Nini has had a hard life. Married very young, she was soon pregnant and had a little girl. Then, slowly but surely, she started to lose her sanity. There are days when she looks and acts normal. She will come to church or bring her little girl to the clinic for medicine. But there are other days when she is not with it at all. Her hair will be uncombed. She will seem to faint until you call her name, and then she snaps out of it.
Soon pregnant with her second baby, Nini came for prenatal checkups. We prayed for her a lot because we could see that, mentally, she was not dealing well with the pregnancy. One time she came to the clinic to ask if she was going to give birth to a pig. Carrie reassured her that her baby was human.
For the last month of her pregnancy, Nini came often to the clinic, believing that she was in labor. Sometimes she came just to ask when she would give birth. One day she was certain that she was in labor. Since the baby had recently been in the breech position, Carrie made the two-hour hike down the mountain with Nini to the lowlands for an ultrasound. The baby was safely in the head-down position, so Carrie and Nini hiked two more hours back up the mountain where the wait continued.
We asked Nini to stay in the home of a nearby relative so she could come for regular checkups. Sabbath morning as we were separating for the lesson study, the leader announced that we should talk to his wife about Nini. We hurried to check on her, and sure enough, she was actually in labor. The baby’s heart was doing well, and Nini’s vital signs were good. We brought her to the clinic, but she refused to go into the birthing house. Instead she sat or reclined on the porch. As her contractions got closer together and more painful, she would throw herself into our laps, and we would rub her back and encourage her.
After church, a flock of about 15 women descended on the birthing house to support the laboring mother. As a midwife, sometimes it can be very frustrating to have so many people in that small space. They don’t always work with us or leave us any room to work with the patient. But on this day, it turned out that we were going to need those women. Nini started to fight the labor. She said things that didn’t fit with the context. She spoke random words and phrases and would not lie down or do anything we told her. She asked if she was going to have a human. We prayed and prayed for her and tried to help and encourage her. The women ended up grabbing her and holding her down when it was time for pushing. They encouraged her. They told her how to breathe. They told her not to fight. It seemed to take forever, but eventually she started making progress. At last, a baby girl was born.
I put the baby on Nini’s stomach, hoping that she would bond with her little one. But instead, Nini freaked out. “It hurts! Get it away!” she screamed. I lowered the baby back down to wait for the cord to stop pulsing. After the cord was cut and the baby wrapped, a grandma took her while I helped deliver the placenta. I had the grandma come and sit beside Nini with the baby, again hoping that she would take the baby and bond.
The ladies helped her start breastfeeding. We delayed everything else so that the mother and baby would have a chance to bond. While we cleaned up, I checked on them frequently. I was so relieved when Nini finally picked up her baby and held her. We kept praying. That night when I checked on them, their vital signs were good. Nini had been nursing the baby and comforting her when she cried. This was huge progress. The next day when Nini and the baby were discharged, they both were doing well.
Please keep Nini and her new baby and the rest of her family in prayer. Pray that she can find peace and help and healing from God. Pray that her family will someday praise God for all that He has done for them.