Monday, March 14, 2011

Crash course in Birthing

We are working hard to learn Bambara. And I thought maybe combining my need to learn Bambara with my desire to help women and learn some midwifery skills might be a good idea. And so the following story was 'born'.

I was called at midnight by a local midwife to find out if I wanted to assist her with a delivery. I had previously explained that I was interested in womens health and delivery. So I decided to go. When I arrived the woman was six centimeters and was laboring outside. Shortly after she was tired and went in to lay down.


When it came time to check her again the midwife handed me a glove and said, OK, go ahead. Hold on, I was not expecting that. But I guess that is the only way to learn. So sure, I checked. Knowing how much these checks hurt when you are in labor, I felt a head and that was good enough for me. She asked how many centimeters I thought she was. When I responded I had no idea, but I felt the head, she just laughed. She was 7 cm at that point.

This is a very small clinic. Aparantly women go there that do not want a hospital experience. So I was expecting more of what our culture calls a home birth or birthing center experience. It was not so. There was no one there to encourage this woman. Her husband waited outside. An other woman came, but only to clean up after her. It is the families responsibility to clean out bed pans, puke buckets and throw the placenta in the outhouse. She was told to keep her legs in one spot but no one held them for her. Finally I went and held one leg in place, so she didn't have to work so hard on that part. When the head was out the midwife pulled the baby the rest of the way out. I became VERY light headed and felt faint. (Unexpected) I think it was mostly from the roughness of it all. After that she quickly cut the cord and sucked out the babies nose. She then pulled out the placenta. There was no putting the baby on moms tummy, or waiting for nature to take it's course. I was surprised and a bit bothered by how much intervention there was. The baby was weighed and taken out to the family. I don't think the mom ever saw him or was told he was a boy.



This photo was taken after I took a seat. I really thought I might faint and I have NEVER in my life felt that close to fainting. My legs were weak and trembling and my heart was pounding. It was a very strange experience. I think it came from understanding a bit of her pain, and feeling for her that she had no one on her side so to speak. It felt very lonely and joyless. I prayed for her a lot and wondered what I could do to bring some comfort and joy to the birthing rooms in Kadiolo. Or is that even my place?


I wondered at first if this little guy was even alive, but after sucking out his nose and slapping him around a bit, he made a little sound. I think he is a healthy little boy and despite the difficulty of the experience for me, I am thankful for his little life. Praise God, the creator of LIFE!

8 comments:

MaryLou said...

Dear Girl!!! I couldn't just check of interesting, because it is such an understatement! I was waiting to hear what happened! Did Jeff tell you that Joan and I called last night? She wants to learn to Skype, so we saw that you were online (we were driving home from George's memorial}. He said you had gone to a delivery! WOW...God is stepping up your learning curve! Think how much you can teach them!!!

Debbra Pickard said...

Oh, Heidi, you have so much to offer them in this. I know the women would appreciate your being there and maybe introducing a little of the more gentle way of birth. Have to be careful not to step on their traditions but please try to include some loving support for both mother and baby.

Deborah said...

Thanks for sharing Heidi! Will you be going back again?

heidibelle said...

Thanks for your comments. I am very afraid to step on toes but I will pray for opportunities to suggest gentler methods. Maybe even pull up some birth videos to watch with the midwife sometime. I do intend to go again when she calls me. She only does about 1-2 deliveries a week. We'll see...

Papa said...

Oh Heidi, Wow! I'm so glad you were there to support and pray for the mother and for her little one.

Jonathan said...

Heidi,
Holy cow, this is a crazy experience. You are so brave and I am sure you had a lot of empathy for her bc you have done it yourself 5 times. And we thought it was rough in France...hee hee..Only having one pillow really did feel like suffering at the time. I have heard that there are a lot of interventions here with child birth as well, which is surprising.
mandy

Jeff said...

Wow! Amazing story sis. We will be praying for wisdom for you in how to minister to these women. Proud of you.

FlowerMomma said...

I am a friend of Shari Vermeulen. She shared your blog with me because I am apprenticing as a homebirth midwife here in Michigan. Reading this brought tears to my eyes and I will be praying that you would be encouraged and shown ways to support and love these women and their babies and bring education about healthy birth practices to the midwives at the clinic! I am learning so much in Midwifery school right now, if there is anyway that I can support you with research, information, or videos etc. Please let me know!