A baby was born in my Land Rover today
Last night, I visited Jinja Main Hospital to greet Ida Bazonoona and to meet her newest addition to the family: a baby girl. We entered the old ward and found Ida and baby under a mosquito net in a hot, stuffy corner of the room. Ida seemed so well rested and Restytutor (the new baby) was wriggling and yawning up a storm. I offered to take Ida and the baby home the following morning. All they needed to do was to call when they were ready.
Just as I was about to go for lunch the call came. I canceled my lunch plans and hopped in the Land Rover. At the entrance of the hospital, I found another co-worker riding a bike and he flagged me down. Ronald asked if I could take him to a nearby town and pick up his wife as she had gone into labor. I agreed and made a quick call to another friend to pick up Ida. Ronald was on a borrowed bicycle and insisted on taking it back to the owner before getting in the vehicle. I followed him back to the Source Café and he quickly jumped in the car. As we were about to leave another co-worker, Steven, heard the news and also jumped in the Landy.
We made quick time to Bugembe, but upon reaching the house I realized my brakes were failing. I popped the hood while Steven and Ronald went to get his wife Tappe from inside the house. No brake fluid. With the car loaded, we bounced down the rutted dirt road—Tappe moaning with each pitch and jar.
In order to actually brake, I needed to pump 10-15 times to prime the system. Downshifting worked for most situation, but today an abnormal amount of children seemed to be playing in the streets. It is after all a national holiday: Hero’s Day.
As we roared down Kyabazinga Way, I told Ronald that I was going to stop ever so briefly at a fuel center and throw a bottle of brake fluid in the fill compartment. He looked at me like I was crazy; not that I blame him. Who stops for brake fluid when a woman is in labor?! I had to use my parking brake to stop at the station. I jumped out, yelling for brake fluid. The attendant pulled coolant out of a caged shelf. I lost patience, pushed him aside and grabbed the proper container. Steven had been busy opening the hood and unscrewing the cap. I dumped the full bottle, threw 5000/= at the attendant, and muttered an apology as we sped off.
Approaching the hospital, Tappe told us the baby had crowned. Actually it was more like, “He’s about to fall”. My response was, “Absolutely not!” Tappe’s next words were “He fell!” Ronald and I simultaneously looked on the floor for a baby. We didn’t see one. Then we noticed a baby on the seat as Tappe hovered above. Ronald quickly scooped the little boy up. The baby let out a gurgled cry.
We were now pulling up to the labor ward at the hospital. Steven and I jumped out and ran toward the ward, yelling for a nurse. We finally found one, but she had already delivered more children on this day than Steven and I had ever delivered. She sauntered out toward the car and I secretly wished I had the strength to carry this giant woman as I would have scooped her up and ran her to the Landy.
It’s not all that common for random white people to jump out of vehicles, screaming about babies being born in their vehicles, so every person—visitors and patients—within earshot made their way up to the vehicle. By the time the nurse was on the sidewalk toward the vehicle, thirty faces were smashed against the windows peering in on Tappe’s vulnerable and awkward position.
Upon reaching the car the nurse slowly snapped on a pair of latex gloves and began tying off the umbilical cord. She then turned and asked for a razor. We all foolishly patted our pockets, as if we’d find a razor. Looking around, Steven and I ran in two different directions looking for a razor. Steven found one first, but he had to first negotiate a price. After a quick reality check and some choice words, Steven ran away with the blade and placed it in the hands of the nurse.
I first noticed another coworker, Irene, during the razor search. I wasn’t sure why she was there, but I didn’t have time to figure it out. Steven carried the baby into the ward while Ronald and I carried Tappe to the examination room. We finally started breathing after getting her on the table. It was the first moment in the entire ordeal that we felt the burden lifted.
Now the stories began. We each had our own way of retelling the story. And each enjoyed listening to the other tell it. But after only a few minutes we heard another baby begin crying. A few feet away, Irene’s sister had given birth to a boy!
When the nurse came out, she took Ronald’s baby to be weighed. Steven and I debated about the appropriate name. My first jab was baby Landy. Steven responded “One Ten”. Then Steven turned to Ronald, this baby is Bwana Defender. I have no idea what name they are actually intending on naming the child, but he will forever be Defender to me.
UPDATE: The back brake line had snapped in two because a bracket had broken loose. To be expected; the vehicle is 15 years old. Izaac Bwana weighed in at 2.8 kgs. A few camera snaps of my broken brake line and Izaac.