Saturday, November 18, 2017

New Tricks, Old Dog

All the popular wisdom says when you write anywhere except perhaps in your own diary, you write because you know what your point is.  

Have a theme, an outline, and goal to communicate a specific message.

(Popular wisdom is so popular with the wise.)

* * * * 

It probably comes as a shock to no one at all that in this world of polarized everything and dishonesty and hurt piled up on top of heaps of injustice, the post about my husband's vas-deferens etc. etc. became the most read post of the last five years.  

Suffice it to say, I'm quite proud of the boys.

This Op-Ed ran earlier this week, I stressed about the fact that they put our blog address at the bottom of it.  "Argh, if anyone goes there the recent posts are about an adult man trying to pick-up our fifteen year old and my plans to threaten him and Troy's vasectomy reversal."  I contemplated tossing up a quick Bible study or maternal health post to make myself look more well rounded.  

I have learned something.
Contemplation does not equal action.

* * * *

This summer (maybe you recall this) a young mom that had a baby at the Heartline Maternity Center (as a result of a rape) was considering giving her baby up to the rapist's family.  She was under pressure to do so. People around her were saying she couldn't take care of a baby. They said that his family was more financially able. Those of us that know her well tried hard to stay calm and use wisdom. (But not popular wisdom.) We were watching her take care of her baby and she was doing a beautiful job. 

When the thing you want to do most is scream hysterically at the top of your lungs "NONONO, THAT CANNOT HAPPEN" - it is best to not do that screaming.  

Gratefully, the baby is 10 months old now and still with her mother. We have all emotionally prepared ourselves for the fact that we do not control outcomes of these wonky and broken situations.  However, while preparing ourselves for several Haiti-like-possibilities, we are also thrilled to share that the young Mom is in school. 

Her daughter cries every morning when she is dropped off for day-care and has to say goodbye for six hours.  The bond between them is real. In my mind, this has been the story of the year. Success is hard to measure and it most often feels difficult to say, "Oh, yes! Now THAT is so the goal happening right there before our eyes!" In this case, right now, it is indeed good. Thank you to every single person that prayed and supported Sarah and Sophia. 
Sincere, sincere, thanks. Please keep praying for them.

* * * * 

In September I went to Paige's best friend's wedding.  I danced with Graham and wore floral print "booties".  

The trend in the USA, if you don't know this, is to start making a perfectly cute boot, but then get lazy and call it good right at the ankle. The stores are full of unfinished boots made by lethargic and unmotivated people. To be super creative instead of calling it a boot, it is called a bootie.

There is no reason to share that really, except to complain that the fashion trends seduced me and I wore a pair for six hours and that bootie killed my second toenail on my left foot. It is dark purple and about to fall off.  Just a word of warning before you invest in your pair.

* * * *
Yesterday at the Maternity Center someone came to me asking for a pregnancy test to be able to take to her Pastor.  I thought I heard her wrong.  I said, "Wait, your Pastor wants to see your pregnancy test?"  I of course thought that he must be the kind of pastor that also sleeps with his congregation, or why else does he ask?  The woman explained it this way to me: "My Pastor needs to see a negative pregnancy test before our wedding later this month because if it is a positive test he won't allows us to get married in the church. He would still marry us but we would be unable to invite guests and wear a dress and use the church."  

I stared at her waiting for her to burst into laughter and say, "GOT YOU! HA HA HA."  It got awkward and I stopped staring.

Turns out, that's a thing this pastor does.  

* * * *

Why do they call some wrinkles "fine lines"? 
Who determines what is a wrinkle and what is a fine line? My face is getting older every day.  I want to know how deep the line is when it switches over to a wrinkle.

The other week I needed to bring a Momma and her baby home. They lived crazy far away and up a steep mountain. While I drove I saw on my phone that I was headed south.  At the same time I was headed south I was climbing up a hill. Prior to that day I have never been able to believe that both can simultaneously be true. On that day, I gave Troy a call and told him of my changed perspective.  "Babe, you can climb up a mountain while heading south."  

He expressed relief that I have been able to switch my paradigm at such an advanced age.

In thirty nine days all of my children, son in laws, and grandsons will be standing before me in my home.  It's the first annual because, well because, we have never done this since Britt and Paige have been married adult people. I'm super cool about it. Not that excited, really.

If it doesn't happen, I'll adjust. By jumping off the nearby bridge into the trash below.   I>AM>SO>EXCITED.

Troy and I got to go to Atlanta for our Anniversary last weekend.  We had a long layover and I forced Troy to get a pedicure for the first time in his life. He was such a weirdo about it. He was all squirrely and complaining he didn't know what to do.  I explained that a pedicure is where SOMEONE ELSE has to know what to do.  

You just sit there and watch them know - while you know nothing.  
I'm happy to report it went well.

This week Beth Johnson (you know her as KJ and I prefer you call her that in your mind) found a pretty significant heart defect while doing a twenty week ultrasound on one of the women in the program.  

In Haiti the poorer than poor will often times work for the regular poor in exchange for a place to live or maybe a promise of education or something else similar.  (And the poor work for rich too, of course.) There is also a system of slavery that is not seen as such and is generally accepted - a person that works for another person is called a restavek - you can read about it . The gal that KJ was seeing for that ultrasound is a restavek of sorts. She's not young like many in her position, but she does have a lower capacity to understand things and is looked down upon by others and works in the home of another family. 

It sort of feels like the most beat down folks, just get more beatdowns in life. I have no statistics, but if you would like me to make some up, I would say that of the people that have a really hard life, 70% of those folks have a bunch of OTHER EXTRA crap happen that makes it even harder.  That is an asstistic, take it or leave it.  I am just saying, this lady that already has very little, now has a baby with a heart problem too.

Once every couple months a young gal will come in for a pregnancy test and share the story of the person she works for being the father of the baby - but because he was married, once she is pregnant she no longer has a job or a home.  He fires her. 

You can go from being an abused/used restavek to being homeless and pregnant. I don't know how to figure out which one is worse. Do you? 

* * * *

Communication in this country is THE HARDEST.  I actually cannot be moved on this issue.  I'm willing to believe you can go up a mountain and go South at the same time, but I will not waver on the issue of the difficulty level of communication in Haiti.  THE.HARDEST.  

At the end of a long day it feels like perhaps the entire day was spent talking and communicating and perhaps nothing was understood. Or perhaps nothing I say makes sense. Or perhaps nobody answers the question asked.  I could write 3,000 words worth of examples but here is one that just happened thirty seconds ago. (Underlined words indicate one person.)

"Are you having pain or is it the same as before?"

"It's the same."

"Okay, not more than Thursday? Exactly the same?"

(Nods - confirms not having more contractions/pain.)

(literally) Five seconds later  - another Midwife asks...

"Is the pain worse?"


"When is it worse?"

"It (the pain) is all the time."

"You know contractions come and go, yes? They come and go frequently. It is not an all the time pain. Are you having a pain that comes and goes - it is that or no?"


This continued on for a while.  The pain is worse and it is not worse and it is constant and it comes and goes. 

Someone - Please let me know if this makes sense.

Troy and I try SO SO HARD to communicate often and well, but when we sit down to talk we have usually had a day that includes so much talking and not understanding that by the time we reach home we just have eye contact and call that communication because SO MUCH TALKING.

Two weeks ago on Saturday night we went to one of the most well funded international medical providers around. Their Obstetrics hospital is for high risk only.  We know that and we have a list of the criteria they published.  We rarely go there even though it is close to us because it seems to always be super discouraging. On that night KJ and Nirva had a woman bleeding a lot but having no contractions. They determined quickly it was either a partial placenta abruption or a placenta previa.  Both of those two very dangerous things are on the OB their criteria list - because that is HIGH RISK and time-sensitive.  When the Midwives arrived at the hospital (remember, very well funded, very well known) the nurses and midwives there had an empty triage room.  It was a quiet night there by all observations. No physician made themselves known. The medical employees that were present said that the hospital does not take bleeding women unless there is pain/labor/contractions with the bleeding. Nirva reminded them of the criteria list. They disagreed and refused to take the 39 week pregnant bleeding woman.

KJ and Nirva had to leave that hospital to go to another one before the woman bled too much.  They got her to PIH (the hospital we usually refer the ladies with huge complications - but it takes much longer to get there) and PIH said "Yes, this is previa." They did a C/S and Mom and baby are okay now.  

This is the second time that aforementioned hospital turned away that exact very dangerous complication listed on their criteria list. We are attempting to make noise with that organization.  The issue is, the administration changes every so often (sometimes every three to six months) and making contact with someone that is leaving soon and complaining is almost the same as never talking to anyone. Short-timers have zero cares to give. 

Sometimes I feel murderous rage.  This is an example of one of those times. I talked to KJ that night and I can tell you she felt murderous too. Actually, she is sitting across from me and I think she is still feeling high level rage.

Isaac has been doing the Vet-Class stuff every month.  One week a month he goes north of Port au Prince and learns about veterinarian medicine.  He sends home THE VERY BEST TEXT MESSAGES and photos.  They make us roll around laughing.  Since I used the word murderous, I think you should know that Isaac says that when you give pigs a vaccine everything about that pig changes, they become murderous.  

He told us one time, "I'm great except for these murderous pigs." 

We are hoping that the Americans reading will have an excellent Thanksgiving week with family and friends. I know that I speak for Troy too I when I say, THANK YOU for being a source of support and love and kindness. Thank you for caring about Haiti. Thank you for caring about Heartline Ministries. Thank you for caring about the women we work with day to day. Thank you for caring about us.  We are grateful for you this week, as always.

Next up, I plan to regale you with tales of short term memory gone rogue. 
That to say, my next post will be totally dedicated to complaining about how bad perimenopause is (for me) and discussing why it is that the only thing ever discussed much is menopause  ---- menopause is not the problem - or not yet anyway. I am the forgetful foggy proof. 

All the popular wisdom says when you write anywhere but in your own diary, you write because know what your point is.  

Have a theme, an outline, a goal to communicate a specific message.

(Popular wisdom is so popular with the wise.)