Sunday, December 5, 2010

The 11 fingered beautiful dancer!


Yesterday morning, I was called to a birth again. (This is the 5th birth in five days! Woohoo! The women are coming to the clinic to deliver! I couldn’t be happier.)

Nyalou was expecting her 4th child and was going strong when I arrived. She was 8 cm dilated so I asked if she’d like to walk around the clinic to ‘labor down’. She had her trusty friend by her side (who obviously thought it was cold enough to merit wearing a down-feather snow jacket!) and together they walked the clinic grounds.

About an hour or so later, her water broke but she still didn’t have an urge to push. She didn’t seem to know how. She huffed and puffed for a while and then stopped trying and asked me to do fundal pressure. Both her friend and I just laughed at the idea. We encouraged her to keep trying and reminded her that fundal pressure hurt a lot! (In fact, thinking back, I wonder if she has ever pushed out a baby on her own.)

About 45 minutes later a HUGE baby was born. He weighed 4 kgs exactly. I gave him a quick “once over” and handed him off to his family. The placenta was causing some trouble and I needed to handle an unexpected hemorrhage.

But once the dust settled, I was able to turn my attention back to him. I asked his mom what he’d be called but she deferred to her husband. A few minutes later a very proud and elderly man walked into the room.

He was smiling ear to ear, chest puffed out and standing extra tall. Joy danced across his face and  made him look shiny. He just watched me chart and smiled. I found it strange that he would stare at me charting and not this new boy, so I asked him if he had a question.

He just grinned wider and said, “Oh, I do not have a question. I am here because I am told you need a name for this boy.” His English sounded stilted and proper. He was obviously very educated. I couldn’t help but smile at the business like manner of his words and his oh-so-official sounding voice. This must be the father I thought.

-- “Great,” I said, “What will be his name?”
--”Machiek. It is spelled M-a-c-h-i-e-k.” When he said it, the room stirred a bit with conversation but I couldn’t understand why.
-- So I asked, “What is the English meaning of ‘Machiek’?”
-- “It means the man with 11 hands!”
-- “Really? Eleven hands? Does your boy have 11 hands?” I asked, more than a bit confused.

He pointed to his fingers and said again, “Yes. He has 11 hands, go see.” His English was good but not good enough to make the distinction between hands and fingers.

I jumped up to inspect this 11 ‘handed’ boy and lo and behold there was finger number eleven, dangling from the pinky on his left hand!

I laughed and asked them, “Do you like it? Because if not, I can make it fall off.”
-- “Oh no, don’t do that. It’s good luck.” They all nodded in satisfied agreement. The finger would stay.

I smiled and nodded approvingly. Personally, I’d hate to have a floppy appendage but I guess it’s not so bad if you’re Dinka.

I snapped off a few pictures and returned to my charting. But he interrupted me and said, “There is another name for this boy.”

-- “Really? What is it?”
-- “Madheng. M-a-d-h-e-n-g.”
-- “Excellent. And what does ‘Madheng’ mean?”

He smiled again and moved his body back and forth in a wave-like dancing motion. “It means one who dances beautifully.”

So meet my new friend, the “Eleven fingered beautiful dancer.”

I wonder if I could get away with a name like this in the States.                   Unlikely.