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".

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Baby

There are times, especially in Haiti where the birthing conditions are not ideal, I think about the Christ child and his birth. There were no birth affirmations written on the wall in the birthing room. No soft music to calm her weary soul as her body contracts time after time, pushing the baby down into the birth canal. No doula to rub her back and tell her she is strong. No essential oils to calm her. No, she is far from family.

 She is young and she is a virgin. Yeah right, those who know her say behind her back. No wonder Mary ran to Elizabeth's after she found out she was pregnant. How in the world would she survive? Thankfully Joseph believes her which is a wild leap of faith on his part.

She walks to Bethlehem so she can be registered with Joseph. It's the law and it sure isn't convenient. What first time Mama wants to walk miles and miles to comply with a law? She and Joseph aren't even married yet. I think of the Mama back in Haiti who birthed her baby after walking miles and miles down a mountain. The mountain is SO steep that even a small motorcycle can't go up or down. She is on foot. When I went to discharge her the next morning (usual stay is 4 hours but she delivered at night) I was talking to her about going home and resting. She had a third degree tear and I asked her to be very careful. Silly me, she then told me she had to walk up that same mountain to get home. No tap tap can get up to take her there. She has to walk, carrying a newborn all the way up a distant mountain. She acts like it is just another part of life. No complaining, just a quiet resignation of what is.

I would like to think that some local midwives heard a young woman was about to give birth from out of town and came to help. Midwives had saved the babies of God's people back in Egypt many years before. Perhaps, just perhaps, Mary had a midwife or two to witness the birth of the Christ child. Like Haiti, the situation wasn't ideal. No complaints, just a natural ability to get the job done.

Later that night when the shepherds come and worship that baby Mary treasured all these things in her heart. She would witness over and over again divine intervention. She was chosen to be the mother of the son of God.

God came down in the form of a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. What you and I chose to do with that is up to us. That baby came to seek and save those who were lost. He came to bring redemption for our sins. HE is the kind and merciful King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Lets live our lives in light of that truth.

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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tap Tap Adventure Part 2

What an adventure. All the sudden we pulled up into the hospital and it was over. We quickly got Mama out of the back of the tap tap and a male nurse was there to greet us. They walked her in and the was the last we saw of her. I thought we would be staying to perhaps give a report but she was wicked away. I sat in the front of the tap tap with Claudin. I thanked him for keeping us alive on the roads. He was so sweet. He told me he would never let anything happen to his Mama Jill. We drove back to MamaBaby in silence. I was praying for this Mama to have a safe delivery. I was also thankful that no one would have to call my husband to tell him I was thrown out the back of a speeding tap tap landing on a dead chicken strapped to the back of a motorcycle!

Later that evening we got word that soon after arriving at the hospital the baby crashed and they had to do an emergency C-section. Baby did not breathe at birth and they had to resuscitate her. She still was not breathing well so she was sent to the NICU. I was very thankful Mama was doing well and praying that in the end the baby would do alright.

The next morning we got a call and was told that baby was stable and Mama and Papa wanted me to come see them. Now I will be honest, one wild ride is my limit for any 24 hour period so I was not in a hurry to get back on another tap tap. So, we hired a taxi to take us. That ride was a much calmer ride for which I was grateful.

We got to the hospital and Mama was in a large OB ward. There were two rows of beds lined against each wall. There is no such thing as privacy. There was a chair by the side of each bed. There were several nurses sitting on chairs against the wall. In a Haitian hospital there is no food service. Your family has to bring you food. If there is no family then there is no food. When I think about all the complaints we as Americans make about hospital food it makes me ashamed. These Mama's have no food unless someone brings them some. Just stop and think about that for a moment.

So the Papa hugged me and thanked me for all my kindness the day before. He and Mama had decided that this little baby is going to take my name to honor my service to them. I was so shocked. Never in my wildest dreams would I think a baby would be named after me. I was truly humbled. They then asked if I would be the godmother to baby Jill. Not sure what that meant in Haiti so I asked the interpreter what that means exactly. Apparently if the parents die I am supposed to come and get baby Jill and finish raising her. So I am now a godmother. I will pray for a long life for both Mama and Papa! They had no clue how to spell Jill so they asked me to write it down. When it came time to pronounce it that became humorous. Baby Jill won't have her name spoken like it is the USA. It will sound more like "cheal"

One of the special things about MamaBaby is that if they are able, they will help with the hospital costs when we have to transfer a Mama. Claudia had given me essentially $200 American dollars to help with the bill. The Papa who is a student in the university has no money. You are not allowed to leave the hospital without paying the bill in full so he went to family members to scrape up enough money to get them out of the hospital. In all the bill was about $1200 dollars for the NICU, the surgical birth and hospital stay. I am proud to serve an organization that has a heart to serve. Even though MamaBaby could not pay the entire bill it sure helped and they were both grateful.

The day before I left to come back home baby Jill got out of the hospital. Papa brought both her and Mama to see me and say good bye. This is where it gets sad. I get to hold and hug the baby and Mama. I weigh baby and give her a good physical. I know how precious clean water is in Haiti so I go and get a cup and give Mama water. She gulps it down so I go and get another one and she gulps that down. Come to find out she had not had one bite of food in about 1 1/2 days. Five days earlier she has a C-section and she hasn't eaten in 36 hours. My heart just broke. I ran upstairs and found the last two packs of emergency rations I brought with me. A staff member had half her plate of food from lunch left so we brought that down and she scarfed that down, giving Papa some bites of the food. They were so grateful. Minus $5 to get home on I gave them the money I had left. It would feed them for a couple of days.

I felt so inadequate at this point. The needs are great in Haiti. If there ever was a day that I wish I had lots of money it would have been that day. I was overwhelmed with my inadequacy. Here is a very young family who can't afford to eat even once a day. It changes you. Does it change you my friend? Does the world look a little different now? There are real people starving or just getting by. Our lifestyle of an overabundance of food just seems unfair. Of course, life is not fair.

SO when you sit down tonight or tomorrow with a table laden with scrumptious food would you please pray for the Mama's and the Papa's and the baby Jill's in Haiti, and if you are so moved would you consider helping? MamaBaby is funded strictly by the generosity of Americans who want to help, one little starfish at a time. ALL the money donated goes to MamaBaby in Haiti. Not one dime stays in the United States. Most charitable groups can't claim a 100% rate of the money going directly to the mission. Think about it. Feel free to visit  www.MamaBabyHaiti.org

Till next time.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Tap Tap Adventure

So this next story starts out with a laboring Mama. This part was written to my boss Wendy.
Well boss, I am still up from yesterday. The Mamas kept coming to the clinic we had one mom from last night that did not deliver and was dragging on hour after hour. Her labor was pretty slow about 1 centimeter every 2 hours. I was supposed to be the assistant for this particular birth. She is a brand new midwife just out of school here in Haiti. I had taught her the other day about pelvic rocks and so she decided to kick it up a notch or two and do practically aerobic exercise with this poor laboring Mama. I told her that it would wear the mama out and she would not have energy to push at the end especially as slow as her labor was. So when it came time to push mama had no strength left. She tried for 2 hours to bring that baby down and the midwife was getting very upset at her. I had offered several suggestions like going on hands and knees but since this was the first time mama she was taught that the only safe way is to deliver on her back. Been up all night just like me. So after 2 hours which is highly unusual here in Haiti she was ready to transfer her to the hospital. She decided to do one last ditch effort and asked me to try so I put her on hands and knees and within 3 contractions the baby was moving down. So I had some more rest and then try again and we were close but when I flipped her over on her back the baby did not move any further so at that point the midwife made the call that the moment would be transferred to the hospital and this is where it gets interesting. This mama is only 18 years old. Her mom and grandmother and boyfriend were with her. So they all walked out into the courtyard waiting for a ride. So the mama walked around the front of the courtyard waiting and all the sudden she drops to the ground so I had had gloves with me and so I thought I would just check to see if the baby was indeed coming and the baby was not. It was decided that Claudine would drive them in the tap tap to the hospital. So at the last minute the other midwife asked me to come. Now I don't know if you know what a tap tap is but it is a sort of pickup truck with the back that is exposed and there's two benches so we put one of the mattresses from the cots in the back of the tap tap and we Sat with the mama on the floor and we sat on the sides along with Grandma, auntie and boyfriend.  So here I am filthy dirty, haven't eaten since yesterday and I'm riding in the back of the tap tap holding on for dear life since the back is open. I picked the shirt straw and got the closest to the road. We get up on the road and it's everyman for himself. Claudin is trying to get there as fast as possible and so we are zipping in and out of traffic, and I'm  trying my hardest to not get run into. I'm praying like crazy to not get squashed like a bug when Mama starts pushing again. We have a doppler, gel and 2 pairs of gloves. So the other midwife listens and of course the heart rate is going into the 60s again. She bends down and checks and thinks she feels the head. So she tells me to do a Vaginal check. No problem. I'm literally being thrown around this tap tap doING a Vaginal check hoping we don't stop so sudden that I ram my fingers up this poor girls throat. Now I just want to stop here and say, I'm pretty sure a Vaginal check flying down the road in an open pickup truck without a back is considered an advanced skill in anyone's book! So baby daddy sees me struggling and comes to my side to block me in. What a great move since I almost went flying out the back end and landing on a motorcycle filled with a man and his dead chicken strapped to the back. I finally get braced enough to feel secure in my next step. I do the exam and sure enough there is the head right inside the introitus. So I'm scanning how I'm going to pull the baby up and on to Mama's belly with me braced at either side and what will I use to wrap her. I spy the grandma with a cute little half sweater which would be the perfect size to wrap a newborn baby in flying down the road.  As I am figuring out just how to do this safely i am now confident of my plan and sit and wait for the next contraction. Just then we pull off and into the "hospital" parking lot. I was so close to delivering that baby in the back of the tap tap. Two things ran through my brain during that harrowing ride. Number 1, my husband is going to kill me when he finds out just how i died. And two, my boss has always wanted to deliver a car baby, or a plane baby or an outside baby. Won't she be jealous! 
So, I'm back safely behind the wall with the little man holding the shot gun, as clean as you can get in Haiti and thankful I'm alive to tell the story! They did graciously keep a bowl of the fish head soup since I've not eaten since yesterday. I politely declined. Never a dull moment. 
Off to bed!
Blessings Jill

The story does not end there. What comes next is truly humbling. I promise the post the "rest of the story" tomorrow

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Dash Between Life and Death

This is a story that I wrote one night at MamaBaby. I won't be going in chronological order. I hope this touches you on some deeper level about the dash between life and death.

Ever wonder if your calling as a midwife makes a difference? That question comes up alot when you come to a place like Haiti. The other day we were up to our ears in patients. Clinic had ended and we had three Mama's in labor at the same time. In walks patient number four, fully dilated ready to push out her baby. At her last appointment the midwife was unsure if the baby was breech so asked the Mama to get an ultrasound. Before she could, her labor began. I had taken several day classes on breeches and had done only one surprise footling breech so I was quite anxious to help. I swapped with another midwife so I could help. 
It didn't take long for the butt to appear. The body rose higher and higher until it hit the umbilicus. Out comes the cord. I start the clock. One minute goes by, then two, then three tense minutes. The baby stops moving. The lead midwife starts trying to get the shoulders out and we hit the five minute mark. The room is tense. Another midwife is trying to explain to the Mama  how important it is for her to remain calm. At this point I suggest Mama flips over on hands and knees. As soon as she does the midwife has a much easier time helping the baby out. At around the seven minute mark the head is finally freed. I take a breath and get busy on the baby. On Mama's belly is this little lifeless body. No respirations and zero heartbeat. I call out to the other midwife that there is no heartbeat. She grabs a board for rescusitation. I start chest compressions and start breathing for the baby. At the three minute mark I have a heartbeat but still no breaths. It took around 20 minutes to finally get the baby to take a breath. By this point the baby is very cold so I quickly strip off my shirt and put the baby skin to skin with me. Even though my heart is pumping adrenaline at a rapid pace, I'm calm. I keep talking to the baby. "Come on baby, it's not your time to go, stay with me, breathe little one". Finally the baby is stable and breathing on her own. I wrap baby and put her back on Mama's belly. I stay with Mama and baby checking vital signs. By this point that little one is fully aware of what just happened and starts screaming, trying to get her story out. The baby is inconsolable. Reluctantly I finally pick up the baby and snuggle her close. I talk words of comfort to her telling her yes that was scary but she's safe now. She calms pretty quickly and finally looks at me. Yes little one you are safe. That peak into the other world is gone, you are here safe ready to grow and laugh and run. 
The next morning Mama shared with me that even though she didn't say a word while I was working on her baby her heart was in her throat. The smiles and happy thank you's filled that little room. She was so thankful that her baby lived. Watching that precious little baby nurse at her Mama's breast made me thankful to be here at this time and this place. That space between life and death can be so short, but this time the battle was won. For that I'm eternally grateful.

Next time.

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