A knock sounded on our bedroom door.
Our youth pastor poked his head in the door. “Hey, the nurse just called. There’s another c-section starting now.” He took a deep breath. “This is the one you should have been at. The mom is two weeks overdue and the baby is fine.”
He had our full attention.
“If you want to attend this one, we have to move now.”
The girls and I hopped off our beds, slipped our shoes on, and headed back to the hospital. We hurried across the missionary compound, shoes slapping in the dirt. I prayed silently that this birth story turned out different.
“I wasn’t going to give you the option to attend this one.”
“Oh,” I said. “What made you change your mind?”
“God,” he sighed. “I paced outside your door for several minutes before deciding to tell you. I hope no one is going because of peer pressure.”
“No, I don’t think they are. After the conversation we just had, the girls don’t regret going to the first one.”
We rushed through the hospital corridors and back into the green hallway to the operating room. Blue caps and masks passed between us, covering nervous smiles as we were ushered back into surgery. Deep breaths and lots of silent prayers.
Single file we shuffled against the wall in front of a new mama who sat naked, hunched over, waiting for her spinal tap. Eyes the color of dark chocolate and full of fear stared back at me. The temptation to look away was strong, instead I tried to smile and encourage from under my mask. Could she read the anxiety in my eyes? I hoped not.
They began the spinal tap. The mama moved on the operating table. The nurse in front of her grabbed her face and began yelling, while another nurse screamed from behind her. The mama began to cry. Oh please don’t cry because I will cry too, I thought. Already emotional, it wouldn’t take much to get my water works going.
“Don’t be upset. That’s just how they talk to each other here.” Our nurse friend explained. “They are not as nice as we are but she’s okay. She’s just scared.”
Once they finished administering the spinal, they had mama lay back on the bed. Her belly much larger than the mama in the last c-section. That’s a good sign. I breathed a little sigh of relief.
The surgeon pointed to the dad from our mission team, who had attended the last surgery with us, and waved him over.
“Me?” the dad asked and pointed at himself with disbelief. The surgeon nodded and waved a frantic hand at him, beckoning the dad to come to him. Dad did as instructed and headed toward the surgeon and operating table. A male nurse took a few steps forward but the surgeon shooed him away. He pointed again at our dad and motioned him forward.
“Just don’t touch any of us.” The nurse said.
The surgeon pointed at the surgical light and motioned for Dad to adjust it.
“He wants you to adjust the light shining on her belly.”
Dad moved the light shining on her stomach but it swung back to the original position when he let go. He tried again with the same results.
“It’s not tight enough to stay.”
Our nurse friend translated in Creole. The surgeon nodded and motioned Dad back to the wall.
Surgery began, just as it had the hour before. This time the surgery took longer. Mama had very little if any fat to get through. The stomach muscles on this mama were fierce and strong. Finally, the uterus came into view. One final cut and clear amniotic fluid spurted out. We waited, anxiety filled the room. Please Lord, let this little one be okay.
The surgeon pulled a baby out. It was the same size as the little baby from the other c-section. Small for such a large, full term belly. Anxiety gripped my chest. I held my breath. Please breathe, please breathe. And then it happened. A small little whimper!
The nurse grabbed the little man and hurried him over to the little table by the door. The same little table, that an hour before held the lost little one, now held precious new life.
I glanced back to the mama. A nurse was holding her hands over the uterus as it spurted more amniotic fluid like a fountain. Everyone in the room started laughing. It felt good to smile and laugh again.
And then the surgeon reached back into the uterus and out emerged another baby boy! Twins?! No one knew! Oh my!
A nurse stationed at the mamas head, pointed at our team’s Dad and motioned him over to her. Again? Hesitant, he stepped forward. She handed him a tube. With hand motions, they were able to communicate where she wanted Dad to connect the tube. Who knew our team Dad would become a surgical tech in Haiti?
We watched as the little ones were wiped down. When the nurses took the babies to their mama, we snuck quietly out of the room.
This time when we removed our masks and caps we did so with smiles, happiness, and relief.
Later, when our nurse friend returned to the missionary compound, she shared that these babies were #10 & #11 for this mama. They tied her tubes for her which they don’t do in Haiti unless you have a c-section. That is a blessing but these babies have to grow up in Haiti. . .
God gives and takes away. In Haiti this is a powerful daily truth.
Please remember this family in your prayers. A family of 13 is hard to provide for in the USA, but near impossible in Haiti.
* I realize some of this story sounds very different from the safety precautions we expect in the States. One thing you learn very fast in a third world country is that different does not equal wrong. It just means different. In Haiti, they do not have the same infection rates post surgery as we do in the US because we have over sanitized and built up immunities to antibiotics. And the only other explanation is by God’s grace.
Part Three – it involves baby pictures! Yes, there is more to this story. No, we did not attend any more c-sections 🙂