Late Tuesday night Betty headed out into the dark night by herself. Although she was frightened, she said God told her to go to her friend producing (having a baby) at the hospital.
The next morning I asked how her friend was and she told me that she had been having terrible pain since the last part of February (when she was due) and that she finally went to the hospital on Sunday. She is alone, as her husband is away at work in another town and her other three children are at neighbors’ houses.
Betty said her pain was severe but she was not “opening” (dilating). She said that everyone thought she was having twins because she was so large. I asked why they didn’t do a caesarean and she said because her friend would not give them permission because she did not want to die. Apparently a large percentage of woman in Uganda die from caesarean section – often from incorrect doses of anesthesia.
This afternoon Betty is going to see her again and take her hot water so she could wash and have something warm to drink. I guess I never thought about a hospital with no hot water. Betty also said that if she doesn’t “open” today she’ll go home because there is “nothing the hospital can do.” I am fearful she may die.
Our Ugandan friend, Gerald, said that many, many women and babies die in childbirth because they can’t afford to go to the hospital. And even in the hospital the care is “not certain.”
Then, I look around at all of the pregnant women and wonder if they’re scared. If they worry about dying and leaving their babies without a mother – or if they’ll ever get to meet the baby inside of them.
Women in the towns and cities have an average of 3 – 4 children, but in outlying villages they often have 8 or more. The thing is, they need children to help with never-ending chores, make income when they can and take care of them when they’re old.
I asked Gerald, “What if couples don’t want to have children?” He looked at me like I was from another planet and asked me to repeat myself. He then laughed and said he didn’t know anyone who had made that choice. Everyone has children.
Then I asked, “What if the woman, because of something physical, is unable to produce?” He said then the man could marry another woman and have two wives – or more. “What if the man can’t produce?” I asked. He said he didn’t know, but certainly the woman wouldn’t be able to have another husband.
All said, it is such a miracle we see so many beautiful, smiling children and their lovely mothers. I’ll keep you posted on Betty’s friend.