I had the honor to spend two days and a night with a midwife in her village, while assisting a team on their research on Maternal health issues in India. From eating lovely meals made on the choolah (mud stove), to having a bath in the open courtyard; it sure was an adventure!
This village midwife, 70 years old, has been delivering babies for over 50 years. She was married at 11 years old and gave birth to the first of her six children at 14.
During our time together, she shared so many birthing stories. From tips to deliver quadruplets, how to deal with babies who aren’t breathing at birth, assisting women to deliver placentas, prenatal and postnatal care of the new mother and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
“I’m not educated, but I’m very clever”, she said, “and I’ve helped more people than I can remember.” The small, mud-floored house where she lives was crowded with women and children from the village. When asked if she helped at the births of any of the children present, she responded: “I delivered all of them!”.
She explained, so elaborately, all that she could till midnight. Along with the knowledge that she passed on to us during the day, she found it necessary to give me some marital advice, even though i’m not married, yet. And after that, we lay under the stars on our cots made of wood and jute, as she sang wedding stories in songs. Songs about how she would paint my hands with henna and give me away to my in-law’s.
She welcomed us into her home, and introduced me to her friends and neighbors, as her granddaughter. She explained what she does and demonstrated how she helps women give birth. But above all, she gave me huge lessons on love, acceptance and generosity, in this short while. I consider myself blessed! These are the first few stories my future kids will hear about my life.
These are the stories that need to be told.