by Mary Schaefer, Jericho Road Community Health Center
At Jericho Road’s Adama Martha Memorial Community Health Center in Koidu, Sierra Leone, pregnant women sometimes arrive in labor without ever having visited the clinic before. This means the staff has no access to prenatal testing or sonograms and just do their best to support the mom and baby in the moment. Sometimes, though, this makes for some interesting surprises!
Emma* arrived at AMMCHC in very early labor with her second child. She spent the entire day walking around the clinic while the staff continued to see patients. By evening, she was starting to push but her contractions were still 20 minutes apart. The midwife, Patricia, suggested feeding her dinner, so a large plate was provided with fish and rice. (Very different to how labor is handled in an American hospital!)
After eating her dinner, Emma’s contractions were still too far apart. Patricia declared, “We’ve got to get her up and dancing,” so the staff started dancing with Emma and making up a song on the spot. “C’mon out, baby,” they sang. “Come out, your daddy wants to meet you!”
As Emma danced with the midwife and her team, her contractions finally started coming closer and closer together. Soon, it was time to push in earnest and a healthy baby boy made his entrance into the world. While the delivery team cleaned up the infant and started to examine him, Emma was still pushing.
Maggie Nichols, a member of Jericho Road’s visiting team from Buffalo exclaimed, “Wait. Is that another baby?!”
Heidi Nowak, a family nurse practitioner at Jericho Road’s Barton Street clinic in Buffalo was also visiting. Off-handedly, she explained, “Oh no, it’s probably just the placenta being delivered. It can look kind of weird.” She then took a closer look. “Oh, hang on!” she said, surprised. “You’re right! It is a second baby!”
Within minutes, a smaller, but still perfectly healthy, baby girl was delivered, cleaned up, weighed, and put in the warmer next to her brother. She was very little, weighing only about four pounds, while her brother was two pounds heavier.
The team started mock-scolding him. “You took all her food!” they joked and waggled their fingers at the little boy.
As Emma relaxed, she chatted with Patricia and the delivery team and let them know that she was a twin herself. Jessie Mossop, another member of the visiting team from Buffalo, nodded and said, “Me too!”
Emma’s husband grinned and pointed at Jessie. “You’re the reason! You’re why we had a surprise baby,” he shouted, laughing.
When the newborns were presented for breastfeeding, Emma pointedly started with her new, tiny daughter.
“He can wait,” she joked to the staff, flapping her hand in her son’s direction.
* Name changed for privacy purposes
Editor’s note: this story took place before the pandemic travel bans.
Jericho Road Community Health Center provides wholistic healthcare for the underserved and marginalized communities in Buffalo and across the world in order to demonstrate the unconditional love of Jesus.