We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Try Not to Push!

Oh my, what a day! I am still recovering!

It began quite normally. I was with all the mamas at the workshop at 8am and we were pushing hard to prepare more products for the Pasha Christmas Craft Market this Saturday. There was the usual bustle of activity with candle-making, sewing, making beeswraps, beeswax body balms and lotion bars! We always manage to produce a lot ... but today produced rather significantly more!

Mama Zuena was making candles. At one point I looked at her and she looked a little pained while frozen in position. A little later, at 10:45am she went outside. I followed. She told me she was "feeling bad" which was code for "I'm in labour" (one doesn't discuss pregnancy and childbirth here in Tanzania). She said she was fine and in a little bit she would go home to wait and fetch a bag of clothes for the hospital. It didn't sound too urgent and I told her when she was ready, I would give her lift in the Landcruiser.

I went back inside to continue cutting beeswraps. But eying Zuena, it seemed contractions were coming on rather quickly. I suggested maybe we should go straight to the hospital. But she really wanted to pass by her home (in the opposite direction to the hospital) to collect her bag. But then she was doubled over in pain again and so I suggested her daughter bring her bag from home to us and then we go together to hospital. More cries of pain. Then … I said we should forget the bag.

We were going now! I helped her into the back of the Landcruiser and called to Rose to hurry away from the neem balms and hop in fast. As the guard ever so slowly came to ever so slowly open the gate, Zuena was on the floor of the Landcruiser with full cries and moans of labour. I drove as gently as I could, as quickly as I could down the terribly pot-holed, bumpy road. We were all praying hard and loud. Zuena was praying loudly in between cries, asking that God would open the way for the baby … I was praying earnestly that God would keep it closed for just a bit longer. We had to get across town and I stepped on it. Zuena's waters broke and she was in full blown labour! In a rather futile but desperate attempt, I told Zuena to hold on and try not to push.  As traffic slowed at the lights and the cries intensified, I was wondering if I should be pulling over and simply terrified that Rose and I were going to have to deliver this baby on the side of the road! We kept praying!

We made it to the hospital. I flew into the emergency department and we got Zuena to the labour ward. She didn't even have time to go to the delivery area… she just had that baby right there by the computer at reception! At 11:35, fifteen minutes after arriving, Zuena was holding a beautiful baby girl!

I found it rather hard that we were not allowed to stay with Zuena! I managed to sneak a photo very quickly before I left the hospital. But really the "important" role of labour supporter was sorting out the forms and payment … and that took an hour and half longer than it took to have the baby!
A beautiful baby girl

A Mother's Love
The baby, weighing 3.3kg, is doing well. Zuena is struggling a little with high blood pressure. She has diabetes (another reason I was terrified to deliver her baby in the Landcrusier on the side of the road). But she is being monitored and doing well and she should be able to go home tomorrow! And now my own stomach is starting to untangle its own knots … and the high adrenaline slowly calming down!

Rose and I returned to the workshop where all the mamas were delighted to hear the news and see the photo of the new baby on my phone! And we carried on with all the candle-making, balm making and beeswrap making! All rather surreal! All in a day's work! What an absolute privilege it is to share life in so many beautiful ways with these amazing women!

Enjoying the work after the good news!

Update! I didn't publish last night as I wanted to get Zuena's permission first! I went back to the hospital today with Rose, Saidati (Zuena's eldest) and Louisa. Unfortunately Zuena needs to stay in with her high blood pressure. Baby (not yet named!) is doing very well!
Two sisters

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