Thank you, Miss Vanessa. For your love and support for Sandra and her precious baby boy, Dickens. May God bless you abundantly! Can’t wait for the day you meet them in person – we’re all excited! Love you!
Saturday, December 31, 2011
So many stories.
I am still learning.
And I learn more every single day. As I grow closer to these women, these nurses, these precious mothers, they open up. They share more. They let me in to their lives and their situations.
So many situations, so many different happenings in this hospital maternity ward. So many troubles, so many heartaches, so many needs. Inside needs. Heart needs. I hear the stories…and oftentimes feel so helpless. I hear the stories…and wonder how? I hear the stories…and only want to do more. Reality. The needs are right before me. The need for the Healer. The need for the Great Physician. The need for the Comforter. The need for Love.
Through Sandra’s hospital stay and being there so much with Sandra and Dickens’, God opened my eyes to the hospital maternity ward. To the mothers, to the babies, to the need. And until God provides for our own labor & delivery and NICU unit, God has laid on my heart to help these women now.
We have started helping the mothers who have undergone c-sections and whose c-section wounds are now grossly infected. These mothers with “septic wounds” oftentimes have lost their babies, are young (14-19), very poor, and struggling. It is often very difficult for them to afford the medical supplies and the nutritious food that they need for their bodies to fight such infections and recover. God has also opened doors for us to assist the anemic mothers who have very little if any breast milk to feed their infants. Many of these mothers are very malnourished themselves, and are able to provide very little nourishment for their newborns because they do not have the nourishment themselves. Because of such, the newborn babies are malnourished, underweight and most often very dehydrated. These mothers and babies often average 1-2 months in the hospital because the recovery time from such malnourishment and septic wounds is so slow.
I wanted to put up pictures of these wounds, but they are just too graphic. My sisters wanted so badly to meet these mothers, see the babies, see these wounds in person after having heard and prayed for weeks about this new aspect of God growing our ministry to mothers and babies. We loaded up in our van and headed to visit the hospital. Little did they know just how much the smell and sights of these wounds would affect them. Feeling faint, both of my sisters had to go outside. The smell was too much…the sight even worse. What is easy to explain on phone and imagine is just so much more difficult to see on the actual person. The living, breathing mother with this horrible wound the size of her entire abdomen.
Christine stays right beside me the entire time. I wonder sometimes if I am raising a little nurse. She looks at the medical charts with me as if she can read and understand them. She watches as if all is normal as the nurse changes the bandages on the infected wounds. I gently touch the mother’s forehead and rub her back…Christine then reaches over and touches the mother’s arm. She watches as I pray…she holds my hand as she listens. She kisses the soft heads of the newborns lying next to their mothers. Her little heart is so tender, so compassionate. And I just see His love already being lived out through her young life.
I am so thankful for the opportunities that the Lord is bringing my way to love these mothers and newborns. I want to show them the same love that I have been shown – the love the Jesus pours out of Himself and into me daily. The same love that gave of Himself – I want to pour that selfless, unconditional, never-ending love into these children of God. and if I can show that love by carrying a hot meal to their bedside, taking gauze and medicine to help their outside wounds heal, or by holding her shaking body and weeping with a mother over the loss of her precious baby – caring about the inside wounds – then I know that I am showing them Jesus. Loving as He loves. Giving as He gives. Living as His hands and feet…living out the desire of my heart to love the least of these.
Posted by Kupendwa at 12:00 PM
Sandra tried to focus her eyes, but they weren’t clearing quickly. She slowly came to…and heard her baby’s cry. She felt something warm up against her chest. She opened her eyes more fully – there he was.
Her baby boy. Lying right there beside her. She could hardly believe it. He was there. Finally. In person. Her baby boy. No, he was not the girl she had been hoping for – but she hardly cared. He was perfect. So cute and tiny.
That breastfeeding thing – that was something that she was going to have to get used to. It is not as easy as everyone makes it look. It made her tired, but she guessed she would get used to it eventually.
The night came quickly. Amy had been there all day, her Mother had told her. but she had to go home for the night and she would be back the next morning. Sandra needed to see her – she needed to thank her. Amy had done so much.
She awoke during the night to screams. Cries of panic.
A mother. One on the other side of the room from her. Sandra had seen her. The mother had given birth to twins. Shouting. Cries for help. Confusion. Chaos. They were saying something about the babies?? Couldn’t find them? Gone?
Her babies were gone. Someone had stolen her babies. Sandra couldn’t comprehend it. Stolen. They were searching….couldn’t find them. Someone said they had seen a lady come through earlier….near the bed. She must have picked them up. No one heard them crying.
Sandra moved her baby a little closer to her body. She said a prayer of thanks. It could have been her baby. She had taken walks. The nurses encouraged walks. She had to keep some strength. And try to help the wound heal from the c-section. The mother was in shock. Sandra guessed the mother would be leaving tomorrow. She had delivered naturally. Now there was no need for her to stay. They had been monitoring the babies – but now…
Gone. Just like that they were gone. That mother’s precious babies. Those babies she had carried for nine months. Had come to the hospital to finally meet. Had been sleeping with and caring for and breastfeeding – loving her twin babies. And twins. Twins are special. They have a special blessing – in this culture, they are blessed. It is special to have twins.
And now they were stolen. She would go home empty handed. Empty. Handed. No children. No babies. The loss was enormous.
And she knew it happened. Always different reasons. Different people who take them. Sometimes barren women visit the hospital. And see the babies. On purpose. They decide to just take one for their own. They can’t have children – so the only option they see is to take someone else’s.
Sometimes the baby just looks cute – “Mine is cute”, Sandra thought. Maybe she was prejudice, but she thought he was so cute. And she prayed that this was not going to be a bad thing for him. Sometimes women come to visit the hospital, admire a cute baby, and then decide to just take it and make it theirs.
Occasionally the family does not want the baby in the family. Perhaps the baby is an effect of rape, or the girl’s family may dislike the boy’s family for some reason – but bottom line, the girls family just does not want the baby. It made her so sad, but it was true. So, they “steal” the baby to conveniently not have it anymore.
But also…many babies die. Many mothers lose their children in this hospital. But there are many other babies still alive and well…they just belong to other mothers. So, like the story in the Bible with King Solomon – a mother who has lost her baby steals another woman’s child. and claims it as their own. Then they don’t have to go home empty handed – someone else does.
Then the worst one. Other times…the babies are used for sacrifice. She couldn’t stand this practice in Africa. It was horrible. And so evil. But it happens. Often.
Sandra shuttered. “What if it had been me? What if I had been the one screaming? What if I had come back from my walk and my baby had been gone?” She didn’t want to imagine. She looked down into his little face. Sleeping so peacefully.
She thanked the Lord that her little one was safely beside her in bed.
The next day…the baby on the next bed died. That baby’s mother had been young, too. Just like her. She watched as the mother didn’t know what to do. She woke up and he was dead. Her baby boy was dead. They didn’t even know what from. Sandra thought she still looked confused. Didn’t really seem to know what happened. The nurses didn’t really know either. He was just dead.
The mother looked so confused. Disoriented. She looked like she didn’t know what to do next. She called the nurse. The nurse came…looked over the baby…then took him away.
She left later that day.
A few hours later…same thing. A baby on the opposite side of the room. Died. “My goodness. How was this happening like this? I thought these babies had been born healthy – just like my little boy.”, Sandra thought.
Sickness. Some kind of infection. And they said maybe malaria, too. but they didn’t seem to know for sure.
That baby was a little boy, too. `
Sandra pulled her baby even closer than before.
Her little one started crying. She woke up to breastfeed…and began to hear the chatter around her again.
Another baby. “Seriously, Lord?”, she thought. Her mom was awake too. She was watching and listening – another baby.
Rumors…she kept catching little bits and pieces of the story. A mother had given birth…and something happened during the cutting of the umbilical cord. The baby contracted tetanus. Quickly.
They rushed the baby to the children’s hospital…but it was too late. He didn’t even make it to the hospital. He died en route.
She shuttered. Thankful. She could only be thankful.
She prayed for these other mothers, these other girls. So many situations, so many needs. So many horrific situations. The sad truth. Reality.
She knew Amy’s heart. Longing to help, comforting, supporting so many of these babies and mothers. Sandra knew from experience. Amy had come so long ago. Way back in the beginning of her pregnancy. God had miraculously provided for all of her needs and the baby’s through Amy’s love, provision, and care. Amy insured that the c-section was done to the best of the doctor’s ability…and Sandra came out perfectly fine. The baby is perfectly fine. She wasn’t lying on the bed worrying like so many of these other mothers. No. She had every need cared for…even as a poor, fifteen year old girl having to undergo a c-section, she had peace. Even in this place that can be so frightening and scary at times…she had known that God was with her, protecting her, providing for her…and Amy was here too.
Thankful. She could only be thankful.
Posted by Kupendwa at 4:35 AM
Friday, December 30, 2011
Walking into my house, I got the news…Sandra was in labor. I turned right back around and walked out of the gate. On my way to the hospital, I receive a phone call – they want to take Sandra in for the operation (c-section) right then. “No, Lord, not yet! I need to see her – talk with the doctors. I wanted her to be able to try to push! Not the operation – not yet!”
When I arrived at the hospital, Sandra was already in a small examination room in the maternity ward. She was lying on her side in much pain, but in complete silence. I found her confused mother outside – she looked as if she didn’t know what in the world to do or what to even think. The doctors had decided to wait until I arrived and could talk with them. But even after talking, it was certain. Operation. They told me that they had to do the c-section. After checking her, it was concluded that her pelvis was too small, she was too young, and she was a PG. Therefore, much to my disappointment the decision was made: operation.
I had just wanted Sandra to be able to try to push the baby. And if complications arose, or her pelvis truly was too small – then by all means perform the c-section, but for a 15 year old girl with a first pregnancy – I wanted this delivery to be natural…for so many health and safety reasons. But…God is sovereign and in control – and He took this one out of my hands.
I stayed by Sandra’s side while we waited for her to be taken to the “theatre” (the operating room). She was in a lot of pain, but she just wanted to lay on her side and squeeze my arms. I rubbed and rubbed her back to help ease the pain. Her mother was still at a loss as to how to help or keep busy, so I sent her outside with the other women who had come from the village to offer support. The doctor showed up a while later and moved us to the theatre “waiting room”. That almost made it worse. I wish we could have stayed in the small examination room – at least we wouldn’t have had to watch all of the other women coming out on stretchers and covered in sheets, and in so much pain. The nervousness increased a little for each person waiting as we watched the mothers come out one by one. But the prayers continued and God’s peace flooded that waiting room. We all knew the danger – we all knew how easily something could go wrong. As much as I tried to push thoughts from my mind, I kept having flashbacks. To this summer…to this same place…to the newborn infant that died in my arms. His mother had undergone the operation – and didn’t do very well afterward. He had ended up not making it after struggling for breath for the few hours of his short life. I knew all too well the dangers.
The images kept playing in my mind. The thoughts kept coming…and His peace kept me still on that concrete bench as we waited. I felt the prayers of many back home. And I felt His peace cover me like a blanket. We had prayed. We had prepared as best we could. and now it was His turn…His turn to do the rest. My job was to rest in His peace and control – and leave everything in His hands.
We sat on the concrete bench and ended up waiting for over an hour or so before the doctor came out, gave me a look, and I stood up with Sandra. The operation card officially said, “Kizza Sandra. Inadequate pelvis. Young PG.” …all meaning “C-section”. Sandra stood up from the bench, held her card, wrapped the bed sheet tighter around herself, and walked straight through the doors behind the doctor. She didn’t look at us. She didn’t turn around. She didn’t say a word. She had signed her thumbprint – giving full consent. The doctor was not to be held liable if anything went wrong. She held her head high and marched straight into that operating room.
15 years old. Pregnant. Strange doctors. Scary hospital. Knowing full well the possibility that she might not come out…Walking into an operation room.
I knew the fear was just below the surface of that stoic face and rigid body. But I also knew the peace of God was right there with it. I know her beliefs – I know her faith. And I know my God. He walked with her into that operation room when I had to wait outside…and I had to trust Him that He was going to bring her out again. Lord-willing with a beautiful, healthy little baby.
Waiting. Waiting is the hard part. But 1 hour and 15 minutes later, the nurse carried out a healthy, crying baby boy. As I held him in my arms, I breathed in that familiar newborn baby smell. I held his little fingers and toes in my hands while I gazed upon his newborn little face. I rocked him, walked him, talked to him – everything, but the crying just did not want to stop. He kept crying and exerting so much energy crying – and I knew he hadn’t breastfed yet. An hour went by. His breathing and heart rates seemed to be going down pretty rapidly, but I didn’t want to panic. I began to get a little concerned, but just told myself that the baby was sleepy and getting tired from crying. The flashbacks started again anyway. A c-section baby. I began to pray…I did not want to deal with another episode of CPR on a newborn. But as I prayed and watched him closely, he seemed to just be falling asleep and slowing down. 30 more minutes passed – it was now going on 2 hours since the baby had been brought out of the operating room, and still no sign of Sandra. As I sat in the maternity ward surrounded by mothers and newborns, I watched the life happening around me. LIFE. Newborn, baby, infant, perfect, miracle – LIFE. I watched the babies with their mothers, and the older women with their daughters and grandchildren…and I breathed a prayer of thanks. A prayer of thanks for life. And the beauty of God’s creation in human life.
As I sat and prayed, Sandra finally came out. They wheeled her into the maternity ward and over to the bed I had been sitting on with the baby. I still didn’t know the baby’s name – Sandra had not told anyone beforehand what the name would be whether boy or girl, so we were patiently waiting. Sandra was completely unconscious, which I was thankful for. Some women come out and the anesthesia was not done properly and they are still very much awake, aware, and in pain.
Once they moved Sandra onto the bed, I held the baby up to her chest to try to force the baby to breastfeed. He woke up and became very active and was very eager to eat. After ensuring that the baby was eating well, Sandra was fine, they had all necessary supplies, food, etc, I made my way back home with the promise of returning in the morning.
I walk through my front gate and am greeted immediately by my own miracles of life. The ones who were born who knows where. In a hospital? Doubtful. In a clinic? Maybe. Probably in a hut on a dirt floor somewhere deep in a village. I don’t know. The reality hits me again – I do not know. I know so little about them, about their lives before I first met them. Here I just left a mother and newborn baby that I have been with throughout pregnancy and now birth. And I have been able to witness births and hold these newborns just moments after drawing their first breaths – and yet with my own children…I have no idea. I didn’t have that privilege. I wasn’t there to witness their births, to breathe in that newborn baby smell on their skin, to watch their every move since birth…no. But God was. He was there on the day of their births. He was there holding them in His arms when they let out their first cries. He held their hands and walked them through the very difficult first days, weeks, and months of their lives. Then…He chose to graciously walk them into my arms, into my life, and into my love.
Birth. Life. Such amazing and miraculous events. And I stand in awe of my God as I witness life daily. I pray yet again that I never take it for granted – the miracle of human life. That I never take for granted – the gift of each breath. And I pray fervently…that I never take for granted the gift of each precious life that He so graciously allows me to be a part of. Whether it be as Mommy, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, or even stranger…my prayer is that I could just pour the love of Jesus into every precious life that He walks into mine.
Posted by Kupendwa at 12:16 AM
Sunday, December 25, 2011
from all of us :)
We love you!
"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
2 Corinthians 9:15
**Thank you Aunt Dede for filming all of us!
(and having patience with all of the cuteness - and all of the "no's"!) :)
Posted by Kupendwa at 10:35 PM
Friday, December 16, 2011
While driving out of our front gate, I watch my children standing on the front porch yelling “I wuv you!” and blowing kisses in my general direction.
A friend commented to me yesterday about my children. While witnessing the goodbye scene that occurs when Mommy leaves the house, she said, “Healthy goodbyes. They are not screaming after you when you leave.”
I smile. No, they are not screaming now, but I remember back to the time when they did. Every single time I had to leave the house and couldn’t take them with me…screams and cries.
I turn to her and smile, “They know that Mommy is coming back.”
My children. They have been rejected. Left alone. Abandoned. Terrified.
They are not here with me because their lives were perfect and going fine. They are not here because they were necessarily well taken care of. Their pasts, their minds, their thoughts – I wish I knew all of it. I wish I could understand what makes them freak out at certain times or random things. I wish I knew how to help them better, how to make it all go away.
But I don’t. and I can’t.
But He does. and He can. And He can provide that security through me. through a family. Through a Mommy. Through food; through a bed; through love. I can give them that security. I can offer the security of my love. No, I can not guarantee that I will come home – we never know when we will be truly called Home, but I can do the best I can to provide for them, love them, and give them the security that only the love of a true parent can provide.
“They know that Mommy is coming back.”
My children now know that they have a home. Security of home. No more starvation. Security of food. No more rejection. Security of love. No more abandonment. Security of acceptance. No longer orphans. Security of family. No. no more screaming. No more panicked cries. They have mommy. And now they know that Mommy is coming back. So now, they can stand with that security at the front door and wave with shouts of “I wuv you!” while blowing kisses at me.
Recently, someone attempted to enter our house during the middle of the night. So, needless to say, we have increased our “security” around the house and compound. But it has not been this security that has me praising my Savior. No, not the security that comes from the guard outside, but the inner security of knowing that I am in my Father’s hands. Completely in His hands – nothing can touch me or happen to me without His knowledge, and without his approval. Security. The kind of complete security that comes with placing my entire life in His hands. The complete security of His protection. The complete security in His provision. The complete security of His love.
...The same kind of security that my children now have knowing that their lives are completely safe in my hands. No, I am not God, but rather their parent. I am the representative of God in my children's little eyes...in their young lives. I can only offer as much security as this physical temporary life will allow…but I can offer that. I rest in my Father’s hands, as they rest in mine. Yes, they ultimately rest in my Father’s hands as well, but their little eyes see me. They see Mommy. As the physical extension of the Father to my children, they see me as their security. And as I learn more about parenting every single day, I learn more about my Father every single day. And vice versa. If I am learning from Him – the ultimate Security – then, I will be able to provide the kind of security that the complete love of a true parent can bring to my children.
Now, don’t let me give the wrong impression. Granted they are getting much better but my children DO cry and scream occasionally when I leave the house :) Thankfully, it is becoming more rare, except when they just want to go too. But the panic is gone. The complete terror that Mommy is leaving and might not come back is gone. Now…they know that Mommy is coming back. They know that Mommy will only be gone for a little while and that she will come back to them as soon as she can.
“They know that Mommy is coming back.”
Posted by Kupendwa at 10:13 PM