Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joy comes.

When Apiu came in she looked defeated. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it felt like she was mourning something.        

She explained that her labor had started the night before, but she wasn’t tired. However, she hadn’t eaten anything all morning. Perhaps she was just hungry.        
    I wasn’t convinced.

I sent her husband for tea and porridge; he seemed willing but exhausted, like his legs were made of lead. Grief haunted his steps.        
    Or was it despair? 

What weren’t they telling me?

Worry and fear lurked in the halls and hung on the door frame. I bumped into them every time I entered the room. Unwelcome guests. Bullish intruders. 

Heart tones were solid, and I told her so. She just nodded sadly. Her vitals were good, and I told her so. Again, she nodded, but that was it.        
    What was I missing?

Looking through her chart, I was surprised she even came at all. During her last prenatal, she had assured me she lived too far away, and would be having her baby at home.    
    So, what changed her mind?

Her chart also indicated that this was her second child. So, normally things should go smoothly.
    Why was she fighting it then?

All my comforting words were ignored. All my reassurances were spurned until finally I stopped to pray. She thanked me, but her words sank like heavy stones and clunked on the floor.

After an hour of this, I finally asked her what she needed since she didn’t want anything I had offered. Her response took me by surprise.

She said to my translator: “You tell my midwife she needs to take better care of me. My first baby died during delivery.”
    Ah-ha! I was attending a funeral, not a birth. Of course!

Apparently, the story we got during prenatals was wrong. She explained that the first child died after a very difficult labor where she pushed for hours.

Telling me didn’t stop the dread from oozing out her every pore, however, knowing helped me tremendously. As I listened to her recount her first birth in detail, she relaxed. When I consoled, she received it.

It’s at this point, things started to change. It’s as if she wanted to mourn the first before she could celebrate the second. So, we mourned until she had had enough.

Another hour or so went by, but I didn’t notice. She was working with her body, listening to its signals. I didn’t interfere. She walked when she needed; she slept when she wanted. All the while, the tiny passenger inside toc-toc-toc-ed away steadily.
    All was well.

When it came time to push, things bogged down again. She couldn’t figure out what a push felt like. She pretended to push with her body, but did nothing internally.

The only thing that helped was getting her on the birth stool where she delivered her little girl within minutes.

Would you believe, her baby came out sleeping!? Yep, she was practically snoring for the first and second apgar scores.

Apiu’s face positively glowed as she watched her girl sleep on the floor. While waiting for the placenta, I scanned the room for Fear and Worry, but they were long gone. The corners of the room whispered praise; the walls practically cheered ‘Hallelujah!’

With this baby, she regained honor in her husband’s eyes and status in everyone else’s. Her grief vanished at the sound of her child’s first cry! Joy came at last.  

“Weeping may last in the night, but joy comes in the morning!” Psalm 30:5