Monday, April 27, 2009

A typical day in babyland....

Greetings! I thought I'd give you a little play-by-play of the current routine.... Monday turned out to be a good example of a pleasant work day in my world. :)

Monday started with the Bird awaking at 4 am for a feed...then again at 6 am...then it's time for a BATH! She LOVES her baths.
So after about 40 minutes in her bathtub with fingers like the California Raisins, it was time to play. I worked a little on homework, Tim ran errands and the Bird sat talking to herself in the mirror. :)
Then Tim took the Bird and I headed to swing shift....

I was immediately endorsed a pushing labor! Ivy was busy getting ready to meet her very first baby in bed 1 and I was privileged to arrive at shift just in time to meet her and her bana. After 30 minutes of pushing, 5 lb. 11 oz. Xaviar was born. Small, but strong. Ivy bled a bit, but avoided hemorrhage AND she was so controlled with her pushing and listened to my directions so she didn't TEAR!!! Praise the Lord! Seldom does a G1 (first baby) wind up with no tear. :)We got her set up in postpartum, performed the newborn exam, gave injections, dressed the baby in some clothes you all donated (THANK YOU!), much to Ivy's delight, and started the birth certificate. This was tricky, as they are a Muslim couple and their marriage does not require the normal marriage contract. So that took some time, but we had a good laugh at my mistakes as I fumbled through the abnormal paperwork.Then, my patient below, Gevy, and her baby, Vince, came in for their 6-week baby check wearing some clothes you all donated! All things are well despite his screaming for pictures... :)Then Jenny and her baby, Francis came in for their 6-week baby check sporting some clothes we gave, too! They are doing fantastic. :)Then the Bird came for a feed... Tim dropped her by....he was headed to a meeting, so Bethany Wuerffel, a good friend and peer of mine, watched her for a bit while I finished my shift just next door....But she had a hug from Ate Vania and Ate Josephine first...
Tim picked me and the Bird up at 10 pm, we ate a bit, chatted, I nursed the Bird and fell into bed. A busy, but peaceful day. The End.

Today, it's class, groceries, baby checks and the Bird's along for the ride. :)
Thank you for the continued prayers and encouragements...the baby clothes are a blessing, too! The patients LOVE them...they are so different than the average Filipino baby clothes here. It's such a practical way to bless them. And I heard that when their babies grow out of them, they pass them on to their neighbors and friends, they just keep circulating. :)

Tim is out today with water project meetings...he will update you next.
I am finishing my very last assignment this FINAL examination June 4...graduation June 6. As most of you know, I will be graduating academically in June, but will not be finished with clinic hours until early next year as a result of being buntis and having the Bird. I am excited to be able to work in the clinic full force without having to think about managing my time in order to fit in mass quantities of homework....more time to spend with my patients!

Be blessed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"The best part of work....

My patients!!!"
Greetings! Just wanted to give updates on my current and past patients. Pictured above is Ate Lisa. I met Ate Lisa at church a long while back along with her hubby and 4 daughters. Her daughters always come up to Promise with kisses and curious stares. They're great gals. Ate Lisa is an incredible woman. After delivering 5 children way out in the bukid (VERY VERY rural mountains) with only her mother attending her births, she moved her family to Davao as her husband was near death with tuberculosis. For reasons of privacy, I won't go into grave detail, but her husband is currently healthy! Praise God! And despite losing their 9 year old son in a flood just 3 years ago, they are a beautiful, joyful thankful for God's grace in their lives. I am fully humbled and amazed at Ate Lisa's poise, graciously beautiful smile and the incredible love she has for her family and her God.

I saw just a tiny bump on her belly a few weeks ago and the Lord laid her on my heart. With the help of my friend, Olivia, from church, I discovered that she was indeed pregnant and had no intended plans for a delivery site. I wondered if she needed prenatals and where she was intending to deliver her baby. I found out that along with her 4 daughters to care for, she is also looking after an elderly woman and hardly has time for prenatal exams. So I offered to do prenatals at her house and serve as her midwife. She had NEVER had a prenatal exam before! EVER! 

So last Friday, Olivia and I headed to Ate Lisa's home....a very small house on the beach consisting of two large rooms, one chair and a small crib that sat on the floor. She and her hubby welcomed me and though they speak no English, communicated their appreciation for taking them as patients. :) I was more blessed than they will ever know. As Olivia translated all Lisa's answers to my questions, I realized that this first prenatal was a milestone in Lisa's life. Never immunized....she'd never heard a baby's heartbeat before! We measured her tummy and found out that she was about 20 weeks pregnant and due August 29th. We laughed a lot and they seemed astonished hearing the baby's heart beat and the sounds of the placenta and I sat astonished and honored to be her first midwife. I asked if she would be willing to come in for laboratory tests that are required by MMC for delivery. Knowing she had no money, I arranged to have all her labs paid for. Thanks to all you guys who send donations to Tim and me, Ate Lisa doesn't have to pay a dime for her labs or for her delivery at MMC! :) 

So today, Ate Lisa came to get immunized for the first time, give blood for the first time and have her first urine analysis ever. And I am happy to say, everything is perfectly normal and she is healthy. I am THRILLED to have the privilege of delivering her baby. God is so good!

And do you remember Bel? I delivered her last baby, Precious, in 2007. Her baby boy pictured above is wearing one of the outfits you donors sent to me! He's now 6 weeks and doing fantastic. It was so very good to see Bel again today!
And here's Ruby and baby Bethany at 6 weeks old...Baby Bethany is also wearing some of the baby clothes sent to me! They are both doing much better after some serious health concerns. I tried to get Ruby to smile (she smiles NON-STOP when the camera is not on her), but she hates her teeth (or lack thereof) so she refused to smile. She is quite the character! Please continue to pray for them....they are struggling with a very persistent cough and I know Ruby is unable to continue taking her baby to the doctor.
And Beverly...oh of the dearest ladies you'll ever meet! Her baby, Fatima, is now 6 weeks, too, and wearing, yet again, the clothes you all sent to me...a sweet purple little sweet. Fatima has an umbilical hernia, but other than that, both Beverly and Fatima are in great health and doing fantastic. Beverly is such a blessing to be around. I hope I get to spend more time with her in the future. 
And finally, here is Cherry Mei with her baby boy, Charles, almost 3 months old now! Cherry Mei texted me saying that she so badly wanted to meet Promise and wanted to show off baby Charles, so she came to MMC for a visit and I brought the Bird. The Lady Bird was quite taken by Cherry Mei and the little boy that was quite squishy to touch. :) I was amazed at how HUGE Charles was at 3 months compared to Promise at almost 8 months! Check that out!

So, as you can see, I have a camera. FINALLY. Tim brought one back for me on his trip to now I can document life and bless my patients with pictures! They LOVE getting pictures because so few of them own a camera.

In other news, as Tim shared last post, the Bird and I are doing a lot better in the health department. The Bird still has a bit of a cough that we are watching closely and she's teething... BAD, so she's rather fussy and feverish...but healthy nonetheless. As for me, the dizzy spells are not as frequent and my cough is mainly in the morning and late at night....Praise God! 

And today, I turned in my assignment...ON TIME and completed an exam. Only two assignments left until I complete the academic portion of my training.....the end is near. My classmates are starting to get the "short-timers" mentality and getting giddy just thinking about May 11th (the day our numbers and final assignment are due). 

Tim is continuing to have meetings...non-stop...for the water's spreading like wild fire and God is constantly opening up new avenues for the poor to receive the filters. He even got to bring the Bird with him on a few casual meetings this week. Apparently, she was quite a hit and he even received some babysitting offers. Don't think we'll take them up on it, but it's nice to know she's behaved enough to get them!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for the prayers and be blessed.
PS. We are hoping to head back to the west for furlough June-August, we'd like to visit as many people as possible, but may have to invite ya'll over for dessert....please let us know if you'd like to be included!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Timmybomb vs. The Pop-up Flash

I have nothing to say. This is just an excuse to show you some new pics of Promise that I took over the weekend. But since I'm here, I'll give you a very brief update. I'm not sure where we left off. Bethany is now healthy, though she is still battling dizzy spells. The Bird is coughing a bit, but otherwise she is fine too. And still very cute.

Bethany is gonna work her tuchas off for the next two days, in hopes that she can finish this assignment in time. Not bad considering that nasty viral thing knocked her out for such a long time. For the record, I never really doubted she would finish on time, but this time around I didn't say anything because she was too sick to argue with.

My piano is broken. The power connection is wonky. It cut out during our rehearsal on Sunday morning, about 30 minutes before the service started. Thankfully, we have a very flexible worship team. Without the piano, we all shuffled instruments and it worked out just fine. I switched to acoustic guitar, while Pete moved from guitar to drums. AJ moved from drums to bass, and Peter put down the bass and picked up the electric guitar. Pete was supposed to be doing most of the worship leading, but with him on drums, it was left to me. First time I've led a worship service on the guitar in a very long time. The Lord was gracious, and it went quite well. Actually, it was a nice change.

Yesterday I went to take my piano to the local Yamaha music store. I thought I knew exactly where it was. But somehow I missed it and ended up driving through terrible traffic for an hour, with nothing to show for it. Came home feeling defeated and stupid, because I know I must have driven right past it. I was probably texting somebody on my phone when I passed it. My phone beeps non-stop these days.

Ok, that's enough of an update. I gotta go to a meeting now, so I'll just show you the new pics. I was experimenting with some new lighting techniques. For those who are curious (unklrbrt and Heidi), I placed my flash off camera to the left, and bounced it off some white card stock. I've finally figured out how to use my built-in flash as a trigger without it contributing to the exposure, thus eliminating unpleasantly harsh shadows. How did I do this? Very high tech—I taped a peice of paper over it!


Oh, and Happy Easter and all those niceties.

Monday, April 6, 2009

a “triumphal entry”

Happy Palm Sunday, everyone. I hope the day has been meaningful and memorable for all of you. It certainly has for me. This morning at 4 am, Tim and I were awakened by a very feverish baby girl. Coughing and throwing up, Promise was crying a weak, pathetic whine. Her fever was 103.8 and we immediately went into survival mode....cold wash rags, paracetamol, breastmilk...and we blasted the air con. After a few hours of crying and praying, she fell asleep....I did not.

Between the dizziness and nausea caused by my ear ache and the brooding concern for the Lady Bird, I was unable to relax. I was angry. Fed up. Furious. At God. At myself.

I got up and found my brother online. I needed someone to set me remind me of what’s truly going on under the surface and what truly matters. Faced with the overwhelming fear of losing Promise, not finishing schoolwork on time, getting behind and not seeing my patients I promised to visit, I felt like a total disappointment. My brother was kind enough to point out that God is still good in it. In it all. This wasn’t helping my mood. I already knew that, but my brother didn’t know that all of this was my fault. I just felt like my sin had brought this on lack of time with God....allowing fear to take hold....not praying just had to be my fault....God was trying to prove a point....or get me to “draw close” to Him in my distress.....WRONG-O.

He shared that though God preordained us to suffer through this crazy bout of sickness, God was weeping for us, too. Like Jesus who wept over Jerusalem though their unbelief was part of God’s ultimate and good plan, the Lord was weeping because it hurt. Because He feels. Yes, He could fix it in an instance and I don’t know why He hasn’t, but I know that He loves Promise more than me, so I have to just trust His plan.

He also reminded me of Hannah...who prayed and prayed for a child and God gave her one, but instead of her hoarding that child, she gave him up to the service of the Lord only seeing him once a year.

To be honest, this wasn’t really helping. But it did confirm once again, that Promise is HIS and He’s just loaned her to me for the time being. This conversation led to another. My difficulty in accepting God’s deep-felt responsibility to be ‘good’, do ‘good’ and speak ‘good’....the constant feeling that I have been disappointing God. Feeling as though I caused or somehow deserved this season of sickness and fear. Now some of you would say, “Oh Bethany....look at your life, you’re doing so much, God is proud of you!” Yeah, but you don’t see the internal workings of a very sinful person. Not too sinful for God, but definitely disappointing. Funny how suffering brings out your best.

One skype sentence led to another and I came face to face with His grace. My brother is a good preacher, a good pastor, and a good encourager. I just (subconsciously) thought that I would someday reach a level of maturity that I would no longer need God’s grace or at least not a lot of it. Ha ha ha. I knew I wasn’t there, yet, but I was trying so hard to attain it. It doesn’t exist...yeah, I know this, I really do. My brother just reminded me of it.

So here I sit. Too tired and weak to work, too weepy to leave Promise’s side....I feel frail and in a daze....and yet, I feel a sense of peace and relief that I don’t have to be any other way right now.

Soon after my brother’s skype sermon, a friend of mine from the clinic came by with food for dinner and something enormously meaningful. Julie is from my homestate of Oregon and I actually went to grade school with her younger sister. When she came to Mercy, I felt a camaraderie with her as we have so much in common. She has been a great source of fun and friendship to me and in passing one day many months ago, I noticed she was wearing a particular scent....a scent that smelled like the special shampoo from the Body Shop that I used when I was in high school....Dewberry. When I was in high school, I got to spend my lame minimum wage on frivolous items like yummy smelling expensive shampoo from the Body Shop. Mmmm. I commented that I recognized the scent and that it had been my favorite growing up. I asked her if it was the coveted discontinued Body Shop Dewberry scent and she said that she’d had it for years and yeah, it was the special stuff. It made me smile. That was the end of it.

Along with my meal from Julie and the gals at the green house, was a perfume bottle from the Body Shop. Dewberry. And to be honest, after the morning I’d had with my brother on skype and the last 4 months battling sickness, I knew this precious perfume oil was from Jesus. Julie was the obedient vessel, but the oil was from my Lord. When I should have been the one adorning my Saviour with precious perfumes and oils on the day of His Entry, He came to me. When I should’ve been preparing for His triumphal entry with my life laid down and singing hosannas, He met me in my weariness and adorned me with the oil of gladness...or Dewberry.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragements. They are huge.
Be blessed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Date Day

I’m going to give you a very quick update. It will be brief because our internet has been intermittent of late, and because I’m tired and don’t feel like writing. Was that too honest? Does it offend you that I don’t want to talk to you right now? Well, don’t take it personally. Who am I talking to? Oh brother, I’m tired.

I’ll begin by telling you what you may already know. Bethany has been sick this week. Very sick. She spiked a fever a few nights ago that was worthy of a prize. She peaked out at 104.9 (or 40.5 for the centigrade gang), which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “My wife is hot”. A day or two after the fever made it’s debut, it was accompanied by a severe earache. I took her to the hospital last night while our friend Julie came to be with Promise.

I was pretty impressed with the emergency room staff—lightening fast compared to Canada. Bethany had a bed almost immediately, and it wasn’t long before the doctor was with her. They did some blood work to rule out dengue fever and told her it was likely a viral infection. They gave her some powerful meds for the pain in her ear and some paracetemol to reduce the fever. They also prescribed some drops to help with the earache. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a new symptom presented itself. Bethany was bleeding from the ear! They called in a different doc who cleaned up her ear with some swabs and told her that it had stopped bleeding and would be fine. The bleeding had started again by the time we got home.

Saturdays are our date day. Instead of our traditional “Tim gets spanked at Scrabble” date, we opted for the classic “drive back and forth between two hospitals just because you can” date. We first went to the hospital that we visited last night in order to get some more blood work done to further rule out dengue. Once they had drawn the blood, we hurried over to a different hospital where the Ear Nose and Throat doctor is. Bethany made an “appointment” while I drove around the block three times talking to my Mother in Nicaragua on the phone while looking for a parking spot. I gave up on finding a parking spot and picked Bethany up on my third time past the hospital.

We then drove back to the first hospital, where we collected the lab results, which certainly seemed to indicate that dengue was unlikely. I attempted to ask the emergency room staff if they could shed any light on Bethany’s condition. That was when we learned that their was no doctor on staff. They directed us to the clinic down the hall, which was also lacking a doctor. Awesome. I was falling out of love with this hospital.

So back to hospital number two, where I double parked while Bethany sat in a noisy hall with screaming kids, waiting her turn to see the ear doctor. I would have loved to stay and hang with her in that most peaceful environment, but after a few minutes we realized that we were almost out of money. All these doctor’s consultations, labs, and prescriptions had me losing money faster than Paso at a slot machine.

I went to the bank while Bethany waited an hour an half to see the doc. My bank trip was a big waste of time, because they couldn’t do my particular type of transaction on a Saturday. Fabulous. Back to the hospital in time to catch the last few minutes of Bethany’s consult. The doctor says that the bleeding is due to the high fever which caused the blood vessels in her ear to burst. Bethany shows him the drops that were prescribed at the other hospital. He attempts to hide his dismay and calmly suggests that those particular drops are more likely to cause increased bleeding and kindly provides a free sample of the correct medicine. Now my love for that other hospital has completely vanished—lightening fast suddenly seems less important that competent.

The ear doctor also prescribed an antibiotic and some different pain medication. I took Bethany home, and then headed out again to get cash from a bank machine. The bank machine told me I had insufficient funds. Liar. So I returned home in a huff, confirmed online that I had plenty of funds, got the Bird to sleep, and left Bethany to nap while I tried a different bank machine. Second bank machine was much more forgiving, providing me with the means to buy the last batch of medicine, which cost me about $40.

Within an hour or two of purchasing the antibiotics, Bethany had figured out that they were not to be taken if breast feeding. Fantastic. So $40 spent on meds she wasn’t allowed to take. Way to go doc. Bethany dug the tomato stained receipt from the trash in hopes that yours truly could return the medicine. I’m gonna feel very silly at the pharmacy tomorrow. Sigh...

Ok, so the bottom line is as follows. Bethany had a really high fever which has since subsided. She had an excruciating earache which has succumbed to the awesome powers of the almighty pain killer. She is feeling very worn down and exhausted, and concerned about her school work which sits unattended on the kitchen table. She has already missed work once and will miss it again on Tuesday.

Please be praying for a full recovery. But also, I would ask that you pray for encouragement. Bethany has faced several health challenges in the last year, and she’s pretty tired of it. She’s on the home stretch with school (only 2 more months to go!) and she doesn’t want to fall behind now.

Oh, and I’ve got to fly to Manila for two days next week. Before you get all cranky with me, telling me this is no time to leave my wife alone with the baby, let me explain. Promise needs a passport to leave the country. We’re going to get her a Canadian passport because the Americans are making it difficult to acquire one for now. But in order to get the kid a passport, one must first have a birth certificate. Apparently her birth certificate was lost on the 3rd floor of the National Statistics Office in Manila. I’m going to find it. Well, truth be told, they say they have found it and that it is ready for pick up. I’m calling their bluff. The Canadians will take two months to process the citizenship papers and the passport application. If they don’t get started in the next week, then our planned departure in June goes out the window (or down the toilet if your into the more graphic of metaphors). I will arrive in Manila, spend two days going back and forth between the Canadian embassy and the NSO on the metro, and hopefully leave feeling confident that we will have that passport by early June. (Those of you who are wondering why it will take me two days have never been to the Philippines.)

So, I’m leaving my sick wife here in Davao with the Bird in order to make her dream come true of a June departure from a country that at this moment in time has her feeling a little exasperated. Got a problem with that? Didn’t think so. I’ve asked several of the other students to keep an eye on her and help out while I’m gone, and I’m confident they will take good care of her.

So this week's date day was a bit of a bust. I think next week I will choose the "Tim is really good at backgammon and wants the world to know it" date.

Well, so much for being brief. I guess even when I’m grumpy I’m long winded. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Thanks for your prayers.