Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cloth diapers.
Ever experienced those? (I just wrote hose, when I meant to write Those – and then ended up just then writing toes – am I seriously ok this morning? I should think not. oh, goodness, here we go with the day! But speaking of hose – those in and of themselves are a nightmare, and toes – those too can be a disaster, so I guess they all go well with the talk about cloth diapers – all fall into the same category.) This one was sitting in the middle of my living room one morning, as the previous owner toddled into my room pointing and trying ever so hard to explain to me that she no longer had her diaper, but that it was sitting lonely in the living room.

Cloth Diapers.
Anyway, forgive me, but I was raised on disposable. And honestly never even really knew what cloth diapers were until Africa. This is where I had my first run-in with these things. Yes, they are things. In fact, sometimes I think they have a mind of their own and do their on things.
My mother keeps telling me – here’s how you do it, even sent me a “how-to” sheet for folding cloth diapers – and let me tell you, that makes one feel VERY insecure when mother is sending “how to fold cloth diaper” instructions from across the ocean. Doesn’t instill much confidence, if you know what I mean – even when you greatly appreciate it and seriously end up STUDYING the pamphlet?? Bent over it looking at the tiny pictures  trying to figure out which arrow points which way and which end is supposed to be folded up again?? And this is supposed to stay on the baby HOW??!

Cloth diapers.
Just the two words now almost make me cringe. I’m beginning to have something of a love/hate relationship with these things. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? Or am I all alone in this cloth-diaper-figuring-out thing?? I have looked on online a few times lately trying to find cheap diaper covers that people might be selling and from the looks of things, and all the posts that read something like “bought these and never used them” or something to that extent…leads me to believe that perhaps I am not the only one who has struggled with these “things”.
I tell you, they seriously seem to take on a life and mind of their own. I put them on one baby in the morning and I must humbly say, that I think it look pretty good. I fold them how I believe they are supposed to be folded, then I take my little diaper pin, and pin them (my little girl ALWAYS thinks I am going to stick her…still working on this problem, but she doesn’t realize that most often instead of sticking her I end up sticking me.) and a few hours later, these diapers are off of their owners (maybe I should say carriers)

But last night, we received a few cloth diapers donations – and I shocked, and maybe even embarrassed myself with how excited and giddy I became over these diapers. Seriously. The babies pulled out cute books with pictures, hats, clothes, etc – and I was most excited about the diapers. As I type, I have a little one in my lap wearing one of the colorful diaper cover donations. I was seriously ashamed at how excited I got over these. – sadly, I even picked up one of the brand new cloths and rubbed it on my cheek. I did. For goodness’ sake, I seriously doubt my sanity most days. I probably shouldn’t even mention the next part, I’ll never live it down and I am heartily ashamed to even write that after rubbing it on my cheek -  I then smelled  it. and oh, you wouldn’t believe how clean it smelled - Clean! Brand new cloth diaper – let me tell you, it is soft and clean: a wonderful combination.

I have decided to use cloth diapers for one reason: disposable diapers are expensive. They just are. Oh, and the wipes discussion will have to be for another day, but diapers are just expensive. And I can wash. We can wash diapers here. So, to save on costs of these disposable diapers, I have embraced the cloth, reusable ones with open arms! And am very thankful for the donations of these things!

Call me cheesy, but as I smelled the brand new cloth diaper, I almost smelled God’s goodness. God knows my needs. Yes, even needs of cloth diapers. And He provides just when I need Him most. Even as I write, I am sitting here on my bed looking at two bare bottomed babies walking around my bedroom, the cloth that used to be covering these hineys long ago discarded. I watch as Amina picks up the discarded cloth diapers (clean ones), and begins folding the cloths around her baby doll…just like mommy does.

I watch. And am amazed – as she knows exactly what to do and how to do it. She knows how to fold it, how to place it – everything. My little girl has learned. This three year old child is teaching me more every single day than I ever imagined she would. Why did I think as the parent I would be the one teaching? Why, oh why? Where did I get this idea?
Breastfeeding, putting cloth diapers on her baby doll.
She watches. Intently. And she sees. Everything. And she learns. By example. And the pressure mounts. “What does she see in mommy? What does she watch mommy do? What is she learning?”
And the fear creeps in. “Will she really see Jesus in me? How will she see Jesus in me? I’m not a good enough example – I make mistakes - I don’t want my little girl to make the same mistakes. I’m just a little girl myself trying to cling to her Father for guidance and help through each day.”

And I hear His voice whispering to my soul, “She is watching you. And as she watches you, she will see Me. I will glorify Myself through you – and that is what she will see. Stay rooted deeply into Me, Amy. And I will show Myself to her through you.”
He gently reminds me…that even when I have to sponge bathe, have my hair up in a clip for two weeks straight, forget to change my sheets, breakfast is late, I lose it and yell – He is still my heart. My heart is His. That even when I feel as if life is just too crazy, that household duties are keeping me from spending enough time with my children, that they must not be learning anything…God brings her little face before me. and I see the pair of eyes that so strongly captured my heart long ago. I see these eyes that want Mommy more than anything in the world. I see these eyes that look at me as if I am the best thing that ever happened to her. These eyes watch - trying to figure out the tears on Mommy’s face as she kneels bent over an open Book before her. They watch as Mommy’s hands are raised high above her head as the music plays in the background.

I want my little girl to know Jesus.
More than anything else, that is what I want her to know. I want her to see Jesus through her mommy. My prayer is that as she grows and continues to sing “Jesus Loves Me”, she comes to fully understand and know for herself that Jesus loves her…and that she comes to love Jesus. And I pray that she learns. “God, as she now knows without me even teaching her how to cloth diaper dress a baby doll, let her learn from me how to love You.”

I pray on my knees that as she is learning how to hold a baby, how to “breastfeed”, and even how to put on those good ole’ cloth diapers, that she is learning most of all…how to love Jesus.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mary Beth

My dear friend, Mary Beth, came to visit for the week. I had not seen her in over six months and having her here was a breath of fresh air. She loved meeting the children and experiencing Uganda. She had been to the continent of Africa before, but not “Africa” – the real village, red dirt, safari-type Africa. She got to experience :)    


 Patrick refused to eat his beans so I smashed them up and mixed them in with the rice - he devoured them. 

 On the way back to the airport - Mary Beth got to eat the infamous "chicken-on-a-stick"! 

 I was so proud of her!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mhina Mikayla

Oliva was awake all night. She wanted to go back to the clinic and just wait from there until she gave birth. Her contractions were still too far apart and not strong enough, but I knew she would not wait this one out at home. My friends arrived to go to the airport: I was sending them to pick up my friend – I felt like the worst friend ever. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. While Oliva was running around trying to get her stuff together, I tried to pull up my friend’s picture online to show the ones picking her up so they would at least know what she looked like but in the end with all the craziness, I forgot to show them! So in the car on the way to the health center, I am verbally describing what my friend looks like! I knew this was going to be a day and a half. I started praying then and there for God to work miracles that day in very many ways. Before we left the house, I had grabbed paper and crayons to make airport signs with so while bumping down the road in the backseat of the car with a very nervous and uncomfortable in-labor mother, I outlined “MARY BETH” with crayons, and then handed them to the passenger and asked him to color them in! I had “MARY” on one 8 ½ x11 piece of paper, and “BETH” on another – he holds up the finished colored-in signs: “BETH MARY”. Yep. Gonna be a day and a half.
My prayers increased.

9 am.
I heard a familiar beep as we pulled up to the clinic. My phone’s battery as dying. “Not the time, Lord”, I thought. “Not the time!” The in-charge nurse (yes, she is in charge, but that is really what they call her – the “in-charge”) comes and takes Oliva into the back room for a checkup – with all 19 of the other nurses and midwives working that day. I have never see so much help for one delivery before in all my life. Granted this was my first birth-witnessing, but I have never even heard of so many midwives and nurses assisting before!
My phone was still dying, and I had no airtime. Roselyn was not at the clinic and I couldn’t even call her. I was so disappointed. She had been working with me and Oliva for the past months and God knew how desperately I wanted her to be there. I kept praying as the nurses checked Olivia. 8 cm dilated. But the contractions were still way too far apart. There was no way she could push until the contractions were closer together and stronger. She didn’t want to walk; she just wanted to stand in one place and move her feet and legs. So, I sat on the clinic bed and prayed as she moved. I kept asking her throughout the entire ordeal, “Do you want to sing? Want me to read scripture? Pray out loud?”  A firm negative headshake was all that I received every time! I guess I can’t really say much since I’ve never been in labor, so I just sat and continued praying silently.

10 am.
Oliva had not eaten anything in over 24 hours. I had forgotten that the day before had been so bad for her. She had vomited everything she attempted to eat and hadn’t been able to keep anything down at all. And liquids were now becoming almost impossible for her to keep down. The nurses told me she needed hot tea with lots of tea leaves and sugar. She was losing energy fast. They looked at me as if I was magically supposed to produce these things. I stared back at them. How and where was I supposed to get hot water, tea leaves, sugar, a spoon, a cup and thermos (flask) while staying at the clinic with Oliva? Not to mention, we are on the far side of town with absolutely no shops nearby.

But I went outside to find someone who could help me with getting the necessary “tea”. A boda man said that there was a little place down the road that sold food and tea in the mornings. I started walking. I stopped at a little “shop”/shack – and the lady in back said she sold food and had tea. She even had bananas so I grabbed one of those thinking it might help. It didn’t. nothing did…Oliva couldn’t keep a thing down – not even the so necessary tea.

We didn’t have enough gloves. They were going to run out. I got there expecting for us to have everything – we had tried to plan ahead for these things, but I guess I forgot to factor in 19+ midwives and nurses. Oops. The nurses said to send a boda for the gloves. I was not leaving Oliva, so this was great with me. I walked out, found a boda man, explained in detail exactly what I needed. Eight pairs of gloves. And a rolex. I needed lunch – something - anything. And that would be cheap and fast, even if terrible for my body. Oh, well. At this point, my only concern for my health was not passing out. And since everyone knows what a rolex is and he would be able to get it easily. Anything besides glucose biscuits at this point!

The nurses checked Oliva again after 4 hours. Pretty much the same. I had been praying that she would deliver sooner rather than later. The nurse came and told me to hold her hand, talk to her, etc – as she was beginning to get worried and upset. A very young doctor chose that very moment to poke his head in. He looked at me, saw no gloves on my hand and practically growled at me, “Where are your gloves? Do not touch her without gloves on!” Exasperated, I told him that we didn’t have any more and that we had sent someone - then the doctor left.

Boda man arrived with the gloves…and my “rolex”. I was very hungry after having a couple glucose biscuits (cookies) for breakfast, and was looking forward to something to at least keep me going through the afternoon. He handed me the white pharmacy bag, showed me the gloves, and pulled out a small white package. He explained that when he had told the pharmacist about the “rolex” – this is what she gave him. At that moment I realized that lunch was not happening. I stared at him, then at the package. I didn’t even open it – just thanked him kindly and paid him!

Oliva was getting more antsy and she didn’t want to be inside anymore, so she moved outside to pace – without shoes. The nurses didn’t like that one bit and kept insisting that Oliva wear my shoes, but she would have none of it. Oliva wanted to walk around the hospital compound barefoot ad that was final! Once we reached outside thought, she sent me straight back in for a sheet and then said she wanted to lay down. I ended up spreading the sheet out on the ground (hard, red dirt ground with sticks everywhere – I tried to move as many as I could but I still ended up being poked.). Oliva got down on all fours and rocked herself forward and backward for the next 30 minutes there on the ground in the middle of the health center compound. I really don’t mind sticks and ground at all and am very used to such circumstances – but watching this very pregnant woman in labor on all fours down on sticks and rocking back and forth was rather comical. I kept praying and encouraging.

The nurses told us to go back inside. At 8cm dilated, she needed to be close to the delivery room they said. So back inside, Oliva began getting more uncomfortable but her contractions were still about 10 minutes apart. It didn’t make much sense to me. but I was sitting in the delivery room while Oliva paced, when the door opened and a familiar face peeked around the corner. Roselyn. Finally. I grabbed her and hugged her tight. She was already laughing at me – something she does quite often. She checked on Oliva’s situation, then asked how I was doing. We laughed, both knowing what the other was thinking: she proceeded to tell the other 8 or so nurses in the room that I needed to be watched as well…I am fond of fainting! She then gave the entire run-down of the episode at the clinic when I fainted on her after watching her dress a hand wound. I had already thought about this and had been praying that I would make it through the delivery – I never expected to faint with Roselyn that time, but faint I did. Out cold. The last thing I wanted was to be like the “fainting father” in the delivery room! But after the entire story being shared, and many laughs at my expense, Roselyn turned and asked, “Did you eat lunch?”. I smiled as I thought about my rolex lunch which ended up not happening thanks to communication problems. Much to my protesting, she grabbed my hand and marched me out of the room. I ate with the staff members at the hospital in the “lunch room”, bless Roselyn’s heart. But I kept wondering how Oliva was doing the entire time so finally I finished and we went back up. This was going to be my first birth witnessing ever – and I did not want to miss it.

The nurses were getting ready to check her again. Her contractions were the same: 10 minutes apart. She was in extreme discomfort, but there was no way she could push the baby with her contractions coming that far apart. Oliva was also getting dehydrated and losing energy quickly as she had not eaten or kept anything down in over 24 hours. An IV line was hooked up and labor inducing meds were added. The contractions were still too far apart…and definitely not strong enough. I could barely see or feel them.

Still waiting. Oliva was lying on the bed still struggling. She kept saying, “Help me, help me” which broke my heart. The nurses, midwives and I were helping as much as she could, but she knew what she had done – what some of the problems were that she had not told anyone. The abortions, the superstitious herbal medicines, etc. And she was scared. I held her hand, prayed, and kept speaking reassuring words to her even as my tears threatened to fall. I so badly wanted this baby to be born alive, healthy – perfect. I so desperately wanted Oliva to live through this childbirth – to be able to deliver naturally and not have to endure a c-section. I continued praying.

I look up and the doctor’s head was in the window at the end of the bed. The same one who had barked at me about the gloves. He was standing outside and had come to check on the progress – through the window. Next thing I know, he is walking through the delivery room door while putting on his gloves, and moving to Oliva’s side. He looks her in the eye and says, “I have delivered too many still-born babies and I am not going to deliver one today.” I gratefully slipped back out of the way as he quickly assessed the situation: Oliva was weak. Too weak. Even with the fluids she did not seem to have the energy to push. The very top of the baby’s head was visible, but that was it. With Oliva being a PG, the doctor was much more concerned about this birth. He jumped up on the delivery table, and told Oliva that he was going to help her push the baby out. He began applying pressure on the top of the fundus (abdomen part), and manually forcing contractions and expulsion of the baby. Using all the strength that he had, he kept pushing and pushing and pushing…
The baby was born. Hallelujah!

Baby Mhina Mikayla – a “Delightful gift from God” - entered the world on July 19th, 2011.

“Thank you, Jesus”, I breathe. A miracle. An absolute miracle right before my eyes. I watched in awe as the doctor picked up the baby and laid her on Oliva’s chest for a few minutes. The baby was still not breathing, so he swung her in the air a few times. He then placed Baby Mikayla on the scales to be weighed and thoroughly checked out. He looked at me and said, “She’s fine. They’ll both be fine. She’s breathing now.”

Other midwives were busy taking care of Oliva – she needed stitches.
I am helping the doctor with Mikayla when I hear, “Where are the suture materials?” The in-charge nurse leans over my shoulder and asks again, “Where are the suture materials? I saw them earlier.”
“What suture materials?”, I asked. “We don’t have any.” My mind is reeling. I well know by now that if you don’t have then you don’t have…and no one else is going to provide. Oliva needs to be stitched now.
“Lord, what are we going to do?”, I pray.
The in-charge nurse still standing over my shoulder asks, “Where did they go?? I saw them earlier – you have them.”
“I have them??”, I ask again.
 “In that little white bag - you sent the boda man for them.”, she replied.  
“The boda man?”, I thought. “I sent the boda man for them??!”
She quickly finds it. On the floor. The little white pharmacy bag. I watch dumbfounded as she reaches in…and pulls out the white packet of whatever the boda man bought instead of my rolex lunch: suture materials. I want to laugh, but instead tears form. I can do nothing but whisper, “Thank you Jesus” and stand in awe.


Roselyn :)

I then remembered Oliva’s cousin…still seated waiting outside. I rush out to tell him that the baby is here and he smiles. Already heard the cries and commotion. He offers to bring juice and water for Oliva and I breathe a relieved, “Thank you.” Back inside, the room is still buzzing with the organized chaos, as I just walk silently back over to Baby Mikayla still lying soundlessly on the scales. I send my mother a text back home – we had been texting throughout the day as I knew she and so many others back in America were faithfully praying. I then text Oliva’s sister, “She’s here! Oliva fine, Mikayla fine.” That sister showed up about 30 minutes later. So relieved, so grateful, so excited. She walked in the delivery room where Oliva and the baby still were, but quickly walked back out when she could not handle the atmosphere! Seeing her sister blessed Oliva’s heart though. The expression on her face showed the sincere happiness in her heart that her cousin and sister had come.

The birth recap – 23 people in that one 12ft. x 8ft. room. I just laughed. We all had to scoot around each other. So much for having no help during delivery. and i am so thankful for each one! 22 women – and 1 man. Roselyn was amazing. The nurses such a blessing. My God was so good. We stayed the night - it was freezing. I had to quickly boda back home to get needed supplies for me to stay the night (sheet, sleeping bag, contacts case and solution) and then rush back. Oliva tried to sleep under the sleeping bag; I tried to sleep under the sheet. In these clinics when they say everyone leaves at 5, they mean everyone leaves at 5. One nurse actually stayed until 6pm, but at 6pm we were by ourselves. I didn’t make the mistake of sending the boda man for rolex again – I went myself. This meant that I had to leave Oliva alone in the hospital, so I said it would take me 10 minutes max…I believe I made it in 8. I bought some juice and rolex for the mother (what else was open at 9pm – they don’t have midnight FAST food like in America and at times like this I miss it dearly.) Oliva and I spent the night holding Mikayla, figuring out breastfeeding, trying to sleep without a mosquito net, and maneuvering Oliva to the restroom without pulling the stitches. The next morning, I walked down to the same little “shop/restaurant” I was now well acquainted with and bought more glucose biscuits and tea for breakfast. Some sweet friends offered to come pick us up from the hospital in their van so I would not have to put this new mother and infant on the back of a motorcycle! PTL!

Acting like the typical American family member there for the birth, I had actually gotten two of the nurses to film and take pictures during the entire delivery. Oliva was able to watch her baby’s birth for herself later on that week – she couldn’t believe how amazing, how God had delivered her baby safe and sound. She sat there mesmerized and breathed, “God is good. Thank God.” As we watched it, I thought again about how special this birth was to me – I felt like it was a part of me. So much had happened with this baby…with this mother. God had brought them into my life for so many reasons – and my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of their lives.

My first birth witnessing. I loved it. Every minute – even the crazy chaotic ones. The miracle of birth completely captured me. After spending months studying midwifery, I was able to actually witness this amazing event in person. God worked out so many details to have me in that special room that day. My first birth-witnessing…I never dreamed it would be like that. I never dreamed I would get to be there in a Ugandan clinic with a first-time mother: one whom God had brought into my home and allowed me to love and be loved by. My first birth-witnessing: the life of Mhina Mikayla “Gift from God”. Her entire birthing experience was truly a gift from God straight to my heart. I have found a passion. A love for midwifery. I stand amazed at the privileges I am given each day: the privilege to love on this precious mother and now newborn child and live out the love of Jesus to them; the privilege of experiencing the miracle of birth and this new life coming into the world. 

proud mother

Roselyn and Mikayla the next morning

the "in-charge" nurse with Mikayla the next morning

Oliva and Mikayla with the doctor - 
we are on fabulous terms since I agreed to always wear gloves

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oliva walked into my room with a strange look on her face. She looked like she had a hundred questions running through her mind but didn’t even know how to ask one. Her stomach had been feeling weird and she was having more trouble breathing. She had been saying this so many times during her pregnancy though, but she looked more concerned this time. I asked her a few questions and then decided I should take her to the clinic to get her checked out. The next day, a dear friend of mine was flying in to visit for the week. If this could have just waited 2 more days, it would have been perfect – in my mind. But again, God whispered – “My ways, my thoughts. Not yours.”
It was HIS perfect timing…little did I know how perfect it would actually be.
I took her to the government health center I had recently been introduced to and the one I believed God wanted me to take her to when she delivered.  Roselyn, my wonderful nurse/midwife friend, worked there now and I had so been hoping that she would be working when oliva gave birth.

We arrived at the clinic and the nurses checked her out. I got to assist and watch much to Oliva’s protesting. She had told me beforehand that I could be in the delivery room and help, watch, etc (as I had been studying and learning midwifery), but oh, my goodness, did this first time mother ever get shy during the first checkup. Shy as it could be! All the nurses and midwives began laughing at her and giving her a good hard time. “Just wait until you are in strong labor and delivering – you won’t care who is in the room!”  (BTW, Oliva really did want me in there, she was just extremely shy to absolutely EVERYONE in the room! She kept the nurses laughing the entire time.) the checkup ended up confirming what I thought: she had a long way to go. The contractions had begun but were not early strong enough. She was approximately 4 cm dilated, but her contractions were very far apart. They sent us home to wait. As I was walking out the door, the midwife whispered in my ear, “She needs to move. Keep her moving and up and active.”

Instead of going home, I decided that Oliva and I needed a few things from town while we were there! and since we do not have a vehicle – we walked :)  all over town to the market and supermarkets and bank. She would stop every 20 minutes or so to catch her breath when she felt a little pain, but the contractions were still not strong at all and very far apart. That night there was still very little change. I was supposed to leave at 9am to pick up my friend from the airport…didn’t look like that was going to happen. But since I don’t have a vehicle, a friend was loaning me his car to go to the airport. I had planned this a week or so again, having no idea that Oliva would be in labor, but once again, God provided with His perfect timing and we had a car sitting in our driveway all night in case anything happened.
It didn’t.
We slept that night ready to be awakened at any time, but it was not to be. This baby is going to wait.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"My faithful Father, Enduring Friend
Your tender mercy is like a river with no end
it overwhelms me covers my sin
each time I come into Your presence I stand in wonder once again

Oh patient Savior, You make me whole
You are the author and the healer of my soul
what can i give You Lord what can I say
I know there's no way to repay You only to offer You my praise

Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
each day i fall on my knees
'cause Your grace still amazes me
Your grace still amazes me"

“Your grace still amazes me”
Phillips, Craig, and Dean