Saturday, May 14, 2011

Strong & Beautiful.

At the sight of her belly, my heart skipped a beat; it was huge. Round, corpulent, robust, stocky, she stood out in the sea of big bellies.     --It was mesmerizing.

Slumped low in a plastic chair, Ajok explained that her labor had started earlier that morning, and she had come to deliver.                                 -- Yippy!

Expecting her sixth, she obviously knew what a contraction felt like --so I didn’t argue-- but she didn’t look like she was in labor. Plus, she was having only two contractions an hour.

Nevertheless, multigravidas (woman expecting their second or more baby) can surprise you.

Knowing full well that she could go quickly, I asked if I could do a vaginal exam. I didn’t want to send her home and miss the birth.

Though soft and pliable, her cervix was closed. After explaining that she wouldn’t deliver any time soon, she went home, promising to return if the contractions picked up.

The next morning, she returned at daylight, insisting that the baby was coming any minute. I didn’t argue (even though she didn’t look like she needed to push), and quietly set up the room.

As we waited for that illusive ‘urge to push’, she slept. Her contractions were moderate and regular, coming every 2-3 minutes on the dot.

Since she had been up all night, I encouraged her to rest and push later. She was fine with that at first, but then got impatient.

“What was taking so long?” she worried.

Trying to move things along naturally, I encouraged her to walk, but she refused. And since both she and the baby were both doing great, I saw no need to force it.

Plus, I had help.

This week, several short-term missionaries from Aid Sudan are visiting, and one of them really wanted to assist at a birth. As young mother and wife, Ashley oozes compassion from every pore.

When she volunteered to be my scribe and doula, I was relieved, and left Ajok in her very capable hands. There were at least a dozen prenatals waiting for my attention outside. 

But after an hour or so without any progress, I finally broke down and did a vaginal exam. I needed to make sure I wasn’t way off on my guesstimate.

A quick review showed her to be 9+cm, 90%, with waters intact. All she needed to do was push, and the baby would be born.                         --And I told her so.

But each time she pushed, it was short and weak. Not having that ‘urge to push’, yet, I let her rest and wait some more. Why rush things?

A few hours went by.

She rested but started showing signs of impatience. Plus, her friends looked agitated. They wanted to take her home.


With four pairs of eyes watching me like a hawk, I asked Ajok what she wanted to do.
--Do you want to go home, Ajok?
--No. I just want the baby out.
--Then push. The baby will come once you push.
--No. I don’t need to.
--Okay. Then, let’s wait.
--No. Give me medicine to make the baby come.
--I have medicine, but it’ll cause you lots of pain. Why don’t you walk around a bit, instead?
--I’m too tired to walk. I want the pain.

She was tired --that was clear-- so I gave in and started an IV to augment her labor.

Once the cannula was placed, and the drip was in route, she instantly got uncomfortable. Two minutes later she had a strong contraction... and she pushed.

She pushed hard!

One minute later, the head was visible; and seconds later, the baby was out!

As I wiped him down and placed him on her belly, she smiled and thanked me for causing her the pain. She even chided me for not doing it earlier, and we laughed.

The placenta was born with ease, and her 9lb 2oz boy breastfed with gusto. He was a sucking machine!

Once the bleeding was controlled she asked to go home. Living just a few minutes away by foot, I didn’t argue for her to stay. We didn’t have a free bed for her to properly rest in, and a storm was coming.

Promising to return if her bleeding got bad, or any infection started, I prayed with her and sent her home.

Not long after she left, a low, grumbling pall of clouds swept our way. I can only hope she made it home before the deluge.

Oh, Sudan!

Your land is beautiful. Your women are strong. May your children be blessed!