Rosaline Edwards Anthony knows what it’s like when the delivery of a child goes poorly.
When she went into labor in 2020, a problem developed with her baby’s amniotic fluid. As contractions came and went, the medical staff couldn’t decide what to do. Decisions passed from one doctor to another as shifts changed, even though Anthony pleaded with them to perform a Cesarean delivery.
“They kept delaying, but the fetal heart wasn’t waiting for us. I finally delivered the baby, but it was too tired. They tried oxygen and other things, but the baby couldn’t make it,” she said.
Because of her baby’s death, Anthony understands intimately the importance of teamwork in her profession. She’s a registered midwife, a vocation for which empathy is an important requisite.
“I experienced in my own life some of the problems that mothers can experience. That’s good for me as a midwife. If people can’t cooperate, bad things will happen.”
A native of Wau, Anthony enrolled in the Catholic Health Training Institute in 2016, sponsored by her local Catholic diocese. The school is a project of Solidarity with South Sudan, an international network of Catholic groups.
She originally wanted to become a nurse.
“When I reach CHTI, I learned that the number of midwives, especially in Wau, are very few, but most students were signing up to become nurses. I discussed this with Sister Leema Rose [Savarimuthu, a Holy Spirit Sister from India and the school’s principal]. And she allowed me to join the midwifery program. Since I switched, I’ve been impressed with the role of the midwife. Saving two lives at the same time is a wonderful thing.”
Anthony says CHTI prepared her well for the job.
“After all the written work, they have a good room for practicing the necessary skills, with all the equipment. It’s the same thing you’ll find when you come out. The school provided us with a lot, and I’m really thankful for that.”
After graduation from CHTI and qualifying as a registered midwife in 2018, Anthony worked at the St. Daniel Comboni Hospital for a year, part of the agreement she’d made in exchange for the support of her studies by the diocese. Following that, she has remained at the hospital, which has busy maternity ward.
“Many mothers live in rural areas and need a lot of help. Maternal and infant death rates are too high. It takes too much time to get to where you can obtain care. And when you do come, the gynecologists only have specific times and places to serve mothers. A midwife, however, has more time for you, and can help you with other things.”
Anthony continues to apply the lessons she learned from her own sad experience of giving birth.
“I’ve discovered, especially when there are problems, that you never feel like you’re alone. When problems arise, your colleagues will help you, or the doctor in charge. If you keep quiet about things, however, that’s when you will have a problem on top of your neck,” she said. “But if you share the problem, others will help you out.”
Late in 2021, Anthony gave birth to a baby girl. Both mother and child are doing well.
Top image: Roseline Edwards Anthony holds one of Alek Kual’s newborn twin boys in the maternity ward of the St. Daniel Comboni Hospital in Wau, South Sudan. Above right: Roseline with a patient in the maternity ward of the St. Daniel Comboni Hospital.
Story and photo by Paul Jeffrey