Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Pregnant Woman’s Lament

Pregnant woman to her husband: why do you want me to have so many children? You are not the one who will die in childbirth.

There is one song in particular that I have recorded at several of the prenatal clinics that keeps playing in my head. Indeed, I have come to think of this as the theme song for the trip. Finally heard a summary translation last Friday.

Although the melody is not at all mournful, the song is actually a lament. The first verses deal with a pregnant woman telling her husband that his desire for more children is likely to kill her. That if she keeps having a child every year, chances are that the children—spaced too closely together, who must be weaned too early—will not survive either. And then how will he feel when she and they are dead?

Subsequent verses or versions address the same issues to a traditional birth attendant. You’re not the one who is going to die if you delay referring me to a hospital or give me powerful herbs to induce labor.

And perhaps this is why the melody is not mournful—because in the final verses, the husband realizes how much he will grieve if his wife and children die and he agrees with his wife to limit the number of children they have.

Can’t wait to get that recording edited and uploaded when I get back to the U.S.


Unknown said...

Hi Christine - Am enjoying the blogs. The song you write about reminds me of a song popular in Zimbabwe 15 years ago called "The Baby a Year Business" which dealt with that whole syndrome where wives are expected to produce a baby a year - no matter what the cost to the mother's health, the children's health or the family budget.

I look forward to more blogs from you.

All the best - Andy

Christine Gorman said...

Thanks, Andy. Starting to realize how often people know what the challenge is--a baby a year, for example--but feel powerless to do anything about it.