I have been at many deliveries and seen many interesting birth situations. This was a little different. Christy was a 24-year-old in a women’s prison in another city. I had been there several times on different outreaches. The women were locked in a cell no bigger than 12 X 4. At least 30 of them. More than half of them had been in that same room for 2 years and more… waiting for their court dates. Christy had been in jail for drug abuse only 6 months when I met her. She was 7 months pregnant.
We had never offered to deliver Christy’s baby. It was a 2 to 3 hour drive on a good day and we had done no pre-natal checks, had no information about her previous 4 births. On the day that Christy went into labor, the police were understaffed and the warden refused to let her out of the jail to give birth. What was she to do? Several frantic calls were made to our home. I asked Bernadette to get a birth kit ready and away we went.
The drive seemed forever. Traffic was horrible, bumper to bumper almost the whole way. We prayed we would make it. When we arrived, Christy met us at the gate. She looked very tired already. We went into the tiny office of the warden, pushed two desks together, threw some papers and books in the corner and set our instruments up. Thankfully we had brought extra sheets so she wouldn’t have to lay straight on the desk. We covered the window with a sheet so the guards would stop looking in. Every time one of them would comment, you could see Christy tense up.
Dette and the girls left for a quick bite to eat so I could labor with Christy in quiet. As each contraction came harder and longer, I prayed with her. It was only a few hours and the girls were back. Christy had relaxed and thankfully was ready to push.
She climbed up on the desks and we put our gloves on. Mandy and Leah stood on either side and encouraged her and prayed. Finally, one last push and a beautiful baby boy was born. He was really tiny and we wrapped him up in a towel. The guards heard the babies first cry and banged on the door hollering and cheering. Sternly, we told them to be quiet because there was a problem with the placenta. It was very serious, I said. I didn’t hear a peep from them for the next hour. The placenta really took forever to come and when it did, it came in little pieces. It was a very tense hour as we prayed and Dette used her incredible skills to painstakingly pull the rest of the placenta out piece by piece. Thankfully, no bleeding.
Gently we cleaned Christy up and changed her clothes. The baby was dressed in a sleeper and she held him tight. She sat on the chair as though nothing had happened. She named him “Emmanuel” because it was so close to Christmas. Quietly we sat for a few holy minutes as she cried silently.
“What will you do with the baby,” I asked gently, knowing she would not be allowed to keep him even for a night. She explained one of her young cousins would take him. I smiled and said I would love to care for him if she would let me. Tears came to her eyes and she nodded her head.
“Please, Ate Cher.”
I walked to the small cell where 30 women lived together and showed them the baby. I told them to be kind to Christy and to help her recover. They all understood. Most of them had children on the outside and missed them terribly. They nodded and cheered, shoving their arms through the bars wanting to hold the baby.
I turned and let Christy give her little Emmanuel one last hug.
Then the girls gathered up our things. The desks were pushed back the way we found them as though nothing happened. The gate clanged behind us and I snuggled the babe close to me. I said a prayer, so thankful for the privilege of rescuing yet another baby.