all the washing of the laundry, by all the relatives in the back yard, they go home and it is quiet.

The cook has asked for money for some fish and I give her a few dollars and ask to see what the fish look like when she returns. There are six very little fishes. I look down at them and think how will they ever feed all these people. Six little fishes. I watch them eat every part- licking he inside of the heads with joy and satisfaction. I wonder who gets the head as it seems to be a treat.

It is dark by 6:30 and I go to bed.

The moon is a crescent again. I have been here one month; one full cycle of the moon.

1 comment:

  1. This situation is so incredibly difficult--I completely understand why you lost your patience. As much as we want to be respectful of other cultures, that seems unimportant in a life-threatening emergency when people are making your job harder. Lots of prayers and love going out to you! I'm amazed the baby did okay after all of that!