This morning I was awakened to the gentle calling of my teammate Claire as she rapped on our door to tell me that J. had come to get her as my friend Rhoda. was in labor. I really love my friend Rhoda and have been quite concerned about the birth of her baby. Her pregnancy was one that really highlighted that here it is just “wait and see”. The baby wasn’t moving as it should, she was four weeks past due (by her calculations…at least) and she had “low blood”. She’s had pregnancy and early child complications in the past so this had Claire concerned but without any diagnostic abilities the “wait and see” approach had us all on our knees in the past few weeks, and months.
I have shed tears with this woman of worry and spent a lot of time sitting still in the unknown. This pregnancy for her came on the heels of losing one of her twins and the emotional journey united us a bit despite our language barrier…we’ve prayed a lot together.
This was a very different experience then the other two births, mainly because it was so simple and happened at home. When I arrived the Dinka midwife and Claire were present along with some GTC ladies. My friend Julia stopped in and told me she knew Rhoda was having the baby when she saw me out so early in the morning (my white skin out of my normal routine is like a herald for something happening).
When I arrived Rhoda was saying her waters had not yet come but the pain was not stopping. This was concerning to Claire but Rhoda continued to labor at home. I sat outside and chatted with several of the ladies, and called my teammate Nyadeng to let her know that the waters still hadn’t broke. One of the ladies served me tea and I tried to decide if I should stay or go.
At this point Claire called out that the baby was coming and to come in and grab a pair of gloves. I cannot describe the relief that washed over me when I saw that little boy, screaming his way out of mommy, even with the cord around his neck. Little boy had come, healthy, crying and safe. If I had my camera at this point (instead of partially put on gloves) I wish I could have captured moms relief and joy at the sound of her son. It was literally breathtaking.
The tukul had one lightbulb hanging from the ceiling and on a bed without a mattress Rhoda gave birth to her son, she did it like a Sudanese woman, laboring without a sound, outside her community awaited the cry of the baby then all rushed in to see. I brought a cup and she used it to blow into (which she believes helps deliver the placenta). Viola held that little baby while they cleaned mom and he squirmed and squealed while they washed up mommy and prepared her to meet her son.
It is not custom here to announce the sex of the baby so dad heard maybe 30 minutes after birth he discovered he had a healthy son.
J ran up to the “store” for me and gathered what I will bring over for a “baby gift”, it is customary here to bring coffee for the mom to help her as she hosts all her visitors after baby. I also had him get some candy which will be on a dish to offer others as they celebrate his arrival.
The Bakhoor was burning during delivery and will continue to bring sweet smells with the joy and hope each visitor celebrates that this baby brings.
All three used to be pregnant woman sat together in the mud hut drinking coffee a few hours after deliver. R.’s eyes stayed fixed on her baby M.’s laughter echoed off the mud walls as they chatted about labor pains and my friend A. struggled through waves of grief joy, often hitting her emotional bank simultaneously as she listened. New life evokes such a myriad of emotions, joy, laughter, worry, grief, and it always seems to usher in hope.
Praising God for His hand on this mommy and baby and for the privilege of witnessing such a miracle.
Minutes Old 🙂