SS, in her 50’s from Aurangabad, India, never went to school for a medical degree. Yet, a few years ago, she managed to deliver a baby girl in the middle of the night in a moving train. Last month, when we found ourselves face to face for the first time, she told me her fascinating story.
SS: I’ve experienced a lot of things in my life and one of them is one of the best experiences of my life. On July 22nd, 2011, while on a moving train, I helped a lady deliver her baby. And that too in the latrine while she was squatting. And it was at 2:45am in the night. And I never delivered a baby or never been around other women who’ve delivered babies. Of course, I’ve two children of my own, but we never really can see how the baby comes out, right? (Laughs)
There was no one who would help that night in the train. I was traveling with my sister-in-law for a funeral in another city. We had boarded the train in Aurangabad at 10:30pm. That pregnant woman had boarded the train in Thane, Mumbai much earlier than us. She was traveling with her brother to their parents’ house, so she can stay there until the baby arrived. I don’t think she was full term but, as we crossed Jalna, she started experiencing (labor) pains.
So from midnight she started telling her brother that she was having difficulty and the labor was progressing rapidly. The brother asked for help from a policeman who was doing security duty in the compartments at night. And the policeman asked around if there was a doctor on the train. Many times, usually there’s a doctor or someone who can help. But, he had gone through 4 or 5 compartments looking for someone, but couldn’t find anyone.
Then he came to where I was sleeping. He said, “Wake up, wake up. There’s a lady who’s having labor pains, she needs help.” I told him, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to help. Please go ask someone else.” And the policeman wouldn’t leave, he said, “Please, please, help. I will stand outside the latrine. I’ll be with you.”
So, we started walking from our compartment towards where the woman was and I kept asking some women for help along the way. Some looked at me and turned around and continued sleeping with their back facing us. In the few minutes it took us to get to where she was, the woman had already bled a lot. I could see the baby’s head coming out. And I don’t know what happened next and how I managed to do it, I think God helped me deliver the baby. I think God was there with us, and in my hands to help the baby. I pulled the baby out. Then there was the placenta, so I had to pull it out and throw it in the latrine. The train was moving all this time. And I had to be very careful, because the whole thing was so bloody and I had to be careful not to let anything slip.
Then the umbilical cord had to be cut. So, we asked around if anyone had a razor blade from their shaving equipment. There was an old guy who was traveling from Nasik and I figured he might have one of those old style razor blades. These days guys use all kinds of fancy things to shave. (We both laugh) So, I asked him and he had a brand new blade with him. Of course, it doesn’t matter, whether its old or new, God was there with us helping us.
I had a black sacred thread around my wrist, so I cut that and I tied one side of the umbilical cord with the thread and cut the connection to the mother. Blood splattered all over the walls of the latrine and on my face and everywhere. I tied the thread even more tightly after that to prevent blood loss. The baby was covered in vernix, so I cleaned the baby with my clothes. Then I had to make the baby cry. So, I sprinkled some water on the baby and made it cry. I used the water from the tap in the latrine. The water was very cold. That’s how I was able to deliver a baby girl, Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity).
I gave the mom my chunni (a long scarf used by some South Asian women to cover the chest and shoulders) to make her a sanitary pad because she was bleeding. I brought her out of the latrine and made her sit and drink some water. Then we made a phone call to her family. And we told them that when they come to the train station to pick them up, to make sure to bring a doctor along with them.
Finally, the train stopped in Parbhani and her parents came. They brought a doctor along. They gave us all tea and we wished them well and I boarded the train back to continue my journey. I didn’t tell the story to anyone except my sister-in-law that night in the train. She wasn’t awake when the policeman had come asking for help. She told me, “Tu Waaghin hn!” (You’re a tiger!)
I didn’t even tell it to my husband. But, in 8 days, the news spread and it was all over the newspapers and TV. And that’s how my husband and my family found out. Friends and family brought bouquets and congratulated me. The mom called me for 5 years to tell me that she and her daughter are doing well. Now, we don’t call each other anymore, but I hope she’s doing well.
So, there’s a friend of my husband who’s a surgeon and I asked him, “I want to see a real surgery.” And he told me, “Why do you want to see that, you already know how to deliver babies without any equipment!” (Laughs)
Note: Before you rate this episode, please consider if you would’ve been so open and authentic about your own life. Earlier episodes available at The Anonymous Manifesto.