First thing this morning, I was greeted by a husband who was very concerned about his wife. She was in labor. Would I see her? Of course.
When I checked her in, she was ready to have her baby any minute. Her husband sat outside on the bench, head in his hands in worry. I could tell he wanted to be with her, so I asked if he wanted to help. Absolutely!
While we set up for the birth and I asked her what position she wanted to deliver in, he sat in a chair, fighting off sleep. It was obvious he’d been up with her all night. (Not common. Some husbands drop their wives off in labor at night and go home to sleep.)
Later, as she was pushing with all her might, he stood beside her. When we needed her in a supported squat, he crawled on the delivery bed and held her up. (Not at all normal!) After the birth, he was happy to hold his new little boy. He even knew how! (Surprising.)
As we waited for the placenta, he gently explained that his wife has always had trouble delivering her placentas. This is her fifth baby and each time, the placenta just wouldn’t come out. They’d wait and wait. Nothing. He continued, saying how they would have to take off her beaded necklace, place it in a cup of water and make her drink it. Only then, would her placenta deliver.
What impressed me about this story... wasn’t so much the strange disconnect between a woman’s necklace and her uterus. It was the fact her husband was keenly aware of this problem and wanted me to know how I could help. He cared.
I assured him that he could do that for his wife if he wanted. I wouldn’t stop them. (It wasn’t going to hurt her. It wasn’t going to do much of anything, except taste bad.) But I added that placentas tend to come out for me. Let’s see what happens.
Sure enough, I delivered the placenta not long after. (A little CCT to help things along since it didn’t look interested in coming at all. He was right.) But all in all, it was a loving birth with a loving husband to help.
I monitored her and the baby for the next few hours and watched her husband nurture her all the while. He got her water. He bought her lunch. He worked as her main care taker. (Most Dinka husbands don’t even stick around for the birth, let alone make sure their wives are comfortable afterward. This is woman’s work.)
Later on, as I got ready to discharge them I went over medicine, postpartum checks and the like. I then told them I wanted to pray for them... for God to bless their family in a special way. But before I prayed, her husband interrupted me. He had something to say.
He told me (through my translator) how thankful he was for my help. He was happy I had came from so far to deliver babies and care for the women here. He told me that he was amazed that I was able to deliver the placenta without having to take off her necklace. I had many special skills. He was grateful.
If I could have cried in appreciation without offending him, I probably would have. Instead I blinked back my emotions and smiled. He was so sincere. He too looked like he was ready to cry. He then added that in appreciation he wanted to give me a chicken.
I was speechless -- not because of the chicken but because of his heart. Here is a man who genuinely loves his wife... surprisingly so. Here is a man who isn’t too proud to care and serve... even though it’s woman’s work. He is the exception not the rule. And he takes my words away.... speechless.
I then prayed for them and sent them on their way.
Lord, may this land be filled with humble, caring men who can lead their families in love like this man. Amen!
They came back for a check-up this morning. Both are doing great. And as promised, he brought me a hen. They named their son Doctor in my honor. (Since that’s what they call me here. I don’t have the heart to correct them.) So in their honor, I decided to name my new chicken ‘Doctor’ as well.