True to form all the baby preparations did very little to prepare us all for the actual arrival of these babies who true to baby form did not fulfill any of our expectations for their arrivals, and were cuter then we could have imagined. Some things don’t change no matter where in the world you live.
Our first surprise came when each baby arrived in reverse order (well we are still waiting for the one that was due last month). Exactly two weeks after my friend A. gave birth I heard Claire, our nurse and teammate calling through my window as I did homeschool that M. was in labor.
M. is my hostess with the most-est friend, as a matter of fact with one of her children she was serving tea and food to a large group, stepped in her hut and gave birth all by herself before finishing her duties. We kept joking we were going to miss her labor if we blinked too long. She has taught me to make Sudanese Coffee and often brings by corn or food for us to try and is always attempting to teach me to cook.
Several things about labor concerned this dear woman enough that she tromped down to the local hospital. The first was she was five weeks early (by her calculations), the second was labor to her felt “off” (this is her sixth child). She insisted that Claire leave her birthing supplies at home and walked the long distance to the hospital. I finished schooling the kids and started walking to meet them. En-route I got a call from Claire. M.’s blood pressure was steadily rising and they wanted to transfer her to Paloich (an hour by car) to C section the baby to prevent toxemia BUT they had no fuel for the ambulance.
Nyadeng (my teammate and I) discussed with her husband the different options and hopped on the quad bike to go to the hospital where the plan was for me to be with M. while Nyadeng negotiated with the ambulance driver for fuel using her Arabic and Claire talked to M.’s husband and brought him to the hospital.
I will not tell you many more details about the hospital or our experiences there because I’d rather not remember most of them but I was reminded that medical care is a privilege, not a right.
Three hours later M.’s labor had increased and there was no ambulance driver in sight (he was an hour away). We kept being told he was almost there…come to find out he never left. The roads were muddy the schools truck couldn’t make it so we were here in Melut without access to much of anything to help M. or her baby.
Nyadeng and I headed home to make dinner and bring it back for Claire who was taking BP at regular intervals since all the doctors were off site for lunch. Medication had stabalized her rising BP somewhat and we were feeling hopeful the baby would arrive before toxemia became too bad, it really was the only option without transport to a better facility. Upon returning one of the young girls told us the baby had just arrived. We walked in moments after her birth just in time for Claire to hand me the baby and rush out with Nyadeng to the mom.
God really spared lives that day, M. was seizing and Claire couldn’t find an airway…as they worked on her outside I stood there holding this little baby. I was in the same room I had been in two weeks before, there was blood all over the floor, it was eerily silent and a little girl looked up at me. While chaos abounded outside as they tried to save M.’s life I stood there talking to that sweet little girl. It was almost a half hour before I saw anyone else and that girl just looked up at me with her big beautiful eyes.
Knowing she was early I ran vitals on her and dealt with a few aspirations but it was so healing to hold this little life. I was reminded that God gives us life, and takes it away. I was in awe…I know those of you that have held a newborn know the feeling. I spent that time praying, praying for God to perform a miracle, praying he would spare M.’s life.
God did just that. M. should have died that day, medically there is no way she should have been able to deliver exactly when she needed to in order to save her life (in toxemia the only “cure” is delivery). Baby Claire (named after our amazing amazing teammate) should have had signs of prematurity but is as healthy as can be (PTL we didn’t even have a way to administer increased oxygen), and God reminded me that He is the one that holds life, not medical doctors, procedures, medication or facilities (though he uses those things).
Baby Claire and mom are waiting to come home (they are still stabilizing moms BP) but are walking miracles of God’s grace, just as my friend A. is and the legacy of her son, just as each of us are. May we use this grace He has given us, this life and each breath to Praise His name.
Should you ever need to deliver in a hospital here in Melut bring your own soap to wash any linen you may soil, your own water for bathing, or drinking and be sure and have someone bring you food and a mosquito nets and sheets. A metal bowl to use as a bedpan can also be helpful so you don’t have to squat behind the building into a ditch (no latrine). As far as payment if you and the baby both live you pay a “tip” …. but be warned boys cost twice as much as girls…