Monday, March 21, 2016

The Voice of Truth

There are SO many voices shouting at us. We are in a point in history that is unprecedented. We have more information then we can process at our finger tips. The sounds we hear and the images we see run past our brains at lightening speed. The information highway is zooming up in our brains non-stop. While driving down the freeway the billboards now change images every seven seconds. How in the world do we process it all? What voices are we supposed to listen to anyway?

I realized many years ago that there are tapes playing in our heads from our childhood. I was sharing this with a woman who was really struggling with the tapes that were playing up in her head. The messages were always the same. "You are dumb, you are fat, you are stupid". For me it was, "you are so stupid, you will never amount to anything, you're only good for being a prostitute" Those tapes can be brought forefront at the speed of Mach 10. Of course not everyone has those types of tapes playing in their brain. Some of my grandchildren hear, "you are SO smart, you can do anything you put your mind to, you are loved" I love it when the bonds are broken and healthy, life giving words can replace the old broken ones.

So the question becomes, whose voice will we listen to? Who will get the most air time in our brain? For me it has been so many years ago that I chose to get off the path that was playing those old tapes and chose the road less traveled. A road where truth was spoken over me. Where do we find those truths? Truth will AWAYS be found at the foot of the cross. It is at the foot of the cross that we can hear these words.
1. You are loved
2. With me, you can accomplish anything
3. I will fight your battles, just stand aside and watch me work
4. Your worth is far above rubies and diamonds
5. You are a daughter of the King
6. I want to spend time with you
7. Great job daughter, I knew you could do it
8. I will always be with you
9. You are never alone
10. Have I ever told you just how much I love you?

Next time you feel overwhelmed and hear those old tapes playing that did not encourage you I want to challenge you to go sit at the foot of the cross and hear the truth. You will be so glad you did.
Have a great day.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, March 14, 2016

Midwifery Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

As a midwife I love it when we get "butter" babies. Those are the ones that they literally just slide right out like butter running down a hot cinnamon roll. They are yummy! It is those births that the oxytocin is just flowing through our bodies. A butter birth might even make you question why you are there at all. Anyone, and yes I mean anyone, including a five year old can "catch" a baby. It is just not that hard, until....... it's not!

So before I tell you the story, please know that this type of birth I am going to tell you about is pretty rare. Before this birth I had only seen one "sticky shoulder" challenge and that was probably birth #5 or #6 in my training. I have read many midwifery books and studied positions and theories but never had the dreaded "shoulder dystocia".

A shoulder dystocia is a midwifes worst nightmare. It is a true emergency. You HAVE to get the baby out because the baby's shoulders are stuck behind the pubic bone like concrete. That is the best way I can describe it. Shoulders that are both hung up and stuck in cement, while the head is out but turning all different weird shades that never, ever look good on anyone, especially a baby.

So the call came that I had been expecting. Katie* and I have been developing a relationship over the past six months. She is a delightful Amish Mama with two little ones happily playing outside when I come to visit. The children are not told who this strange "English" woman who comes to visit frequently is.  Apparently the little four year old boy asked his Mama after one of my visits why a doctor kept coming to their house. Unbeknown to both Katie and I, he had peered into the window during the last visit and saw me taking her blood pressure. In fact, one little six year old Amish boy told his little cousin to run when "the lady with the big bag comes, because there is a baby in that bag!" Even the prenatal appointments are before the older children come home from school so that no explanation is needed.

When I got that phone call I dashed out the door. Midwives have to take special training for many things, and one of those is how to go from a deep sleep to dressed, teeth brushed and out the door in the blink of an eye! It's called "Departure Practices 101"This Mama had her last birth from start to finish in only two hours and she was one hour and 15 minutes away! So like all births, when I fly down the road I pray for God's protection over this new wee one. I pray that all will go well and Mama and baby are doing great. I might on occasion specifically pray for a butter baby but usually just to ask for God's protection. I was ready to walk calmly in with my arms opened wide ready to catch this new one.

That's how I picture it sometimes but that is not quite accurate in this case. When I arrived I could tell that I had indeed got there in plenty of time. I even slowly set up everything I would need. I had time to take vitals on Mama and listen to the baby. Everything was perfect. At some point I decided to sit down and realized an hour had already gone by. It was apparent once again that birth was not imminent. I started analyzing why the contractions were not one on top of the other at this point. After checking her I realized baby was not in an optimal position to birth smoothly and baby was still very high. I remembered the time a Mama who was probably on her 8th or 9th baby was in active labor and almost completely dilated but baby was high. This particular Mama delivered her baby shortly afterwards, with the baby practically shooting herself out of the birth canal. Sometimes thats the way it is. So, I assured myself that baby could remain high and suddenly descend right before birth.

As the hours drug on I knew we could have a problem on our hands. I continued to monitor baby who was doing great through this long labor. Mama was starting to get tired. All of the sudden her water broke with a huge gush while working through a contraction. I checked baby's heart rate and it was still in the normal range. 15 minutes later she started to push while getting up on the bed. I had already figured out that baby was on the larger size. Because of that, I had her get in the hands and knees position, figuring she needed all the help she could get in the diameter of the pelvis. With in two pushes the baby's head was out. Sounds great right? Wrong! Babies are supposed to turn their heads and shoulders either to the right or the left after the head is out, its called restitution. Not with this little pumpkin. It was as if the shoulders had landed in quick set concrete. The baby immediately puked out a fair amount of fluid which was great. I wiped the baby's face and the color immediately started to change. First light blue, then dark blue, then light purple, then dark purple. I jumped up on the bed trying to maneuver the baby to no avail. I think at some point I prayed out loud, "please Jesus help us". I was able to get right behind Mama and finally get a hand inside on the right. Sure enough, the right hand was tucked under the chin which I swept down to the side. That gave me a little more room to put two fingers under the right shoulder and one finger under the left. I started rocking the baby back and forth and up and down all the while the face is almost black. When you get to this point you realize you would rather have a broken color bone or a broken arm then a dead baby. I was done being gentle, there was no more time so I started rocking back and forth faster and finally got enough momentum to pull the baby to safety. That was only half the battle.

When I finally got the baby's body free it was totally white and zero tone which means the baby was as floppy as a rag doll. I put the baby down, felt for the heart which thank you GOD was beating rapidly in the little baby's chest. But baby had not taken a breath. I jumped off the bed and started mouth to mouth. First the standard 5 initial inflation breaths with zero response. Later Dad said he was amazed that every time I breathed for the baby his little chest rose, which means I was doing it correctly. I continued to give breaths over and over again. Early in the process I asked Dad and Mama to talk to their baby. All I could hear in the moment was beautiful and gently German words flowing out of their mouths, encouraging baby to breathe. Mama was still on hands and knees and couldn't see a thing which was probably good. Dad stood right there at the foot of the bed time being suspended. I remembered later that at some point I told this baby it was NOT his time to go, that he needed to breathe. What seemed like an eternity baby finally showed signs of life and he let out a little feeble cry. In less than a minute later he was wailing! By this point my knees began to shake and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I had Dad run to the head of the bed and pull the baby from under Mama by his feet. Once the baby passed through we rolled over Mama and put baby on her chest. Mama spoke such tender words to her baby boy. Over and over again in beautiful German she assured her baby that he was indeed going to be okay.

When I stood up after getting baby situated on Mama I stood back. Dad quietly walked out of the room and balled his eyes out. It occurred to me that was a really wise thing to do after all the trauma we had been through the past 10 minutes. Unfortunately as their midwife I didn't get to cry. I had to be the brave one on the outside while shaking on the inside. I still had another 3 or 4 hours to monitor this precious little one. One thing I knew at that moment was the three of us had wrestled with death itself and came out victors!

It is so hard to describe the feelings of breathing life into a lifeless little baby. To watch a face go from black to blue to pink again is truly a miracle.  If you have read my blog for a long time you know that not every baby I have resuscitated has come back. I don't get to decide, I just get to serve to the very best of my ability. All of my training has paid off more than once. I would not trade this job for almost anything. I love what I do. I also know that this work really is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you are going to get.

A dear and wise friend of mine prayed over me today after sharing this story. This is what she left me with. Dear Father God, please be with Jill as she catches these babies. Help her to know that she is not alone. Help her to remember that it is you God who catches her. I'm thankful for my perfect Father to carry me because I sure could not do this without Him.

Speaking of Father's, my next post will be about another kind of father.

Till then

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

An Empty Space

This past weekend I was so blessed to be with my sisters in Pheonix for our nieces wedding. It was so beautiful. Whenever I get to spend time with my sisters and brother, I am reminded just how blessed I am. It wasn't until last year that someone gave a name to the deep and abiding feelings I have for them. I have loved my siblings for as long as I can remember. In the last 30 years I have grown closer to both of my sisters and my brother. When other people talk about their siblings I scratch my head. Until recently I had not understood why my feelings were and are so strong for them. I have asked the LORD to please take me first of the four of us. I can't imagine one of them dying before me. I think it would be more than I can bare. That is saying something since Rich and I have buried two of our own children. Apparently what we have is called a "trauma bond". It's a bond that is born from great adversity and yes trauma.

I have always been grateful for who I am and the blessings that God bestows on me. I certainly am a victor and NOT a victim! But there are times when I am acutely aware that there is a hole in my heart that never can be filled. Who would have thought a mother's love could be so powerful.

It wasn't till the moment I held our first baby Serenity that I asked myself, "I wonder what my Mother thought of me the first time she held me?" That was the beginning of the questions I had. As my life has gone on I find myself asking the same question, "what did my Mom think"  The truth is, I am deeply sad that I never knew my mother. Growing up I remember girls asking me, "don't you miss your mother?" It was always asked hush hush. My response was always the same. "What would I do with a mother if I had one? I know how to cook and clean and iron our clothes. What would I need a mother for?" I was truly serious and until the very first time I held our precious first born daughter, that answer was always enough. I could not imagine in a million years having a mother. I had no clue what I was missing. All I knew was I could take care of my siblings and I didn't need anyone.

We are now at the 6 year mark of my husbands illness. We have been robbed of a normal life together. These past years have been a challenge for me, all the way to the depths of my soul. It has had a ripple effect, on our marriage, on our finances, my husbands ministry and yes, especially on our children. Two of our boys spent part of their high school years without a dad coming in from work and just being normal. We have suffered deep loss several times in the past few years.

The picture above is of a woman sitting in a chair next to an empty chair. To me that represents all the loss in my life. I will never get the opportunity to know my mother.  I would never get the opportunity to hear her encouraging words as I tried desperately to be a good mother without even a hint of what a mother is supposed to do. I will never get the opportunity to love and serve her in her old age. I will never get to help her into my car and help her get her seatbelt on and put out my arm of protection if I have to stop suddenly. There is a hole that will never be filled.

Laying in bed in the hotel room this weekend, I thought again of our mother. Apparently she was very creative. She would have loved coming to Robins house and help put all the flowers together for the wedding. She would have been so proud as her granddaughter Hannah walked down the aisle, looking like an angel. I told Hannah at some point this past weekend, she looked like the pictures of her grandmother , tall, slender and elegant. Right before she walked down the aisle, the grandmothers were to be seated. There was only one, from her Dad's side. We could offer no grandmother and that makes me sad.

All I know to do is love my children better. To keep making memories with them as I can. They have always known my love so I doubt they can even comprehend what their mother misses since they never went without a mother. It grieved me greatly when our children were growing up and I had no grandma to give them. I want to be a Grammy to my grands so they could have what I could never give my children.

What about you sweet friend. Is there a hole in your heart? Do you have a Mama that drives you crazy? She can only drive you crazy if she is alive, so count your blessings. Has your Mama already passed but your heart can recall so many memories? Count those memories as a true blessing from God. I am reminded that someday God will indeed wipe every tear away. For that I am truly grateful. I want to encourage you to hold your loved ones a little closer tonight. Thank God for the blessings you do have, even if it is an empty chair.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I Will Lift Up My Eyes - Lessons From Haiti

I will never forget a lesson I learned the first time I went to Haiti back in 2013. I was standing on the balcony of MamaBaby and I looked up and saw the mountains. They really are gorgeous. I am a sucker for mountains since at heart I am a Colorado girl. For some reason the mountains just speak to me. They remind me that all is right with the world.

I think about the wisest man on earth, several thousand years ago, named Solomon. In the Bible he has a book called Ecclesiastes. He wants to spend time examining this thing we call life. He tries "everything" life has to offer under the sun. In the end he says that all is vanity under the sun. I always think of Solomon when I am in Haiti. When I stand on the balcony at MamaBaby and look up I see the gorgeous mountains. It is not until I look down that I see the garbage strewn all over the ground, half empty buildings and did I mention the garbage? I see the Haitian women carrying baskets on top of their heads. I see children wandering the streets. The poverty is beyond comprehension.

Do you remember all that "free" food our government gave to Haiti during the earthquake in Port au Prince back in January 2010? The United States sent tons and tons of 50# bags of rice and beans. Those never got to the people it was intended for, at least not for free. You see drug lords got their hands on them. When I went over for the first time in 2013 I had to "buy" for $100 a couple of bags of rice and beans to help some starving families. It still touches a nerve when I think about it. That free food ended up not being free for the Haitian people.

When I am back in Haiti I look down and it all looks hopeless. The starving women, the dead babies, the garbage lining the streets, the violence just makes me sick. The question then becomes, why bother? Why spend time and money on such a place? I got a letter recently from someone I had talked to about supporting MamaBaby. They advised against me going and said the money would be wasted so they had decided to not support the work there, what's the point they said. I get it, I truly do until.... you pour cold water on the face of a Mama laboring, knowing you are providing clean water for her to not only feel on her hot skin but clean, cold water to drink. When you can pray over a little one just born to ask God's special blessing on this little one. When you give a cup of cold water to a Mama that hasn't eaten or drink in days. A tender, shy smile from a Mama when she comes back after having her baby and says thank you.

Here is the primary lesson I have learned over the last few years when it comes to Haiti. Make a difference in the life of just one. God only calls me to serve one, not hundreds, not thousands or millions but just one. I can do one. Serving one cup of cold water in His name is easy. I can do that. I can give money to help just one Mama deliver her baby in a clean, safe environment, I can do that. I can do one by not looking down and seeing all the problems but looking up to the ONE who can help with the one.

What about you? Do you easily get overwhelmed with the needs of thousands like me? If so, how about making a commitment to helping just one person? One will make all the difference in the world. Remember my story of the little girl on the beach? It was filled with starfish. She had one in her hand when a man walked towards her. He wanted to know why she was wasting her time trying to throw a starfish back into the water when all around her was thousands of starfish dying on the beach. She lifted her hand with the one starfish in her hand and said, "but to this one starfish I made all the difference in the world"

Let me encourage you to be that little girl. I am asking you to reach out to just one.
Till next time

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Where Have YOU Come From?

I have a new friend and her name is Wilna. She is from Port au Prince. We were seat mates on my Miami to CapHaitian flight in December. It is so rare that I meet a woman who is taller than me. Usually in pictures I am the one towering over everyone else. This gorgeous lady got on the plane after I was settled into my seat with a large smoothie of some sort. I try to be respectful of people's space or in this case, the lack of space on an airplane . If someone puts in earphones that is your cue to mind your own business which I did. It wasn't long before those long legs kicked over her luscious smoothie. I helped her wipe it up and we got to talking. We only finished our conversation as the plane started to circle Cap Haitian.

It was the first time she would be going back home in almost 15 years. As we circled she looked out the window and told me more about her beloved country. During that flight she opened my mind to some new truths about this country that seems to call to me. She was going back to be with her family for a funeral. In fact, at least 1/3 of the plane were relatives of hers! She saw a cousin that she hadn't seen since she was a little girl back in Port au Prince.

Here was a woman who could help me fill in some of the gaps in my understanding of Haiti. What a beautiful soul she is. She was one of the lucky ones who was educated as a child in school. She went on to college and then went on to law school and became a lawyer. Her parents raised her and all her siblings to leave the island when they finished with their education and move to America. All of her siblings are now proud American citizens.

One of things that so fascinates me about Wilna is her desire to give back. She could be making a lot more money as a lawyer. Instead, she is the Director of Family Services for Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. She talks about her work at Habitat like I talk about my work as a midwife. Her face lights up. I had to giggle because she told me some of her responsibilities is to hold clients accountable for paying their bills and helping with the building of their homes. She told me that she doesn't accept excuses for not having a job or money to pay the bills. She remembers where she has come from. You see, her past has given her the opportunity to serve right where she is at. She is thankful for the opportunity to serve.

It reminds where I have come from. Honestly, there are times when I just want to throw in the towel. Life is filled with heartache and grief. It becomes overwhelming at times when I feel my heart breaking once again. I see women my age having lunch with their Mama's or taking them to doctors appointments and it breaks my heart. I miss never even getting the chance to know my Mama. There is a hole that simply will never be filled. Most of the time I am fine but then there are those times when other grieves come crashing in and add to a sense of loss.

Then I remember that because of where I have come from, I have a perfect Heavenly Father who loves me just as I am. He loves me. Stop for just a moment and lets settle right here. He, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords loves me. He doesn't see all the faults because when he sees me Jesus is standing in front of me, covering all of my faults. He loves me. And dear friend, he loves you to.

Recently, Wilna and I were talking and catching up and she reminded me that no matter where we have come from we are to look forward knowing that in times of great trouble God will indeed carry us. Why? Because once again he reminds that he loves us!

I am thankful that Wilna and I have crossed paths. She is a fellow believer who walks faithfully with the LORD.  She can be added to a great cloud of witnesses who are faithful. What about you? Do you know where you have come from? If so, do you know where and with whom you are going? I want to remind you to look forward. Someday God will make all things new.
Till then,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

For those who are brand new to my little blogging world I want to introduce you to Tuesday's special. It is called Gratituesday. We stop and give thanks once a week and just focus all that is right in our world. The host is a long time friend of mine, Laura. She is a very successful blogger which you can see her website up above.
Today, I am overwhelmed with a sense of peace. This year has had some significant ups and downs for me personally. Its been hard to find a balance between serving women in pregnancy, labor and beyond along with a very demanding school schedule and my family. We have known great joy and deep sorrow this year. I had hoped to graduate from the program I am in by December but no matter how many hours I put in it was simply not possible. I started my own midwifery practice this year as a stand alone from the practice I've been working in for the past three years. I will continue to build my practice and work in the other practice at the same time.
I was privileged beyond measure to once again go to MamaBaby in Haiti. I am now in charge of the supplies that volunteers bring down. I love MamaBaby and the mission there. In fact, being there this month has reinforced my thankfulness. When you see women whose one concern is getting food at least once a day. They are my heroes. When you look at Haiti there are two ways to look. You can look up above eye level and see the blue skies, the lush mountains and all their majesty or you can look down and see the trash littering the roads and countryside. It takes both the up and the down vision to see the whole picture of Haiti. 
We are spoiled rotten here in America. Even our poorest have a way to eat by assessing a food kitchen or a food bank. There is almost zero help in Haiti. There are no food banks or food kitchens to get a simple meal. We worry and fret how to make more money when we fail to see what we do have. There is an old hymn called "Count Your Blessings". It is still a favorite of mine. I am blessed beyond measure and I bet you are to!
SO today, it is Tuesday which means I am practicing the discipline of thankfulness. What about you? What are YOU thankful for? Can you find the good out of the bad that happened this year? Are you prone to feeling sorry for yourself and your circumstances? Today I want to challenge you to count your blessings and yes, name them one by one. 
Till tomorrow. 

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, December 28, 2015

One Little Starfish at a Time

I'm sitting at the communal table in the quiet of the night. Instead of crying babies, I can hear the crickets and the tick-tick if the clock. It's rare lately to just sit and reflect. I'm reminded once again of the little girl and the starfish.
This little girl had a heart as big as the ocean she stood in front of. Lying on the beach were thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore. A man had been watching the little girl in the distance pick up one little starfish at a time, throwing them back in the ocean. He walked up to her and asked why in the world would she bother wasting her time with thousands of starfish littering the beach? Didn't she know it was hopeless? The little girl looked up at the man with one starfish in her hand and said, "but to this one I made all the difference in the world."
That's how it feels serving at MamaBaby. The needs can seem overwhelming at times. Mama’s that just lost their husbands and am laboring alone. Young women who have no place to go after the baby is born. A Mama who has no clue when she will get to eat again.
When you hold a Mama's hand in labor and see the terrified look in her eyes you stroke her hair and speak reassuring words of comfort, letting her know she is not alone, you are making a difference. When you fight for a baby's life and win, you know you are making a difference, one little starfish at a time.
Will you be like that little girl on the beach? Do you see the difference; serving can make for that one little baby?
MamaBaby needs your help. The beach is just littered with little starfish waiting to be thrown back into the water. Come help make all the difference in the world. If you cant come and serve can you help someone else come and serve? Can you donate money to help with food for the midwives? Can you send much needed supplies? There are so many opportunities to serve. Be the little girl on the beach. To this one starfish you made all the difference in the world.

Your heart will be full.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".