Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baby Season!

Adeng after the birth. Her son is in my arms.
Today is the first day in about a week that I’ve not been labor watching... or baby catching... or  running around counting heart tones on every preggo in sight!

I'm happy but thankful for the reprieve.

Am I tired?     --Most definitely.  
But am I fried?    --Not even close.

There has been a joy surrounding these births that can only be the Lord. These women are coming in answer to my heart’s cry! I couldn’t be happier.

Last night Margaret and I delivered three more babies --two boys and a girl. Each birth was unique and special.

The first one to deliver, Adeng, had been quietly laboring for three days (two of which she spent in the clinic) before she pushed her baby out!

She had two doulas with her --a close friend who never left her side and an aunt who quietly sat back and cheered.

Her husband came to check on her regularly. Young and proud, he watched everything closely (especially how I treated his wife!) but didn’t stay long each time.

But despite the sleepless nights, we were able to stave off exhaustion, and when it came time to push she gave it her all. She was so in-tuned to her body! What a delight to watch.

When he finally made his way out with that last gentle push, the room erupted in praise. Laughing in relief, I looked up at Adeng only to see the most radiant smile shining back at me. She then started crying for joy, and thanking us over and over in her limited English.

Her sweet friend clung to her neck and cried tears of joy as well, and for some time everyone in the room was overcome.

We wept. We giggled. We praised God for His goodness!

My necklace and sweet Giver. 
(Fun side note: Earlier that day, this friend had pulled me aside to give me a gift. Quickly taking a brightly beaded necklace from her pocket, she slipped it over my head saying, “Now you are Sudan!” with an admiring grin of satisfaction. We slapped hands in thanks and she shyly stole away before I could make too much of it. What a honor!)

The second baby born that night was to Ajok! She, too, was a superstar. But unlike Adeng, she came in ready to push.

She was a solid 7 cm dilated when she arrived but with very good contractions. So I encouraged her to walk.

Wordlessly she got up and marched the clinic grounds. Her friends followed close at hand encouraging her to endure.

Ajok breastfeeding her son.
At one point I found her kneeling in the dirt out front --her friends squatting before her. I thought she might be pushing so I went to investigate. As it turns out, her friends were just rubbing her belly with spit as a blessing!

Not 10 minutes later her son was born!

She went from 7 cm to baby out in 20 minutes!

The last labor to deliver was Hala. She, too, had an entourage of well-wishers and friends; they’d been following her around all afternoon.

Although I could not understand all they were saying, I could tell that they were annoying her immensely. She kept trying to hide from them, but they wouldn’t leave her side. They followed her like a gaggle of geese --quacking and clacking about.

Only 15 years old, she acted her age and pouted with the pain. Every now and again, she indulged in some self-pity, but it never lasted very long.

Her enormous belly poked straight out like an arrow as she waddled about, and every where she went her geese followed.

I caught her peeking during both of the other births and smiled at how jealous she looked.

In fact, after Ajok’s 20 minute birthing spree, I found Hala lurking in the hallway slacked-jawed and a bit horrified... or was it indignant.

Smiling I caught her eye and she stormed off to pout by herself. Her unspoken question ringing loudly as she left was, “When will it be MY turn?”

Although I suspected her to be fully, the baby’s head was still molding and she needed to labor-down. So I encouraged her to keep moving.

She walked, stomped, sulked, then eventually slept.

I laughed as her family questioned me about her progress.
-- “Are you sure she’ll deliver tonight?”
-- “Yes. Tonight. And soon.”
-- “But she’s sleeping...”
-- “Don’t worry. The baby is coming tonight.”

Her gaggle eventually went home to their families, leaving behind her closest friend. And she slept on. Frankly, I was excited to see her sleeping; it was the ‘calm before the storm’.

Since my shift was up, I handed her over to Margaret and tried to get some sleep. I was on-call as back-up, of course, but I was getting punchy from fatigue. I needed sleep.

Fortunately, I was able to get an hour or so before they called for re-enforcements. I arrived to find her pushing but not very effectively.

Although it was 1 AM, her gaggle had returned and were calling instructions through the window. But this time they brought the men.

-- “Shove a cloth in her mouth so she can push longer!” suggested her husband.
-- “Make her kneel!” cried another.
-- “Confess, Hala, so you can deliver!” encouraged a third.

She ignored them all and pushed again and again. Progress was slow, but with time she found her groove and a chubby girl made her debut.
Hala's precious little girl.

The crowd outside cheered! Hala was amazing!

Later that night when I crawled into bed, my body ached with the joys of the day, but I was happy. So many blessings! So many sweet answers to prayer!

Thank you for praying for us -- please keep it up. Baby season is just beginning!