There are so many things I could write about.
I could write about the woman we transferred from Kasongomwana, who is twenty years old and only 1meter 36cm and very, very pregnant for the first time, thus at very high risk for obstructed labour. The health centre midwife referred her so that she could have a safe delivery here in Kilwa, but she decided not to go to Kilwa. By chance, she went into labour (obstructed of course) when we were there and so we raced along the “road” for three hours and forty-five minutes and despite a foetal heart rate of 80 on our arrival, she delivered a bouncing (after a little resuscitation of course) baby boy.
I could write about our guard in Kasongomwana who, when I retold the story of the young woman, responded with a “if only she had eaten a white chicken”…to which I responded “maybe you are onto something there…white chicken and all… however I think that she should have maybe eaten the chicken on her way to the hospital when we asked her to go.”
I could write about the trip to Lukonzolwa where I had a three-hour meeting with the Comité de Santé (the volunteer community group responsible for overseeing the health centres, part of the MOH.) The discussion points were mainly around how the muzungu managed to say hello to everyone in Bemba…why not every person that comes to the health centre gets a laboratory exam in the new lab (people are apparently very angry about this) and why we will not start a circumcision program in the MSF Health Centre. I have to say that the last point left me a little speechless.
I could write about the trip back from Lukonzolwa when we were flagged dow by a rowboat which of course, contained a pregnant woman in labour, and how we transferred her into our boat in the middle of the lake and then into the car and then raced to the hospital only to discover that we were too late because the umbilical cord decided to arrive before the baby.
I could write about how for a long time I wanted to be a midwife but decided to become a nurse instead…and yet here I am in the Congo with all these women having babies everywhere I go, and I am kind of wishing that I sure knew a lot more about delivering babies. It’s ok though, I have started to spend my Sundays with the midwife in the maternity to catch up on a few things. It’s not so bad, to spend your Sundays welcoming new people into the world.
Speaking of new people, I could write about the incredible shrinking baby I came across in Kabangu yesterday…who when I first asked the midwife, weighed 2.6kg, and when I had serious doubts about this and asked her to re-weigh him, the baby was a whopping 1.8kg. In fact, when we transferred the little shrimp to the hospital and reweighed him again, the scale here being slightly more reliable, we discovered that in fact the little guy weighed 1.5kg.
I could write about the garde-malade who was accompanying the mother of the tiny shrimp to Kilwa, who without warning threw up all over Bosco, my Mobilisateur Social, only a few minutes after I had asked him if he wanted to change places with me in the car and he refused….
I could write about the wedding we are all invited to this afternoon and the long conversation in the car with Bosco and Papa Shamba (who seems to have forgiven me about the flour) on wedding etiquette in which I learned that the biggest possible insult is to give someone a duck as a gift, or to prepare duck as a meal for the guests. It is also unacceptable to give a sheep or a rat. But a good gift is a goat or a chicken, or a pagne or an oil lamp. Normally you do have to wrap the gifts, but not apparently if it is a live chicken or a goat. Jean-Seb, my loggy, was very disappointed about this, and I agree, it might be fun to try to wrap the goat we are giving, but on the other hand, maybe the goat doesn’t want to spend his last day wrapped up in fancy paper.