Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Transition Time

Today another chapter of my journey comes to a close. Tomorrow, another opens.

In a few short hours (August 6th am for those EST or pm for those here in the Philippines) I will be boarding my first flight on my journey home. It is a great time of transition and mixed emotions. I am leaving my home of 2 years, a place I have come to know and love.

More than the place, I will miss the people. I will miss the many friends I have made. I will miss the women I have served. I will miss the midwives who have taught me. I will miss the people!

I have greatly enjoyed my last few days in the Philippines! I have been so very thankful for my time here! I am not sure words can describe all that I feel right now. I am trying to prepare myself for this transition, yet I do not know how to.

The one thing I do know is that I can rely upon the Lord and that He alone will provide the strength I need for this time in my life! Please keep me in your prayers!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Worth more than a thousand words....

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. To me, millions could be said about these pictures. Each of these women are dear to my heart. Together we have learned, grown, and served. Together we began this journey to become midwives. We have laughed together and cried together. We have prayed together and supported one another. It has not been an easy journey to get to this point, but it has been an amazing one!




I am so very thankful for each one of these magnificent midwives! There is much that could be said about each of them... but I will just say this-You are wicked awesome and I am glad to have had the privilege to walk this road with you! Though we may be parting ways soon, the memories we have made will last a lifetime! Let the pictures speak for themselves... Enough said.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

One year and 3 months later...

The other I had the amazing opportunity to see a little boy who I welcomed into this world in April of 2013. His mother recently delivered again at the clinic. Thankfully, I was able to be there and also witness the sweet birth of his younger sister. You can read about it here.

Here is a photo of Zhel John then.....


Here are pictures from our visit yesterday-
Baby Mhelsie Sarah, Zhel John and I

Precious little Mhelsie Sarah

Happy big brother

Look at those adorable little faces!

Such a wonderfully amazing opportunity! I was glad to share in this precious time before I leave in a few short days! God is so very good!


A Labor of Love

The day started off with the ring on my alarm. I quickly got up and ready for the day. As I walked to the clinic, I wondered what the Lord had in store. I prayed that it would include welcoming a little baby into  the world.

I arrived and noticed that the clinic was very busy. There were numerous postpartum patients and one laboring mother. This was her 3rd baby in under 4 years. She was only 22! I received care of this young mother and noticed right away that she was exhausted. "Yan-yan" told me that she had not slept a moment all night. She labored very quietly and rarely spoke, however, when she did it was in perfect English.

I had evaluated her a few hours later and determined that she was progressing in her labor, though by conventional estimation she may still have a few hours of labor left. She desired to be alone, so I went to assist with other activities. About 40 minutes later, a midwife who was at the clinic for a baby postpartum check came and said that "Yan-yan" was looking for help.

As the supervising midwife and I entered the cubicle, I saw her bag of waters had broken and 3cm of thick black hair was visible. We moved into position and moments later welcomed a little girl with a healthy set of lungs. Jamara was born at 10:04am and weighed 3200g.


"Yan-yan" did hemorrhage, but with a little help, the bleeding quickly subsided and mother was stabilized. A few hours later, I helped the new family settle in the postpartum area. Little Jamara was quite adorable and her parents were so happy. After endorsing her care to the next shift, I left the clinic.

I had no sooner walked out the clinic door than  my cellphone alert noted that I had a text message. I guessed who it was and was correct. My continuity patient "Nene" (whose last baby I welcomed in 2013) was having regular contractions 20-30 minutes apart. I asked how she was and if she would be able to labor at home. She areed that would be best and would text me later with an update. This was her 3rd baby. I was pretty sure that I would be back at the clinic later.

I returned to the dorm and decided to shower and make dinner for my house. Some of the visiting girls would be leaving soon and had requested for me to make the meal I had cooked upon their arrival. I was happy to help and soon the meal was simmering on the stove. (A recipe the Hedgehog balls is here- do note the name is due to the spiny appearance, not to meat content ;) ).

After having some dinner, I went to rest. I knew that the night could be long. My phone had been plugged in and charging. I had the feeling I should check it again before I slept. For some strange reason, until I unplugged it, messages had not come through. Suddenly, I saw that "Nene" was at clinic and the guard was on his way. I quickly threw on the scrubs I had laid out, grabbed my backpack and raced down the stairs. Then I rushed back, grabbed my glasses and hurried back down. Once in the ambulance, I put my hair up and prepared myself for what I may find.

Once at the clinic, "Nene" was so excited to see me. We soon found that she was very actively in labor. I prayed with her and helped her breathe through the hard contractions. She smiled and hummed her own tune softly between contractions. I rubbed her back as she swayed back and forth, slowly working baby's head lower into the pelvis with each contraction.

A little while later, she was ready to push. Her breathing became grunts and the supervising midwife entered the cubicle along with other supporting midwives. After talking with "Nene" one midwife was chosen to photograph the birth. As I asked "Nene" if she would want this she very animatedly told me yes, that would be wonderful.

With the next contraction, her bag of waters burst. Try as I may, there was no escaping the huge gush of warm fluid. Despite "Nene" having the urge to push, we encouraged her to breathe. One of the midwives grabbed a clean scrub shirt and helped me change in the next cubicle so I could rapidly return to be with "Nene".

A few minutes later, baby slowly emerged. The cord was wrapped very tightly around baby's neck. After a little struggle, baby was somersaulted, untangled and placed on mother's abdomen. Baby was pale and floppy. One midwife suctioned baby, another provided oxygen. I explained to frantic "Nene" what was going on. Then baby cried and Momma cried.

A moment later I encouraged "Nene" to see if this was a boy or girl. After having 2 previous boys, she had hoped and prayed for a daughter. As the midwife lifted the baby, I watched "Nene's" priceless reaction. She was beyond thrilled! It was an amazing blessing! She finally had her baby girl! I was very honored when she shared with me baby's name- Mhelsie Sarah. My first Filipino namesake!

A few hours later after being stabilized from her hemorrhage and being sutured (it was a somewhat complicated tear) mother and baby were moved to postpartum. It was after 11pm. When paper work was finished and the new midwife informed, it was time for me to return to the dorm.

The guard brought me back in the ambulance. I unpacked my bag, showered, and prepared for bed. It had been over 20 hours since my head had touched my pillow. Sleep was welcome. Tired as I was, while I was dozing off, this thought kept coming to mind- "the miracle of birth is so beautiful! I love what I do! I am so blessed!"







Wednesday, July 16, 2014

He took my breath away

Birth- It is such a beautiful and amazing miracle! I know I say that often, but it is so true. Let me share with you the story of this little guy who I greeted this morning.

It had been 3 weeks and one day since I had personally been able to welcome a little one into the world. I had seen many transports and sent home many mothers who were early in labor during that time. Yet I had not been able to welcome a tiny baby and be one of the first to touch a little life.

I came on day shift wondering what the Lord had in store. I knew that whether it was busy or slow, it would be a good time. If it was to be slow, I figured I would read more of my "Heart and Hands" (by Elizabeth Davis). If it was busy--- I was ready!

Thus,  I was ready when I met the first woman who came into the birth room. She was here for help with labor stimulation. After receiving some help, encouragement, care and support, I prayed with her and she headed home. I decided to read some and wait for what would come next...

Around 9am a laboring mother came into the clinic. She did not appear to be actively in labor but this was her 5th baby. "Hazel" told me she felt it was time to come and she proceeded to smile while rubbing her contracting abdomen. I directed her to a bed and in no time check in was completed. Further examination showed that she was indeed 5cm dilated and that the contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes as opposed to the 10-15minute interval "Hazel" reported upon arrival.

I stayed close by "Hazel's" side as I knew her husband would return as soon as he could. Her bana was a taxi driver. He had to return the taxi after driving her to the clinic or else he would pay a fine for not using it for work. I encouraged him to hurry. Mother's expecting their 5th baby can be unpredictable at times.

About an hour later I noticed signs that "Hazel" was becoming more active in labor. Her contractions came more frequently and though she breathed well, the pain was much more intense. I alerted the supervising midwives.  We would continue to monitor and wait.

 A little after 10am  "Hazel" could hardly breathe through a contraction. The uncontrollable urge to push came. Though it was only one hour later, she was ready. I called and a midwife came into the cubicle. Her bana had not yet returned. "Hazel" asked me if it was time. I nodded to her and watched as she gathered her strength to focus on the task at hand.

Moments later there was a gush of warm amniotic fluid and baby's head slowly emerged. "Hazel" remained in complete control, cool, calm and collected. She breathed and focused on her precious baby. With another contraction and a slight push, her new son entered into the world.  A large flood of fluid followed him.

His birth was so simple, beautiful and uncomplicated. His mother so strong, magnificent and stunning. As I followed their care, I watched her tenderly hold her son. This may have been her 5th baby, but she treasured him like he was her first.

About an hour later father arrived. I led him to the cubicle and announced his presence. Tears came to his eyes as he saw his son for the first time. "Salamat, Salamat" (thank you, thank you) he kept repeating to me. I assured him that the thanks should go to the Lord. He leaned over and examined his precious baby. I slowly backed out of the cubicle to leave this new family alone.

Two hours later as "Hazel" transferred to the postpartum area one could hardly tell that she had just given birth. She and her bana were bantering back and forth in a beautiful expression of their love. He was sorry he missed his son's birth, but he would take pride in his duty and care for his wife. I cannot express how wonderful it was to watch this couple and their interactions. The love between them was visible. The extension of this love to their child was immense.

As "Hazel" got settled in postpartum, I held little "Onem". All 6 pounds, 6 ounces of him. As I gazed at his sweet face the feeling came that so often comes when one holds a precious newborn. As he opened his eyes, blinked and stared up at me I wondered what the Lord may have in store for this little life. Moments later he fell asleep in my arms. I looked down on his perfect little face and in that moment, he took my breath away....



Monday, July 14, 2014

Eye of the tiger

I had written a whole long post about life and its busyness. Then my browser crashed and I lost it all! Suffice it to say I have been wicked busy! My life is full with time in the clinic and studying for my NARM exam in August.

It is hard to believe that my time here is quickly coming to an end. In 22 short days I will be heading home. So many mixed emotions. I leave that discussion for another post another day.

In the midst of final preparations and studying I still find time to spend time with friends! I have also been able to spend some more time with art work. Here is my most recent piece...


Tigers- such amazing animals! This was done for a friend of mine. The eye of the tiger is a well known metaphor. You get knocked down, but you get back up. You focus, you stay committed. Your eye is set upon the prize... wait- kind of reminds me of a passage in Scripture. 

Philippians 3:13-14  " Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

and this one...

Proverbs 24:16 "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:..."

Just thought I would share this thought with you. No, life is not easy. It is not easy to be a missionary away from friends and family. It is not easy to look toward the next step of transition. There is much to do... it can be overwhelming... There are many things in life that can pull one down and throw off ones focus. But it is important to get back up and press onward for the glory of God! Focus on the Lord! Stay Strong in Him! Set your eye on the prize- like the eyes of the tiger!
 

Well, I should get back to studying! I did just want to let you all know that I am still here and doing well! Just been super busy as of late! I will try to not wait so long between this and my next post! God bless!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When Life gives you Ants...

Ants.... those tiny creatures that are hard workers.... the ones mentioned in Proverbs?...yes, those little guys.... lets put them in the spot light for a bit...

Just so you know, they are EVERYWHERE here in the Philippines!
Now, before you jump to conclusions PLEASE do not get me wrong... I am NOT complaining. I have learned a LOT from them!

Here are a few of those lessons...

#1. I have learned that they are a part of everyday life here.
#2. I have learned to wipe the counters, tables, and stove multiple times a day, even when they appear clean.
#3. I have learned to check my towel before I use it as one of their favorite trails runs near the towel rack in our bathroom.
#4. I have learned what an ant bite feels like and to be alert to anything that feels like an ant crawling on my skin.
#5. I have learned that even when you clean the entire kitchen and spray existing ant trails with baygon (bug killer spray) they ants will still return within a few hours.
#6. I have learned that ants generally float.
#7. I have learned that ants can get into any place and always show up uninvited.
#8. I have learned that ants love any kind of food they can get to.
#9. I have learned that ants can chew through anything.
#10. I have learned that ants taste good. (or at least don't taste like much and flavor is easily masked)

Yes, you read that correctly. I have eaten ants on more than one occasion since living here. Maybe it is partially due to the fact that it is easier to eat them at times than to spend forever picking them out of rice (or any other food). Maybe it is because I have just decided a little extra protein won't hurt me. Or maybe it just makes for a great blog post. Either way, they are hardly noticeable most times...

The other night we decided it was time for a treat. Our dorm had been saving a bag of hint of lime tortilla chips for just the right time. I found a can of re-fried beans & jalapenos on the shelf and there was some salsa in the fridge. Time for a delicious treat!

We opened the bag and soon discovered our lovely friends had made it there first.The clever creatures had chewed tiny holes all throughout the bag!


Not sure if you can see, but there are numerous little ants all over that chip...that isn't just lime seasoning ;)  But did it stop us? Absolutely not! Who would let a few ants ruin our special meal? Definitely not us!


When life gives you ants just add beans, salsa and lime!


One girl mentioned they were still crawling around. I quickly determined that by placing the beans and salsa on top of them you could pretend as if they were not even there! It is hard for an ant to crawl with beans and salsa on top of him!


Lami Kaayo! (very delicious!) Would I do it again- absolutely! What wonderful memories!