Amanda's Epistle

The continuing story of my life in Thailand

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20 Minute Wet Nurse

Odd thing happened the other day.

One of our regular responsibilities is to check in on the Lisu villagers in the hospital.  Yesterday, we visited two of them.  One was a church member who had just given birth by c-section to a large baby boy.  We prayed over the baby and his mother and lso gave the baby the name Timothy.

Lisu Christians will usually ask a pastor to name their children in a big ceremony that involves killing a pig (the Lisu use nearly any excuse to kill a pig and have a party).  We also showed them how to spell the name in Thai so it could be used on the birth certificate.  Most Lisu parents have no name picked out at birth, so the hospitals wind up choosing Thai names for the birth certificate, which the child has to use when enrolling in school.  A lot of village parents don’t know their children’s official names until they enroll in school, so we advise many of them to pick out a name and have it ready when the child is born, so the official name is one you know.  If you don’t know the gender, you pick a name for each gender (we really did have to tell them to do that).

After our visit with Timothy and his family, we visited one of our relatives, who was actually staying at our house so she’d be close to the hospital.  This lady gave birth to a girl, which made her very happy, as she has four boys already.  The Lisu actually want girls in the family, as boys do not help with housework and usually grow up to be lazy drunks (I’m working on informing the parents that if they teach the boys to help out and stay about from beer, they can prevent this).  The family also gets the bride-price when the girl marries, as compensation for losing a worker for their fields.  The downside to this is that it encourages them to marry the girls off at a young age (14 or 15) and to support divorce (they get money again when the girl remarries).

When we went to visit this relative, the mother was out of the room and the infant was crying.  The father explained that the little girl hadn’t been nursing and was getting fed through a syringe.  That’s when my husband turned to me and suggested I try to nurse the baby.  After all, I haven’t had any trouble nursing my own.  If anything, I have more milk than my daughter can eat.  But I had to ask.

“You sure her mom would be okay with that?”

I wasn’t sure about Lisu women, but I was pretty confident that an American mother would strongly object to another woman coming in and nursing her baby without asking first.  But my husband assured me it would be doing the family a good service and they wouldn’t object.  So I went ahead and picked up the baby.

She nursed for a good twenty minutes or so, and when her mother returned, she didn’t mind at all.  In fact, they were happy the baby was nursing.  I figured maybe the baby will nurse from her own mother, now that she has some experience.

The father then gave us a couple of names and asked which one we liked, so we named the little girl Mary.  Then we prayed for the family and I reminded my husband that I had my own baby at home who would probably want to be fed herself.

Thankfully, my daughter had no objections to her milk being shared.