I had the most amazing experiences – I was able to see 3 babies being born. The first birth was a woman who came from one of the camps. Her husband, 2 children and her were moved from Port au Prince to Jacmel after the earthquake. Some well-meaning but misguided rich guy moved a number of people to Jacmel and put them in these little plastic huts as opposed to the tents. He put these little huts in the path way of a flood zone – so whenever it rains they get flooded. They do not work as he is building a hotel that he wants them to work in which is not even close to being done. He provides for them which means housing and beans/rice for food. The woman needed to get a note saying she required fresh vegetables. It was a little sad. Her husband came to the clinic with her to support her. And so did one of the camp “bosses” who was quickly sent away – he said he wanted to make sure everyone was alright. This birth had a few risk to the baby as the mother had been treated for syphilis and was supposedly clear but people were still unsure of the risk. Also the RH factor was also a risk however having to successful births in the past it was felt this one should go well.
It was amazing to watch as she had delivered two babies on her own before so she knew what she was doing. Birthing is different here – the women sing through their contractions – no yelling or screaming. At the last moment they start saying, “Mes amis, mes amis”, (my friends, my friends) – they say this as they call out for strength from family, friends, saints. This woman was so in tuned with her body – she went into a deep squat and with no assistance had her baby. The mid-wife caught the baby and that was it. It appeared so effortless. Her water had not broken prior to birth so this provided a cushion for the baby’s head which was prefect. The baby appeared to be healthy however the next day it would need to go to the hospital to get tested for syphilis. I am happy to say all is well with the baby.
The second birth was a woman who came in with her sister and mother – Nicely dressed for someone who was in labour. She came in and within 20 mins had her baby. However the baby was born sunny side up which causes a few problems – I will spare you the gory detail. When the baby was born it was not crying however the colour was good and he was moving. It was that he swallowed a lot of fluid so it just needed to cleared out. A little bit of a panic however it was all good. She left the next day in another wonderful dress and looked like had just gone out for tea as opposed to having a baby. As she had come in at 11:30 p.m. she stayed until noon the next day. Her family slept on the floor of the clinic – this happens all the time. Some who have been here before are well prepared with blankets, water and food.
The next one had started before the lady in the nice dress. She had come in around 10:30 p.m. and had her baby at 7:30 a.m. She was interesting as she came in with a group of people including the local birthing lady who asked her to start pushing as soon as she came in – a little discussion occurred – her belief is that if you start pushing early the baby will move faster. The mother was interesting – a little dramatic as opposed to the other 2 however she does sing well. All the relatives were all there hovering as the labour according to them was taking so long. All along her contractions were very weak and short. One of the ways to simulate the labour is to rub the woman’s nipples. One of the relatives that was there was asked to do this – she looked at me and said you do – I have to say I do not – I am not going to rub some strange woman’s nipples while she is in labour. I assisted in other ways and have the bruises on my arms to proof it – I passed on that one. I also wasgetting things that were required – a small help but I felt like part of it. Near the end things did get a little rough – the baby’s head had crowned but couldn’t be pushed out and tearing was occurring from the outside instead of the inside – anyway to spare you the details it is enough to say they had to assist her in order to get the baby out. Now I am not one for body fluids but I surprised myself as I was able to watch and hand towels as required through this all.
After the birth I rested for a couple of hours and went to visit baby, mom and all the relatives. For some odd reason they thought I was a mid-wife even though I told them several times I was not – it still didn’t stop them from asking me questions that I could not answer.
These 3 births all happened within 2 days and it was an experience that I am so overjoyed to have had – it is really an amazing thing. I have learnt a lot about the birthing process and the different stages of labour. I am not sure what I will do with all this information but all I know it was the best 2 days ever !!!
The interesting thing about Haiti is that they do use a combination of medical doctors, mid-wives and voodoo doctors. So it is all so interesting – so if something is wrong one of the three will fix it.
All I have to say is giving birth by using a midwife is so totally different then the hospital experience. So much gentler and kinder.
To change the topic – I guess I can do that as this is my blog. The children learn English by repeating what you say – it is a little odd but it works. So if you tell them something to do they will repeat it and repeat it and repeat it – so endearing – not really. The children around the neighborhood now know the word “gross” – seems to be a word I use a lot and they now understand what it means. It has become a great source of enjoyment and fun to gross me out – such cute little gaffers !!!
Just an update on the mother in jail – she is out and is staying with one of the church ladies. We also returned the baby to her on Wednesday. And none too soon – I decided I am so over 3 week old babies while very cute they are very demanding day and night. She is very docile and I do not believe she will run any time soon with her baby. Sarah returns next week and she can make the decision to take her back or not. I am pretty sure she will. Tough lesson go to jail for 3 days – no charges nothing. Interesting system. They still have no proof of her age so they will continue to treat her as a 15 year old.
Until next time.