Saturday, November 29, 2014


     Our plans for celebrating Thanksgiving were simple.  We were going to meet the Van Wagoner's and the Dow's, the couple with the wheelchair project, at a local hotel for an oriental buffet at 6:30 pm.
       In the afternoon we got a call from the Van Wagoner's informing us that Frida had gone into labor and was at a hospital wanting a blessing.    (Frida and Aimable are the couple who got married in August.)  Gary and I arrived at the hospital about 5:00pm.  and were waiting for the Van Wagoner's to arrive to give Frida a blessing.  Unfortunately, Aimable is in Thailand on a business trip.  The baby came about 2 weeks before his due date, and Aimable is not due back in Burundi till Tuesday.

     When a woman comes to this hospital in labor, she brings with her her own sheets ( she makes her own bed with her own sheets), her own toilet paper, soap, and whatever else she will need.  She is assigned a room and goes to that room to labor.  There are 4 women, 4 metal beds in the room, along with numbers of young children and visiting adults.   She is not hooked up to an IV, there is no fetal monitoring machine, no nurses checking on her progress, no one checking vital signs of baby or mom-to-be.  Every couple of hours or so, the doctor will send for a woman to come down the hall to be examined.  The woman walks down the hall to the examination room in whatever stage of labor she might find herself in.  During labor and delivery there are no pain medications administered, so they are sort of on their own.

     I was sitting on the bed and visiting with Frida, and she was having labor pains about 10 minutes apart.  We were discussing possible names for her baby boy, names that were popular in Burundi, names that were popular in the US.  Everything was happy and normal.  About 5:30 an aide appeared and told her the Dr. wanted to see her.  She struggled out of bed and headed down the hall to be examined.

     While she was gone, the VanWagoner's arrived.  We stood in the hall outside Frida's room,
 waiting for her to come back.  After quite a long time we saw Frida being wheeled down the hall, and she was crying.  They took her into the delivery room that was just across the hall from where she had been in labor.  I was excited, thinking that she was going to deliver her baby boy.  After all, she had been in labor for 24 hours so it was about time.  Instead, a nurse approached us and told me (as I was the only one who could speak French) that the baby was dead.  Horrible!  Could not comprehend how that could be true!  The baby was alive at 3:00pm at the time of the last "examination."  Now they were going to deliver a dead baby.  A full-term dead baby boy.

     We rushed into the delivery room so Gary and Van Wagoner could give her a blessing, but that was really difficult because she was so distraught and in pain.  Then we went into the hall to wait.

     A doctor came to speak with us.  He took me down the hall where we had some privacy and explained that there was no heart beat, and they had no idea why the baby had died.  But he had died quite recently, within the last 2 hours.

     Contractions stopped.  Medication was administered to stimulate contractions, and Frida labored on through the evening, through the night, until 5:00am next morning when the baby was born.  He was perfect, so cute.  She was very weak after 35 hours of labor.

     It was about 10:00pm when we ended up at the oriental buffet.  Happy Thanksgiving.



  1. Unbelievably sad story. How is that woman doing?

  2. I am so happy to find your blog. We opened Burundi and were there for the dedication of the land, the first branch, etc. and our hearts are still with the people there. I love catching up!!
    I did hear two different stories about Aimable's baby and would like to know how things ended up. I'm praying that they really did receive a miracle and that Baby and Mother are doing well. Please give our love to Aimable. Thanks, The Jamesons