Saturday, February 26, 2011

A raw moment of truth ~

I was called early one morning for a birth, only to find a very pregnant woman, named Adich, writhing on the clinic floor. Her mother sat quietly beside her and smiled. They soon explained that she had never come for any prenatal care, and didn’t have a book. I asked if she was just interested in an evaluation or did she come to deliver. (Some women only want to confirm labor and then go home.)

She didn’t answer. Instead, she asked, “Is this the midwife that delivered the baby yesterday?” My translator nodded and told me her question. She looked at her mom and said, “Ok. I’ll stay then.” (What a sweet thing... my first referral.)

As I checked her in, I could tell she was trying to decide whether or not to trust me. Muscular arms and a green stripped bandana on her head, made her look hardened and strong. She preferred the floor to the bed, so we did most of our checks there.

Once she got settled, she asked, “Are you sure this is not a miscarriage?” I told her I was sure, then asked, “Why do you think this is a miscarriage?” (This was her first baby, so I wanted to hear what was going through her mind.) She said, “Well. I’ve been pregnant now for 9 months and this is the first time I’ve felt bad. It must be a miscarriage.”

Smiling at her logic and innocence, I assured her that this was what labor felt like and that she’d deliver soon. She just nodded and rolled on the floor some more.

A little while later, she made the comment: “My stomach feels rocky!” It was so honest and so innocent that it took me by surprise. Yes. Her stomach was “rocky” in more ways than one.

I asked her to walk around the clinic a bit since I had prenatals to do, and she agreed. She walked while the rest of the preggos in my line watched and chatted incessantly about her. She didn’t seem to hear or mind. Mostly, their comments were about me, however. “Look, the kowaja is going to deliver her baby. Look, the kowaja is listening to the baby’s heart. Look...” I ignored them and focused on Adich instead.

Finding a comfortable position in all that pain was hard for her, and occasionally, I’d encourage her to stand. She was reluctant, but complied. At one point, after standing up, her mother told her, “It hurts if you lie down. It hurts if you stand.”

What a statement! Does it get any truer than that?

She started pushing spontaneously perhaps a half an hour later, so I brought her into the clinic. She liked the kneeling position and did an amazing job pushing. Her mother supported her back and silently watched on.

As she pushed, she clung to me and trapped my knees between hers. It was needy and sweet and strong. I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to.

What this must have looked like to the others in the room, is a mystery to me. Three women connected in a powerful bond of energy, motion and force... and one little ‘woman’ on the way. It was raw and needy... and perhaps even a bit confusing, but I loved it.

When her little girl was born, relief flooded Adich’s face, and her gapped-tooth grin stole my heart. Afterward, no hint of the tough mamacita I met in labor, was left. Adich melted into a mother as she joyfully held her child to her chest. She’d done it! She was strong enough -- even for labor.

Oh, to watch a girl become a mother!

Amazing. Simply amazing.