Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tanzanian pregnancy

There are many things here that are very different from American culture. One experience I had involves handling a Tanzanian pregnancy. During one of our last days of training back in August, we were informed that Tanzanians don’t talk about their pregnancies, so you should never congratulate the pregnant woman on it or discuss it. The reasoning behind this is that many pregnancies don’t make it through and many babies are stillborn. Tanzanian women do not get excited about their pregnancy because the chance of their baby being born healthy is slim. Way back in October or November I had a brief conversation with my neighbor and she hinted that she might be pregnant. I was surprised that she told me given what I was told in training and just addressed the question in hand that involved her possibly being pregnant. After a few months she was sure enough showing her pregnancy. As she was showing and she already addressed it with me to begin with, one day I asked her a question about her pregnancy. She was horrified and I felt terrible. She must have forgotten that she mentioned she might be pregnant to me. She asked if other teachers were talking about her, which I said no they aren’t and I said don’t worry, Jonathan doesn’t see it. She was relieved and that was that. Months went by and I kept waiting for her baby to come. After a while, I started to think that she might be having twins. During what seemed to be her last month of pregnancy, she started addressing that she is too big and her clothes don’t fit anymore. Then, one day, she just left. We saw her and she said goodbye but she did not tell us that she was going to have birth. Eventually, her husband came over and told us that she is staying with his family until she gives birth and then will return to his home. This was the first time he addressed that he would be having a baby to us. Then, for a week I left to do my training in Dar es Salaam. When I returned, I asked him how is his wife? He said she is at home and very fine. He didn’t mention if there was a baby and I didn’t want to ask because what if it was a stillborn. After a few days of not seeing his wife or a baby, I asked another teacher. She informed me there is a baby and I could go over to see him. They had a healthy baby boy and they  named him David since it is a Christian name.  It is customary for people to come greet mama and baby and bring gifts: good, money, clothes.  Usually, the mama and baby do not leave home for 40 days to ensure the baby remains healthy.  Mama is at home on maternity leave until October and I go visit every few days. He sleeps a lot and was born with a full head of hair. Today was his baptism and so we took some picture of him.


my Tanzanian nephew


Mama and David


The Baptism party


Baby David

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