Neighbors, Newborns & FAME

Pascalina with her new bundle of joy

by Annie Birch

When my neighbour, Pascalina, became pregnant last year it coincided with the imminent opening of the RCH (Reproductive & Child Health) programme at FAME Medical.  To me, as a long time childbirth educator and doula, the prospect of comprehensive pre and postnatal care plus the possibility of a safe and caring delivery with emergency back-up for necessary C-sections right in our neighbourhood was exciting news indeed.

 Pascalina already had one uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery followed up by over a year of breastfeeding so she was a great candidate for the new anti-natal (pre-natal) clinics held weekly. The nurse in charge of the clinic welcomed us with a big smile and carried out the necessary tests—which all came back with great results. Pre-natal vitamins were dispatched and a due date of January 1, 2015 was established.

 As the end of the year and the holiday rush approached, Pascalina kept up her monthy then bi-monthly and finally weekly visits to the clinic. She continued working and kept up her good nutrition, which is pivotal for a healthy pregnancy and baby, and is also an essential component of the FAME programme. Christmas was upon us and still no baby…. Maybe this would be a 2015 arrival?

 Then, late at night on the 28th December my phone rang. Pascalina was at the gate; it was time!  I roused myself from sleep and we loaded into the car and headed up the hill to FAME, a short drive away but a long walk in the middle of the night. Dr. Isaac who was on duty, backed up by Dr Ivan and the wonderful nursing team, received us. Although contractions were minimal she was already 5cm dilated. Based on her previous birth, which was fast and easy, it seemed likely that the baby would arrive in a few hours and I left her with the capable team.

 As anyone who’s had a baby knows, every labor is different. When I came back at mid-day I was surprised to find that the baby had been born only a few hours before. Unlike her first birth, this one was longer and harder. We chatted in Swahili, comparing birth stories with the new baby’s Bibi (grandmother). Some experiences cross cultures with no translation. It turned out this baby was quite big, (something I’d attribute to Pascalina’s attention to nutrition) and she is quite tiny so the nursing team really stepped up at the end with extra encouragement to get this new little boy into the world.

 At the time of this writing the new arrival has not been named, and his brother Herrick is delighted to be a big brother. There’s nothing like the miracle of birth and life to open our hearts. Both Pascalina and I are grateful for the professional and compassionate care provided by the team at FAME.

Susan Gustafson