BY LAWRENCE GIGMAI
People who wish to legally limit or forbid abortions describe their position as “right-to-life” or “pro-life”. Those who believe a woman should have the right to an abortion refer to them as “pro-choice”.
This article is written especially for those that believe in pro-choice. However, I personally believe, as I am a right-to-life advocate, that natural mothers of such children should be brought to justice but somewhere along the line, there should be a place for some leniencies based on sympathetic grounds. But the truth remains that one day nature will take its own course of action and there is no doubt about it.
Many major medical centres have a neonatal intensive care unit and Kundiawa General Hospital has everything. There, sick infants and pre-maturely born babies are usually cared for by a team of neo-natologists, Registered Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Paediatric Doctors, nurses and supporting staff.
The definition of abortion is, as we know, the termination of a pregnancy before the infant can survive outside the uterus. The age at which a foetus is considered viable has not been completely agreed upon by medical books.
Many obstetricians use either 21 weeks or 400 to 500 grams birth weight as the baseline between abortion and premature delivery, because few infants have survived when they weighed less than 500 grams at birth or when the pregnancy was less than 21 weeks duration.
From the outset, it can generally be seen that the foetus has almost no chance of living it if weighs less than 1 kilogram and if the pregnancy is of less than 24 weeks duration.
The inducing of premature delivery is in order to destroy the offspring and it often occurs with young mothers out of unwanted pregnancies. According to medical text books, most neonatal deaths occur among infants who weigh less than 1 kilogram at birth but my son’s birth weight was a mere 900 grams.
One such birth was the birth of young neonate, Francis Kiln Kiken (male) who is now 3 years, 4 months old and weighs 13 kilograms (at the time of writing this article). The neonate survived the ordeal and was born 4 months premature on 6 January 2008 at Wandi Sub-Health Centre, Simbu Province.
The body was not fully formed in that he has no ears, still has a tail, the face profile did not fully take shape and he has soft spots all over his head. At the nursery he was fed from a tube inserted through his nose into his stomach as his mouth was not opened to suck his mother’s breast milk and nothing could be taken orally.
The feeding tube was pushed through his nose and was visually seen going down and settling in his stomach and the outline of his guts could be clearly seen from the outside.
While at the nursery at the hospital under the care of Paediatric Doctor Wandi and Registered Nurse, Sister Mary Du with supporting staff and my wife Saina Joyce cuddling the child in her palm, I saw that the baby’s basic human features mentioned above were not fully developed.
After seeing these, I lost all hope of his survival. Thanks to the advancements in neonatal care, however, it has been made possible for an infant born 20 weeks prematurely to survive.
The specialist staff at Dr Sommers Wing is to be commended for a job well done and my child’s survival is, perhaps a record for the province since the opening of the hospital.
The natural mother’s attempt to use all kinds of objects to kill the foetus such as taking pills, tying rope around her stomach, taking herbal medicine etc. was to no avail.
I asked her why she was doing that and she responded stubbornly, without taking into account the tragic side effects it should have on her, said; “Larim, lus tingting!” (leave it, forget it) repeatedly which made me get really frustrated but didn’t show it. In any case this kind of abortion is not natural either.
I gather, in the light of my understanding, that the natural mother’s attempt to abort the foetus prematurely, probably had disturbed the normal functions of the uterus and as a result the placenta was separated and the five month old neonate was spontaneously born miraculously alive.
The Registered Nursing Officer and Officer in Charge of Wandi Sub-Health Centre, Mrs Kuman and Community Health Worker, Mr Bomai Kunaul, who were attending to the birth with my late wife, Saina Joyce, have said that when the child was born they had him wrapped up with the mother’s pants in a plastic bag and thrown him into the garbage bin.
Mr Bomai Kunaul asked to check the infant’s body parts. This was asked because in most aborted cases, some defected parts of foetuses remain in the mother’s womb and often lead to other gynaecological complications and if the mothers cannot be helped, the end result is always fatal according to medical text books.
To my wife’s surprise, after 30 minutes or so, the child was still breathing although its complete body parts were no bigger than 30 centimetres long. Sr Kuman recommended that the infant be taken to Kundiawa General Hospital where he should be given intensive care attention.
Joyce Saina wasted no time but there was a problem of transport as it was 5.30 am. She quickly ran over to Francis Kiken Siune and his wife Susan’s house with the child covered and cuddled in her left palm, 20 minutes walk away from the delivery room, excitedly.
However, to her surprise, the Siunes upon seeing the infant were reluctant to help. Mr Siune told her that the doctor could not save a giant toad. My wife insisted that she must be assisted and begged him. The time was 5.55 am when poor Joyce was rushed to the hospital.
On their way into town she became very unstable although the car was travelling at a very excessive speed. She abruptly said thank you for the help and rushed at the same speed to the gynaecological ward and straight into the intensive care unit.
The child was given a thorough warm bath and inspected and put into an incubator. The professional staff at the nursery shared their experience with Joyce and said that the child’s chances of survival were very gloomy.
From 6 January to 29 March 2008 is 75 days in all – 3 months. The progress of the child’s recovery was, astonishingly, very promising. From 900 grams at birth to the time he was discharged he gained weight considerably. His weight was 2.2 kilograms and he survived.
Although Joyce had no knowledge of taking care of such infants, she spent 74 sleepless nights at the nursery and often pestered the staff during the day and night shifts so that her child got the best attention.
I gathered that she gained enough knowledge to be a Nurse’s Aid or a CHW. However, the poor woman has very limited education and in this situation she was only giving a small hand in the 4th life that she added to the country’s population and now I am the proud father of two girls and two boys, inclusive of Francis Kiken Kiln.
I feel obliged as the father to write this article out of interest for those who like reading such articles.
The name is another thing in itself. The name Kiln literally means an oven where wood, brick and limestone are baked, burnt and dried. Therefore, when the baby was brought to the hospital and put in an incubator, I could think of no other name than Kiln. Francis Kiken is the name of the gentleman who provided wheels for the infant and his mother to the hospital.
My big thank you to all who made sure my son has a place in the world and his heart will remain throbbing hereon until death does him part.
I wish to thank the following people for baby Kiln’s survival.
Sister Matela Kuman, OIC Wandi Sub-Health centre who made the referral. CHW Bomai Kunaul who proposed checking the baby’s body and attending to the child’s birth. Saina Joyce, my wife for her active involvement in making sure the child survived. She passed away in April last year. The ordeal she had gone through is immensely indescribable and my son’s existence is owed to her.
A special thank you goes to the Siunes for their help in transporting the baby and his mother to the hospital and their continued assistance to date. Had it not been for them my baby’s survival is very bleak. Also Doctor Wandi for his professional supervision and attendance and Registered Nurse, Sister Mary Du and the staff at the nursery unit at Dr Sommers Wing.
Lawrence Gigmai (56) was born in Karaugl in the Kundiawa District of Simbu Province. He obtained an Arts Degree in Social Studies from UPNG in 1981 and worked as a public servant from 1982 to 1996 and then as a secondary school teacher for the last 16 years teaching English, Social Science and Geography