Posts Tagged ‘miscarriage’

Comin’ home

From the moment Ian and I committed to coming to Kenya we knew that we’d be short-term missionary-type folk, staying until summer 2010, which is now upon us.

There were SOOO many pieces that were brought together in this crazy adventure puzzle that it was IMPOSSIBLE for me and Ian to deny that coming to Kenya was something we were supposed to do.  We’d toyed with the idea of overseas missions when we were first married, but then grad school, and work, and kids came along and that was that.  And when the inklings of Kenya started to come up, believe you me, I worked pretty hard to find EVERY excuse on why it wouldn’t work for our family:

We had a great house & house payment.  🙂

I loved my job.

Ian loved his job & it provided well for our family & he wanted to advance.

We had kids aged 2 & 3 years.

I was pregnant.

We had dogs.

We liked seeing our family.

We were “settled”.

I got diagnosed with CANCER a week before we we’re scheduled to fly out. 

I didn’t want to be a “missionary” and “preach it” to people in the traditional sense.

We loved our amazing group of friends.

It was too much  work to figure out how to pack everything up to move to a foreign county.

But, you know what?  God has some amazing ways of working through the excuses, if you stop for a moment and let him.  Why do we think decisions or changes like this in our lives will be easy?  Imagine the disciples as Jesus called them to follow him.  They had jobs.  They had families.  They were going into the unknown & uncomfortable.  I can’t imagine that the prospect of leaving the comfortable seemed appealing and lucrative to any of them.

Our society has done us a great disservice in convincing us that we deserve to be comfortable and secure all of the time.  In being so, we miss out on the amazing adventure and blessings that can await us.  I wish that I could relay to all of  you what an incredible experience this has been…..to convince each and every one of you that you too could do this.  Do you really have any excuses better than the ones listed above?  Do you know that we have experienced death, disease, sabotage, physical attack, hatred, fear and all of the other weapons that Satan uses to discourage…..and in the face of those things we have had the wonder to experience birth, joy, mercy, compassion, protection, awareness, beauty, friendship, and stewardship?

In August 2008, on Ian’s birthday & the day that we found out we would miscarry what would have been our 3rd baby, Orphans Overseas unknowingly called to talk about this position with us.  Remember how I had come up with every excuse of why we couldn’t come here?   Being pregnant was my ticket to not “having” to listen to our calling.   And God, in his wisdom, knowing that I need blows to the head to listen, timed that loss with an open door….all on the same day.

So, we committed then to coming here to Thika until summer 2010 (NOW!) with the goal of getting Karibu Centre and it’s programs up and running.  And, today I can say that we have been more than successful despite huge obstacles here.  I can also say that if God had given me another  “blow to the head” saying that we needed to stay longer, that we would have listened to that too.  But, he hasn’t, and we feel confident in our original plan to return home and make way for the next phase of Karibu Centre.  I can not wait to watch how things progress here and to see the ways this amazing program will continue to impact everyone involved.  I am also excited for those who will follow us and how they will be forever changed simply by being willing to leave the comfortable and come here to partner with the staff, residents, children and community.  I am also so grateful we took the chance, followed our hearts, and now will carry this experience deep within us for the rest of our lives. 

We’re on our countdown to comin’ home & I can’t wait to share with you over the next 2 weeks some of our favorite things about this experience.

17 Days until we hop on that plane!  Please pray for this transition for our family and for Karibu Centre, we have grown to love the people we live among and leaving will be tough!

 

 

 

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The morgue

If you’re a facebooker and follow the Karibu Centre posts or see my status updates then you will know that on Monday we got the devastating news that one of our vulnerable pregnant moms had a nonviable baby.

She was 40 weeks when she got the diagnosis, a day away from her estimated due date.  She had felt the baby moving just 2 days previous and had pains like her body was preparing for labor.

After 2 full days of being poked, prodded, and taking a variety of medications to induce labor, she delivered a baby boy this morning.  Stillborn. 

The doctor called our house and let us know.

I went first thing in the morning with Naomi, our housemother who watches after the girls.  Our girl was sitting on a  bed with another women and her baby, in the room where women go after delivering.

Can you imagine?  You’ve just finally delivered a stilborn baby after 48 hours of finding out, and then you are expected to “recover” in a room of about 15 women and their newborns.  Torture.

I asked the mom if she had a chance to  see or hold the baby.  She replied, “No, I was too scared” which isn’t surprising considering that in most hospitals in Kenya a woman labors alone and is told very little of what is going on.

I asked if she might like to  see the baby, if we were with her.  “Yes,” she replied.

The housemother and I went to the nursing staff (4 employees sitting at a desk in the hall chatting like it was happy hour at a bar) and inquired if we might see the baby.  “It’s in the nursery” they asked.  “Uh, no……it’s dead,” I replied.  Seriously, I have to say these kinds of things????  Thank God the mom wasn’t standing there with us.   They looked back at me with this look on their face that read CRAZY WOMAN and said, “You want to SEE it?”  

“YES!” 

Now I guess that it might seem strange to someone, but my reasoning was twofold.  One, you never know what goes on in these kinds of places and I wanted to see with my own two eyes the condition of the baby and that it was actually deceased.  Two, this mother had carried this baby for 40 weeks and it seemed pretty reasonable that she might hold it or at least look at it if she chose.  That whole bit about acknowledging grief and what an incredible loss this had been for her.

We (myself, housemother and mother of the baby) went to locate the morgue where they said the baby had been taken.  We were stopped by the man in charge who indicated that it was much too busy currently with people picking up bodies for funerals.  I thought, “Really?  She can’t take a minute to say goodbye to her baby?”  

I really didn’t understand what was going on, although I should have read between the lines.  The housemother walked the mother and I back towards the maternity ward and we left the mother to go check on another girl that we had brought to the clinic for her well-baby check up.   The housemother and I walked towards the van, but then she veered off on the entrance road like she was leaving the hospital.

She looked back at me as I was going towards the van and the well-baby clinic and motioned for me to come with her.   “What are you doing,”  I asked.   “The doctor is meeting us” she replied, and proceeded to walk outside of the hospital grounds to one of the main roads.  We walked a short distance on the dirt shoulder of the road, passing  the line of matatus that were waiting to pick passengers up.  And then I realized we were going to the public entrance of the morgue.  We came to an opening in the hedge, and the opening to the morgue, and there I saw a huge gathering of people.  All waiting to view and possibly pick up their deceased for burial.  It was quite a sight.  I imagine for them too.  When have they ever seen a white chick at the morgue with her tiny baby strapped onto her chest Kenyan style?

The housemother and I went inside and she said a few words to the man we had seen earlier who had said it was “too busy” for us.  Ahhhh, I thought.  I got it then.  He didn’t want the mother with us.  The man proceeded to speak to the housemother in Swahili, speaking fast enough and with difficult enough words that I couldn’t understand what he was saying….but his tone and body language sad enough.  He was annoyed and mad that we were bothering him.

The housemother came out and told me that we couldn’t see the baby because it was piled together with other ones in a bag.  I shrank back from her in horror.  “In a bag?”   “Who put them all in a bag?”   The housemother didn’t know and so I said we were going back in there to ask.

We went back into the “office” of the morgue where there was barely room for 4 people to stand.  The man must have heard me and understood me because he said, “Ask your question.”   I didn’t hear him at first, or realize that he was speaking to me so he repeated himself, quite forcefully.

I asked who had put the babies all together in a bag?  The doctors?  Nurses?  Him?

Now that I think about it, he didn’t really answer that question but just said, “You can dig through and find the baby.”  I thought he meant right then, so I started to follow him into the next room where I assumed the bodies were, and he turned around, pointed at me and yelled, “Not with her!”

Ok, he had a point.

I went outside and waited with the 30 or so Kenyans and took Ameena off of me in preparation for going inside.  I handed her to our housemom Naomi with the awareness that everyone was watching me as I did so.

And then the man opened the door to the office, and the double louvered blue doors to the morgue “room” and the people formed a line and walked through  the office door, through the morgue room and back out.  They didn’t pause or look at anything that I could tell, they just passed through and were done.

One wooden coffin was brought out by a funeral company and placed in a van.  I’m not sure what happens with the other bodies…if they remain or if they are collected later.

And then the man closed the double louvered doors to the morgue room.  A few seconds later he appeared at the open door to the office and yelled in my direction.  I assumed that meant I should go in.  It did.

He led me into that morgue room which must have been about 10×10 feet in size with a medium table in the middle, a cabinet against the wall, a dirty bucket of water on a much dirtier floor.  There was an adult body under the sheet behind me on a stretcher and another in the corner uncovered that I didn’t linger on.

Then the man went to a bright yellow plastic bag (about a 30 gallon one) and told me to look for the baby. 

“That’s full of babies?”

“Yes.”

“How many babies?”

He shrugged.  He was so nonchalant I almost couldn’t handle it.  But then again, this was his job, and this was everyday for him.  “Maybe twenty,” he responded after a moment.

Suddenly another man appeared, and he opened the bag and started bringing babies out.  My eyes welled up with tears and I covered my nose to avoid the smell that was permeating the entire room.

The babies were each wrapped in the lassos or kangas that the mothers had brought with them to the hospital.  The kangas are used before delivery as a cover-up for the mother, at delivery to wrap the baby, and afterwards as a cover for the mother when they are going to shower or nurse.   In this case, they remained with the baby after delivery.   Each baby was swaddled completely in the kanga, and was labeled on their torso and on the wrap with a piece of tape indicating the name of the mother, the date of delivery, and where the delivery had occurred. 

I asked if all of these babies were from the hospital today.  The men replied no, that they were kept together for disposal.  I cringe even typing that word, but that is the word I heard over, and over, and over today.

The 2nd man continued to pull babies from the bag.  Tiny, tiny babies and also what appeared to be full term babies.  One label read “home delivery”.  I began to cry over the sight of each of those babies all stacked on each other in a bag as they were.  Would we really find the baby?  We were nearing the bottom of the bag and I was getting pretty nervous when the man finally pulled a little bundle out labeled with the name of  our mother.

“That’s it” I told him.

He read the name to confirm.  “Yes, that’s it.”  I asked if he could open up the wrap so I could see the baby.  He looked at me as if to say, “Really?”   I nodded.

He opened the wrap and there inside was a little boy.  Perfectly formed.  Tiny, tiny, his face a miniature version of his mother. Still covered in lanugo and blood from birth.  I asked the man to wash the baby off as I wanted to take a picture in the event that the mother wanted to see what the baby looked like.   There was no way we could possibly bring her into this place to experience this.  I wouldn’t and won’t tell her what it was like.

The man washed the baby with water from the bucket I had seen against the wall.  I wanted to tell him to be gentle, but I didn’t.  I wanted to  take that dirty cloth from his hand and bathe the baby myself.  But I didn’t.  I couldn’t do anything. 

 I took 2 pictures.   

He asked if they should preserve the baby.   I said, “Yes.”  

And that was it.  We walked out of the morgue, and then I realized that Naomi had been with me, inside that room, without Ameena.  I had a frantic moment where I was searching for who she might have given Ameena to, and then I saw an old woman sitting on the cement edge of a large flower bed, holding Ameena covered in the kanga I had used earlier as a sling to hold her in.   I went to the woman, collected Ameena,  and then Naomi and I left the dirt lot of the morgue and walked back to the hospital.

I then proceeded to collect the birth notice which indicated that the baby was born dead.  Fortunately I knew exactly the form  to get as I spent 2 full weeks fussing for Ameena’s birth notice in order to get her Kenyan birth certificate that was needed for US documents.   The birth notice would be required of us  in order to obtain a burial plot from the municipal council.

We returned to the young mother and told her that we had seen the baby and all discussed arrangements.  Almost everyone here seems to prefer she forget about it, leave the baby at the hospital for disposal, and pretty much sweep the whole experience under the rug.  She would have been pushed to do just that by everyone involved and likely discouraged from anything we consider normal grieving.  I have demanded that we allow her to make the choice about what to do.  I have made certain that she understands we will arrange for whatever she wants so that she can be allowed a healthy grieving process.  She wishes to bury the baby.   The young mother indicated that she couldn’t bear to think of her baby being “thrown away in the trash.”   I don’t disagree with her choice one bit.  I’m proud of this young mother’s strength and thankful that we can help her voice be heard and wishes respected. 

I’m thankful that I was the one who went to the morgue, and saw that sight of the babies in the bag, and not this mother.  I’m thankful that when and if she sees her little boy, he will be clean and wrapped neatly in a beautiful soft blanket inside a beautiful coffin.  That her first and last visual memory of him will be him resting  peacefully…just as I know his soul is.

I am thankful that we have been here at Karibu Centre and that we have helped so many women have safe and successful pregnancies.  I am thankful that this young mother will have a funeral for her baby surrounded by loving staff and fellow young mothers.  I am thankful for the prayers of comfort and peace that have been prayed for us all this week.

And another baby.

Ok, I guess that was a little mean to post the last blog about a baby and not mention any news of our own.

You know, we just lost this last baby the last week of July.  That is only 2 months ago.  That was our second loss in just under a year.  It was a hard thing for me to stomach simply because I had carried and borne 2 wonderful children with little to no problems and couldn’t understand why this was happening.

I was waiting and waiting after the miscarriage for a return to “normalcy” (I’m trying to spare you male readers the details) and it just didn’t happen.

So, after 3 weeks of feeling horrible and thinking that I had the worldest longest flu or malaria (which I am sure I did have the flu a bit) I finally took a pregnancy test as a last ditch effort.  Those lines were immediate.  That never happens with me!

I was a bit in shock, and very hesitant to say anything.  I needed a follow-up with my doctor to figure out why the miscarriages were happening, so I made an appointment.  Imagine her surprise when I informed her that we probably shouldn’t run all of the tests she was hoping to run cause I might just be pregnant.  I think her jaw dropped a little before the smile spread over her face and she said something like, “Well, well?”

She took me down right then for an ultrasound and sure enough there was a baby.  A heartbeat even.  But a baby that looked too small for her calculations.  She told me that either it was just a late “arrival” or that there was something wrong and that the baby was not growing.  My heart sank.  Not again I thought.

She decided that I would need an ultrasound in 2 weeks, at which time, the fetus would be measured for 2 weeks of growth, or the likelihood that the pregnancy was not viable.

SO, for those 12 days up until yesterday I have had this heaviness over me.  Of course I trust that God knows my desires for another child, but still, it does not ease the fact that those were the longest days filled with waiting, and searching, and prayers from a few faithful prayer warrior friends of mine.

And then yesterday, my ultrasound.

It started out quite oddly because after I put my gown on and went to empty my bladder, the door to the bathroom (inside the exam  room mind you) was locked.  I looked with a quizzical look at the technician and nurse.  They gave me the same look back and mouthed, “Is someone in there?”  I shrugged.  How should I know??

And there was someone in there!!!  An older haggard looking Indian woman peeked her head out, asked for some tissue and then locked herself back in the bathroom for another eternity (it was really like 8 minutes).  And then, as suddenly as it started, she came out looking all fresh and coiffed.  We were all flabbergasted as the entire exam had been waiting on this woman leaving so I could go to the bathroom.  She didn’t even exchange words with any of us.  Just walked out.  So strange and WEIRD!!!

So finally, with an empty bladder, the exam began, and immediately, there was this big ol fetus up on the screen.  Way bigger than before  and way bigger than 2 weeks growth.   Turns out the baby was right on track for where it should have been before.  No explanation for the 4 weeks growth in 2 weeks, other than the hand of God.  There is was, a healthy 9week old fetus with a crazy strong heartbeat and everything looking strong and intact.

I wanted to cry.  But I didn’t.  But I did allow the fear to dissipate and excitement to enter my mind and heart over this new addition to our lives.   As if our lives weren’t crazy enough, Yes, the May family is going to go and have a baby in Kenya.   Join with us in praying over this little one in the next 7 months and for everything to go easily and smoothly.

We’re looking forward to our Kenyan baby arriving right around May 8th.  Poor Eli, I don’t think it’s quite the birthday present he imagined!!

Oh, and for the humor portion of this blog:

Lucy was present with dad and I in the ultrasound.  She wanted to know if the doctor was taking it out right then.  Ian said, “No it has to cook a while longer.”

Later, Lucy said, “Are we going to eat the baby then?”

Eli asked, “Is this baby going to die too?”  Bless his sweet spirit that understands so much more of this than Lucy.

Lucy informed me that she needs 2 baby sisters, “So we can all hold hands”.

Eli asked, “Does the baby come out your butt?”  To which I simply said no.  No further explanation provided at this point in time.

And then I made a quick escape and  I told them “Good night!”

Nothing like another Dr. visit…

Phew.

This should be it for a few weeks.  Who knew that I’d visit the hospital here 3 times in 2 weeks?

I had  a follow-up ultrasound for the miscarriage today and everything is healing fun (ah, Erika, you are right, that should say “fine”)!  I’ll see the doctor in a bit over a month for some blood work to try and figure things out.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, long distance hugs and prayers.

We love each and everyone of you that is on this journey with us!

From our encouraging Sunday

On Sunday we had a wonderful visit to the International Church…and as I had posted on Facebook, we all agreed:  A GREAT DAY

I think we all felt that our souls had been feed.

One of the songs that really spoke to me was the following by Matt Redman.  It spoke to me when I was pregnant and still speaks to me when I know we won’t be:

YOU NEVER LET GO

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know you are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

(Chorus:)
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

(Chorus)

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

(Chorus 2x’s)
© 2006 Sparrow

In retrospect

Today is 3/29/2009.  I sat in church this morning and the last song in the set was Blessed Be Your Name.  We don’t sing this song a great deal at our church, I can recall that we have sung it exactly 2 other times since Sunday, August 24, 2008.

Now before you go thinking I have a photographic memory, far from it and quite the opposite.

August 24th was 2 days after we had found out that we would miscarry our baby, and I was sitting in church, next to my dear pregnant friend Eve, when this song came on.

I admit, I had to sing the song through gritted teeth.  It did not easily come from my heart, but at the time, I knew that God was talking to me through it.

Today was the day that baby was to be born.  And, we sung this song in church.  I did not immediately connect that today was the actual due date of that dear baby, but I was taken immediately back to the way I felt 7 months ago when I heard that song.

My experience singing this song today was so different.

Less bitter, more thankful….still wishful  for what might have been and for what could be.  

God as always is so present in my day and speaks to me in such wonderful ways, even when I am not ready to hear it.

Blessed Be Your Name  by Matt Redman

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name when Im found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing You pour out Ill turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the suns shining down on me
When the worlds all as it should be
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though theres pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name