Friday, November 7, 2008

All in a day's work

My cell phone reveals a glimpse of the kind of morning we had today. This text was sent by Mark to my phone at 5:45 this morning:
"Had to come to Nyenga. She delivered the baby outside on the sidewalk then the doctor came. All seems well now I think. Keep praying. Love you!"
Now I will let Mark explain. . .

At 4:30 a.m. one of our guards, Paul, called through our open window, "Uncle Mark, we have some problem." That's not exactly what you want to hear from the guard at 4:30 a.m.! It turns out that the wife of another guard, Michael, was in labor over at staff housing. They needed someone to take her to the doctor. Why didn't they call her husband? Well...

Michael had gone to town with their 3-year-old the day before. He had malaria and needed treatment. Later in the morning, their 4-year-old was brought to our house with a broken arm. (Our house has become the hot spot for such injuries since Titus broke his arm in June.) We called the mother and she went to town with the broken arm boy. Michael was contacted and he joined them at the clinic after getting treatment for the malaria child. The broken arm was complicated, so Michael stayed the night with that son at another clinic while his wife returned to GSF with the 3-year-old. That night is when she went into labor, so Michael wasn't around.

... So I hopped in the car with Paul (the guard who woke me up), we picked up the mother at staff housing and sped off to the hospital. The nurse in the nearest village wasn't around, so we proceeded to a hospital about 15 minutes away. Now, hospitals in Uganda generally consist of a complex of single-level buildings for the different wards (TB, maternity, children, etc.). We drove up to the gate about 5:00 a.m. and the guard pointed us in the direction of the wards. Not knowing which one was the maternity ward, we drove toward the center of the complex, then got out to search for a doctor and/or the maternity ward. Paul ran here and there checking the various buildings while I waited with Michael's wife on the broken sidewalk. She was in pain and I was praying for her as she paced back and forth.

Then she squatted down on the sidewalk and I heard a splash - yes, her water had broken. She speaks little English, so all I could do was pray, not knowing exactly how soon the baby might come. Paul couldn't find the right ward, nor did he find a doctor right away. Then I heard a thump on the sidewalk as I was standing there in the dark with my hand on her shoulder - still praying. The "thump" was the baby coming out. She had just delivered while squatting right there on the sidewalk!!!

I wasn't "helping", just "observing" - but I told her in English to turn the baby over so the stuff would come out of its mouth. She had apparently already done that when she picked up the baby, because it started crying off and on. I knew that was a good sign. I hollered at Paul, "The baby is here!" What I didn't know was that, in the midst of rushing around the compound in the dark, he had tripped in a concrete drainage ditch and skinned his knee. It was a minor accident, but it slowed him down. So I stood there with the squatting lady as she held her baby, umbilical cord still attached and the occasional cry to let us know that the air passages were clear. What a strong woman! This was her fifth child.

Finally Paul showed up with a doctor and two nurses shortly behind. They clamped and cut the cord, wrapped up the baby and picked up the placenta from off the sidewalk. Yuck! Off we went to the maternity ward, being careful not to step in the pool of blood remaining on the concrete. I called Michael on the phone and congratulated him with the news that his wife had given birth while he was at a clinic in town with the broken-arm son. Mother and baby are both doing well. Oh, by the way... It's a Girl!!


Charity said...

Wow! What a morning...what a story!!

lovebnamom said...

I'm speechless. Someone give that woman a hug for me.

john mcclung said...


Anonymous said...

Oh My Goodness!!!

Amrita said...

What high drama.

Glad you were there to help otherwise she would have deliverd right in the house.

We read stories like this in the papers, women birthing on the sidewalk etc. Many times they are refused hospital care as they are too poor to pay for it - or in such a bad shape that the hospital refuses to admit them thinking they will die and the hospital will have to take the responsibility - or strikes etc.

Mary is so cute.

Post a pic. of the sidewalk baby please.

J.R. said...

You Gotta be kidding me?!?!

and I thought my day was interesting.