On giving birth

{Ok, don’t hate me, but this is not the photo dump you might be waiting for.  I know I owe it to you (and now I have even more pictures), but the cable is upstairs and I’m not and that’s just how things are going to stay for the while.  And while it might sound like pictures are faster, they actually take longer by the time I order them, crop them, center them, etc.  So you’ll have to suffer through another text heavy post or you could always click that red x in the corner and I’d be none the wiser.}

This past Saturday A couple of weeks ago (this has sat in my draft folder for a while) Jeff and I attended a child birth class at our local hospital. It was a 8 hour session that condensed the 7 weeks of evening classes into one LONG day.  My mom was quite surprised to hear me say that I learned a lot from the class.  She thought that I would have read up on all the stuff already.  Ha. I seriously laughed at her.  I reminded her that I barely have the time and energy to change into my pjs before bed, let alone get heavy reading accomplished.  I really did learn a lot from the class.  I can’t say for sure how helpful any of it will be when the time arrives, but it is nice having an idea of what I might expect to happen.

We are fortunate to have two wonderful hospitals within about 5 minutes of our house.  The hospital that our class was at proudly touted that it is the best facility around and even employs John Travolta’s former chef, with items such as glazed salmon and filet mignon on the menu.  The monitors (wired and wireless versions) for both me and baby, pain management options, state of the art emergency equipment/staff on site, and even the room amenities (complete with dimming “moon and grass”) were incredible to hear about.  It is amazing how advanced medical facilities can be these days.  It seemed that short of waving a magical wand, they have thought of it all.

But while I was sitting in that room in central Indiana with this baby girl kicking away at my ribs, my mind frequently turned to Odette and A’s moms in Congo and what their child birth experience was like.  When we were in DRC we asked our guide about this topic.  We were told that often times mothers would begin traveling by foot toward the nearest hospital weeks before they were due.  Then they would hopefully stay with a family member or friend until it was time for them to deliver their baby.  Our conversation ended about there, but it has always stuck with me.  Since then I have read a bit more on what it might be like to give birth in Congo.

I simply can’t imagine what it could have been like for Odette and A’s moms.  I think of how I feel when the temperature was warm here and imagine the constant heat of Congo and the lack of American luxuries that I take for granted.  I mean poor me would drive in an air conditioned car to an air conditioned building to work for 8 (or so) hours a day.  I lay on my soft pillowtop mattress surrounded my mounds of pillows to keep myself comfortable.  My every craving can be met with a trip to the kitchen or grocery store at worst.  I have seen my doctor at least monthly (now semi-monthly and soon to be weekly) and get every question or concern answered often before I have them.  While I am there I have multiple tests run to check on the health of me and the baby.  All of these things strictly prenatal related; they don’t at all begin to touch on birthing the baby.

I stumbled upon an amazing blog, Mama Congo, and was totally fascinated to learn about delivering a baby in DRC.  You really should check out the blog.  It is written by two moms who moved to Congo with their families.  They have written a couple of posts about maternity clinics and what a birthing mother may experience in that country.  I don’t want to copy all their pictures and information onto my blog, as it is theirs and not mine, but I will highlight a few things and link a couple of pictures of their visit to a clinic outside the city of KinshasaAll pictures are links to their post.

This is the delivering table and here is a list of ALL of the equipment available to them.

  • 1 pair scissors.
  • 1 pick-up/tweezers.
  • 1 bulb syringe (for sucking out baby’s mouth and nose).
  • 2 clamps (for the umbilical cord).
  • 1 syringe.
  • 1 needle.
  • 1 stainless canister (used with a little rubbing alcohol and fire for sterilization of equipment.)
  • 1 pack of matches.
  • 1 mostly-empty bottle of isopropyl alcohol.
  • 1 half-full bottle of Ketamine for emergency anesthesia.
  • 1 old vial of Lidocaine for numbing skin

And what is most incredible about this is that the authors state that they would give birth HERE any day over the clinic they assisted at once in the city.  I simply cannot even begin to wrap my mind around what it would be like to be a Congolese woman and deliver a child in a facility like the one above or worse.

Recently, Mama Congo, hosted a guest writer to share her experiences with seven maternity clinics in Kinshasa.  They are quick to point out that the readers shouldn’t feel pity, but instead should see the true success that the pictures represent.  In a country with nearly the highest maternal mortality rate the clinics written about have worked incredibly hard to drastically reduce the risk.  In fact, in over 20 years there have only have 5 total maternal deaths.

I show you these pictures and share the tiny bits of information (hoping you will go read more) just to open your eyes to the world outside of ours.  This planet that we are blessed to live on is made up of people JUST LIKE YOU AND ME yet our lives can be so different at times.

I can’t think about this baby girl growing within my womb without turning my thoughts to the women who carried my children in theirs’.  I often wonder what their pregnancy was like and what their dreams were for their unborn child.  I wonder what their labor was like and how much they each weighed at birth.  I wonder if they were born in the morning or at night and what type of baby they were.  I’m sure that as the day draws nearer for us to welcome our little baby into our arms that I will feel more of an indescribable bond with those two women from the other side of the world whom I have never met.

51 days and counting

Sarah Signature

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One thought on “On giving birth

  1. Hello from Mama Congo. Thanks so much for sharing information about maternal health in Congo. I love, love the comparison of delivery rooms. All the best to you from Kinshasa. -Sarah

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