Olive Andromeda, born August 16 at 7:40am, 3.5 kg
But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
The realities of our life recently have felt quite surreal, like we’re plagiarizing from the annals of missionaries a hundred years ago. As COVID surged again in Uganda and lockdown measures were enforced, the end times warnings of tribulation for pregnant women echoed in my mind. Woe to those who are pregnant and breastfeeding during the tribulation (Mark 13)! May it not be in winter! However, reality was very much to the contrary. Where I had feared we would be harassed by the needs of everyday living, we found solace and unexpected blessings. Where I had feared we would be alone and isolated, we found friends and an abundantly welcoming community. We shared a large compound with hospital staff, who were all too eager to play with our children and chat with us. We were greeted enthusiastically every time we entered the hospital grounds by cleaners, nurses, midwives, doctors and even patients too.
Labor finally began the Sunday after my due date. It drew on all day and night with spasmodic progress. The staff wanted us to remain at the hospital, hoping that since this was my third birth it would happen quickly. We haunted the halls and explored nigh every corner of the hospital compound. We watched as other mothers entered the labor room and left with their babies. We counted as three were taken to theater for C-sections and prayed it wouldn’t come to that. The children visited and saw where we would be while they remained across the street with our friend Georgia. We played cribbage. We waited. And submitted.
Finally, I entered the labor room in active labor. I asked the staff for a maternity “uniform” (or hospital gown), knowing that birth is a messy business. I was escorted to the farthest corner of the room. Four delivery beds were in the room only separated by partitions and curtains. As night continued to stretch we tried to get some sleep. I curled up on the short bed only intended for delivery, not rest, covered myself with a cloth wrap I brought to guard against mosquitos. I knew dawn had come when I could hear the pied crows squawk and what sounded like crowds of people right outside my window. At the hospital here, patients are cared for and fed by attendants they bring with them. They had all been kicked out of the wards while cleaners mopped and were preparing breakfast in the hospital yard.
Not long after, the doctor came to check on my progress, or lack thereof, and decided my body needed a little extra momentum. It didn’t need much. Olive was born within the hour! I was not silent like the Karimojong mothers around me. I cannot claim that distinction, but I was thoroughly relieved to be delivered!
Guests began coming less than an hour after her birth! Our children and Georgia showed up wanting to check on us after the night. A prenatal nurse I met when attending a regular check up on arrival in Matany, marched straight into the labor room and helped me navigate getting down the hall to our room – with baby and stuff and all the mess of delivery. Before leaving the hospital that evening, we had been visited by the sister who helped arrange our housing, a neighbor who brought flowers, a midwife from the hospital near our home in Nakaale, the hospital administrator and more!
As I hold my third child and begin the sleepless vigil, I’m still amazed at the miracle that has happened. This helpless being was formed in my womb by the very hand of God. I had worried before the birth of my second child about whether I could love another child as much as I did my first. A mother’s love is not divided, it is only multiplied. We are blessed by this new addition and the good providence of God.
As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.Ecclesiastes 11:5