Seems like all my friends in our village who have kids in Timon’s age group are giving birth to another one right now. A few delivered a baby just now; others are soon to deliver. Just in case you are wondering, I am not pregnant. Giving birth and planning here is very different from what it is for us. They can’t really decide if they want a child now or if they want to wait a bit. There are no real birth controls out here unless they go to town and get an implant or smililar. Some people also have had so many children that they want to be done now, some have had severe postpartum complications, and others7 even have more dead children than live ones. This is a trauma for them just as it is for us. But here it is even more life-threatening. We just met a guy, whose children all died apart from one. Well this is not a post about birth control. But just a side note, we are planning to get a doctor to come in in July, who can do vasectomies since we are getting many requests from Kovol people to help them stop having children.Today I went to see a mum who just gave birth this morning. I went there with Gerdine and our kids. I was so happy to have received the news so quickly about a newborn baby. Turns out, she was even just finishing her whole birthing process. The mother was still sitting on the leaves where she had given birth to her baby. Another lady, had the baby in a bilum (stringbag) that was hanging on her head. We had a peek at the baby and the mom, and left the birthing site as the dad of the baby now had to bury all the afterbirth and blood.Maybe you wonder how do they give birth in the bush? Well, first of all, there are no doctors, no checkups, no immunizations, no due date expectations and no medicine. If they have complications, well they try to survive. I just heard from a friend, that her husband’s mum had 8 children. All of them died apart from two. The mum herself died with the birth of the last one and her husband was killed before the birth of the last child. This is just one of many stories.When the mother gets back pain, they say it’s time to give birth. My friend today had back pain and her water broke in the last two days. She had contractions through the night. In the morning her husband went behind the house into the bushes and made a bed out of fuzzy leaves as the delivery place. A stick for holding on to was put into the ground. Then she sat there, dressed in skirt and shirt, waiting out her contractions. When the baby came she was alone. Once her 8th girl made it, she yelled ‘it came’, so others would come and help her. Part of her placenta wouldn’t come, so the women gave her water to drink, shook her abdomen and took some of the meconium of the baby away with some leaves. A few hours later, when the placenta was all out, they picked the baby up, washed her with water and soap, cut the navel cord with a glowing wood piece and a sharp bamboo piece, put the newborn into a string bag and carried her around. The dad of the child made a hole and buried all the afterbirth with all the bloody leaves. Then they would normally put some logs and a strong fence over it so the pigs don’t find and eat it. If they did, the in-laws wouldn’t be able to eat the pig. So they are trying to prevent this.The mother goes to the house eventually and sits on a place that is prepared for her. They put leaves on her place to catch the bleeding. The baby stays in the house until the navel cord falls off! Her baby didn’t open her eyes, so now they worry, is she ok? They haven’t seen this happen before. But there is no doctor to ask or to check the baby. Well I have good email access to doctors and also to the internet if there are things I don’t know. But I can’t even imagine how it is for them not knowing and being so helpless.
After living in Kovol with us for the last 2 months our new friend and homeschool helper Fiona has left us :( It's amazing how close you can become in 2 months of daily life isolated out in the bush! We're finding the sadness quite unexpected. When we leave a country (amazing that I can write as if that's a normal thing, but for us it is!) we know we'll be saying goodbye. We hadn't prepared ourselves for it this time, and saying a farewell in the middle our our term in PNG has us processing all those same feelings.