Monday, October 13, 2014

My #Grahamson Story ~ The birth of Graham Gonzales


(Friday after a brisk walk.)

(Saturday at 3pm BU vs TCU game.)

video



Graham Porter Gonzales made a decision to leave the dark warmth and relative ease of his Mother’s womb on Saturday evening.  

He must have weighed all his options and decided that adventure was better than predictability, that excitement beats monotony, that spontaneity and whimsy make life so much more interesting. 

In reviewing his particular method of joining us on the outside, we think perhaps he felt the need, the need for speed.

Lest you prefer not to read an entire birth story, and you simply need the stats, let me tell you the end first.

Graham Porter Gonzales appeared on the scene October 11, 2014 at 9:56pm, weighing in at a fighting weight of 7 pounds 9 ounces with an impressive 20.25” of vertical giftedness.  

His Mother was there for the event, his Father was too. Additional members of his team were his Aunt Britt, his Mojo (me), two midwives Betsy and Terry, as well as a student midwife.

For some, birth stories are too much. People get all squirmy and uncomfortable talking about body parts and bodily fluids. It is almost as if talking about it is what makes it gross. We (Paige and I) understand that and we ask you to exit the blog at this time because we both do birth stories right.  There are details coming.

For the rest of us that like birth stories, well...
…We think that everyone was once born and because that is true (can we get agreement here?) we all have our very own fluid filled beginnings and that is just the simple messy truth of it.

Our conclusion is this: Birth is beautiful and MIRACULOUS while simultaneously being more than a bit humbling and so very equalizing.  Nobody gets out of it without at least some excrement or slimy fluid. 

Like Forest Gump said, shit happens.

~          ~           ~

This birth story is going to begin a little sooner than some.  Let us return to mid September of 2014 in order to record a few facts.  

(Let us also switch to a third-person narrative for a few paragraphs.)

Paige was having some concerning blood pressure issues. Lab work, consultations, prayers, and careful watching became a part of the pregnancy around week thirty-seven. 

There were already tickets booked for Mojo from Haiti to Texas on October 14, but something in Mojo’s heart said that the ticket needed to be sooner.  The ticket was switched to the 8th of October.  Mojo kept praying (andwriting) and feeling nervy. Paige kept resting, eating protein and monitoring her blood pressure.  

For whatever reason, Mojo couldn’t shake a bit of fear and trepidation. She felt like something wasn’t going to be okay, she worried and told a friend she kind of felt like Paige would end up with a hospital birth situation.  Mojo called American Airlines and changed her ticket to the 7th of October. Paige and Britt thought she was dumb, because what’s one day?  

The morning of the 7th, Mojo felt uneasy and afraid. She told two friends that prayed with her.  On the ride to the airport at 2pm Haiti time she told Tito, “I feel like something isn’t right with Paige and Graham.”

Mojo left Haiti on a 3:44pm flight on October 7th.  As Mojo powered down her phone to leave the island, Paige and Graham(son) were in a car accident on their way home from work.  Mojo landed in Miami 90 minutes later to see the photograph posted at the end of this blog entry. The accident happened outside of Waco and was a hit and run. The driver has since been caught. 

Paige and Graham went to a local hospital to be monitored and checked out.  Midwife Betsy and Daddy Michael were also at the hospital. After four hours they were determined to be 100% healthy and unharmed. They were discharged.  Mojo boarded her next flight to Dallas knowing they were okay and heading home to rest.

~        ~           ~

The Rest of the Story

On Thursday Paige and I addressed and mailed wedding invitations.  

On Friday we decided to head to Dallas to be with Britt and Chris (Paige’s older sister and brother-in-law) because Michael had to work long shifts on Friday and Saturday. Paige talked a lot about wishing she could go into labor and wondered how could we make that happen. On the ride to Dallas she voxed with midwife KJ in Haiti, asking why we disagreed with trying Castor Oil. KJ gave Paige the exact answer I gave, much to Paige’s disappointment.

Once to Dallas, Britt and I took Paige on a brisk 30-minute walk. Britt fed us a delicious lasagna dinner.  After dinner we tried tricks we learned on the medically trusted and truly professional website called "YouTube". We practiced pushing on pressure points in Paige’s legs and feet for an hour.

By 11pm a storm knocked out the power at Chris and Britt’s house so we decided to pretend we were in Haiti and head to bed.  The power returned in the middle of the night. The four of us all woke up rested after a great ten hours of sleep. 

Britt took off for a long run around 10am. Paige asked me to strip her membranes.  (Google that if you need more Intel.) Afterward we decided another brisk walk couldn’t hurt anything.

We walked/pseudo jogged for 20 minutes. We returned to the house and showered quickly to head south to a Baylor vs. TCU football game.  (Sic Em Bears!) During the drive down to Waco Paige started having contractions.  She downloaded a contraction app and began timing them.  By the time we got seated at the game her contractions were coming regularly.  Paige enjoyed 15 minutes of the game before things got more painful and from then on she simply tolerated the game.  (See photo of enjoyment. See video of toleration.) She had 50 contractions while we were at the game.

During the beginning of the fourth quarter, Baylor acted like they did not want to win. Paige asked to leave, we happily obliged. On the walk back to the car the contractions were bad enough that Paige needed to stop walking and talking during them. 

We arrived back at Paige’s apartment at 6:30 and checked Paige’s progress. We found that she was 5cm dilated. Paige decided to lie down for a bit while we waited for Michael to get home from work so we could head to the birth center. 

Michael ran into post Baylor game traffic (and a surprise end of the game win for BU). It took a lot longer than usual for him to get home. He walked in at 7:40pm about the same time that Chris delivered dinner to those of us not in active labor. 

While Michael got changed Britt and I finished our cleaning in the apartment and put the last items in the bag to be ready to leave after Michael ate his dinner. 

Right then, Paige started throwing up. To the midwife, that was a little concerning because it did not seem like throw up time quite yet. (Vomiting is a sign of transition and often means that dilation is 7cm or more.)  I said with my fake-it-till-you-make-it calm voice, “You guys, we should probably get going”. 

Paige asked to be checked. When she was in fact 7cm - we all moved out with urgency.  At exactly 8:18pm we left the driveway with Britt behind the wheel of the loaner Tahoe we were (are) using due to the accident. Chris headed to Dallas to pick up Paige’s best friend Julia, who was to land at DFW at 11pm. 

We intended to drive 57 miles to the birth center in a somewhat calmish fashion.

We drove about 10ish miles before Paige started throwing up again. She said, “Mom, it hurts so bad and I cannot do this. Make it stop, make it stop, Mom.”  Britt and I both let a few tears go over that sad pleading that we could do nothing about.

At that point I thought, ‘Well, a baby in the truck is not part of the plan. Dammit.’  I asked Britt to pull off the road to dump out the puke bowl and move people around in the truck. Up to that point Michael, Paige, and the car seat were in the second row and I was in the front with Britt. The back of the truck had our bags and belongings. 

Pulling off of Interstate 35 proved to be difficult because we were in a construction zone and not near an exit. Britt did super-ninja driving tricks and got it done. When the truck finally came to a stop Paige shocked us to our senses when she yelled, GET OUT MICHAEL!” 

I dumped the puke and started to organize and unpack KJ’s birth bag. I found some key items (gloves, Doppler, instruments, etc.) while Paige got out of the truck and kneeled (“full on hands and knees on the side of the road” to quote Paige) on the shoulder of the road.

Paige said, “Mom, I think my water broke while I was puking.” (That turned out to be urine, not ruptured membranes.)  I hurried faster to arrange the back of the truck and move the other stuff forward.  While I was doing that Paige said,  “Mom, I have to poop, is it okay if I do?”  It was then that I thought, “Oh man. We are not having a birth center birth.”  However, I said, “We can make it to the birth center, guys. We can make it! 

I told Paige not to poop or push - that she was feeling Graham’s head.

Paige got into the back of the truck and rested on her left side. I sat in the corner at her feet. Michael stayed in the second row, turned back toward us. Mercifully, she got a bit of a lull in the contractions, they slowed down.

Britt decided to drive with the hazards flashing and she turned on the intensity. We were still 40 minutes away. We prayed out loud for the Lord to see the hot mess that we had going on and slow Paige the heck down. 

When Paige’s next contraction came we asked her to try hard not to push, it was obvious that she was complete (that means 10cm – that means business) and had an urge to push.  Michael put his finger in front of her face to blow out as if it was a candle.  That worked for two contractions. On the third contraction Paige tried to bite Michael’s finger then swatted wildly at him, like an angry bear. We decided at that point our candle would need to be invisible. 

I laughed (silently) until tears were running down my face. Michael rolled with it and checked to make sure all ten digits were in tact.

The contractions were very strong; they were coming every six minutes.  Paige was the champion of the world. She did so well and kept from pushing as absolutely best as can be expected. We had a clean chux pad underneath her and a roll of paper towel.  It is possible that some paper towels with excrement on them left the car window at speeds of 75 miles per hour. Luckily, we were the only ones on the road at that point.  During one of the contractions her water broke and was delivered in a perfect water balloon into my hands. (We spared you some photos.) 

In review, there was vomit, urine, poo, and amniotic fluid on that ride. The only thing left to do was have a baby.

As we pulled into Cleburne I said, “I see the head Michael.”  I told Paige, “You will not want to get up and walk, it will hurt, but you are going to get up and go into that birth center to have your baby.”  

At 9:40 we arrived at Edenway Birth Center. The midwife on staff there met us in the driveway. I offered to wrap Paige’s bottom half up in a blanket (she had ditched her gym shorts) – but Paige was in the zone and marched right inside, sans blanket.  She went straight to the bed to lie down.

Paige’s “birth plan” did not include anything that had happened up to that point, so when Terry the Edenway midwife said, “We have a warm bath drawn if you’d like to get in there for a few contractions”, of course Paige got up and marched to the bathtub.  

Paige had always thought (and expressed to me) that water birth was weird, bordering on gross.  She had no intention of having a water birth  --that is -- until she had a water birth.

Paige did not want to get back out of the tub so when she needed to push with the next contraction, she pushed. Betsy, her primary midwife had arrived while she was getting settled in the water. 

Betsy and I coached Paige. As he was crowning and not retracting back at all, Paige incredulously said, “I don’t get a break? I don’t get a break any more?”  We had to inform her that there were no breaks in her long-range future. 

To that news she simply said, “Holy cow.

The next contraction came and Paige pushed with a lot of control and the head was born.  Paige said, “I did that!”  Brittany was filming and she laughed through her tears and said, “You did!” 

(For the midwives in the crowd, he was born OA and he did not fully restitute.) 

90 seconds later, exactly 16 minutes after we had arrived at the birth center, Paige had one more contraction and delivered her son into his thrilled/nervous/excited Mojo’s hands in the warm water.

I untangled his cord and lifted him out of the water to place him on his mommy’s chest.  Paige looked at Graham and said, “We did it, we did it together!”

Graham was a bit of a slow starter. His heart rate was great but breathing took some coaxing. Betsy and I both gave him some inflation breaths (Betsy first) and he finally began to sputter a bit and started to get pink.

By 17 minutes postpartum, Graham was latched and nursing in the bathtub, showing us what a brilliant little man he is.  

Paige and Michael experienced 7:40pm to 9:56pm of labor/pushing together.

Michael kept his fingers.

Britt kept her cool on an intense 80+ minute ride.

Mojo kept it together and shed tears of nervousness, laughter, empathy and joy.

Graham stayed strong and had wonderful heart tones all the way through his delivery.

Paige? Paige did it all. She is the master.

~     ~      ~

Today, less than a week from that horrible car accident, there are a hundred or more reasons to be grateful. I cannot begin to list all the complex feelings or the deep gratitude because so much of it is something that cannot be easily integrated or voiced; it is the silent prayer and my nearly constant whisper that says over and over and over again, “Thank you Lord”.










Chris and Britt



#Grahamson and Paige added that little coronary below into the adrenaline mashup for the week. 
(photo from Tuesday 10/7) 


... It is the silent prayer and a nearly constant whisper that says over and over again, “Thank you Lord”.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Honoring a Heroine

(What is a Midwife?) Midwives Are Trained Professionals 

Midwives are the traditional care providers for mothers and infants. Midwives are trained professionals with expertise and skills in supporting women to maintain healthy pregnancies and have optimal births and recoveries during the postpartum period. Midwives provide women with individualized care uniquely suited to their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs. Midwifery is a woman-centered empowering model of maternity care that is utilized in all of the countries of the world with the best maternal and infant outcomes such as The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Canada. (source MANA)
  ~       ~       ~

International Day of the Midwife is in May, but apparently the USA celebrates Midwives in October, for an entire week. Who am I to ignore or miss out on a USA celebration?

As Robert Brault said, There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.”  


I marvel daily at how joyous it is to have found the vocation of my heart at this perfect time in life when my kids are bigger and I have the ability to do more outside my home.  

There are so many midwives that have inspired me along the way and have spoken truth and life and hope to me in the infancy of my career. Tonight I want to write about one of them.

Meet Marie Jose, pictured on the right. She is with her daughter Wini, a friend of mine and a stellar nurse/midwife at Heartline.


Marie Jose worked for decades in the area of Maternal Health. She worked seven years at a hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, She also delivered hundreds of babies in the areas she lived for many years. 

When I met with her last week she told me that she estimated she had assisted more than 3,000 women with the birth of their babies. She has delivered American, Canadian, and Haitian babies. She has delivered twins, conjoined twins, triplets, and breech babies. She has worked without water, without electricity, without supplies, without adequate rest or help. 

When I said, "Because of your hard work, many mothers and babies in Haiti are alive", Marie Jose nodded solemnly,there is no denying God has used her to touch the lives of Haitian women.

Marie Jose had a stroke about 18 months ago. Since her stroke she cannot walk or do what she loves. Her daughters care for her well and have learned to understand and interpret her slurred speech.  She remembers a lot. She can tell you stories about birth and life and death. She knows hope and sorrow more intimately than most of us. 

I know that Marie Jose will never be recognized in any fancy ceremony, or thanked by her government. I highly doubt most of her amazing stories and unique knowledge will ever be recorded, but I would like you to know about her and I would like to ask you to pray for her and her daughters and grandchildren. 

She has given much to her country and her people.  In the true meaning of "midwife", Marie Jose has given her life to be "with women".  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Opportunities



A number of months ago we were contacted by a friend in Haiti that directs a feeding program (Outside the Bowl) in Port au Prince. This feeding program operates out of a kitchen located on the property of a government run/funded maternity hospital. 

We were familiar with this hospital because many women deliver there, as the options in Port au Prince are very limited for maternal health care. The options are even more limited outside of the city. It is not uncommon for women with five or six kids to tell us they had two or three kids at home and a baby or maybe two at one of the government hospitals.


The exciting development? We have been invited to come into the postpartum areas of the hospital once a week to try to connect with the women a bit and teach some basic breastfeeding and bonding principles.


We have been going for three weeks, and are starting to figure out what works and what doesn't work so well. In a relationship-based culture, it is pretty important to do what we can to make it fun and light. There isn't the time needed to really get to know one another, so we are improvising and trying to encourage the new Moms by helping them get their babies latched and by taking a few minutes to hear from them about their new babies and their lives.  


Today we added a song into our weekly plan/agenda.  We were excited and knew it was a good song with the message we hoped to deliver, but we didn't know how well it would be received.


When I heard the security guard outside the window with the sawed off shot gun singing "kite bebe souse'l" - I knew we had a hit! 


(Thanks to April for the idea to write a song and to our funny and creative staff for writing it in a flash.)

L to R
April, Wini, Nirva, Mica, Andrema


Here is one of the rooms we visit each Wednesday.  There are usually about 25 new moms in this room...


(Apologies for poor quality video, shaky phone video only for now. Mica, our main singer is a mom that delivered at Heartline and loves to sing, we recruit talent when we see it!) 



Chant ( kite bebe souse)

Depi ti bebe a fèt mete l nan tete manman l
(when the baby is born, put it to the mother's breast)
Paske l gon likid jòn, yo relel kolotwòm
(because she has yellow liquid, it is called colostrum)
Yon vaksen natirèl, ki pwoteje trip li
(A natural vaccine that protects baby)
Li anpeche l malad, ki develop sèvo l
(it prevents illness and develops the brain)

Chorus:
Pa pire l pa jete l
(don't waste it - don't throw it away)
Kite bebe souse l
( let the baby suck it)
Pa bay dlo, Pa bay lòk,
(don't give water, don't give tea)
Kite bebe souse l
( let the baby suck it)

2
Aprè 2 a 4 jou depi l tete souvan,
(after 2 to 4 days of breastfeeding often)
Wap vin gen anpil lèt, ba li l chak 2 zèd tan
(you will have a lot of milk, give it to your baby every 2 hours)
Menmsi li ap domi, reveye l pou tete
(while your baby sleeps, wake him/her for the breast)

Pou kwè li byen tete, kite l pou 30 minit
(for it to be good breastfeeding, let him/her feed for 30 minutes)
15 a dwat 15 a goch
(15 minutes on the right 15 minutes on the left)
Kite bebe souse l
(let the baby suck)
Pa di ou pa gen lèt
(don't say you don't have milk)
Kite bebe souse l
(let the baby suck it)
Jiskake l gen 6 mwa
(birth to six months)

Kite bebe souse l
(let the baby suck it)




Every culture has its beliefs and traditions.  In Haiti, women will often throw away colostrum, thinking it is not good for the baby.  The most common thing we hear when we enter a room full of ladies that haven't had the chance to learn otherwise is that they don't have milk and are waiting to have milk to feed their new baby.  That is just one example of a handful of local beliefs that get in the way of immediate breastfeeding as well as bonding between mother and child.


It is easy to understand why pregnant women would want to get into the Heartline program. We are the only prenatal care provider in Haiti that offers all of the following: three trimesters of weekly classes, three trimesters of personalized care, six months of postpartum care and weekly classes, private labor and delivery with 3 qualified staff at births, breastfeeding support, free birth control offered after birth, transport provided should an emergency occur.   The alternative in Port au Prince is typically a few prenatal appointments, a delivery in a busy room filled with others delivering as well,  and one day in postpartum care.  


The two experiences are totally different.



The fact is, the government hospital is doing everything it can to help reduce maternal mortality. The demand is far greater than are the resources available.  Dr. Megan Coffee, a physician working in Haiti with TB patients, recently said, "In medicine, you don't want to die waiting for what's perfect. We always learn the enemy of good is perfect."  I am fairly sure Dr. Coffee was referring to TB, Ebola or Cholera, but it applies to Maternal Health as well. I don't think you could find a person that would say that the situation at the government hospitals is sufficient.  The fact is, while insufficient, (not perfect) it is still 100% necessary (good) and the care saves lives.

We are incredibly thankful for this opportunity to come along side the nurses and doctors and new mothers that deliver at this hospital, what a gift to us all! 


Be on the look out for our forthcoming album of lactation jams. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy Chaos

I am hoping to sit down over the next day or two and update an exciting (new) thing going on at the Heartline Maternity Center.  I have a half finished post in drafts and we are excited to share with you.

(Also, two new Moms went home Thursday, another baby boy was born Thursday, we have lots of ladies due in the next month.)

Because the McHouls are moving after 16 years in one house, we have been busy helping get them moved out of one place and into the other.  We were also moving the Heartline office at the same time and getting a staff house ready for a new family moving here next week. The chaos of it all was mind-numbing.  The stuff that happens is utterly worthy of a reality show, I just cannot even begin to tell you how weird it all is.  If you peeked into one singular box of things belonging to John McHoul, you might start looking for a way to get Beth a safe distance away from him.  Related: If you need a VCR, he has six broken ones we are trying to get him to part with; make a bid.

Meanwhile, I am a tightly wrapped rubber band on the verge of snapping.  The tension over waiting on the travel date for Paige and baby and the tension over leaving the other kids and Troy and the Maternity Center has me walking on the edge of melt-down at all moments.  Troy suggested a sleep over for a couple of the kids last night and I melted down over it (got irrational and ridiculous) because I don't want them gone from me while I am still here.

Noah has always been in tune with emotional things. If he senses someone is sad, he is the first to reach out or try to make us laugh.  He is constantly saying ridiculous things or contorting his scrawny body to do silly dance moves and bring a smile. A minute ago he walked up, sang me a made up love song and ended it with this ...

video

"When you love somebody, you don't need proof. You can feel it."

I am hoping that he is right  - and that while I am away all the people I leave here in Haiti remember that I don't care or love them any less even when I'm many miles and two airplane rides away.

More from here soon ...  Happy Weekend! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To our first grandson, some thoughts on life

36 week Grandbump
Dear little man,

It hardly seems possible that in four weeks you will be with us on the outside. Enjoy these last weeks in your mommy because being carried around in there is by far the easiest of all the options in life. Your old Mojo (that is me) sometimes wishes she could get back in the dark womb and hide in the warmth and peace for a bit.  (Don't be concerned about me, I won't actually attempt to do it.) I am not trying to scare you, I am just saying - enjoy it. That right there, inside your Momma, is the high life.

There are so many things I want to share with you.  Things about your Mom, things about this family, things about my mistakes and things I hope you can learn without pain. Learning is hard, it takes so many tries. To me it seems that most of us need to learn the hard way. We learn slowly, we fall, we stand up, repeat, repeat. 

I wish I could tell you ALL things that would help it be easier on you. More than that, I wish you could listen and truly hear me. The thing is, I know that you cannot.  I know you cannot  because I did not, and your Mommy did not. Because that is not a thing. We seem to be a gene pool that wants to get knocked around a bit as we learn.

Having said that I know I cannot save you from all pain or from making mistakes, there are just a few things I decided you might like to know before you come out into this boisterous and chaotic world. 

1.
Love wins. Every time.

Now you might be saying to your baby self, what does that even mean, Mojo?  That is so abstract! You sound like a hippie or something. Let me tell you: As you grow up, you will find that sometimes things hurt you or make you angry.  Someone might misunderstand you, say something hurtful, or even intentionally lash out at you. When things hurt, when we hurt, we always want to curl up, withdraw, or strike back. That is just how we are, this gene pool.  

Your old Mojo wants to tell you that love never returns void.  I know you don't know the word void yet.  Let me try again.  When you are hurt, if you can try super hard to love yourself and love others around you, even the person that was mean to you, that will never be something you live to regret. A regret is something you later wish you could change.  The things I wish I could change in my life are all things that I did when I was very hurt or angry. We read that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a grievous word stirs up anger. That just means, when someone hurts you, you return their insult with a loving response. This sounds simple, but it is so crazy hard. It might take you fifty or sixty years to get it right.  I  know people that died very old that never quite got how important kind words and love are. Your Mommy and Daddy are going to teach you about love, watch them closely. I think they both know a lot about love.

2.
Forgivness is so hard, but it is a part of love.  

This one is gonna be rough, there is just no way around it. I am sorry to hit you with so much before you even get here.  I just want it to be easy for you later, that's all. There is a man named MLK Jr. that I hope you will learn about that said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” That is a way of saying, forgiveness has to be worked at non-stop. People will hurt you, if you are able you will respond with love, but you will still have the work of forgiving ahead of you. If you try to continue to love someone you have not forgiven, you will get a big old smack of reality right between your blue eyes, it is basically impossible. Forgiveness just means that you don't allow that hurt to continue to cause you pain. You turn it over and cross it off, and it no longer acts as a weight you must carry.

One of my very favorite Dutch guys, his name is Henri, said it his way, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  

To simplify for you, Henri was trying to say this: Forgiveness is really just love, and you already know how important love is.

3.
Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

This is just something you figure out when you reach 40 or so.  I am telling you early, to save you the trouble.  Sometimes it feels like the pain won't go away, or the embarassment or shame is just insanely HUGE and earth-shattering.  It does feel that way in the moment, your Mojo knows it so well. This might sound silly to you, but just give it a few weeks.  After a few weeks things seem smaller. You are just gonna have to trust me on this one until you get a chance to see for yourself.

~           ~            ~

Now that I have shared those things, I feel like I should say one more thing to you.  Someday, when you are quite a bit older, you will learn about my reaction to the news of you.  You might hear that I cried and felt overwhelmed for your Mommy and Daddy.  You might learn that for a few weeks we had a bit of hard time. Then, like number three says, we woke up a few weeks later and realized that things were going to be okay. We figured out that it was not so big or impossible. Not only did we realize that things were going to be okay, we got quite excited about the prospect (do you know that word? it means the coming possibility) of meeting you, holding you, smelling you, and getting to know you. 

More than 30 weeks have passed since I learned about your little beating heart inside your mommy. In those weeks I have prayed for you, loved you more each day, and watched your Mommy's tummy grow and begin moving like crazy. (She sends me videos. What is it you are doing in there, exactly? Nobody expects you to produce work until you are a bit older, take a load off and get some rest while you can, because it is not nearly so calm and dark out here.) When I meet you in just a few short weeks I know I will be in awe of you. I hope you will show me some of those fancy moves once there is more space to perform. 

I need you to know, the time it took for me to get totally excited, was really just fear.  I was afraid for your Mom and Dad and for you, too. It was unnecessary fear, I know that now.  I guess you get your first chance at forgiving (which we already know is love), right away. Forgive me for being fearful about you, please.  

I am so excited to meet you. I think we are going to like each other a lot. 

all my heart,

Mojo 




Capitalism redefined




You know how people say, "This is worth your time" ?   Then you give your time and afterward you get all hot and bothered that it wasn't worth your time. Those people waste a lot of our time.

We are not those people. (We are not impartial in any way, shape, or form), but THIS IS WORTH YOUR TIME.  

This is our friend Matt, the man that taught our kids what a hickey is by mimicking in the air what it might look like to give a hickey. (fine-full disclosure, we were playing charades) We owe him a debt of gratitude for that, so please hear his thoughts on poverty and work and capitalism redefined.  

We are for you, Little Haitian Factory! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Date Night


I have been with Troy for 18 years, almost 16 of those years we have been married. This means date night is kind of a been-there done-that regular event. Many years of trying to squeeze in a date means many years of quick meals, often close to home. Date night can even be running an errand and trying to be back to tuck the kids in to bed. Sometimes it is romantic and sweet. Other times date night can be kind of hot and sizzly. Most often, it is just your average nice time to talk without any interruptions. Less phone/internet/four second conversations and more real/lengthy ones.

Well, tonight date night was not romantic or sizzly. It was however, insanely unusual.


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Hospitals in this country are not good at communication.  That is me being my absolute very nicest.  I so wish I could expound without burning  the badly damaged bridges. We try hard to be patient and considerate while they don’t communicate with us.   We share records and information; they don’t.  We know our women by name; they don’t seem to. We desire to be excellent in our communication and co-care.  This seems to be an extremely one-sided desire. 

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7 days ago …

Tuesday of last week (the 9th of September) we had one very sad day. One lady  (named Sandra) needed to go to a local hospital due to a failed induction and severe pre-eclampsia.  Another lady (named K) needed to go to a hospital outside the city due to preterm labor and a baby showing signs of stress. (K has a history of preterm labor and loss.) Two transports, one day.  None of us like this. 


3 days ago …
On this day we hear that our patient at the local hospital thinks she has Cholera and we hear that our patient at the distant hospital is hanging out being observed.  It seems that nobody has had a baby yet, or at least nobody says they have.

1 day ago …

Nirva, the nurse that brought Sandra to the hospital, stopped by the hospital to check on her.  The hospital told Nirva they have no record of her being there. We never know if this is a game, a power trip, or if we should maybe not assume conspiracy, when incompetence explains everything.  We feel frustrated that we don’t know where the woman is that we brought there for care.

8 hours ago …

As we all sat down to start our day at the Maternity Center today, word came from a friend of Sandra, the patient at the local hospital.  The friend said that the hospital we had dropped the woman off with had brought her to another hospital.  We were incredulous. Why would the specialty hospital do that?  The friend went on to say that there had been a  C-Section and a seizure (eclampsia) after the surgery and that for some reason she was at a different hospital than we dropped her off at one week earlier.


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(Date Night!)

Tonight Troy and I set off on a pseudo date. Neither of us expected hot and sizzly or romantic, but we figured we could grab a quick visit with friends up the hill or maybe stop for a sandwich or something. 

Our date night plan was to bring Sherly, a mother who delivered at the Maternity Center last Friday, to her home about 10 miles away and on our way home we’d pass by some options for a speed date, plus we would get the drive time together without kids.

While Troy was picking up the Mom and new baby and KJ, who had agreed to come to our house to be with the kids, we learned that the patient (Sandra) at the local hospital (the second local one according to the intel we had been given by the friend) had been discharged and needed a ride.  We decided we could go get her after dropping Sherly.

Date night began at about 6:45 pm as we pulled out of our neighborhood with the new Mama. She explained where she lived to Troy.  We climbed up the hills toward her area of town and she asked to pull over to use the bathroom in God’s great big toilet (the city of Port au Prince has been called worse). 

I got to hold baby Zola while that was taken care of and we continued on our way.  As we discussed the hard day it had been and how frustrating all the crappy care of humans can be, I said to Troy, “I need to remember this baby has nothing to do with this, when I am frustrated and want to give up I need to remember that Zola deserves kindness and a chance.”  

Rain started to fall in the fashion in which it usually falls in Haiti.  That is to say, it began to intensely pour down rain.  We sat in traffic jam after traffic jam.  Just when we thought we were all clear to reach a record-setting speed of 35 MPH, boom, another log jam.  Troy continued on toward our destination.  At 8pm we arrived in Sherly’s neighborhood, approximately 8 miles from where we began. We parked the ambulance on a steep slope with rushing water all around us.  We sat for a moment wondering if we would all rather wait for the rain to pass.  Together we agreed that was not likely to happen anytime soon.  I wrapped Zola tight, cursed myself for wearing wobbly heels (HELLO?!?! – DATE NIGHT calls for heels) and we followed Sherly down a lightless tight corridor with uneven ground and ankle spraining opportunities at every step.


Troy decided it smelled like urine and wished he had closed toe shoes.  I thought, “at least your open toes shoes aren’t two inch high heels, Mister.”  We walked to the dark home of Sherly.  City power was out for that zone, therefore a quick prayer in the pitch dark was said and we went back out to the uneven, urine  scented, narrow passageway.

We knew by this time that stopping in to visit friends or sitting down for a meal would mean that the lady waiting on us would wait too long.  We ran into a grocery store and bought two sodas, cheese, chips, and hummus.  They charged us the wrong price for the cheese and my Dutch heritage grabbed hold of me tightly and I had a little fit.  The credit card had already been swiped with the cheese that was apparently worth its weight in gold.  Troy looked at me as if to say, “Do we need to do this?”  I declared defeat and walked outside to wait for him to sign the slip. While I was walking to the car complaining about the crappy customer service and my frustration at the cashier’s refusal to give a damn, Troy said he was thinking, “You need to remember when you are mad and frustrated that baby Zola has nothing to do with this and deserves kindness and a chance.”

Fine.  Expensive cheese is a small problem. I hear that...Probably not a reason to throw in the towel.  (If only we had a towel on this date.)

We ate Chips and Hummus and tried not to shiver in our wet clothes and shoes and headed toward the hospital to find Sandra. 

At the hospital we spoke to a receptionist, a doctor, a guy with a job that we couldn’t discern, and we were led room to room  (a few of which smelled like urine too, but that could have been Troy’s shoes) asking every nurse in every room full of  people for Sandra.  We most certainly walked in at least two complete circles and found little to no response or aid in our quest.

After twenty minutes of looking room to room we called the Maternity Center and asked the family member waiting there if they would tell Sandra by telephone that we could not locate her and to please come to the front of the hospital.  Fifteen minutes later I said to Troy, “You know we could be here another hour waiting for her to come out.”  He said “Yes, I know. Now we wait. The trick is to wait well.” Troy called the Maternity Center and asked for a phone number for Sandra.  Upon calling the number Troy learned from a relative that they were waiting outside but did not see us so they went back in. Troy explained that we had been waiting inside, but now were looking outside, and still did not see them. He eventually asked, “What hospital are you outside of?”  As it turns out they were back at the original hospital we had dropped her off at a week earlier.  We headed there. 

Upon arrival we learned that Sandra’s family member refers to  hospital #1 (and maybe all hospitals) by the same name and therefore when we were told she was at hospital #2, it was really just one family member not knowing the name of hospital #1. Our heads were spinning by this point (hours later) but we were very relieved to find the waiting new mother and baby.  

As we headed back to the Maternity Center, I looked at my phone and found a message that said, “K's husband says that the hospital wants them to leave tomorrow (tonight if possible).” The hospital she needs to be picked up from is at least ninety minutes outside of the city.

Sadly, or fortunately, date night was over. 10pm, we pulled into the Maternity Center with Sandra and decided K would need to wait until tomorrow. 

Looking forward to a new day - another opportunity for rain, urine, dinner in an ambulance, and time with Troy and Haiti’s new mothers, babies, and families.  I can’t wait!