Come On Baby
A dear friend of mine here in Papua is Fiona. We get along well for many reasons. One of our common loves is nursing. Fiona is an excellent midwife and she is great teacher. So every opportunity I get, I soak up her knowledge. This summer, before I left on furlough, we worked together on some really challenging cases and I think we both trust each other professionally and with personal things, like our kids!
So imagine us, last Saturday evening talking about an upcoming National birth. Fiona invited me to come along and “help” her. I was instantly captivated. However, I had been complaining to Darron earlier of how frazzled I was. So I knew that I needed his permission and that he often can help me with boundaries that sometimes I don’t know how to set for myself. Of course I brought it up on the way home and Darron did not think it was a good idea. Disappointed I asked him to sleep on it. Sunday morning we were out on a jog and I brought it up again. To which he remarked that he thought it would only stretch me too far and I would be grumpy. I told him that I thought it would invigorate me and asked that if everything lined up right (i.e. little boys home schooled for the day and my responsibilities taken care of) if I could go???? He gave a reluctant, “Yes”. I share this not to cast Darron in a light of controlling me, because that is not how our relationship works. I think it is more out of a trusted respect for each other. Honestly, most of the time he doesn’t mind at all what I do…..but in this situation it could mean his involvement as births can be so unpredictable.
The week rumbled, rushed, roared….. on.
Thursday it was decided that we would drive to JayaPura. An hour and a half away. To try and get Aubrey’s drivers license. This would be at least a 3/4 day excursion. A pastor from PNG joined us, as he needed to do some shopping. We dropped Andrew at school and the 3 remaining boys and I crammed in the back seat. Our 1 1/2 hour drive turned into 2 hours, twisting roads, unsupportive seat. We arrived at the police station tired. Sitting outside on wooden benches, I was in no mood to home school the younger boys, even though I brought their books along. We just sat, while Darron and Aubrey began the process. Unfortunately, they did not issue him a drivers license, but fortunately they did issue him a motor cycle license. They did not change his age and were quite quick about getting it all in order (one hour) and also not charging us bribe fees. While they were in the middle of the process my phone rings. Its Fiona. Baby is on the way. The parents live in a village outside of JayaPura. Oh….imagine that! I’m already in the city I need to be in. My hopes begin to soar. I’ve got a feeling this is all going to work out beautifully.
Darron and Aubrey finish up around 11:00. I tell Darron that the baby is coming. He agrees that this is going to work out. He drops me off at the mall where Fiona and a fellow co-worker (Craig) will pick me up. Darron has to go and help the PNG pastor finish his shopping and drive all the way home. Fiona phones to say that the baby is coming quicker then anticipated so instead of doing a village birth we will meet the parents at the hospital.
By noon we were at the hospital. We had no idea what to expect as far as if we would even be allowed in the room. No mind about what we would be allowed to do. We walked past walls splattered with beetle nut juice spit.
Fiona had to ask three times if we could go in, to which they said “no” each time and she just kept smiling and asking. After many different “nurses/midwifes” were asked, and another patient was finished being sewn up we were allowed in the birthing ward. Where 6 stretchers were. 3 women at various stages of labor. No privacy curtain in between patients. Only a curtain to shut off the view from across the room. It was splattered with blood. Fiona greets her friend and introduces me. A student is “practicing” doing an ultrasound on her. The mommy begins to relax when she sees Fiona. Contractions pick back up. After a while she agrees to go outside and walk. For the next 2-3 hours, Mommy goes from smiling between every contraction to becoming more and more serious. The moaning intensifies. She is using great self control. it brings back so many memories.
The rain splashed down. A worm slides across the mostly covered outdoor sidewalk where the labor is progressing. Fiona and I begin to feel cold, as our pants are getting wet from the rain. Kittens play. Time ticks on. Our patient’s Mom and husband and other friends are able to be with her outside, offering their support too. Inside they are not allowed.
It’s time to go inside. Our patient wants to lie down. Contractions are coming every 2 to 3 minutes. The beautiful smile is gone.
Bed 2. The family has purchased the “needed/anticipated supplies”. IV fluid. Syringes. 2 disposable pads. A few medicines. These are handed over and then promptly put away, to the stock in the room. It all seems so strange. There is no sheet on the bed. The mattress has a few tears in it. Fiona and I try not to think about the germs lingering in those torn parts. Sharp containers are made out of large plastic drinking bottles. It’s crude. The contractions pick up. With every one, the sweet Mommy nudges me to rub her back, hard. Meanwhile, Fiona talks her through breathing. After a while, Fiona comments that Mommy is beginning to push through parts of the contractions. I follow the cues that Fiona gives me, and yes….Mommy is not breathing during parts of the contractions but bearing down.
They allow Fiona to check her, to which we were thrilled that the staff was giving us this much liberty.
Half an hour later the Doctor in training checks her, and then breaks the sack around the baby. Meconium. They were going to let Fiona deliver but all of a sudden the atmosphere changed and it was clear they were not going to. Fiona was happy to just be supportive as there was a huge audience of student nurses and 3 doctors and more midwives….it would have been a lot of pressure. Within the hour, the baby came. Almost 4 kilos. Healthy. Strong. Girl. Lovely.
The baby was suctioned with a crude system. Mommy was sewn up, not being numbed well and squeezing my hand so tight with every stich. It was the practicing doctor, and it took forever. (To which I have sympathy, because I am learning too…….but it did seem too much).
The patient was in puddles of birthing fluid for over an hour to which the allotted two pads did nothing to soak up. So then they used the blankets that Mommy had brought for the baby. Later when we were trying to get her cleaned up more, we asked for another pad……the staff looked at us as if we were asking for a towel, hot water and a bar of soap. Wouldn’t that have been nice? Next time, we are going to pack a tub of wet wipes and our own rags.
Fiona and I snuck the baby outside so the Daddy and family could meet her.
We helped the baby latch onto Mommy. Mommy was smiling again. She did such an amazing job.
There is so much more to this story…..these people are just receiving the gospel message. Craig is working diligently with the Daddy, who is just a humble man eager for truth. This is the first time their village has ever heard the Word.
I was honored to be just a tiny little part of their journey. It was indeed an invigorating experience. I LOVE, that God allowed the timing to work out, so that I could attend this National birth. As we pulled into my driveway just after 9 p.m……I wondered, when the next baby would come. Come on, baby…..come on…..