Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Obama in the Freezer Section

I have been out of the loop this election year. But when I ran across this at an ice cream shop in Bamako I was quite surprised. Either it is one of the craziest publicity stunts ever, (probably not) or the people that live in West Africa are just so enamored with Obama that they would name an ice cream flavor after him....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Worlds Apart

I love the women in our town. I have so much fun being with them, watching them and trying to talk to them. But it is also very very frustrating to not be able to communicate well with them. On this day the Church ladies came by to visit. I was honored by their time, but sometimes I feel so lonely in the midst of them... please pray for me to learn Bambara and to learn it well...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Medical Practice on our Daughter

Jeff bought Katy's four month vaccinations when he was in Bamako recently. So we had them in our fridge for when she turned four months old.
The people at the clinic don't use alcohol swabs before they give injections. So we thought about doing it ourselves. But our pediatrician (several hours away) wrote us an e-mail encouraging us to do it as part of a pediatric check-up.
So on Katy's four month birthday I gave her her oral vaccine, tied her on my back, and took her and her shots to the clinic.
I brought my own alcohol and asked them to clean the site of the injection before giving her her shots, and I told them that they would need an extra syringe because one of the medicines didn't come with a syringe. I turned my back to get my camera, and when I turned back, I realized they had only given her two shots. Instead of getting a new syringe they mixed two medicines in one syringe and gave her one shot.
She seems to be fine, but we feel so helpless in those moments. It is very much outside of our culture to think that you know more about health than the medical professionals you trust.
A friend of ours has a call in to the CDC, and we should hear from her soon what we need to do.

These moments can be very hard. I had just shared with Jeff about how overwhelmed I am sometimes to be the one holding the responsibility to make sure our kids get all their shots at the right ages. No one is calling us to remind us to do it. Then we prayed together and put it in God's hands once again, and I went off to the clinic. Pray for me to handle these types of situations well, and for God to protect our children.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Birth of Katherine Elizabeth

I awoke at 4am experiencing contractions every 15-20 minutes. Just often enough to not be able to really get back to sleep. I tried though, and told myself this might not be the real thing. For the last week and a half, contractions started and stopped, leaving me unsure about knowing when labor was really there. But something told me this might be it. After eating breakfast I found a ride out to the hospital to see my DR for the regular weekly checkup. We were staying at a guesthouse about 10 minutes from the hospital. The DR does rounds in the mornings and then begins seeing patients who are waiting outside his office. I arrived at the hospital around 8:30AM so I went over to see if the dentist had any openings. (The dentist is my DR's wife, and she had just repaired my root canal that had been chipping away. And now I had lost part of another filling in a different tooth.) She said she did not have any immediate openings, but would call me if she had a cancelation. So I went back to the DR's and waited for him. He showed up at 10AM and saw me right away. I was 3 1/2 cm and he said he could stretch it to 4cm. He predicted things would be happening today. I wanted to go back to the guesthouse right away, but I didn't have a ride. The person I came with would be there till 11AM. I decided to wait for her instead of calling a taxi. I walked across the street and bought a drink and some bananas from a vendor. I experienced a few harder contractions after my visit with the DR. On the way home we stopped at the towns biggest 'grocery' store. It is basically the size of a a gas station snack shop. So I bought a few things we needed for the next couple days. Then we went home and I had lunch with the family. They all went swimming after lunch, I thought about joining them, but thought I should try and rest. My contractions were still 20 or so minutes apart, but when they came they were strong. I laid down and read a bit, and sometime between 1-2pm my water broke. It was then I was convinced that this was really happening. The kids and Jeff had blown up my birthing pool for me to labor in and Jeff was in the process of filling it up. We were on the second floor of the guesthouse, so we were a little concerned about it getting too heavy for the floor. We only filled it halfway. I got in when my contractions were closer to five minutes apart and it really relieved the pressure I felt in my back. My contraction coping techniques were to be on my knees and lean over something, to take slow deep breaths in and out, and when they were more intense, to breath out with horse lips. I read about this in a book and it really seemed to help me. Jeff also poured water on my back. At around 3:30 we started timing contractions. For the next hour they averaged 3 minutes apart. I said we really needed to head to the hospital. We did not have our own car, but Jeff had talked to some people about borrowing one. He really didn't want to leave me to go take care of packing a car. He asked Drew to go get the keys for us. By the time Drew brought the keys back it was about 4:45 and the contractions were really intense. It became clear to both of us that we were not going anywhere at this point.

Side note: We had really wanted a home birth for this delivery, but we were not able to find a DR or midwife who would come and do that with us. I had no intention of delivering without a medical person in the room. Our plan had been to labor for as long as possible in the comfort of the guesthouse, and then head to the hospital. You have to understand the hospital here. The hospital in this town is run by western missionaries and it is the best one by far. But it is still a hospital in Mali. Their delivery room has three delivery beds in it. There are small cloth dividers that separate you from the next woman. Men are never, ever a part of the delivery process here. If Jeff was in that room with me and other women were also having their babies, it would make them very uncomfortable. So we wanted to stay in a place where we could be together comfortably for as long as possible.

Jeff was helping me stay focused and reminding me to breath and relax through my contractions. This is the point where they became so intense that I wanted to quit. I told Jeff when he told me to relax that he had no idea what I was going through, and I think I even told him to shut up once. (Sorry Jeff...) He was doing a great job of helping me... Then I had a contraction that felt different. Oh it was powerful and I felt pressure in my bottom. (Is this really happening here and now I wondered?) As I tried to keep breathing and coping with these monster contractions I felt intense burning. Then with a third and final forceful contraction my body flung itself over and I sat down as my baby was pushed down and out of my body. I didn't know she was coming out until she was out in the water. Jeff quickly scooped her up and handed her to me saying, 'and it's a girl!' And then I sat there in shock. 5:05 pm and our little girl was laying in my arms. We called the DR right away to see what we should do, and he was in surgery. (So even if we had made it to the hospital, he wouldn't have been there for her birth.) We talked to our moms, and we invited the kids in to meet their new sister. Drew was excited to post something to my facebook page about having a new sister.

There was a Swiss nurse, Marlene, who was staying at the guesthouse. She arrived home from the hospital at 5:45pm and came up to see us. It was good to have her there to check me. Jeff clamped and cut the cord. He and Harley dried Katherine off and dressed her. I climbed out of the pool and delivered the placenta. Marlene helped Jeff clean up while I rested. And just like that we were done. Katherine Elizabeth had safely arrived into this world, and was now a part of our family.

I had really struggled with this birth in the months leading up to it. And I want to thank God for really giving me peace when the time came. There are many things in the life that are hard, and that is not bad. But it can be scary to wait for something hard that you know is going to happen. I know many people were praying for me to have peace and strength when the time came, and He blessed me with both of those. Praise God!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Driving in Mali...

It has been some time since I have driven in Mali, West Africa. Our generous friends have allowed us to use their car while we are here at the guesthouse and due to the horrid conditions of the local taxis, I decided to take them up on it. (5 out of 6 times I have taken a local taxi, it broke down or ran out of gas.) This day I was just taking the two older boys to the dentist, but everyone wanted to climb in while I pulled out of the driveway. Driving is quite a rarity in our lives. Once on the road I realized my mistake. It wan't market day, so I had taken the shortest route to the hospital. (This road is closed down completely on market day.) But it is a holiday today. Tabaski. There were so many people, motos, bicycles, push carts, donkey carts, vendors, and animals, not to mention other cars headed my way on what was now a one lane road, that I would have turned around had that been at all an option. We continued through very slowly, and finally made it though the chaos. Driving here is CRAZY!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


A couple nights ago I was sure I was in the early stages of labor. And instead of being excited, I was terrified and feeling panic. This was not part of my labor plan. But I couldn't make the nervous feelings go away. Finally I got some rest and my contractions went away by 3AM. But I realized that I need to get get myself together, and rely more strongly on the ONE who will get me through this. I KNOW labor will be hard work. I don't want God to take that away. But I want to face it with peace, and grace and the knowledge that He will not leave me and He can give me the strength to get though it. So please pray that with me and for me in the next few weeks...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One of these is not like the other ones...

I have to admit when Jeff said he would like to put our kids in a local school I rebelled. They'll never fit in I thought. The other kids will never get used to them. They'll be teased, harassed and end up hating it. But as time went on I realized that God can use situations like these, and I really have no idea what is going to happen. My hope is that are kids will make some good friends, and that they will learn Bambara, the local language. So far they have gone to school for one week. (Mornings only) And they did fine. Joe says the kids touch his head a lot, and he doesn't know anyone's name yet. But it was only the first week. I'll keep you posted and put up more photos of the other kids soon...

Friday, September 9, 2011

School Time

School has started. Joe and Harley are going to start reading this year. We are doing the Sing, Spell, Read and Write curriculum. I needed something that was self contained and self explanitory so that when we move around this fall waiting for baby to come, we can easily take it on the move and Jeff could easily step in and teach them. So far so good... we are off to a good start!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Having a baby...

I'll be honest... the few hours of labor terrify me. I think it's the unknown that is the hardest to deal with. When labor starts, and then gets increasingly painful, you really don't know how much longer you'll have to 'do this'. Of course there is comfort in the fact that it WILL end. It never lasts forever. :)

So this will be my sixth delivery. I'll give a brief rundown of the kinds of deliveries I've had, and what I'm hoping for this time...

Drew: 16 hour labor, all natural, 2.5 hours of pushing, shot of Demerol near the end (Two days after due date)

Joe: Water broke, hospital induced labor with pitocin, stadol through IV, 16 hours (Two weeks early)

Harley: Water broke, hard contractions, quick delivery, 2.5 hours (Two weeks early)

Zach: 20 hour labor, slow start, picked up throughout the day, epidural for last two hours (On due date)

Jethro: 6 hour labor, fast and hard contractions, epidural last two hours (Two weeks overdue)

So I've had lots of different experiences. As an epidural is not an option for me for this next delivery, I am reading up on natural childbirth and how people deal, cope or even enjoy it. It seems like some women view this as a rite of passage into motherhood and feel very empowered by their experience in childbirth. I would have to say with Harley's birth, I did feel very strong and unstoppable. (Look what I just did?) So I am hoping as I practice my breathing and visualization techniques, that I will be able to stay focused, hold myself together, and even enjoy the birthing process this time. I know if you can stay relaxed, your body is more able to do what it needs to, and it is a good method to trust your body. I must not let panic creep in because that does no good for me or my baby. I really am looking forward to meeting this new child.

I recently got the book, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and the DVD 'The Business of Being Born.' I would highly recommend both to any woman, but especially to those who may have another child. There are so many wonderful things our medical world can do for us as laboring women. But also so much that is unnecessary to the process of something our bodies are made to do. Even after having five children, there was much I learned from reading this book.

I have also read the book Hypnobirthing and it has some great breathing and visualization techniques in it that I am hoping to use.
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method: A Natural Approach to a Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing [With CD] [HYPNOBIRTHING 3/E]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Day in my Life...

Monday dawned humid and hot. When will we get relief from a rainstorm I wondered . The plan for Mondays is for me to spend a couple hours in the morning at our neighborhood medical clinic. I'm trying to get to know the women and learn some Bambara. Getting out the door is always a challange. After starting some laundry, greeting a few visitors, buying some mangos from a merchant girl, and preping my house help for the morning... I was off. My bike is the perfect transport to whip around our neighborhood. It keeps me active and my feet out of the sewer filled street. When I arrive at the clinic there is a long line of brightly clad women and babies, waiting for their turn to get their free baby vacinations. They greet me warmly and chatter happily amoungst themselves. After many clients have filed through I ask about one in particular who has not moved, nor has she recieved any shots for her baby. Oh her baby is tounge tied the nurse responds to me. I asked the woman how old her baby was. She said, "One week old.... No, ten days." she corrected herself. A few minutes later the nurse came out with scissors in hand. (You are not really going to clip her toungue right here on this porch are you I wonder?) Sure enough... she smacks the babies foot to make her cry, holds her toungue up with her fingers, and clips with the scissors. The baby fusses for a mintue and her mother offers her the comfort of her breast. All is well... the scissors go back to the delivery room for cutting the cord of the next newborn. (After being sterilized of course!) All in a days work!

Who knows why God has opened so many doors for me to work at the clinic. The midwives are more than willing to let me jump in and deliver a baby, even though I am not trained. As I continue to learn about labor and delivery, I like to encourage and pray for the women and children. I have now attended eight births. One of the needs for this clinic is hemostats and scissors. They only have two pairs of each, not enough to get them sterylized between deliveries if they are back to back. If you could help meet that need, this little clinic would sure appreciate it. I also give a newborn baby outfit to each new baby when I attend a birth. If you want to donate used newborn clothes, that would also be well received.