Okay, so what do I blog about now? Baby stuff? (I saw that. One of you just stifled a yawn.) Senegal stuff? Both? Okay, I can do that.
1. Take a couple cultures and mix well.
The clinic was a surprising blend of cultures and their priorities. Meals and French pastry snacks were served to me by waitstaff in bow ties. But my private double room’s toilet did not have a seat. An occasional smoker puffing in the hallways? Sure. Carrying your baby in your arms as you stroll out the door a couple days after delivery? No prob. (And no one’s going to check to be sure that the baby is actually yours either.)
Each time I was given an injection, the nurse would say, “Bismillahi,” which is an expression used in everyday Muslim life here. It’s said as the opening of an action (like eating a meal or entering a home) in order to receive blessing from God.
(If it sounds familiar to you, start singing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody… There it is.)
3. Where the sun doesn’t shine…
Medical care here is generally based on the French system, which means… Why give it in a pill form if they make it in a suppository?
4. Baby bling!
Ear piercing and the studs are available in the hospital nursery for 10,000cfa (about $20). Never before has buying cultural favor been so inexpensive. People spot her bling from 20 paces away and LOVE that her ears are pierced à la sénégalaise.
5. Rx for a Band-Aid
On leaving the clinic, I was given two lengthy prescriptions: one for me, one for bébé. They included EVERYTHING we might need, even OTC meds, little gauze squares and cotton balls.
6. Ol’ what’s-her-name
Senegalese babies are given their names at their ngente (baptism) when they are eight days old. Since bébé is not yet that old, no one asks her name!
Not the same as ‘Geronimo!’ in case you were wondering. A ‘tuurando‘ is a namesake. We have chosen a wonderful woman I admire very much and bébé‘s Senegalese name will be hers. Stay tuned…
8. No comment.
Traditionally in Senegal you would not comment on a baby being cute or pretty because it might attract attention from evil spirits who would then harm the baby. But either Dakar has really become modern OR this bébé is just gorgeous because our friends keep telling us so. Coming from a Western culture, that’s a lot easier for me than hearing my kid is ugly!