As neighbors gathered around their Christmas trees, Mrs Martin worried about her newborn child. None of her seven other babies had been so disinterested in nursing and not a single one had been so limp and quiet. One week postpartum, she wrapped herself in a thick black shawl and trudged the half mile in the snow to my sister’s door to seek help.
My sister, a nurse, was surprised to see Mrs Martin. As part of the Old Order Mennonites, deeply faithful and private people, the Martin family denounced all things modern. They lived on a farm with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Visits to the doctor were few and far between, and modern medical care, even for childbirth, was simply not part of their culture. The baby boy had been delivered by a midwife who cleaned and weighed him. After laying him on his mother’s breast, she promptly packed her things to attend to another expectant mother. Hearing the panic in Mrs Martin’s plea for help, my sister immediately picked up the phone. Skipping the holiday greeting, she tersely told me, “Get your bag and come over here as soon as possible. The neighbor baby is very sick.”
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Maneval ML. We Are All the Same. JAMA. 2019;321(3):249–250. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.21366
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