|The Chook we paid 83 Birr for at the Market|
Sadly, twin II “expired”. He was still alive yesterday morning but the tube had come right out and no-one seemed to know how. He wasn’t receiving his Kangaroo Care either and though it seemed everything I was doing was being sabotaged I didn’t really want to give up on him. “One more try” I thought, so I put the tube back down, and reminded his mother to keep him warm and to keep expressing milk for him. When I went back a few hours later he was pale and cold and barely moving - he was dying, it was too late. I removed the tape and the tube and his “hat”, and we told the mother he was going to die soon, she should take him home and that’s what she did.
I’ve since learned from Juliette, an Oxford Anthropologist who made a lovely surprise visit here a couple of weeks ago – and saw me deliver a baby being born on the path outside maternity, her first birth she later said – that in Ethiopia twins are not necessarily seen as cute and a blessing like they are in the west. And today when I diagnosed a set of twins in a woman coming for a routine ultrasound I discovered that truth for myself – she was far from overjoyed at the prospect and the midwife confirmed it’s a common reaction, the main reason being economic. The midwife then confided that Meteke, who lost the twins over the weekend, had not really wanted Twin II to survive, did not like nursing him on her chest, and didn’t even want to look at him as she was afraid of his strange premature face and tiny body: to me , he looked sweet and loveable. I wondered what sort of life Twin II would have had if he had survived in that family. The midwife did also say however that if the twins had been hers she would have wanted them to live and be healthy, and so would other women. I am still trying to decide what I should do next time a mother here doesn’t really want her premature baby to survive – I think we still have a duty to care for that baby but maybe we will offer it differently. Theres so much to learn but its fascinating.
Actually, last week a woman gave birth to a lethally abnormal baby – it had anencephaly which I had diagnosed on ultrasound – and I was told that women giving birth to babies like this believed they were being punished by God. What would we think of a person who in order to punish a woman would deform and kill a child? So why is it somehow acceptable if God does it? Religion is crazy!
And Tarike, the woman with eclampsia? Well she slowly regained consciousness, as her presumed swollen and irritable brain started to recover, she went through a night of extreme agitation and wild yelling and thrashing about till we seadated her again, at one point she seemed to be unable to see but that has passed, at another she reported hearing voices, but now she is nearly ready to go home, though I am not sure how complete her recovery will be. She had been in Grade 11 at school but today her language and behaviour was more like a 4 year old, grinning and passive and almost mute. She has obviously sustained brain damage but a young brain is remarkably good at fixing itself so hopefully in a few months she’ll be back at School.
|The new Tank going up....|
|...and coming back down.|
And the chook, thanks to Yemataws butchering skill is now six frozen meal size portions in my fridge.