1 September 2013
I am so blessed to have a sister in Christ and fellow midwife-friend here at the birth center, Laker Christine – the extraordinary one! We actually share a hut, and we have our own small church time together every Sunday. It’s wonderful.
After singing and sharing some passage of scripture together, we share our praises and prayer requests with one another. Together today, we were praising God that we had lots of healthy mothers and babies this week – and didn’t have to refer or transport any of them. And Christine was also praying that the mothers who come to give birth here would have “clear hearts.”
She said that some of the mothers have been told by the fathers of their babies that they will die in childbirth. Others have been cursed by their uncles who have said their babies will die. (Many times I myself have heard mothers crying out in pain and fear, “Ado! Ado!” I’m dying, I’m dying. And I say, “Pe do.” Don’t die. Then I comfort them …) But cursing someone in this culture is a very serious matter.
Imagine the psychological burden of bearing a curse on your life from someone in your family when you go into labor and are about to bring a new life into the world. Imagine not knowing what might happen to you or your baby in the process – but knowing many women and newborns in your village, in your family, who have died in childbirth. Imagine how fear could increase the pain of labor.
And frankly, there is a basis to these fears. Many times when I go through an Acholi woman’s childbearing history with her in prenatal visits, I am quietly but continually amazed by how many have lost a child, and sometimes three or four children, not only through miscarriage but in the first year or years of life. So many times I know I am hearing the story of hidden sorrows and unspoken fears.
So how much fear might a curse, spoken in anger toward a woman and her unborn child, create in a mother’s heart, and what power might those words have over her?
Christine and I were praying that God would break these curses and the power that they have in the lives of birthing mothers. We don’t want their labors to be negatively affected by the cruel things someone might have said to them. God forbid!
In the past, Christine has told me that some mothers even have their mothers-in-law in the birth room shouting at them that if they don’t push their babies out fast, then they will not allow them to be with their sons anymore. A few weeks ago, one Maadi mother-in-law felt so strongly that she started choking her laboring daughter-in-law in an effort to get her to push her baby out. Fortunately, such crazy moments are rare here at the birth center, and as midwives, we urge families to remain peaceful at the time of birth or step outside of the birth room, but anyone can understand why it is important to pray for these mothers – and all mothers – to have “clear hearts” when the time comes for them to give birth.