After a nice meal of boiled mixed greens, a filling corn meal cake, and homegrown pineapples from Marsile’s home, Craig and I sat down with Hendrika to write the day’s report. Almost before we began, Robin, who had just gone down to the clinic to assist with a delivery, came rushing in and told me to come down. Hendrika and Craig graciously allowed me to leave and Robin and I rushed down to the delivery room. Robin entered and I waited in the hallway until Nathaniel, the nursing student in charge of the delivery, led me into the room. Inside I found Robin with Florence who was in some control of the situation, a plastic apron over her sharp office attire, and a stoic young woman lying on her back, legs propped up, hands around her ankles. As Nathaniel put his hands between the woman’s legs to show me the child’s yet emerged head, I turned to Robin and said, “That’s got to be impossible.” She laughed and assured me that it was and Florence laughed more when she heard what I’d said. I then asked if I could let the woman hold my arm and Florence laughed again and said that she’d probably break it. So I sat, excited and expectant, at the foot of the bed and waited while in energy in the room rose with each contraction until in one excruciating and euphoric burst the child’s head exploded out and the fluid shot nearly to the ceiling, while the mother gave her one and only scream. The body slid out, followed by a short moment of calm and relief, and a few seconds later the silence was broken by the holy cries of the newly born babe.
It wasn’t until later that night that I realized what had happened. Not only had the seemingly impossible became possible, it had become actual. I think that’s a good lesson as I continue to think about the devastating poverty and need that plagues the place we’re in. It’s true that a solution seems impossible, but babies are born every day. The impossible is continually made actual, and birth makes the past irrelevant.
The mother’s name is Sophia, and she had a beautiful baby girl.