Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hair, Babies, and Missionary Activities

Sometimes, being a missionary means doing some odd things.  I guess that doesn't come as a surprise to people who know me... I've been doing odd things for a long time.  Lately, you will find me showing up to work in crazily braided hair on occasion.  It's my way of connecting with a young mother in my neighborhood.  Marjorie comes to my house every so often to braid my hair, and while she does, we talk, get to know each other, and I offer counsel when I can.

Marjorie and I had an interesting conversation the other day.  She noticed my hugely pregnant belly and asked me when the baby was due.  Then she asked me where I was going to have the baby.  When I told her I was planning to go back to the States to give birth, she asked me "Why?"  I suppose that sounds like a fair enough question, until you consider Marjorie's labor and delivery history.  Marjorie's first baby, Ledson, was born just outside my front gate, on the grass of the parking lot.  It was January 13, 2010.  That's the day after the big quake.  The earthquake sent her into labor, and the morning afterwards she came to find someone to help deliver her baby, but we were all in the church building, wading through hoards of injured and dying patients.  So, she just squatted by our front gate and began to push.  Thankfully, there were a few missionary ladies on the compound that were non-medical, so they weren't at the church with the rest of us.  They saw Marjorie in her distress, called for some supplies, and helped deliver Ledson.  He's three years old now, and doing great.  Marjorie's second baby, Samuel, was born at the local hospital.  It's a Doctors Without Borders hospital that was set up after the earthquake.  Most of the "buildings" consist of large tents. The birthing center is a large tent with ten or so beds in a row, separated by nothing but air and screams.  The women who are currently pushing are placed on the beds, while the women who are in active labor but not yet ready to push squat on the floor or walk around the tent in agony.  When Marjorie and her mother arrived at the hospital to give birth, all of the beds were full.  Marjorie joined the laboring, groaning, milling-about crowd until she just couldn't take it any longer.  She told her mother she just had to push, at which point her mother directed her out of the maternity tent and into the medical-surgical tent next store.  They found an empty bed there, and, assisted by no one but her mother, Marjorie gave birth to Samuel.  After he was born, his cries alerted the staff and they came over to scold her profusely for daring to give birth in the medical-surgical tent.  So, when Marjorie asked me why I was going back to the States to have my baby, I thought in my head, "Ledson and Samuel!  That right there is why I'm going Stateside!"  But I tried to answer her more diplomatically.  I explained that there is better neonatal care in the U.S., and since my first baby had some problems breathing after birth, I feel more comfortable giving birth at a hospital that is set up for good emergency care of neonates.  I didn't mention to her that I am also a big fan of epidurals and pain medicine and privacy curtains!  I would appreciate all your prayers that this little guy waits until we are Stateside (we leave March 2nd) to make his appearance.