Mangua was laying on the dirty floor, writhing, screaming and crying. I guessed she was 8 or 9 centimeters dilated by the little grunt at the peak of each contraction. (although I always keep in the back of my mind that some labors just don't follow the rules and can look like that at 5 cm.) Her lips were dry and I offered her water. I wiped her sweat beaded face with a cool cloth and started fanning her. It is very hot and humid here and there are no fans or AC in the maternity ward.
Her contractions were one on top of the other as I held her hand and rubbed her back. She calmed down considerably.
Meanwhile I looked up at the wall and had to smile at the sign I read. Translated, it said, "To all mamas: please take your placentas home with you and bury them. We are tired of finding them tossed in the road and under the bushes. Thank you!"
Then I witnessed what I think of as "the last hurrah." I've seen it over and over again in births that have not been altered with medications. It is when there is a 3-4 minute unbearable contraction and then peace. It seems to be the last bit of dilation and then the mama experiences what midwives call the "rest and be thankful stage." There is such a change in demeanor at the end of that last long contraction. The contractions sometimes do continue, but they are different. Has anyone else seen this?
After about 20 more minutes she said, "the baby is coming!" and I supported her as we wobbled down the hall to the delivery room.
Meanwhile Leali, I had been supporting, but who was coping much more quietly, passed us in the hall with her hand between her legs. She too was on her way to the "haus bilong karim" (the room where they are supposed to push out their babies).
Mangua and Leali both got up on delivery tables with about 12 inches between them and Mangua's water broke. It was very stained by meconium. A very thin, and very pale baby emerged as I fanned and encouraged her. A boy.
Leili delivered a healthy and very vocal little girl. It soon became apparent that Mangua's baby was not okay and needed help with breathing. About this time, Leali began to hemorrhage. She was weak and unable to hold her baby on the narrow table. So my job at that point was to hold and comfort the tiny and very opinionated little newborn. I sang to her and walked the halls while I prayed for the other baby that it would breath. And for her mama that she would stop bleeding.
My prayers were answered. When I left both mom's and both babies were doing great. There was another lady yesterday too, but I'll leave her story for another day.