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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Breech in the Jungle with a Cigarette

Underage Smokers

She squatted, she smoked, she grimaced as the contractions came and went. She wore only a ragged loincloth. Under her was dirt and above her were the stars. 

This is where she was going to have her baby,  The neighbor kids giggled as they lit their jungle "cigarettes."  They weren't allowed to have the tabacco until they were at least 12, so until then, they wrapped random jungle plants in dried banana leaves and smoked them. 

I was with my friend Kira on the night her 4th child was to be born.  I had awakened to a rapping on the bamboo walls of my house by her husband telling me it was time. 

We headed out to a little spot her husband had cleared in the jungle.  He lit a fire, stuck a stick (to hold while pushing in the squat position) in the ground, and they laid down some banana leaves.  Now the baby could come.

The wind was strong that night and we were all cold.  In this tribe, there are no birth specialists.  A woman in labor is attended by whoever happens to be around.  Tonight it was me and her mother in law and a bunch of kids.  I had brought a clean razor blade, a baby hat, and clean baby blankets.  I was hoping for a good outcome, as it seemed that a lot of births here ended in tragedy.

Kira grunted and repositioned herself, then lifted her homemade cigarette to her lips again.  She smoked almost constantly throughout her labor.  The contractions kept getting stronger and then they pretty much stopped.

She was tired and we all decided to go back to the village and let her rest until the contractions started again.  When they started again they came fast and hard and out popped a big boy.  Bottom first. 

She rested and lit another banana leaf/tabacco cigarette.

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