So, it looks like the stork that was stalking me had the wrong target.
The “real” stork made a real visit to Karibu Centre this last week though.
We welcomed our the first baby to one of our vulnerable young pregnant women this week, and what a week it was.
On Monday morning we were informed that the president was declaring Tuesday a holiday. As in the next day. National Census Day. Hey, we’d take a day off! We were lucky enough though to be informed by one of the nearby elders that our house would be first on the census roundup and to make tea for him at 7pm Monday night. The census itself was pretty uneventful. I was glad that we had our “house visit” at 7pm and not at 10pm like our neighbors.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard a rap, rap, rap on my bedroom window at 5am in the morning on our holiday! I climbed out of my securely zipped up net and peeked out my window to see both of our night security guards looking at me. “One of the girls is sick” the younger guard mumbled out. I threw on some clothes and walked over in the still dark morning to investigate.
A short investigation indicated that this girl probably wasn’t just sick, but experiencing some serious Braxton-Hicks, or in premature labor. We were supposed to have another month or so to go here! I loaded the girl and our house mother who had arrived one day prior into the car, and off we went to the Municipal Hospital.
Many visits and a day later, Karibu Centre had it’s first mother and son! Baby and mother are doing fine, and we are busy getting them into all of the necessary appointments they need.
Beyond that, the whole experience was such an eye opener. It is something to experience the different foods, or social customs of a culture….and then entirely something different to go with a regular Kenyan to experience the whole hospital/labor/and newborn experience. The Municipal Hospital here in Thika is the only one around for quite a ways, so it is our option for the pregnant women here at the Centre.
I am trying to think of something to compare it to in the States. I’m not sure that I can. I guess when you lack the infrastructure to have the necessary number of trained nurses and doctors, then you end up with 15 laboring women sitting in a hall on benches and the floor waiting for the 1 doctor or nurse on duty to make it around to them. In this instance, it really appeared that the women in the most obvious pain got served first. Fortunately, at 5am in the morning, with no one around, a young nurse caved in to the pushiness of a white woman and our girl got seen. I was pretty proud of myself for pushing her to the front of the line. Unfortunately, the day nurse didn’t favor me so well, and I had to stay sight unseen in the afternoon after the nurse yelled out, “Who is with that mazungu? You can wait!” I’m thinking that the nurse might be bought off with a nice thank you card from Karibu Centre (for bringing the first Centre baby into the world….) and some chocolates. That should make her a little more willing to like me, for the next mother’s sake. Either that, or I’ll stay home and let our wonderful Kenyan house mom and social worker do the hospital drops!
For the next mothers, I have learned that the following needs to go into the hospital bag: Bottle of bleach, cotton rolls, washing up basin, hot water thermos (for tea), and nappies and other clothes for the baby. Silly me, I just packed clothes for the mother and baby this time. Who woulda thought that one had to provide their own sterilizing solution, cotton and wash basin??? Good thing there was a nice little shop outside the hospital perimeter selling the necessities. Quite handy!
The local hospital experience was sobering. Too many patients, not enough staff. No supplies. Sanitation standards that we haven’t seen in the States in decades. Wheel chairs without their wheels and foot rests. Hospital beds leaning to one side (perhaps because they are sitting 3 people deep?). And oh the smells emanating from those buildings. They really don’t translate into type.
I am thankful that we have access ourselves to good medical care and that through the work of the Centre we are able to ensure better medical care for these women than they would ever be able to receive otherwise.