While many stories from the clinic are fascinating, humorous, or just plain strange, sometimes they are not any of those. Sometimes they are hard and sad.
It has been heavy on my heart and mind how cheap the life of a child can be sometimes. It broke my heart several months ago when we had a woman come to the clinic complaining of abdominal pain and swelling. Among other tests, we ran a pregnancy test that came back positive. She was unmarried and already had a 5 yr old son being raised by her parents who complained about having to look after him. She told us that she had had a voluntary abortion last year. Apparently, for 100 kina you can buy an abortion pill from the local hausik (hospital). The doctor informed her that we would be running a pregnancy test and he asked her, “If it came back positive, would this be happy news to you?” She immediately replied, “Nogat!” (No!) It broke my heart. Chaperoning and being present for baby ultrasounds is one of my favorite things in the clinic! So much joy seeing those little hands and feet and watching the baby’s antics, to see their features develop throughout the pregnancy, to see their parents’ happiness at the life of this little one. But here was a baby that I knew would not live. And it broke my heart.
So many couples I know are barren or have had miscarriages. The doctor talking to the woman above and his wife had trouble conceiving. The nurse that stepped in for me with this woman has been unable to bear children. And yet this child will not likely live. And now some of the states in my passport country, the U.S., are passing laws allowing abortion right up until birth and after.
Here in PNG life is so rough for so many women. Abuse is horrific and yet not uncommon. A fellow nurse told me that while taking histories for a women’s clinic day several years ago, most of the women said that they had been sexually abused at some point in their lives. Both men and women sleep around and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are often given to spouses. Babies can be abandoned or thrown in the river if the family does not approve of the pregnancy (not frequent but I have heard the stories). Poor water, poor understanding of infection, a tropical climate that promotes quick infection growth, superstitious and fearful belief systems, and plane selfish sinfulness all play a part in maternal and infant mortality.
Recently we had a mom bring her 7-year-old daughter in that had been molested. 7 years old. She was brave enough to tell her mom about it right away, who promptly took her to the hausik (hospital) to be examined. Though physically okay, her fears are understandably high. Her mother’s tears heartbreaking. Her uncles and other male family members have stepped in to address the man who wronged her. But it can’t be undone. The girl has expressed her wish to her mom to just forget it and move on. Her mom came to us to just confirm that physically her daughter is healthy and not at risk for infection due to a scratch the previous doctor had seen. We confirmed that she was okay and helped explain to the little girl that she did everything right, the way she should have, and that this is not her fault. We comforted the mother and explained a mother’s tears to her daughter. Overall, it could have been much worse than it was but my heart still breaks that it happened at all.
How cheap and valueless Satan tries to make us believe that lives are! Yes, sin is rampant in this world and so many are affected by an individual’s sin. How differently God teaches us what life is and how it ought to be viewed! What value He places on us! So much so that He gave up His own life to redeem us, to buy us back from slavery, to bring us back to life from death, and to bring us into full perfect warm light from the cold, isolating darkness! Sin is around me and my heart breaks! My tears fall! But hope is found in God alone and in Him I take joy in each little life I see! In each little chubby baby I hold! In each fragile, aged hand I clasp! In each clumsy grip by a child-like one whom I encounter! How precious to God are His creations! And how vast His creativity! And how powerful His salvation! I cannot change the sin in this world but God can change hearts and lives! Praise be to the Most High God! Talk of all His wonderous deeds! Tell of His salvation to the nations! Tell of our great God!