Delivering babies is outside my job description

I have lost track of how many times I have passed out at the sight of blood or of someone else being worked on medically. But today…I helped deliver a baby. Last night a friend called me around 9pm to have me and Dave take her to the local “hospital” to give birth. We picked her up, arrived at a facility only to find it almost vacant and completely dark (no electricity). A 25-year-old greeted us while carrying a solar lamp. She led us to a clean room and had my friend lay on a narrow table. This young nurse told me that when my friend’s water breaks and the head is about to come out, I was to come and get her. She then left the room. I looked to the left and to the right and realized that I was the only one there (the adoptive mother, mind you).

I called Dave back and had him bring Hunter (our homeschool teacher) to the hospital and she joined me as we sat in the dark alone with our friend moaning in pain. Fortunately, Hunter had heard about these things called “contractions,” so we were able to time them and keep abreast of what was going on. After hours of praying, singing, and comforting our friend in labor, I wondered if Hunter and I would be delivering this baby. I quickly did an internet search on my phone on “how to deliver a baby” and was a bit discouraged to see that all the sites told me to quickly get to a hospital. Nevertheless, we had a game plan.

Aside from being concerned about how to catch a slippery baby, I was very concerned for potential complications. The “hospital” we were in had our pregnant friend bring her own bleach for sanitizing and soap to clean the floor after the birth. I knew that this was not a place equipped to do a C-section or care for a baby who had problems. My constant prayer was that there would be no complications and that both mom and baby would survive.

I looked to the left and saw my friend writhing in pain on a narrow table, to the right and there was our 20-year-old homeschool teacher who also had never given birth. Then I looked down and just saw the mouse visitor who was scurrying around the floor. I asked myself how I got into this situation. Suddenly, I felt unqualified for the task at hand and a bit panicky that I wouldn’t be able to help her. I wanted to rush back to my work on tone in Kwakum. But there was just no one else around. We were it. Maybe we weren’t ideal, but there was a woman who needed us to get over ourselves and bear her suffering with her.

And so we did. She spent around 8 hours laboring, 2 of which were very very intense. I was very relieved when the 25-year-old nurse returned and yet so grieved to see how insensitive, harsh, and cruel she was towards my friend. She was utterly devoid of compassion. “Why are you bothering me with your crying?” she said.

Then suddenly everything happened fast. The 25-year-old popped her water with scissor-like-things and then I looked and there was a baby’s head with an umbilical cord wrapped around its neck two times. I was feeling very, very lightheaded and simultaneously feeling like I needed to vomit…But it wasn’t about me. The nurse skillfully clamped the cord and cut it and the rest of the baby slid out…and then didn’t move. After the nurse worked on him a minute, he started to cry, much to our relief.

I was then summoned to hold a bucket of water as the nurse pushed out the placenta and rinsed her hands in the water. Hunter had blood splattered on her and everything in my American worldview was screaming out for more sanitary conditions. An older nurse then came in and very roughly handled the newborn carrying it around in just one hand while its head hung limply.

I was told to make up a bed for the mom in the next room with sheets the mom had brought from home. Then, I walked back into the birthing room while Hunter was helping the nurse put the placenta into a market bag. After that, we were ordered to carry a tray of afterbirth-stuff outside and dump it in the hole behind the “hospital.” The nurse ordered Hunter to clean up the blood that was all over the floor, but our friend’s husband offered to do it instead (thank you). I told my friend congratulations, called Dave to pick us up, and then fell into his arms praising God for adoption.

We drove home at 6am thanking God for two hearts still beating and for a mother who felt the love of the Lord through us holding her hand in the midst of a harsh, cruel, heartless world.

One lesson learned is that when there is no one else more qualified around and when you really love the people, there are no limits to what the Lord can do through you. I thank God for his all sufficient grace which reminds me day in and day out that there is nothing impossible with the Lord we serve. He truly gives power to the faint (or fainting) on a daily basis. Now back to analyzing tone…

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Author: Stacey Hare

Stacey is a wife, mom, linguist, and Bible translator. Right now she is working on the writing system for the Kwakum including how to mark tone. Literacy among the Kwakum is already beginning and translation is scheduled to begin in September 2019!

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