Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Postpartum Death of Ho Chi Minh's Mother

Hoang Thi Loan, mother of Ho Chi Minh

The young boy was out of breath from the bike ride home from school. Although he was the smallest he was able to maneuver his bike, careful to miss the holes left by last years rainy season. His friends stopped to swim but he was in a hurry to get home.  His mother had just had a new baby and his father was away teaching in another town. He needed to get water for her and make sure the coals under the bed were keeping her warm.  His father had asked him to be of particular help to his mother and new brother.  He had waited outside when the midwife came and had heard the baby’s first cry.  The midwives had even asked him to dig a hole by a tree for the afterbirth.

But when he arrived at his house, his mother was not moving and the baby was crying.  He tried to shake his mother but she would not wake up.  The little boy, who would one day lead his country’s struggle for independence, picked up the baby and ran to get help.  Though the neighbors tried everything they could, she died and the baby only lived a few months longer. 

It is hard to know, so many years later, why she died. As I read the stories that have been passed down I wonder.  It would seem that perhaps she died of a  long, slow post partum hemorrhage.   Her husband was in another village working and there does not sound like her family was near by.  Even now, midwives and doctors do not all do home visits on mothers and babies.   There are many simple things to do to stop a slow, late postpartum hemorrhage.  There are ways to stop the bleeding through direct pressure and massage and  by making sure the bladder is empty.  Many foods and plants can be used to stop bleeding and now there are effective, inexpensive medications such as misoprostol.   All the things that would have made it possible for Ho Chi Minh to grow up with his mother and youngest baby brother; all the things that would have made things different for him and all the children who loose a mother in childbirth.

Almost every minute, it is estimated that a woman dies a pregnancy related death.  These children, like Ho, lives are forever altered. 

Ho Chi Minh went on, not to only be a revolutionary leader, but to be the symbol of affection and care for the children of Vietnam.  His picture, holding children, singing with children, listening to children hang throughout Vietnam.  Although he had no children of his own, it seems he became the mother he lost to Vietnam’s children and is affectionately known as Uncle Ho.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this... my eyes fill with tears for the many children who have lost their mothers, their earliest bond with the world, so young, so young...