An excerpt from Summer Latta's Journal March 15, 2009
Summer Joy is a real Role Model and here is just one day in her life recently.
So here we are, back at the Baptist clinic (Senga Bay, Malawi) at night, I sprinted into the Labor Ward and found a laboring woman! WOOHOO! She was 19years old, first pregnancy (Gravida 1 Para 0) and Grace (the midwife) and Chelles (the patient attendant) were with her. Grace said to me, "Yes, we have been managing her labor until you arrived, she is yours now." Oh my heart was full of excitement, FINALLY a woman in labor J!! I ran to the midwife cottage and told the others (Dr. Mary Ann Faucher, Stephanie and Delaine). They came over and we discovered a multiparous woman in early latent phase of labor in the maternity ward. She was resting on a bed under a blue mosquito net with a family member at her side (it will be a while before she delivers). The Labor room was hot and humid with various bugs and creatures clinging to the ceiling fan, fluorescent lights and blinds AHHH!! The stark reality of the situation….here I am in Africa with my first labor patient, sweating, bugs falling on me and I'm trying to keep my cool. Mary Ann said jokingly, "Well, Summer you should be use to this by now!"hahaha
My patient's name is Aina and she was lying on a labor bed with a bright-colored cloth wrapped around her waist…she is so tiny. She was dilated to 7-8cm/100%effaced/+1 station upon my initial exam @ 2150. Contractions were coming 3 in 10minutes, lasting 40-50 seconds and palpating moderate. Her body is beautiful as she moves with each contraction. I am learning important phrases in Chichewa (native language in Malawi) i.e. Dulusomepwayah which means "breathe out" and Ubaysabueno which means "good job." At first, I could tell Aina was anxious and scared especially with all of the "Mazungus" aka White People in the room. Nevertheless, as her labor progressed I continued to remain a constant labor support at the bedside. Her pelvis was small and she began to writhe in pain while lying on top of a trash bag. Her body was drenched in sweat and the trash bag clung to her every move. I fanned her during contractions and she turned onto her tummy. I was shocked, I had never seen someone labor in a prone position.
While she was lying in this position, I was able to massage her lower back and promote counter pressure to her iliac crests in efforts to increase the AP (anterior-posterior) diameter so the baby would descend easier. As I laid my hands on her, they swallowed her hips and I was praying for safe passage and delivery. It was at this moment during the arduous labor, sweat soaking through my scrubs, beads of perspiration running down my face and flies swarming around us, that something significant happened…. The patient was lying on her tummy and she reached around with her left arm and put it around my waist. This was the most powerful and beautiful experience I have ever encountered during labor. This was a huge breakthrough, not just for the labor management process, but this was when the trust-bond was established between Aina and I. I got chills when this occurred, and despite the language barrier, cultural differences and the hot insect-infested environment, I felt the presence of God so strongly….for it was at this moment a midwife was birthed!
I realized that God had totally orchestrated this moment, for nothing comes without a price. True joy…for it was the joy that was set before Him that He endured the cross. I felt that I was in a labor process….as I had anticipated, longed for and desired birthing new life....I was born. The birthing of a midwife took place on the very continent where I was created. Oh Father, You saw my unformed body, all of my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. Now was the time! I held back the tears as Aina clung to me. I could feel the pleasure of God as I stepped into my true identity as a midwife. WOW!! There are no words to adequately portray the emotions that I felt or the birthing process that took place inside of me. For it was at this very moment, I knew…this is what I was created to do! Here in Malawi (which means Flames of Fire) I was birthed.
As Mary Ann and Stephanie looked on, they witnessed this significant event. Later Mary Ann told me she was glad that I insisted we spend the night again (although she was exhausted) she was glad I pushed her J She said, "Summer, tonight I witnessed the birth of a midwife." WOW! I was overwhelmed for this is exactly what happened….
During the labor, it was as if I was one with my patient and I could feel exactly what she needed this was the Holy Spirit guiding my hands, as I truly embraced the heart of midwifery by being "with women." When Aina became complete (10cm dilated) @ 0205 we were all a little concerned if she would be able to deliver vaginally. There was fetal caput/molding felt on my exam. She began to push with all of her might! No meds, all natural, the veins in her face and chest were popping out! I've never seen someone push like she did. Grace was still skeptical and went to get Aina's family. All of the sudden we heard loud shouting outside of the labor room and Aina, stopped pushing in order to listen. I was alarmed by this yelling and asked Grace what was going on. She replied, "Oh, Summer, you see Aina's family is telling her to push this baby out or the baby will be born dead." I was shocked! Shortly after the berating screams, Aina delivered a beautiful baby girl at 0305 weighing 3000grams with lots of caput/molding. I was able to catch this beautiful Malawian baby and I was so ECSTATIC!! This was my first "catch" in Africa, what a life-changing monumental experience and Aina didn't tear, Praise the Lord!! As I held this gorgeous African daughter in my hands, I spoke blessings over her life. Shortly thereafter, the other patient delivered and I was able to catch her baby at 0355, the birth of another precious baby girl J Delaine and Stephanie did a wonderful job tending to the babies, while Mary Ann and I finished caring for the mothers.
Once we got the mothers settled under their blue mosquito nets and the babies nestled at their breasts, we called it a night. I expressed my deep gratitude to Grace for being such an amazing midwife and for allowing me to have this opportunity. We all went to bed at 0500… God you are so faithful!