A young mother, far away from her home, without a place to safely deliver her baby.
It happened more than 2,000 years ago. The most miraculous birth in human history. Jesus — the baby who brought hope and redemption to all of humanity.
It is Jesus who motivates us to love. To work tirelessly to care for mothers who find themselves today in the same position Mary was in so many years ago — displaced from her home, not knowing what to expect in her first pregnancy, believing that her child is a miracle.
At this time of year, when we celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth, we also want to celebrate a few of the miraculous births we’ve been honored to be a part of this year. Because every baby matters. To God and to us.
Labor Pains and Surprises
Burundian refugee Odetta Nyandwi was in visible labor pain — cradling her contracting belly, wiping the sweat from her brow, struggling to take steady breaths. This pregnancy had been the most difficult one for the 37-year-old mother of four, and she was now two weeks past her due date.
Odetta had come to the Medical Teams-supported clinic a week earlier when she was stricken with malaria. The clinic staff gave her medicines to heal the dangerous illness, and kept her under their care so they could monitor her in the late stages of pregnancy. Her husband visited daily to bring food and comfort her.
Thankfully, Odetta’s malaria symptoms subsided, and she was able to fully focus on her regular labor contractions. Throughout the long day and over the course of an even longer night, Odetta quietly endured the pain of childbirth. The doctors and nurses on duty watched closely, making preparations for an emergency C-section if it became necessary.
By the next morning, Odetta was relieved and surprised to have accomplished a natural delivery of twins! She hadn’t known she was pregnant with more than one baby, but these two are her second set of twins. That afternoon, she had an enormous smile on her face as she walked out of the clinic healthy and holding her fifth and sixth babies.
A Place to Make You Well
Back where she grew up, in Myanmar, 19-year-old Tasmin Ara remembers that people would go to the hospital and end up a dead body. So when she became pregnant with her first child, she intended to do as all the women in her life had done before — give birth in her own home. But in the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, Medical Teams Community Health Workers (CHWs) are working tirelessly to change women’s perceptions about childbirth.
Dedicated CHW Taslima visited Tasmin Ara each day during the last two months of her pregnancy. Because of her thorough health training and the regular visits she pays to pregnant women in her neighborhood, Taslima was able to recognize the signs that Tasmin Ara was in labor. Over the course of three days of labor pains, Tasmin Ara allowed fear to keep her at home. But Tasmin was unrelenting, finally convincing her friend and patient that she would receive comfort and loving care at the Medical Teams clinic.
She assured the young mother, “In our hospital, it’s not a place for death. It’s a place to make you well.”
As soon as she arrived at the clinic, the doctors rushed to admit Tasmin Ara — they could see that she was close to giving birth. Within 30 minutes, and with no complications, a baby girl — Nur Fatima — was born.
Tasmin Ara soon realized the value of having given birth at the clinic. In the first hours of her baby’s life, doctors recognized that the newborn was suffering from hypoglycemia and was exhibiting low levels of movement. Thankfully, clinic staff had all the equipment necessary — lamps, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, IV fluids — to bring little Nur Fatima up to full health within three days.
CHW Taslima will continue to visit the young family a few times per week, to help Tasmin Ara gain skills to keep her baby healthy. When asked if she’d return to the clinic for her next pregnancy, Tasmin Ara repeated what she’s now sharing with all her friends:
“Of course I will go next time, because I was given good treatment.”
His Name is Miracle
Like other women in her community, Abigail was waiting to give birth at home, as she’d done twice before. Then she met Evalyn, a trained mother counselor who lived on the other side of the river. Evalyn explained the importance of seeing a doctor at least four times before giving birth. This was not easy for Abigail to achieve, since the nearest clinic was across the river. But Abigail heeded Evalyn’s advice, visiting the clinic when she was running errands on the opposite side of the river.
When it came close to her due date, Abigail told Evalyn that she’d decided to give birth at home. She feared that once in labor, she wouldn’t have enough time to make it across the river and then to the clinic.
But Evalyn insisted — using her forceful voice, she pleaded — knowing that both Abigail and her baby were at risk if she delivered at home.
“You will stay here with me. You cannot go back across the river. We will take you to the clinic when the time comes.” – Evalyn
And with that, Evalyn welcomed Abigail into her home, tended to her needs and, five days later, escorted her to the Medical Teams-supported clinic where she gave birth.
When she’d given birth at home before, Abigail says that after both deliveries she became sick and was unable to properly care for her babies. Then the babies, too, grew sick and malnourished.
This time, however, she feels strong, blessed to have the support of mother counselors. Because of the loving care she received from Medical Teams staff and volunteers, and delighted by the health of her newborn, she gave her youngest child a name loaded with meaning… Miracle.
You can provide a miracle to a pregnant mother with a gift today.