The clinic was pitch black. The power was out again, as was the gas for the generator.
‘Why don’t you come back tomorrow.’ The midwives said. ‘It’s already 2000, and you won’t be able to see anything.’
Because I hadn’t really come to Zambia for this. I had come to work in the clinic. To work in the school.
‘Please. I’m working tomorrow and I’d love to see some births.’
‘Hold on, I’ll come back.’
I went to go buy cokes and muffins.
Because they can’t say no to someone with Coke and muffins.
‘Do you have a change of clothing?’ They asked. ‘Because birth is messy.’
They sighed as I shook my head.
‘Fine. Come. You can use my scrubs.’
They lit candles around the clinic and then the births started. One by one the girls (because all of them were younger than I) transitioned from the antenatal room into the birthing room right before they transitioned into third stage labor.
The antenatal room was a room with 11 foam beds covered with leather pads. The birthing room was a room with two exam tables, a scale for the baby, and a warmer which lay cold due to the lack of power.
And with barely any noise, any fuss, they had their babies.
I had just put on my gloves when she handed the infant to me. ‘Put him on the scale.’
I stared at the baby.
God. You’re beautiful.
I turned to the mother. ‘He’s beautiful.’
And they showed me how to clamp the cord. How to cut it. How to wrap the baby, how to weigh him. How to fill out the documentation.
These midwives are experts in their field, working miracles in all conditions.
‘Wear 3 pairs of gloves. Just in case.’
Each girl lays down a large black garbage bag and then a sheet and then her body.
‘You can’t rush G-d.’ The midwife said. ‘But they try.’
She told me how the girls drink a liquid of crocodile and hare feces in order to speed up their labors.
What is his name? I asked the each of the girls.
And they fed their children under mosquito nets. Candlelight flickering on the walls.
Because miracles don’t need electricity to blind with their brilliance.