As Terrill & I walked home this afternoon, we contemplated why giving birth in the U.S. is so much more dramatic and traumatic. We don't ever hear birth stories where the mother calmly delivers on the side of the road, cleans herself up and walks home. Do we westerners have a lower tolerance for pain? Or do these people have a higher tolerance? Are our bodies made differently somehow? Why does it seem so natural for some and so difficult for others? Is culture involved? I have no answers. But I do thank God that many Ik have no problem giving birth and can bounce right back from the experience. It seems like it's a gift to them from God since they don't have the same opportunities for health care and sanitation that we have in the west.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
It's a girl!
So there I was, sitting in our new office building at 10am. Many Ik had come for medicine this morning. I was in the middle of changing a dressing on the wounded arm of a 10-year old girl. My translator had just told me 10 minutes prior that a woman was complaining of pain outside. I handed him 2 Tylenol and said I'd see her as soon as her number came up (we see patients on a number system). I had walked past this woman a little earlier and noticed that her head was down as if uncomfortable but she was not writhing or screaming in pain so I thought she'd be fine. Now it's 10am and I hear activity outside my window. My translator tells me to come quickly. I get outside in time to see a baby being delivered. It's tiny body had just been caught by a neighbor and friend of the woman and the woman was pushing the placenta out. I ran inside to get a scissors to cut the cord and a string to tie it. We got a basin of water and soap so that the baby and mother could be washed. The mother never uttered a cry as she calmly and quickly delivered this baby. My translator did not even know she was pregnant. He thought she looked 'satisfied' as if she'd just eaten a big meal. Minutes later, out comes a perfect 5 lb. baby. I cut and tied the cord while the child was wrapped in a dirty piece of cloth. (I'll have to remember to keep some spare clean towels on hand in the clinic in case this happens again.) One new ritual I noticed was that after the cord was cut, a neighbor dipped her finger in the cord blood and dabbed the blood on both the temples of the child and the temples of the mother. I don't know the significance of this act yet but I will ask our translator it's meaning soon. I went inside to get some fresh water for the mother and by the time I'd come out, the placenta was safely buried by neighbors and all evidence that a birth had taken place was covered up by fresh dirt. They didn't leave a trace of what had happened at that very spot. This was the first child born at the clinic. A healthy baby girl.