Saturday, March 5, 2011


Petite and round about the middle, her small frame wobbled with each contractions. Explaining the pain started the night before, she paused every few minutes to breathe, and then continued. No, the water had not come out. No, there was no bleeding. No, she had no urge to push.

Nevertheless, she was close.

I didn’t do an internal exam, knowing it wouldn’t change a thing, and told her that if she was comfortable standing, it would help her labor to progress. She got up immediately, and started wobbling around the room.

I also explained that once her water broke, things would progress quickly. She looked at me wide-eyed and asked: “Is there really water inside?”
-- “Yes. Your baby lives in water.”
-- “Really?”
Smiling, I just nodded and continued to check her in. Her curiosity and trust melted my heart.


Plus, she had the kind of energy that only teenagers display in labor. She was up and then down. Moving nervously around the room, she continued to wobble until her water broke.

Not long after, she was asking to go to the toilet. When she did, I smiled knowingly. Everything about her screamed it was time to push, but I didn’t tell her that. I just followed her to the toilets, and let her push.

When nothing happened, we wobbled back to the clinic together, passing dozens of preggos on our way. They smiled and cheered a bit in solidarity.

A half an hour later, she beamed in joy as she held her little boy.

Pushing with her was intimate and fun. She listened to her body and trusted the process. Her complete absence of fear was refreshing.

She was refreshing.

Despite pushing well, she tore. I told her about the tear, and asked if she wanted me to suture it.
-- “Will it hurt if you suture?” she asked.
-- “We use medicine so you won’t feel the pain.”
-- “But I live far away, if you put in string, I cannot come back to get the string out.”
-- “Oh. I see. But we use special string. This string doesn’t need to be taken out. It dissolves on its own.”

She discussed it with her friend for a few minutes in low voices. I couldn’t understand them if I had wanted to, since it was in Dinka, but they whispered nevertheless.

Honestly, I never thought she’d agree to it. I’ve had this conversation too many times over the last few months and each time they’ve declined. There seems to be some fear of needles involved or a belief that she’ll just tear agin next time. I’m not sure. 

When she agreed to be sutured, I couldn’t believe it. Really? She wanted me to suture? Wow. She really did trust me. Extraordinary.

I set up the room quickly and I was done in no time. Afterward, I heard her tell her friend that it didn’t hurt much at all. I couldn’t help but smile.

Once in the postpartum room, her family rallied around her. Three generations of women and two pubescent boys came to congratulate her. It was a party!

The fact that a first time mom, labored with me, let me teach her how to push and had me suture her perineum somehow tells me I’m accepted now. I don’t know when it happened, but the women are starting to trust me. What an honor! What a privilege!
She's the second from the right, in blue.
Thank you for your prayers. I’m seeing more women than ever for prenatals and deliveries. Some women come from five hours away to be seen. Keep praying though... this is when it gets busy! Pray for more laborers and great translators. Thanks.