Fistula Foundation & He bonked his head
Ok…so these two topics have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
He Bonked his Head:
This morning, my poor son woke up on the wrong side of the…um…crib. My son, who never cries, got upset with me, which started the whole thing. What did I do? I made the mistake of going in his nursery to tell him good-morning (and check to see if he is up yet), but then I realized I needed to do one more thing before I picked him up. He didn’t like this. At All. So then I went ahead and picked him up, brought him with me, and sat him down so I could get his food ready. This made him even more upset. Then, to make things much more joyful, he promptly toppled over and hit his head on the floor. The straw broke the proverbial camel’s back and the world came crashing down for little Nathan.
Boy, was he upset. Since he never cries, whenever he does get upset, if it goes unchecked for more than a few seconds it escalates quickly into real tears, a reddened face, and hiccupy sobs. Nothing I did could comfort the poor soul and he didn’t want a thing to do with me. Oy.
He finally calmed down and forgot the whole incident. Now if only I can do the same and not feel so completely guilty for the inevitable. At the moment, I am trying to remind myself that 1- babies Do cry, even if mine hardly ever does; 2- babies who are learning to sit/lunge
can will topple over; 3- NO, I will not be there to catch him every single time he falls.
Thanks to my neighbor, I found a great babysitter for the summer. She is very sweet, great with Nathan, and said that I may call her anytime to come and watch him. I feel very comfortable with her and know that she will be attentive and loving toward him for me while I am out of the house.
When I was a child, I would see documentaries of the problems of our environment, animals, and humanity and my heart would break for them. I always felt out-of-place, an Atlas of sorts, as I carried the burdens of our world on my tiny shoulders while other kids went about their lives oblivious or wholly uncaring about things happening outside of their immediate surroundings. I did things that I could do to help since I was not yet able to do more: I cut coke rings to prevent animals from getting caught in them; I picked up litter and preached anti-littering habits; I donated my allowance to the Save the Whales foundation; I set up a butterfly nursery every spring to help them recover from their bird-clipped wing injuries; I diligently prayed each night for whatever world tragedies happened to be raging at the moment. In college, I was THISCLOSE to joining the Peace Corps, so I could travel to some remote orphanage or village to assist in whatever I could assist with to make that part of the world a slightly better place.
Last night, I watched a documentary called “A walk to beautiful” sponsored by the Fistula Foundation. Talk about AMAZING! This foundation, with a relatively small surgery, gives these women a ticket back to acceptance within their society and families. The documentary was so eye-opening and humbling. Basically, women in Ethiopia suffer horrible untreated childbirth injuries because of lack of OB care. There are something like 77 million women and less than 200 OB-GYNs, who practice almost exclusively in cities too far away for many remote villages. As a result, village women go through pregnancy and childbirth with out the care of a physician on hand. I also learned that, worldwide, 5% of all births require medical intervention. (Why is our cesarean section rate so high???) Anyhow, there are other factors that significantly add to the risk of childbirth. In some villages, small tiny women are more appealing. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that small women eat less, which leaves more for the village and helps in hard times when food is scarce. The second reason is that these women, from an early age, start doing hard domestic labor work such as carrying huge mud pots filled with water which often weighs several times their own weights. As a result, the food that they Do consume gets used up and it doesn’t go toward their growth, so the women end up with stunted growth. So, to a man, a woman who is shorter means that she can work more and is therefore more attractive.
How short do you ask? Think 4’1″ which is the size of an average 8-year old. (Eight!) To make matters worse on the childbearing front, these girls are married off around 10-13 years of age and can get pregnant anytime after that. Take a woman who is the size of an eight year old, trying to give birth without the option of medical care, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a medical epidemic to deal with. Thus, The Fistula Foundation.
One story: A 4’2 young adult, “Ayuna” goes into labor. Common village wisdom states that the baby will be born in about 12 hours. No drugs, no water baths, just plain ole push-the-baby-out-in-a-dirt-floor-hut. Without air conditioning. Twelve hours passed and no baby yet, it is stuck in the birth canal. A day goes by, then another. On the tenth day of being in labor and having the baby stuck in the canal, a weak, dehydrated Ayuna is half-carried as she walks 10 hours to the nearest bus, and arrives to the city hospital 21 hours after beginning her journey after 10 days of straight labor. The doctor tears the deceased baby out of her and sends her home.
The baby’s head had been pressing her canal and urethra against the pubic bone, cutting off the tissue’s blood supply and leaving her with a fistula. She now has incontinence, is banned from her husband and forced to sleep outside the family home with nothing but a few sticks to prevent her from being attacked by hyenas at night.
I would like to step in at this point with comments: Some people may see only suffering and turn their heads away. I see the amazing strength of this woman and the many others like her and celebrate her courage. I see how blessed we are in our country and how my worst day ever doesn’t even leave a mark compared to what she has been through. I see what fortune I have for being born in this country and how thankful I am to live in such comfort.
Anyhow, she made her way to the Fistula Foundation’s hospital and they surgically repaired her fistula. With the exception of running water and the occasional donated medical equipment, the non-air-conditioned facility looks a lot like something we had in the late 18, early 1900’s. Ayuna was so happy and grateful that it just melted my heart. Thank god for people like the physicians at the Fistula Foundation.
While I am not in the position to offer much assistance in their efforts, I realized that the best thing I can do is to raise a caring child. I don’t want him to feel burdened but rather empowered and hopefully inspired to reach out and help at some point in his life to make the world a better place, and I would be so proud of him for doing so.