Sunday, January 29, 2012

Of Death and Blood.

Yesterday was a difficult day. After the grieving mother was carried off by her family, the crowd thinned enough for me to see Ajulla. She stood quietly beside the clinic entrance, looking scared and in pain.

At first I thought it was the fierceness of the woman’s grief, but as I approached her water broke. The suddenness of it surprised us all, especially Ajulla. Her eyes widened in astonishment as she looked around her as if saying, “Is this normal?”

Her belly looked suspiciously small for a term pregnancy, but I couldn’t be sure with her dress. As I walked her slowly inside for a check-up, I peppered her with questions.

When did the contractions start? Has any blood come out? How many months are you now? Have you been coming for check-ups?

She tried to answer our questions but was too confused. Once we got her on the bed, I understood everything without a word.

Two tiny black legs hung from between her legs. Her baby was dead and coming out breech.

As we waited for her birth to proceed naturally, I asked her the rest of her questions. She did not appear the least bit surprised when I told her she was delivering preterm. She actually looked relieved.

It took us only a few minutes to get the baby out, but the placenta was a challenge. I could not pull on it for fear it would tear.

With time she delivered half of it, but a large portion remained inside. She was not hemorrhaging so I did not go in after it. Instead I waited and prayed.

About an hour after the birth, her placenta was born. Ragged like hash, it fell apart in my hands.

Just as I moved her to the observation room, another woman arrived covered in blood. She knelt in the dust wearing nothing but a bloodied sheet.

-- “Are you pregnant?” I asked.
-- “Yes.” she said. The crowd gathered in to get a better look.
-- “How far along are you?”
-- “I’m 4 months...”

The crowd was getting larger, so I lifted her to her feet and together we walked inside. The prenatal women waiting to be seen, watched quietly. They would have to wait again.

Hers was less of a birth and more of a miscarriage (or incomplete abortion). Even though she claimed to be four months pregnant, her body told me otherwise. Tom had to perform a D&C to stop the bleeding, but she recovered well.

So much grief! So much loss! So much blood!

Lord, thank you for bringing these women to us. May the work we do glorify you regardless of the results. Bless them with health and heal them from their grief. Strengthen us so we can serve you faithfully. Amen.