Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Welcome little one

Last night I went to visit one of my colleagues in hospital, who has just had her first baby.

We had previously discussed, over many a cup of sweet tea, where she would deliver said baby. It turns out in Bangladesh this is not an easy decision. Her options were either in Rangamati or Chittagong. Pros for Chittagong where better medical facilities, but cons where the number of people who would have to travel to Chittagong to help her in the hospital. I must admit to thinking this was all a little OTT. Why would one need help in a hospital? I didn’t get this until visiting her in the hospital last night.

By hospital, I mean a room with some beds, a shared (squat) toilet and one doctor (not seen). I didn’t see anything ‘medical’ anywhere. I’m sure there must be medical stuff around, because Jhimmi did have a last minute Caesarean… But there are no nurses, no call buttons, no meals, no curtains, no charts, no monitors, no sheets, no pillows, and no help with ANYTHING. If fact, my bedroom here could easily pass as a hospital room if that’s the current look and feel. So Jhimmi’s husband, her mother and her husband’s cousin are STAYING in the hospital to help her. As in sleeping there, living there. Food is being cooked at home and brought in, sheets (brought from home) are being washed in the bathroom, which they are also cleaning, along with everything else. And they are doing what ever else it takes to look after a little one, and a mother that has just been cut open to remove said little one. Having a baby here isn’t a one (wo)man job, it’s a family thing. And spare a thought to all those women who don’t have access to even this basic medical care.

The baby doesn’t have a name yet. They are still deciding on what name would suit him best. I like that idea. Instead of naming the child, sight unseen, rather wait until it arrives and until you’ve got to know it a bit better before you decide to name it for life.

And ‘It’ is super cute. All Chakma kids are cute, but Chakma babies are cute, squared. Jet black hair, tiny tiny tiny with little slitty eyes. When Jhimmi is out of hospital I want to go round for a bit of a photo shoot. But I can’t quite work out the local newborn etiquette . Can you visit the mother at home? Is this ok when freshly out of the hospital? Or how long should you wait before calling round? Should I take gifts? If so, what? She and her husband are moving back (temporarily) with her parents (i.e. out of his parents house where there is already one newborn, into her parents house with no existing newborn). Which, again before living here, I would have thought excessive. But everything here takes EFFORT. Which would just be too much for a new mother. Like going to fetch drinking water from a tube well. Cooking on a wood burning stove. Hand washing clothes. Even just going to the market is an exercise in stamina, self control and other worldly patience. Oh wait, that last one’s just me…

Anyway. Will suss out the newborn ettiquette and the potential for a photo op. AND suss out the local nappy situation. I’ve never seen a baby with a nappy on in Bangladesh. How DOES that work?


1 Comment»

  amanda visagie wrote @

Jeez, makes my complaints about Lewisham Hospital seem just positively selfish. And I am sure in any culture celebrating and going round to oooh and aaah a new arrival is totally acceptable.

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