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Friday, 13 September 2013

Life's Not Fair with HIV

* Names and details were changed...but the story is true

When I first saw Khalia, she was sitting with her mom on the hard wooden benches outside.  Her mother made me promise to take care of her girl.  There were tears in her eyes as she pleaded with me.  Mom's aren't allowed past the heavy, paint chipped door of the labor and delivery ward.  I told her I would be her daughter's "watch mama." 

The nurses took Khalia back to take a cold bucket bath in the filthy shower stall.  Her mother then pulled a very used Coca Cola bottle full of water out of her colorful string bag.  She whispered to me that I needed to take this to her daughter to drink.  It was from Khalia's village where she had grown up.  All the women had "outed" their "heavies" (issues, grudges ect.) and blessed the water.  Now if the laboring mother drinks it, it shows that they are all at peace.  They believed it would make the labor go quickly and easily.  The wrinkled little mother was thrilled that I understood and was familiar with the beliefs from my years in the bush.  I gave it to Khalia, explained what her mom had said, and Khalia drank it up quickly.

Khalia is 17 years old.  Last year her husband bought her for about $3000.  She then went to live in his village as his fourth wife.  She spends her days tending the large gardens and cooking food.  Probably caring for the kids of the older wives too.  Her new husband  gave her HIV on her wedding night.  She is now HIV positive and has TB and herpes to go with it.

Now, here she was delivering her first baby.  The medical staff was standoffish about her medical conditions. (The herpes had done some awful looking things to her) They warned me not to be around her.  I did consider just helping the other 8 ladies in labor but I felt that God would have me to love on Khalia.  It was the right thing to do.  It is what Jesus would do.  I spent the next 8 hours with her. (and I did take precautions with fluids)   She is a sweet and beautiful girl who labored very well.  

She begged me not to leave, even for a minute.  I held her, massaged her, prayed with her, and encouraged her. 

Once she was ready to push, she pushed for almost 4 hours.  They never checked the babies heart tones. 

She got so exhausted.  Her babies head had been slightly in view for two hours.  No amount of squatting or position change was helping.  I finally was able to convince someone to come help us.  I was shocked at how she "helped."   She grabbed a razor blade and cut Khalia four times. Four large episiotomies on her herpes enveloped skin.  A beautiful baby girl emerged over the HIV infected blood. 

Khalia had more love in her eyes as she looked at her new daughter than most of the mom's I see here.  The baby latched on a nursed just fine.  It was hard to say goodbye to her.  I am privileged to have been able to be with her on that day. 

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