Born into Weeds

Some days just stand out in your mind more than others.

Today was one of those days.

Most of my days I am with my children, homeschooling, guiding, scolding, loving, playing….  I love every part of raising my children and take that job very seriously, but my part-time work at Seed of Hope fuels my fire for people, for God and for making a difference.  It also enables me to be a better mom, because it gives me an outlet from being with my kids 24/7, and helps me handle the insanity of educating one’s own children. :-)   

Anyway, back to today.  Today is a day that stands out because I spent almost none of it with my kids.  Well, okay, that is not the only reason it stands out.  And that is the story I want to tell you now.

Our SOH health team had been invited, along with Kerry Wiens, to attend a Quality Improvement OPen House at our local government hospital, Prince Mshiyeni.  We were told it was from 9am -1pm.

We expected that it would start on African time, which means LATE,  But Kerry was going to be taking pictures, so we decided to get there at 9am, just to get the layout and get good seats, etc.

The program started at 10:30am.  1 1/2 hours after the time slotted on the invitation!  I found it quite entertaining to watch in the program, as we went line by line.  The speakers had all been allotted 5 minutes – and that was written in the program.  None of them took only 5 minutes! ;-)  Needless to say, we were still there at 3pm.  I had not eaten or drunk anything since 7:30am.  And the hall was not air conditioned!  It must have been 42 degrees C in there.  At 3pm, we decided as a team that it was enough.  We had stayed 2 hours longer than our invite had prepared us for, so we were ready to go.  We had gained much from the day and were happy to head home.

I was dropped off at SOH, feeling a bit light-headed, hypoglycemic, dehydrated, heat-exhausted, and ready to get home.  Sitting in the office chair chatting with Dan to pass the time was where Buli found me when she came running in the office yelling, “please help Michelle. There is a lady, and a baby, but the other thing.  The thing.  You know, the thing… is not coming.  (fast breathing) Please come.”

I gathered from Buli’s frantic speech that someone had given birth and the placenta had not yet been delivered.  We have an obstetric kit that one of our volunteers had put together for us in the past (Thanks Taryn!), so I went and gathered what I needed for the call.

I was still in my dress clothes from the day at the hospital.  High heels, white skirt, black blouse…   hmmm… not so conducive to birthing babies or placentas, but we couldn’t find an apron or anything to cover up my white skirt, so off we went.  I borrowed the SOH bakkie and drove down to where she was.

It was during the drive that Buli filled in the pieces.  The mom had given birth on the side of the road.  The baby had come quickly.  Mom had been in a neighbor’s car getting ready to go to the hospital when the baby started coming.  In the Zulu culture, if you give birth in a car, you have to give the owner of the car a goat, which are expensive.  So I am not sure whose decision it was to deposit the mom and the crowning baby on the side of the road, but that is where I found them, laying in tall weeds.

An auntie was there with the mom and there were about 15 people standing around watching.  The baby was a little less than an hour old and had a shoe string tied around her umbilical cord.  The mom was listless and detached.  I think she was embarrassed that she had just given birth in the weeds.  We politely asked all the spectators to go on their way, and then started dealing with the crisis at hand – a retained placenta.

This is not an uncommon or difficult complication of childbirth, although it can become very serious if not treated.  My first option in a case like this was uterine massage – rubbing the mom’s womb to cause it to contract and expel the placenta.  This is painful for the mom, but works in most cases.  Within 10 minutes or so, the placenta was delivered, but the young mom was bleeding quite heavily.

We loaded her, her auntie with the newborn baby girl, a friend, and her two year old into the bakkie, and Buli and I took her to the local 24 hour clinic where she could then be transferred to the hospital.  The clinic story feels like it could be a whole blog in itself…   the clinic had had no water since 9am that morning, there were 5 nurses in the room and NONE of them ever checked to see how much bleeding the mom was having, I had to tell them to please put a clamp on the baby’s umbilical cord as the shoe string was too loose and the baby had lost some blood on the drive over, and by that time I think I was starting to get on their nerves, so I left…. praying the whole way that they would tend well to this new young mom and that she and her baby would be okay.

I snapped a few pictures at the clinic.  I couldn’t do it on the side of the road.  It just felt to intrusive and out of place to photograph something that was so traumatic in this young mom’s life.  But I look at the face of this little girl and I am in awe.  The wonder of life.  Life that started in the weeds at the side of the road, but my prayer tonight for this little unnamed gift – is that she will be able to see beyond the weeds of this world.  That she will be able to grasp the wonder of a God who loves her beyond reason and has a plan for her life.  That she is not a mistake or a burden.

Tonight my kids and I prayed for her.  May she rise above the weeds, and not be limited by her circumstances.  Bless her, Jesus.

One Response to Born into Weeds
  1. Ruth Boyd Reply

    What a beautiful story. I can see what is fueling the fire for your desire to become a nurse midwife!

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