Thursday, July 30, 2015

proof of life post with my mantras for the coming year

At age 43:
  • Music teacher William Herschel discovered Uranus.
  • Marie Curie won her second Nobel prize, for the isolation of pure radium.
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the youngest man elected to the United States presidency.
  • Baseball player Nolan Ryan pitched the sixth no-hitter of his career.
  • Annie Taylor, a widowed school teacher, went over the 160-foot-high Horseshoe Falls in a barrel.  
  • Isabel Peron, a former professional dancer, became the first female chief of state in the Americas when she took over as President of Argentina.
  • Tara Livesay joined the 43 game and actively expected her current trend of adulting to continue!      {Not to be totally outdone by all of the aforementioned 43 year olds - She distrusts politics and is unable to be impressed by Presidents, male or female.  She did not win a prize for it, but frequently isolates Lydia in a time out - same-same as isolating pure radium, yes.? Aaaand ... For midwives, discovering Uranus is not a one-time event. So.}
     *              *              * 

I know lots of women really struggle with aging ... I have had my little moments of self-loathing and panic as well - for sure I have ... But let me just say, it isn't that big of a deal.  

Having a birthday and getting old means ALIVE and alive is good, I think. Plus, this Grandma thing makes you feel REalive.  If you get to do it someday, I know you will love it.

-So what if you start to say something and forget what you were saying mid-thought.

-So what if you don't know what the hipsters are up to anymore and their beards and fashions and hashtags confuse you.

-So what if your ankles won't bend right in the morning.

-So what if you call your kids the wrong names.

-So what if the wrinkles around your eyes show even when you're not smiling.

-So what if your drivers license weight is now a 10 pound lie instead of a five pound lie.

-So what if you fall asleep while showering.

In this decade of being 40-something I have felt the weight of 'proving' anything being lifted from my shoulders. It is so FREEING. I want it for all my sisters, young and old alike.

Two things have spoken volumes to my heart and soul in the last several weeks.  When I read them I had that "YES! THIS!" response.  

Here they are, my personal mission statements / mantras for year 43...

The first was this, John Pavlovitz - said:

More and more, I simply live to be the antidote to the things I find hurtful or damaging in the world, rather than arguing with those I believe are being hurtful or damaging. There are certainly times to identify dangers and to call out injustice, but those pale in comparison to the countless moments that simply require personal goodness.


Friends, there will always be those whose medium is vitriol, whose currency is condemnation, whose agenda is provocation, but resist responding in kind because that only conforms you to their image.
If you claim Christ, until you have a Christianity without venom you don’t have one that resembles Jesus quite yet. As a person of faith, this is the only kind of religion I am interested in.
Maybe you are like me. Maybe you’re bloodied and weary of the fight, but finding your second wind and discovering a better path, one less mired in sarcasm and less toxic to touch. 
Maybe you’re intentionally walking away from the war trenches, so that you can move toward the hurting, the unloved, the waiting—and respond.
If so, welcome.
This is the beginning of a holy movement in the world.
The other was this:



Those two things are my older-lady truths. 

We have shit to do and people to love.  


Let.us.do.it. 

AMEN. 


Friday, July 17, 2015

when this is war (part II)

Part I can be found here

When Asline arrived to the Maternity Center around 2:30 on July 15 we had just wrapped up a prenatal visit. We were done with our weekly gig at the government hospital and we were talking about what we all planned to do with our free afternoon.

Premature baby girl, born at state-run hospital 

{Sidestory with photo above:  At the State run hospital Wednesday morning there was a Momma that had delivered her little girl at 7 months, about 33 or so weeks along it appeared.  The woman that had given birth prematurely had very little emotional connection happening with the baby (wouldn't look at her) and her own Mother was there sitting on another bed with the baby lying on a towel.  First KJ, then myself, and then Beth McHoul (not all at once - separately) explained that a baby born prematurely doesn't even want to be outside the womb, that skin to skin and almost constant closeness will give that little one the best chance of survival. The Grandma listened and put the baby skin to skin, she began to nurse immediately. We left the room to visit the room next door. They put her clothing back on and set her on the towel alone on the next bed over. Three times they got the same information presented to them by three different midwives.  The smallest thing (costing NOTHING) can mean the difference between life and death for a baby that age, but if it is not a cultural norm, it is hard to force anyone to believe that a different way of doing things might be worth trying.}

     ~            ~             ~

Asline walked in to the MC visibly upset and agitated. She had a cousin with her, who waited outside on the porch.  Beth McHoul asked several questions in an attempt to gather history, most of which Asline did not verbally respond to at all. 

She was having very frequent contractions, the frequency and intensity of her response to the contractions left us thinking she might be 7 or 8cm.

An attempt was made to get all of her vitals. It took a lot longer than we like because when a contraction would come she would pull away and curl inward. She didn't have the ability to cooperate with a blood pressure cuff or a thermometer or a doppler, she was pain-focused.  When a contraction came she needed to curl in and rock. Two attempts were made to try and determine how many centimeters she was dilated.  Both attempts ended in tears for everyone, she simply couldn't  tolerate a typical vaginal exam. KJ had gotten a short chance and thought Asline was about 3cm. We were left without all the information we hoped to have.

For the next hour we attempted with each contraction to calm Asline down, to help her cope, to begin to figure out how one goes about helping a person deliver when they are very uncomfortable with being touched.  

Our Maternity Center has standard operating procedures and protocols in place. Those protocols exist to make birth for every woman as safe as it can be.  One of the protocols is that every woman has an IV Heplock placed, should she need medicine or fluids in an emergency situation.  Getting Asline to cooperate with the placement of the IV heplock was time-consuming and emotionally draining. She did not hold still and it took more than one attempt to get it placed.

Attempts to follow a "labor rest" protocol, thereby helping Asline sleep a few hours failed because she could not allow us to give her morphine via an IM injection.

This photo was taken as we began a conversation with her about a need to transport her. No decision was made at that point, but we wanted to introduce the idea and explain our reasons for considering it.

As we talked and watched Asline continue to lose her mind with contractions we discussed each of our own desires. None of us have ever physically held someone down in order to do our jobs, none of us wanted to be part of doing that.  We questioned whether or not Asline would be safe to deliver with us if the baby got into trouble and Asline was unwilling or unable to follow our instructions.  

We cried and prayed and posted the picture on Instagram and asked you to pray.


{Side note - When women go into a birth-center or hospital to give birth to their babies, or to attend a gynecological appointment, they expect that the staff there will act in their best interests, that they will receive respectful care and be informed of what is happening. For most women in the developed world (not all) - they can expect their time to be comfortable. They can assume each procedure will be explained fully and with their consent being sought for all actions. Unfortunately, for materially poor women in the developing world, this is not the case. *Many* women leave hospital care having undergone a procedure that was not explained to them, feeling violated and traumatized and possibly even a bit in shock. All that to say, we did not feel right about doing things to Asline that she could not emotionally consent to from her deep place of fear.}

Not more than a half hour after we posted our request for prayer, KJ noted that Asline's baby had flat heart tones.  We expect variability and we even expect an early decel here and there, but deceleration late in the contraction is a sign of placental insufficiency, meaning baby is likely being deprived of oxygen rich blood. It was not extremely dangerous, but KJ found the heart tones concerning.

Between our concerns about being forced into a position of being involved in something that made us feel sick, and the heart-tones on the baby, we decided to try a hospital in our area that specializes in high risk OB.  We left our Maternity Center hoping maybe we could talk them into considering her as a candidate for a C-Section. Technically speaking, we knew Asline did not fit their acceptance criteria, but we hoped maybe we would run into a sympathetic triage nurse or a kind Doctor.  Sometimes, if a hospital is having a particularly slow day, they bend the criteria a little bit.

At the first hospital (run by a large international NGO) Asline behaved as we had seen at our Maternity Center.  The nurses said, "Why bring her to us, we cannot do anything if she won't cooperate."  Attempts were made to explain to Asline why it was important to try and allow the staff to check her. They failed. We left there defeated.

We were wracking our brains for ideas or alternatives. As we drove out of the parking lot of the first hospital, we decided to go to a hospital next door (a State-run hospital) and see if they might consider taking her for a C/S.

Nirva (pictured above on left) went in to negotiate for care.  In Haiti there is no assumption of care.  It is always negotiation.  Even incredibly difficult situations (way worse than Asline) can be turned away for one reason or another.

Nirva came back out with Asline and said that the hospital agreed that a C-Section would make the most sense with the obvious abuse and trauma in Asline's background.  Four Doctors had attempted to check her, she allowed zero of them near her, even kicking one of them twice.

Then another major setback: the Doctor that Nirva spoke with had explained they had no supplies to do a C/S.  

We stood in the parking lot deciding if we wanted to go to a private (further away) hospital and ask to pay for C/S or if we wanted to bring supplies to the nearby public hospital.  Nirva went in again to clarify with the Doctor and get the list of what the Doctor needed.  

He agreed to admit Asline as long as we quickly returned with a huge list of supplies.  We left Asline and her cousin and made it back to the Maternity Center as quickly as we could.  

Beth McHoul and a few staff members were working with another Mom that had arrived in labor and was already fairly close to delivery. As we drove toward them, they worked to gather all the things on the list. 

We checked the supply list, gathered the remaining items, and jumped back in the ambulance to head back through insane Port au Prince traffic to deliver the hundreds and hundreds of dollars in supplies. The Doctor had requested everything from sterile C/S kit to sterile towels to several IV medications for infection, to IV supplies and chux pads.  We were basically to provide everything except his trained hands, the Operating Room, and the anesthesia.

I don't know how many years I will need to live here to stop being shocked by this. Apparently more than 9.5 years.  I continue to be floored at how little is actually available to the average Haitian person.

I guess if we were to follow suit and try to take this system and embrace it as our own, we could all go open up a Baskin-Robbins franchise. It would be easy, when customers arrive asking for ice-cream to simply tell them, "No, we have *no ice cream* on hand, but if you go get it and bring it to me, along with the scoop and the cone, then I will happily scoop up a nice cone for you and hand it to you."

When we arrived back at the hospital we found out that four doctors had held Asline down to check her.  They said she was 6cm and she needed to go outside and walk for an hour and after they did another C/S she would be next person in line.

Beth McHoul sent a message telling us that Nella had delivered a son and all was well at the MC.

KJ and Nirva went to stand outside the operating room with the two huge bags of C/S supplies we brought. Asline walked in the parking lot. We had a teen visitor named Maddie that had come along for the ride and she happily helped Asline walk while I updated the MC on things.  I joined Asline and Maddie to walk a bit. The sun was setting by then.  I rather appreciate that it sets because you cannot see the rats running along the walls once the darkness fully settles on us. I know the rats are there; don't need to see them.

Asline got tired and I thought I was hearing sounds that matched up with someone ready to start pushing.  The area in front of the hospital is very busy with dozens and dozens of people milling around. I did not know where KJ and Nirva were, nor did I know how to find a Doctor or nurse. This is a hospital we rarely go to and I have only been inside once in the last several years.  I suggested Asline come lie down on the stretcher and rest in the ambulance.  Her hour of walking was only about 20 or 30 minutes in…  Once Asline was lying down I asked her if I could check to see where the baby's head was.  She said, no and pushed my hand away.  On her next contraction I heard the unmistakable sound of involuntary pushing.  I asked KJ (by phone) to please come back to the ambulance.

KJ arrived, Asline had a contraction and her water broke all over my legs and feet.  I thought "Alright, well, what now?"  

Without enough time to really truly decide - we for sure thought the ambulance was better than trying to pass all the people and red tape and get inside the hospital. Asline was contracting again and pushing.  It helped us that the ambulance did not really allow her to get totally away from us, she could only push back as far as the back door of the ambulance which was closed and locked.  In two pushes (without us touching her until after the head was totally out) she delivered her baby boy.  He immediately cried a good strong cry and we were thankful we did not need the bag and mask we had ready should he need help breathing.

KJ had reminded me to be ready for bleeding, as Asline is anemic.  It wasn't but 45 seconds later that the blood began gushing.  I went in to get the placenta out, the bleeding continued heavily.  Together, KJ and I did bi-manual compression. This means that the uterus is being compressed with one hand from the outside and one hand from the inside.  It is a horrible, gruesome, life-saving move.

The issue for us was this ...  We arrived back at that hospital with supplies for a C-Section. In our minds we had handed our patient off to the hospital. We made a huge mistake (honestly, we will beat ourselves up for this for a long time -- it was very much a stupid stupid mistake on our part) by not being ready for an ambulance hemorrhage.  We dug out some money between all the wallets in the ambulance. Nirva ran into the hospital to buy the two medicines we wanted to stop the bleeding while we continued to provide bi-manual compression. She only found one of the two at the hospital and went out into the street to a nearby pharmacy to purchase the second one. Maddie handed us clean towels, and a cord clamp and things we needed for the baby to stay warm.

Several minutes later, maybe 15 or so, Nirva was back and the medicines were delivered. We cautiously removed our hands to see if the bleeding had stopped.  Mercifully, it had all but stopped.  We could see and feel that Asline was torn and needed repair.  We debated whether her blood loss was significant enough to require a transfusion. 

After several minutes of focusing only on Asline and baby we saw we had an audience around the ambulance.  Time gets weird in those situations, we know the baby was born around 8:30 but I don't know what time we finally looked up at what was going on around our vehicle.  The audience included the Doctor that had agreed to do the Cesarean.  He angrily asked Nirva why we had not gotten her back inside to deliver.  Nirva explained she had been standing outside the OR waiting on him and the Doctor said, "You didn't bring her in to deliver, if you need help now, you're not allowed to bring her back in."  This is the guy that told Asline to walk for an hour and then disappeared into a locked room.   There are not enough swears in the world for that guy.  

Nirva, ever the strong and stoic Haitian nurse, said, "No problem - we've got this."

Once we could see Asline was stable, bleeding was stopped, baby was skin to skin and doing well, we cleaned up the bloodbath as best we could and stepped outside to wash our hands and arms with Maddie's remaining drinking water.  A little crowd clapped and said, "Good job. I like it" in broken English. We laughed and said thanks and asked them to pray for Asline.

Once we were back to our kind, loving, calm little Maternity Center house we set everything up to do the repair.  Thankfully our protocols include light sedation during a repair when needed. Asline was relaxed a bit via IV meds before her repair was done by Wini.

The next several hours we watched closely to be sure Asline was not showing signs of shock. She nursed her little one and even reached up to hold him with her free hand during the repair.






This morning as we talked to Asline, she shut down, as she is prone to do.  Eye contact is difficult, answering questions is difficult. We know not to push her too much.

We shut the door and sat with her, mostly in silent reflection.  Occasionally we asked a question or two.  

We learned that on Thursday of last week her grandma was involved in a car accident. On Friday her grandma died in a hospital, with Asline at her bedside.  On Monday they buried her.  On Wednesday Asline went into labor.

We also learned that Asline has more trauma in her past than she can even share.

We knew that though.  Her labor and delivery screamed of it.

In the middle of the night, after Asline was tucked into bed with IV antibiotics on board and pitocin dripping into her arm, we finally logged in online and saw all the prayers and comments and intercession that happened for Asline.  

To see that hundreds of folks had agreed to pray is truly touching and beautiful to us. I know for sure that Asline couldn't possibly soak that in. Thank you. I don't know why it all went down the way it did, but I do know that Asline and her son are alive and resting in the postpartum room. 

I know that love is powerful. If I am being totally honest, I find it hard to believe that it can conquer all, but I am not closed off to that possibility.




Part III of this war is currently being waged.  

Will Asline embrace motherhood, will she herself find healing, will this little unnamed baby boy receive every good gift as he deserves?  I don't know that yet. 

War is long. War is messy. 

When this is war, we battle with all the tools we have been given and we wait on miraculous victory. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

when this is war (part 1)







When I plop myself down in front of a perfectly positioned fan in order to write, it is because something desperately needs to be released from me through my fingertips. Once released in this medium, I typically find some sort of mental rest.  

I don't really know yet how I feel about everything that went down in our unjust world yesterday. My desire for justice is strong and often causes me to be annoying and angry and angsty. 

I don't necessarily have it all worked out in my head or heart. I typically wait several days to figure out how to see the positive or feel there is something redemptive to say or share. I like to at least be able to have some way to categorize or process a certain event without sounding hopeless. I am not sure I am there yet, but I am beginning anyway.  

~          ~           ~ 

Yesterday was rough for Asline and several others.  
At one point we sat watching what was happening and said, "This is war." 



Asline is a first time mother, she first arrived in November 2014 ... 


We meet so many people each month, I don't usually remember details super well. In this case, I do remember the day I met Asline. On November 21 ... 

After being given an open invitation to join the Prenatal Program, and specifically being asked to return on Thursday- the day of American Thanksgiving, Asline left the Maternity Center carrying with her a cumbersome load; the heavy knowledge that she was pregnant.

After seeing the Facebook post, a friend of mine wrote me and asked how she could help.  I said, "We really just have to hope and pray she shows up. That is all we do."   

My friend replied, "Ok so I'll Pray she JUST SHOWS UP. Just showing up and nothing else is my specialty!!!"

Asline did not show up.  For several weeks she did not show up. We had all but figured we would never see her again when she walked through the door on December 26th.

On that Friday Asline explained that her sister had forced her, against her will, to take medicine in hopes of ending the baby's life. She came in upset and unsure if she was still carrying a living baby. That day we put a doppler on her and this is the photo that was taken when she heard her little guy's heartbeat for the first time.   Happily surprised he was alive, she made a decision to carry her little one.




She moved in with her aunt and began coming each Thursday to the Prenatal Program.  

{Short sidestory - Our first interaction with her aunt was in early 2014 when we had the misfortune of being introduced to her after she played a key role in burning Asline's older sister.  The aunt had forced upon Asline's sister the cultural practice of sitting over the steam of "dlo cho" (hot water) after giving birth. In this case, that practice ended up causing severe burns.}

Asline attended regularly at first. 

On her third miss, the day she technically (by the rules and regulations book that we all abhor but understand the need for) was supposed to have been kicked out, Beth McHoul was the one that voiced her hopes that we could try and make a deal with her to come Friday and make the missed class and consultation up the next day and thereby get around the three miss rule that way.  "If anyone needs this care, it is Asline", Beth reasoned.

As a staff we talk a lot about whether or not we are making any kind of deeper connection with the women.  There are times when a woman may connect with one of us more than the others, if we notice that - we are sure to honor that relationship and trust by assigning the trusted person with the most responsibility during labor and delivery. 

The fact is, sometimes a connection happens, sometimes not.  

If there were a way to track that statistic without it being totally biased, we would like to be able to say something along the lines of, "77% of women feel trusting of themselves and of us when they walk in on delivery day." 

I don't know.  It feels like the majority do, but I have exactly zero made up stats for you.

I share all of that to say, we thought we had built at least a bit of a decent rapport with Asline and while we assumed her labor and delivery could be quite difficult, we simply did not anticipate her deep hurts and fears, the ways in which they have changed her, or what happened next.



Top Photo: Taken yesterday, August 15th 

Part II coming soon ... 





Midwifery is the very stuff of drama. Every child is conceived either in love or lust, born in pain, followed by joy or sometimes remorse. A midwife is in the thick of it, she sees it all.”
 
― Jennifer WorthThe Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Home




These two Moms arrived to deliver their babies a few hours apart earlier this week. 

On the left is first time Mom, Juna.  She gave birth to her seven pound ten ounce baby boy Tuesday night.  Just as we gathered our belongings and were headed toward the nearest bed to grab some sleep, Gania walked in.  

Only fourteen minutes after arriving Gania gave birth to her third child, a seven pound ten ounce baby girl.  The two little ones born less than four hours apart, both went home yesterday.

Right after I took the top picture, both Moms looked up at the camera for the photo...



As I climbed back into the ambulance to go, an old woman walked up and said, "I am coming to your house to have my baby."  I smiled at her and said, "Okay, good plan, come find us when you tonbe ansent (fall pregnant)!"  

She howled laughing, at her own joke. 

If you are interested in helping us fund excellent maternal health care along with the important relationship & emotional support provided  - and/or  -  education and practical support to these brilliant and bold Haitian women, please sign up to be a monthly sponsor (or donate a one-time gift) at Heartline's donation page found HERE.  

Every gift is an investment in orphan prevention.




Monday, July 6, 2015

learning to sit with the gritty dissonance

It is July six and I am home.

Two weeks in Texas.
One week in Minnesota
Complete.

I am happy to be home.
I am sad to be home.

When I first get home I am what my Dad would call a "tortured soul".

I spend my first several days back in Haiti wondering if I should be here, if my kids are missing out, if my Mom and Sister and best friend from the fifth grade will still feel so near and tangible to me if I don't quickly pack up and move back to Minnesota tomorrow.

Add to that my angsty missing of the scrumptious grandson, the funny and enjoyable adult daughters and their adorable husbands - and I pretty much spin in circles all over the place for several days of grief and lament before I  am able to find my Haiti groove again.

A birth at the Maternity Center will be good.  If one happens soon it will be better.  I miss everyone a tiny bit less if I am doing what I love and am reminded of my role here.

If there is a really good reason to miss all those people, and maybe even disappoint them with my Caribbean location, it is important for me to be cognizant of that reason early and often.

*          *          *

After I went to see my Doctor (he spent 30 minutes answering my questions and making my health seem important) one sunny Monday morning in America, I drove a very fancy car to a golf course to buy my Dad a Father's Day gift.

My friend in Haiti sent me a message and said, "So how is Minnesota?"

I replied "Just saw the Doctor, driving a fancy car, at a golf course, All.the.dissonance."

After almost a decade of this I keep waiting to be done with the dissonant part of living in two worlds.  I think (and hope) it will diminish and maybe even eventually disappear.

So far, not true.

The truth is, it is still the same tortured and uncomfortable me, struck by the fact that on one week of my life a woman delivers her dead baby and we have to put it in our freezer in order to bury it soon after because she doesn't want to take it ... I drive her to a 12 X 14 dirt floor house after she is discharged... And ... In the same month I sit with a doctor that has been caring for me since 1998. We relax in his high-tech office and we catch up about our young-adult daughters and their educations and plans for the future. I drive away in my car that costs more than the house I drop every new Mom off at after they deliver and I spend enough on my Dad's Father's Day present to cover most of my guilt for being so far away and never showing up to celebrate him in person.

And that is the dissonance.

*          *           *

My niece, Annie, is seven now.  She lived with us for two years before the earthquake finished her adoption and moved her to her family in Minnesota.  She is biologically Isaac's sister, now his cousin by adoption.  Seeing Isaac and Annie together makes involuntary tears run down my cheeks.  She runs fast. She is quirky and even wonderfully odd and reminds me so much of their first parents and of Isaac.  I tell her, "Someday I hope Isaac and you live near one another, Annie."  She smiles her huge toothy grin and says, "I would like that."


I look at them, these two healthy, thriving, glowing children, and I can see the kind and weathered faces of their 42 year old Mom and 60 year old Dad.

I see what the water, and food, and education,  and medical care, and protection from every-day-trauma of not enough money means to them.  Their shiny nourished bodies that run so fast and think such complex thoughts were never a reality for the rest of their first family.

And that is the dissonance.

*          *          *

In her excellent article (worth your time) titled "When Helpers Get Sick: Making Meaning After Secondary Trauma", Stina Kielsmeier-Cook said:


"I didn’t know what to do with all of my guilt or where to ask my questions, so I folded inward. I numbed out."  
"Grief may take on new meaning, but it never entirely leaves you." 
I recognize in myself, the desire to fold inward, the desire to run from all the questions without answers that nag me the very most in the days of transition, dissonance, and grief. 

Stina went on to share ...
Lately, my three-year-old daughter has been saying, “Please read the Jesus book.” She lugs over the Jesus Storybook Bible, the one that depicts Jesus with a mess of noodley hair, a warm grin, and politically correct olive skin. I love the illustrations and easy language of Bible stories I haven’t visited much since my own Sunday school days. We flip through the pages together and she picks a story. She points to the one about Abraham and Isaac, from the book of Genesis, chapter 22. 
I start reading, but even as I voice words about Abraham’s obedience to God in offering up his son, I feel uncomfortable. Do I really want my daughter to believe in a God who would ask someone to kill his son, even if that God intervenes before he can plunge the knife in? 
The writer of the Jesus Storybook Bible seems to anticipate the dissonance in these Old Testament stories, which are laced with traumas: forced migration, incest, gory battles. Each story is concluded by some reiteration of how God has a great rescue plan for humanity, pointing toward the Messiah to come. I feel suspicious of these disclaimers in the Jesus Storybook version that tidy up the traumatic stories. These stories, like the ones I heard in Kakuma, make me question God’s goodness. 
But *I am learning to sit with the gritty dissonance. I know I am not isolated in my grief because the Bible tells me so. Biblical characters all suffer from the torn fabric of this fallen world and their stories encompass the human experience. There is no glossing over humanity; people are ragged and wounded and mean. Yet God loves them, uses them, works through them. It’s a narrative in which the symptoms of my brief secondary trauma don’t feel out of place.
*emphasis added 



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Open Letter to Babies & Links for Saturday


Dear Babies,
Greetings from Waco, TX.

I am a 42 year old grandmother that has truly underestimated all of you.  

I write you today to apologize, repent, and mostly to lament on behalf of your mothers and fathers who really cannot and do not rest

Your parents are AMAZING-SUPER-BEINGS.

As it turns out, I myself had several babies - seven to be exact.  Now, for the sake of clarity it should be known that one of the seven came to me at 14 months of age and one at 9 months of age. That means that I technically only had five babies from the very beginning.  

Suffice it to say, I felt like I understood babies and had a very sharp memory of what caring for a baby entailed.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I forgot everything about you little people.  My memory is short. Perhaps God intended it to be so, or how would grandparents ever say yes to babysitting?

I guess maybe when I was 18 and 22 and even in my early 30s I had what it took to deal with all the ridiculous things you expect.  The list includes but is not limited to, picking up the toy you toss down seven million times, staring at you, not looking away at anything but you, making faces that are funny for you, talking in a high annoying voice for you, bouncing you, keeping you in CONSTANT motion while in stores procuring expensive items for you, and of course controlling the temperature of your surroundings as well as the dryness of your butt, etc. etc., ad infinitum.

Babies, I am here, at 42 years of age telling you that you are excellent at your craft and I am no match for you.  

I write especially to one, Graham Porter Gonzales today.  You seemed sweet, perfect, easy, and fun from the photos your mother shared of you on social media. You are in fact fun, and you are sweet very often. Let it be noted, you are not easy and not being easy means you are not perfect in that particular way. Those are the lies of social media. 

Your Mother gained super-star status in my eyes this week.  Waking up three times a night, Guantanamo Bay sleep-deprivation-torture-style, is incredibly taxing. Your Mother has done this for eight months without complaint.  I salute her.  

I loved kissing you and holding you and staring at you a lot.  I loved snuggling and smelling your baby head. I loved that people were surprised I was your Grandma but then upon further reflection they said, "Oh, yeah, you do look very fatigued, I see the creases in your eyes now that you say it." 

I loved all of that so much ... But I also love sleeping more than two or three hours in a stretch - and that, Baby Graham, is why today I will return you to your Mother and Father.   (And the angels sing.)

When I reflected on my 42 year old fatigue this week I spent a lot of time contemplating Sarah and the baby she had in her 90's. 

Sarah Laughs at the Promise12Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" 13And the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' 14"Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son."…

Nothing is too difficult for the Lord, but babies in old age are too difficult for me. I am guessing Sarah was mentally ill because laughing at having a baby after about 43 is not a sane response. Sarah also placed an ad and hired a 21 year old nanny that handled everything for her.   

(For all you older Moms of babies, don't be offended - just know I bow at the feet of your strength and moxie. Is this print too small for you to read? Yeah. I thought so.)

Here is a PARTIAL list of things I had forgotten (and relearned this past week) in the several years that have passed since my last baby grew up and into a seven year old girl.

1. Babies don't respond well to "give me two minutes" or "wait".
2. Sleeping several hours in a row is a gift. The world is SO MUCH lovelier 
3. The speed at which baby shit travels from a diaper onto your favorite white shorts is lightning fast. Logic-and-physics-defying-poop, is a baby specialty. 
4. Getting teeth is no joke. Teeth don't mess around. 
5. Young Moms (must) develop bladders of steel when they continually meet the needs of their baby and never freaking urinate. Mom bladders don't play.  (For fun, sometime today hold 25 pounds of moving human in your arms and try to use a public toilet while holding the child. Trust me, peeing down your leg is a better option.)
6. Disposable diapers ruin the earth and cloth diaper ruin a grandmothers life. (Who do you love more, the earth or your grandma?) 
7. Car seats make running errands the most ridiculously annoying task ever. Has anyone ever tried to successfully count how many flippin times you fix those straps in one day? 
8. Mushed up crackers in chubby little baby hands is better than mushed up crackers in chubby baby hands that are pulling your hair. 
9. Baby nostrils don't allow for easy removal of baby boogers. (Thus the photo above.)


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LINK LOVE:

For friends raising kids abroad, the longer we've been doing this, the more I see what our kids gain and what they miss by being raised in Haiti.  Having the boys in the USA and realizing that they are intimidated by basic things, like going to the counter and asking for a ticket to a movie, or dealing with spending their money and making choices in stores has me feeling a bit stressed out for them and the future. 





The boys and I went to go see the new Pixar movie, Inside Out.  We truly loved it. I am one that tires easily of the silly, boring, over told story line wherein the princess needs the dang prince to save her. SO.OVER.DONE.  

This movie had none of that and I loved it.  I highly doubt Pixar needs any help marketing this movie, but I offer mine none the less.  GO SEE IT.  I found it especially helpful because we have one kid in our house that feels EVERYTHING and feels all of it big.  We have another that really refuses to feel sadness and will push all the hard things down and away. (Kay is an internet friend that I got to have lunch with this week, so I'm sharing several posts of hers that I loved.)

Read more about the movie here:




The boys got to see and hear and have an educational lesson on a 3 million dollar pipe organ this week. Because they don't know how much a candybar or a shirt or a meal out should cost, they did not necessarily understand the 3 million price tag --- but they did understand that it was an amazing opportunity to hear a talented organist play for them. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Common Denominator







Graham is the center of pretty much all the things.

Michael had his graduation and was sworn in as a TX State Trooper yesterday. We celebrated his huge new cowboy hat and his accomplishments with a picnic in 98% humidity.  Nothing says congratulations like sweating your balls off with a group of your closest family and friends.

Sunday Graham's Mommy and Daddy finally get their Honeymoon. I know that Paige will cry, leaving G for the first time.  No judgment. I remember the first time I left each one of my seven, it never got prettier or easier. 

I am hoping they can truly relax and rest for several days ... maybe even try to take a deep cleansing breath or two after 8 very insane months.  (Baby born, heart surgery, intense interview process, sleep deprivation, job-offer, travel, wedding, intense training process with separation for five months, relocation plans, etc. etc.)

The three boys and I plan to find the perfect balance of fun-summer-things and packing-up boxes for P and M (they move near Houston, TX right when they get home from honeymoon). 

I am super excited for the six days I get with these three fabulous guys. 


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In Haiti the Maternity Center and a beautiful Momma named Micheline suffered its first loss of a full term baby during labor.  We've for sure lost some babies that came early or died in utero somewhere between weeks 18 and 35, - but this was a first in that the Momma was laboring normally without any signs of stress or infection.  At around 5cm the baby's heartbeat was unusually slow so they immediately transported for a C/S.  When they arrived at the hospital the baby had passed away.  

I know from chatting with my co-middies that the prayers offered have been helpful and that continued prayers for the births that are coming up are very appreciated.  See this tab for information on upcoming due ladies.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mr. Amelia Bedelia


God love him.

Paige said, "cut the English Muffin in half to toast it, Isaac." 


So he did.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A blur ... Meanwhile in Tejas

uncle noah's got game


Things at the Maternity Center have been hopping. 

The adrenaline we have used since last Saturday is quite a bit more adrenaline than we even knew we had for one week. 

We've had several higher-stress situations of late. There were two deliveries Saturday, one of a tiny little 20 week old boy that is now buried at Heartline's property. Later that night, we had the birth of an almost 9 pound boy with an unusually (like 20cm extra) long cord wrapped tightly around him several times ... Glad to report he is healthy and doing great!

On Tuesday a postpartum mom came to class with a BP of 184/120 and had to stay and be put on MagSulfate for 24 hours. (This is a terrible and necessary thing. It keeps mom from having a stroke while making mom wish for death because she feels so awful.) 

Yesterday we had regular program day with 45 ladies coming for prenatals along with a mom with SROM  (her water broke) that needed transport because she was in labor too early and her little one would possibly need help breathing, and also another intense labor & delivery for a mom named Judith.  They both ended up needing to go to a hospital a few hours after delivery due to some sort of infection and two high fevers. They are now on their way back to us for further care here.

That's a lot of intensity for five days.  The flurry of activity makes the days one giant blur. 

However, the blur of days doesn't apply in one situation. When I think of the 21 days that have passed since the spunky boys of our household boarded a Jet Blue flight and flew away from the Caribbean, that time feels like an eternity.

We have never had the boys leave for any amount of time surpassing a night or maybe two at their friends' house. We have learned that we rather like them to be at our house. They are good for our house. They are good for us.  In the future I will think long and hard about signing them up for such a long trip.

The new uncles working on their uncle skillz have mainly been with Paige and Graham in Waco - but have also spent a weekend in Dallas with Britt and Chris and a weekend in Austin with Joel and Gillian. Friends they met in Haiti have taken them on outings. They got to see the Hendrick boys, and teachers Caroline and Brooke. I heard they went to a Country Club to lounge one afternoon (like ya do). Life is a party for these two gentlemen and they are having a blast.

I will head to Texas early next week to see Michael graduate from the TX State Trooper Academy and then to babysit the most adorable Graham-son in the world while Paige and Michael honeymoon in New Mexico.  

They got married in early January and then within 48 hours he started school. For the last five and a half months they were apart Sunday afternoon until late Friday night.  To say these two need a week away together is an understatement. I am so proud of the way they fought through this weird way to start a marriage and that Paige single-Mommed it like a boss. Hurray for honeymoon week for them.

While they are away the three boys and I will be visiting every playground and wide open grassy space we can find in central Texas. 

Britt is heavy into another intense semester of PA school but I plan to invade her Dallas space at least once during our babyGrahamwatching days.

If Paige returns from her honeymoon to find that I have eaten this adorable baby, nobody will blame me.  LOOK AT HIM!!!!!







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Last night the ladies took Troy out for a nice dinner in Petionville - Lydie gave Troy 250 gourdes and everyone wrote him super sweet cards.  My favorite part in Phoebe's card: "I am so glad you are alive. I know we had a hard day yesterday but now its over. And I am glad its over and I think you are too."




After a week like this most recent one, I sit down to think about the highs and the lows and the teary melt downs over silly things and I realize that there most certainly is an army of people that pray for Haiti, for Heartline, for the Maternity Center, and for us.  I am so grateful for that and right now I am heading to lie face down on the floor to have a good cry of gratefulness.  

Happy Friday to us all.
tara