One of the things I really enjoy about being here at Karibu Centre is taking the women in to the hospital when they are going into labor.
It works out this way because only Ian and I are able to drive the Centre van, and often, it just seems better to have me walking into the maternity ward at the district hospital (who’s gonna bother this seriously pregnant woman?) than the one white guy in town. The staff at the hospital are familiar with me and the other Kenyan Centre staff that go there regularly (the house mom for the pregnant girls & our social worker) and they rarely give us problems if it is outside of visiting hours, or if we want to do something (like walk right into the labor ward) that everyone else is prohibited from doing.
Anyhow, a little over a week ago, I went through the normal routine of taking one of our girls in to the hospital. And she had a beautiful baby boy, with no complications, on Good Friday.
There was however a wrinkle in the wonderful day. Another girl gave birth that same day, a wonderful young mom who lived at our Centre for a while, and then voluntarily left to go live in the slum next door with her boyfriend. After a lot of conversations with staff, this young woman had decided that she preferred her freedom and living with the boyfriend over some of the benefits that could be afforded by living here at the Centre (good nutrition, vocational training, medical care etc).
This mom gave birth to a wonderful baby boy. With a malformed head.
Staff came and reported this to me, and couldn’t really explain the difficulty, so when we went to pick up our mom and her little one, I asked the hospital staff if I might see the baby.
These are the instances when I experience white privilege. I’m not proud of this privilege that is afforded to me….for no reason other than the color of my skin or my perceived socioeconomic status. But, I’m not gonna lie either, I take advantage of this privilege when it allows me to help out these young women and children.
The baby was being kept in the nursery (our equivalent would be ICU), and the nurse wanted to know what relation I was to the baby. I explained that this young mom used to stay at our Centre, that she was on her own now, and would need help to give this baby medical treatment if it needed it, and that help was me. I was let right in. Unfortunately, money talks.
What I saw broke my heart. A beautiful baby boy, seemingly perfect in every way except for the 3 inch diameter dent around the frontal lobe of his head. When I questioned the nurse, she was adamant that it was a congenital defect and not birth related trauma. She had me feel the dent, and true to what she said, I could not feel any skull there. I thanked her for letting me see the baby, and she let me know that they would keep him there for about 4 more days to see if there were any other complications…and to take a xray.
I went back in to see the young mom, who was sitting on her bed (with the 3 other women who shared it) with her boyfriend next to her. She is fortunate, there are so many young mothers here facing pregnancy and birth alone, without the monetary or emotional support of the baby’s father or family around. I gave her a hug, assured her we would figure it all out, and told her what a beautiful boy she had.
As I walked out of the ward, with the usual crowd of very pregnant Kenyan women watching me (ok, gawking really), I had to wonder why of all the 12 or so mothers’ we’ve taken to the hospital, and who have all had routine healthy deliveries……why the one mom who left before delivering had this complication? Ian and I thought it over and decided that maybe in his wisdom, God was protecting the Centre from any possible liability, while allowing me to help this woman personally. But we also know that God does not engineer tragedy, that it is a tool of Satan, and that we can be assured that God helps us work through the evil things of this world to bring glory to Him in the end.
So, with a heart laden with joy over the new healthy boy and mom the Centre was bringing home, and sadness over the mom we were leaving at the hospital I came home to contemplate what our further involvement might look like.
Part 2 tomorrow.