Friday, June 17, 2011

The Birth of Esther

Summer has arrived at MHI. It was only 7:00am and we were already feeling the intense heat of the sun as a woman arrived at the clinic in active labor. Though her contractions were strong she seemed grateful to finally be doing the necessary work. She’d spent the night in the dome a week ago thinking that it was her time only to have labor stop.

We settled her in the dome and began preparing for her birth. Sweat was pouring down all of our bodies, hers most of all as her contractions intensified. The mother asked if she could birth outside. It was a beautiful quiet Sunday morning. We rigged up some sheets to give her privacy. She was without family as her husband is a preacher and needed to be at church. We took turns massaging and encouraging her.

Before long the woman’s voice changed and we knew she would soon begin to push. Her membranes ruptured revealing copious dark meconium. Baby’s fetal heart tones were normal and since we could tell birth was imminent, we prepared the equipment to help the baby if needed. The woman really wanted to be sitting upright as she began to push so Melinda got behind her to hold her up. Soon Melinda needed support and she asked my daughter, who was working in the garden to lend us her back. Tara positioned herself with her back against Melinda’s and pushed against the concrete wall with her feet and hands.

As the baby’s head emerged, Kari, the student midwife and myself acted quickly to suction, unwrap the umbilical cord and get the baby up to her Mama’s waiting arms. The baby was slow to start but came around thanks to our combined skill. I felt all of us praying, each in her own spiritual way as we welcomed baby Esther. As she began to come into her own her little voice joined the chorus of distant voices singing in their morning worship service.

Women helping women birth their babies is as ancient as our existence. What a privilege it was to be a part of baby Esther’s arrival. She is another beautiful light in our world.

Kathi Mulder, CPM. Volunteer Midwife at MHI, Jacmel, Haiti