Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Seeing God on a Sunday~

When the on-duty health worker came to tell me about a labor that had just arrived, I asked him is she was active. He shrugged and said he couldn’t tell. However, he added that she scrunched up her face with each contraction. Mimicking what this looked like, he twisted his face, squeezed his eyes closed and bit his lip. Hilarious! I figured if a Sudanese woman had to scrunch up her face, she must be close.

When I got there, Ajak’s contractions were strong, lasting 40-45 seconds and occurring every 5 minutes exactly. Since she was expecting her 7th child, I didn’t interfere with her coping mechanisms and just assured her all was fine. I figured she’d deliver in an hour or two.

When I told her, she nodded in agreement and smiled, laying remarkably still while another contraction crept across her belly. She had no urge to push, but promised to tell me once she did.

Ajak was alone. Her husband had died a few months back, and she had no one to help. At one point, a friend came to check on her, but said she couldn’t stay since a child was sick at home. I told her to return as soon as she could... and bring tea! She nodded and promised she would.

Ajak didn’t seem to mind. She labored quietly, scrunching her face up every 5 minutes as if on cue. I sat with her and smiled whenever she looked my way. It was a candid connection. Calm and confident.

She’d done this before. I’d seen this before. Simple.

My translator went to church while I stayed with her. Nothing needed to be said, nevertheless, she couldn’t be left alone. A multigravida can surprise you if you’re not on your toes. (And if you recall, earlier this month, I left a multigravida too long and she delivered in the dirt! Oops. Never again.)

Hot, muggy silence wafted through the clinic and embraced us in peace. It was priceless. And for the longest time, the loudest noise that could be heard was the toc-toc-toc of the doppler as I checked for heart tones. I loved it.

When it came time to push, she grabbed the side of the bed and kneeled in a squat. It was time and there was no stoppin’ this train! Intense and focused, she pushed with all her might. Her little girl got a bit stuck on the way out, but not for long.

Since church was over, my translator (only his second birth) stood nervously in the corner of the room, smiling -- No, Grinning-- despite himself.

Afterward, while we waited for the placenta, I placed a white flower behind Ajok’s ear, and she beamed in pleasure. She was radiant and looked instantly decades younger. My translator loved the flower and decided to place it behind the baby’s ear while she breastfed. We laughed as we snapped pictures of this new, exotic beauty.

As a widow, Ajok didn’t seem to have many options for her birth team. A stranger one, I don’t think she could have picked-- some Kuwaja she’d met just once before and a punk teenager! But somehow, I don’t think she regrets it one bit. She left a few hours later still laughing, followed by her friend who’d returned with tea.

Yes, I missed out on church, but I didn’t miss out on seeing God. 

Thank you for praying with me through these adventures. I’m so grateful! I know the comfort and joy I’m experiencing now with the births is a direct response to your faithful prayers. Thank you!