Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’


Today we celebrate one wonderful year of having Ameena in our lives.  

What a full year this last one has been. 

Being pregnant while living in Africa was interesting.  I felt healthy, but had more physical symptoms than with any of my other children.  Crazy high blood sugar that I monitored much less than I should have—seriously, you think they have glucose meters and testing strips there?  I think the chemist laughed me right out of his pharmacy when I asked about it.  About 4 months into the pregnancy my in-laws were kind enough to bring a meter and strips…and I rationed those babies out til almost a month before the baby was born.   I perfected a pretty good routine of walking a brisk path from our house to the Centre office, around the playground and back to the house…generally before I started dinner as darkness falls quickly and routinely every night there by 7pm.  On some evenings if my sugar was especially high I’d lay on the thin rug covering our concrete floor in the living room and do the “bicycle” like I was escaping town.  I’m sure it looked humorous, but it was pretty effectively in bringing the sugar levels down.

I also dealt with some horrid lower back pain which was in no way helped by the fact that we did all of the washing by hand until mid November.  Unlike our Kenyan househelp who would come twice a week and stoop to do the laundry, I happily seated myself on our little green plastic stool to dunk the clothes in and out of the bin.  The laundry (aka shower room) was my home for good parts of the day.  Sometimes I’d go to stand, and would cry out in pain……it seemed like the only relief would come from going into the child pose.  Many a Kenyan walked into our home in the evenings and found me there in the middle of the room practicing some good ol’ yoga.

I also suffered a great deal more nausea than usual.  This was not helped by the schizophrenic driving conditions we navigated on a daily basis.  One day, when driving with Megan into Nairobi I had to pull over to vomit on the side of the road.  We had just passed through a rural town and I carefully picked the pullover spot to ensure that it would be free from the usual roadside gawkers.  I got out of our car, crossed in front of the car to the side of the road and bent down to vomit.  Out of no where  a group of school kids appeared and in broken English began to ask questions like, “Why the muzungu vomit?”  “Muzungu vomit?!?”  “What wrong pretty lady?” as they pointed at me.  Megan yelled from the car for the kids to go away.  They were unphased.  I quickly signaled for her to take the wheel and climbed into the car hoping to escape their curious stares and prying questions.  A staff member at the Centre later informed me that Kenyan’s have all sorts of beliefs about white people:  1)  We never vomit   2) If we are in the sun too long, our skin might melt  3) We can get anyone into the US and so on.

Even my delivery with Ameena was interesting and so Kenyan.  I was pretty determined to not have to have an epidural during this delivery…I mean I was at a nice hospital, but crazy stuff happens in a 3rd world country and I didn’t want first hand experience.   Having had my first two babies in the US, I was used to nurses coming in and out, checking the vitals, seeing how “far along” things had progressed, bringing in ice chips, wiping down your forehead, fluffing the pillows, telling you what a great job you were doing.  Pretty high standards.  While I did get a visit from my doctor at 9 am, I had labored all morning mostly alone and had walked my room (not a delivery room) wondering when someone might come to check on me.  I parked myself on that labor ball and counted the floor tiles in my room.  There were a good 30 tiles that I could count through on every contraction.

Same position for about 5 hours….and all I could get on t.v. was the election of a new Prime Minister in England. Torture.

Ian finally arrived back from breakfast (it’s never an easy trip in Kenya) at about 10am and after one good look at me went for a nurse.  She came back and decided we better MOVE!  We barely got into that Labor and Delivery room, had me on the ball and in a position to see a good 30 tiles when DANG that pain ramped up.  I started to panic and asked if we might put that sweet bathtub to use.  I’d always wanted to try it during labor.  True to Kenya again, the nurse indicated that it would take a while to get some hot water into it. I was willing to wait.

My body wasn’t.  My water popped like a good summer water balloon.  Ian and I later cringed over the thought of that birthing ball rolling over to the corner of the room without a second look from staff.  Gross.
I really started to panic.  No hot bath.  Was there anything else I could have?!?  PLEASE?  You know that moment.
The nurse started babbling about laughing gas, but that we would need a fetal heart rate first.  She got me up onto the delivery table, strapped that monitor on my belly and started to fiddle with the machine.
At that moment, I went a little CRAZY.  The pain was insane.  I starting that horrible writhing around and ripped the belt off of me.  The nurse (Yes, only one) was a little taken aback by my behavior and decided to check me.  “Just 7 cm” she pronounced.  I wanted to kill her.  7 freaking centimeters?  Was she high?
She proceeded to get on her cell phone (nope, no landlines, not even in the hospital) to call my doctor on over…..and as she did, I think I made some vulgar comment about either having a major bodily function happen or I was having this baby. 
“NO!” everyone (ok the nurse and Ian) yelled.
“Whatever” I thought….and you know what?  I pushed that freaking (sorry Ameena) baby out as that darn nurse about had a stroke (trying to hold the phone and put on her dang gloves) while yelling out into the hall and Ian jumped to keep this surprise from dropping on the floor.  The nurse  recovered, and quickly grabbed her goo basin to put at the end of the table and took over for Ian in holding Ameena.  Poor Ian slumped and an additional nurse who had just walked in grabbed his arm and a paper bag for him to breathe into.  Poor  guy.  Too much blood, too much gross, too much baby–all way too fast.
Not enough doctor.  She sauntered in 10 minutes later to check everything out.   All I could think was, “Man, I still have to pay her delivery fee and she didn’t even deliver the baby!  But then again, it’s a good thing we don’t pay them for how long they “attend” or some of us would have some ridiculous bills!
With all that said, it has been quite a ride Ms. Ameena.  The first 3 months of your life in Kenya have made these last 9 months in the US pale in drama, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it.  You are everything God intended you to be for our family.  Without a doubt I can say that we all adore you and are thankful for the gift that you are to all of us. 
Baby, you were worth the wait.

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?”  


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?”


“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.

Perspective continued.

So, having seen this little baby with the dent in the head, I came home and did what any of you would have done.

I googled.

And, I didn’t really find much.   At that point, I was working under the assumption that this baby was born with a congenital defect that caused it to be missing a large chunk of the skull in the frontal lobe area.

Since the hospital had only done a physical examination, they had no idea what other conditions might be present.  At least the baby appeared stable and was nursing well.

I went back to the hospital (the impetus for my matatu adventure), checked on the mom, and the baby.  The nurses were concerned that the baby was not on 2nd line antibiotics.  I asked what the problem was, they said the mom (our former Centre girl) couldn’t afford the medication.   I asked for the prescription for the medication.

I went out and talked with Joyce and her boyfriend, both of them incredibly concerned over the mounting hospital bills and the fact that there was no possible way they could buy the medication for the baby.  I assured them that we would work it out and asked if they would be ok with the baby getting the antibiotics, they agreed, and off I went with Naomi from the Centre to get the antibiotics from town.

Since we had taken a matatu into town, we made our way the old fashioned way, on our own 2 feet.  We were successful with one of the medications at a  shop just across the street from the hospital (Thank God, my feet were swelling faster than a disposable diaper in a swimming pool), but the other required a further walk into Thika town.

We headed for a chemist (pharmacy) that I had visited before.  I’m in with the owner.  I had brought just enough money to cover 5 of 14  days of the prescription.  As we walked, I had some time for the enormity of this situation to sink in.

Here were 2 young parents of a new little baby, and what a desperate situation they were in.  Do you know how much the hospital bill cost that they were sweating over??  2500 shillings.  That’s about $35 dollars US.   A bed in the maternity ward of the District Hospital costs 200 bob (shillings) or $3 US per day.  Doesn’t that sound insane to any of us Americans?

When the doctor indicated that the cost of the antibiotics for the baby would cost about 600 bob per day, and that the baby would need the drugs for 14 days, I am so ashamed to say that I thought twice.  I thought to myself, for a few minutes, “Oh my, that is 8400 shillings”.  And folks that  is barely over a hundred dollars US.

How in the world could I hesitate for even a moment over a hundred dollars?  Ok, so we’re not rolling in dough over here, but a hundred dollars to possibly save a baby’s life?  And for that kind of decision to rest on me?  I felt humbled for ever questioning that I would spend this money on this baby, and a bit overwhelmed by the incredible amount of power (for lack of a better word) that has been given to me.  As we walked, I had that choking feeling in your throat that you get when you are trying REALLY hard not to cry.  I guess I have just never been so close to a situation where a baby’s life was held in such a balance….and yet that is how it is everyday here, for SO many  of these young women who find themselves pregnant and giving birth.

We arrived at the chemist.  My friend was there.  I told him what the meds were for.  He cut me an amazing discount and we discussed how it was hard NOT to help when it involved babies and children.  Adults were different.  I agreed.  Adults can be selfish, and annoying, and darn right criminal…but the babies?

We went back to the hospital, dropped off the medicine and left Joyce and the baby.

Fast forward 4 days when I got another call.  The hospital wanted to do a scan.  I traveled back to the hospital and met with the doctors.  They wanted to send the baby to a diagnostic centre to run a CT scan to check out the  baby’s brain.  Gulp.  “How much?”  I had to ask.  I’m the one paying. 

7,000 shillings (about $95).

Gulp, but this time, I just answered, “Whatever it takes.”

This hospital is a Level 5 hospital, so pretty sophisticated for a government hospital, but it doesn’t have a CT machine, so we would have to take the baby across town.  I asked the hospital to call ahead to see if we might get in this late in the day. 

And then we waited.  And went and bought diapers for the baby because although the parents had some clothes for him, they didn’t have diapers.  And then we had to buy an outfit (with a hat of course), and some socks, and a diaper cover.

And then back to the hospital where they inform me they have changed their mind again, and want to do a cranial ultrasound, which can be done in the hospital.

Ok.  So can we do that now?  Cause if the brain looks ok, then this mom and baby can go home!

So after much hemming and hawwing, us sitting around, them running around, they announce that the technician is gone for the day, so Joyce and the baby will have to remain ANOTHER day.

SIGH.  This is so Kenya.

Naomi and I drive home.  I feel good that the baby seems to be doing well, that it is receiving necessary meds, and that there might soon be an end in sight to this hospital  ordeal.

And wouldn’t you know it, I’m not even sitting on my butt on my sofa but 10 minutes and Naomi calls to say they are releasing Joyce and the baby from the hospital.

HUH??  Wasn’t I just  there?

And so it ended. 

Joyce, boyfriend, baby, boyfriends sister, boyfriends other sister, Naomi and I all drove home.  Past Karibu Centre, cause Joyce isn’t one of ours any more.  Right on to the slum

It was surreal to pull up like a taxi to drop someone off THERE.  In that kind of place.  But that is her reality, and this baby’s reality.  A slum without electricity or clean water.

Everyone piled out, and Naomi and I (and Ian cause we needed him to drive us through our road lake to the slum) drove home.

The end.

But not quite.

Joyce showed up the next day, to visit me.  With baby .

Here they are together:

Joyce with baby Aeralieo


Sweet baby boy


Such a sweet mellow baby.  The dent is his head is still there, covered always by a hat of some sort.  The good news is that the hospital agreed to do the cranial ultrasound outpatient, so Joyce will take him in this Monday for that.   And, there seems to be skull bone under the dent, so it is not missing entirely.   Hopefully we’ll get the scan done and some answers about the condition of his brain.  In the meantime, please pray for this mom and baby boy, he has pneumonia and we are working on getting him over that so he can be healthy despite everything else going on.

And so it goes here in Africa.  I feel like this is usual and  customary here, and  that life home in the US will never be viewed through the same lens again.

To put it all in perspective….

One of the things I really enjoy about being here at Karibu Centre is taking the women in to the hospital when they are going into labor.

It works out this way because only Ian and I are able to drive the  Centre van, and often, it just seems better to have me walking into the maternity ward at the district hospital (who’s gonna bother this seriously pregnant woman?) than the one white guy in town.  The staff at the hospital are familiar with me and the other Kenyan Centre staff that go there regularly (the house mom for the pregnant girls & our social worker) and they rarely give us problems if it is outside of visiting hours, or if we want to do something (like walk right into the labor ward) that everyone else is prohibited from doing.

Anyhow, a little over a week ago, I went through the normal routine of  taking one of our girls in to the hospital.  And she had a beautiful baby boy, with no complications, on Good Friday.

There was however a wrinkle in the wonderful day.  Another girl gave birth that same day, a wonderful young mom who lived at our Centre for a while, and then voluntarily left to go live in the slum next door with her boyfriend.  After a lot of conversations with staff, this young woman had decided that she preferred her freedom and living with the boyfriend over some of the benefits that could be afforded by living here at the Centre (good nutrition, vocational training, medical care etc). 

This mom gave birth to a wonderful baby boy.   With a malformed head.

Staff came and reported this to me, and couldn’t really explain the difficulty, so when we went to pick up our mom and her little one, I asked the hospital staff if I might see the baby.

These are the instances when I experience white privilege.  I’m not proud of this privilege that is afforded to me….for no reason other than the color of my skin or my perceived socioeconomic status.  But, I’m not gonna lie either, I take advantage of this privilege when it allows me to help out these young women and children.

The baby was being kept in the nursery (our equivalent would be ICU), and the nurse wanted to know what relation I was to the baby.  I explained that this young mom used to stay at our Centre, that she was on her own now, and would need help to give this baby medical treatment if it needed it, and that help was me.  I was let right in.  Unfortunately, money talks.

What I saw broke my heart.  A beautiful baby boy, seemingly perfect in every way except for the 3 inch diameter dent around the frontal lobe of his head.  When I questioned the nurse, she was adamant that it was a congenital defect and not birth related trauma.  She had me feel the dent, and true to what she said, I could not feel any skull there.    I thanked her for letting me see the baby, and she let me know that they would keep him there for about 4 more days to see if there were any other complications…and to take a xray.

I went back in to see the young mom, who was sitting on her bed (with the 3 other women who shared it) with her boyfriend next to her.  She is fortunate, there are so many young mothers here facing pregnancy and birth alone, without the monetary or emotional support of the baby’s father or family around.  I gave her a hug, assured her we would figure it all out, and told her what a beautiful boy she had.

As I walked out of the ward, with the usual crowd of very pregnant Kenyan women watching me (ok, gawking really), I had to wonder why of all the 12 or so mothers’ we’ve taken to the hospital, and who have all had routine healthy deliveries……why  the one mom who left before delivering had this complication?  Ian and I thought it over and decided that maybe in his wisdom, God was protecting the Centre from any possible liability, while allowing me to help this woman personally.  But we also know that God does not engineer tragedy, that it is a tool of Satan, and that we can be assured that God helps us work through the evil things of this world to bring glory to Him in the end.

So, with a heart laden with joy over the new healthy boy  and mom the Centre was bringing home, and sadness over the mom we were leaving at the hospital I came home to contemplate what our further involvement might look like.

Part 2 tomorrow.

The bag

I’ve been hunting on etsy for the perfect diaper bag.

I had the same bag for both Eli and Lucy and sold it at  a resale event in Portland before coming to Africa.  I think my line of reasoning went somewhere along the lines of “if I have another baby, it won’t be in Africa, and having another baby will probably happen after we return to the States, so that could be a while, so I better sell this.”    If I remember, I didn’t do so bad either when I resold that Petunia Pickle Bottom bag.

I’ve found a few bags on etsy that I really like.  But then I chicken out and don’t buy them because I run through my mind how much shipping to Africa will add (no, I don’t have one of those sweet embassy postal boxes that get me past the custom taxes added to packages coming into the county) and how long it might take for the bag to get here….and so on.

Then, today, I found it!

A bag that is functional, yet has just enough funk to suit my fancy and not SCREAM “Diaper Bag”!

I found it at Amani Ya Juu (see the link over on the right of this blog).

Here is a picture of it:

Kakuma Bag

 There are quite a few enterprising individuals here in Kenya that have made various items including purses that repurpose old rice sacks, coffee sacks and so on.  This purse, is named after the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya where many refugees fight to survive and provide for their families.  They receive food from relief agencies, including grains and sugars.  The women of Amani have incorporated these empty sacks into their product lines:  thus my diaper bag that is lined and embellished on the outside with parts of a Saudi Sugar bag.  I love that the handles and entire lining are made of this waterproof plastic material, and that it adds durability to it.

The best part?  The price.  I paid $15 US for it, buying it on the spot, the same day I saw it, because in Kenyan if you see it once, you  might never ever see it again….so BUY, BUY, BUY!   Much cheaper than the Etsy bags I’d been eyeing, very Kenyan, and NO shipping or customs taxes! 

It made my day.  If I admit it, there is a tiny bit of American consumer left in me yet.  But not much.

A bit dry

As I sit here getting ready to write my absolutely average thoughts….a mosquito buzzes my ear and I wave my hands in the air and jump up like a possessed woman being tasered.  Really, is there anything worse than that sound of a mosquito in your ear?  Perhaps the thought that it might HARBOR malaria and that I can’t take the medication cause I am preggo.  Or, backpacking into the Indian Heaven Wilderness area in Washington State in July when there are more mosquitos than I don’t know what….and those ones didn’t have the potential to inflict serious or lifelong dormant illness!  But then that backpacking adventure (the only one I have ever embarked on) is a story for another time.

What I was thinking of this evening is of my pregnancy adventures this week.  I had my 32 week check up with my OB/GYN in Nairobi, and everything is going fantastically.  We went from concern over a not growing uterus 2 weeks ago to a larger than expected uterus and a baby already weighing (by their estimates) 4 pounds.  I’m not to excited about it all cause there constantly seems to be  such a HUGE margin of error with these ultrasounds and much of what we consider modern technology.   My doctor kindly reminded me to keep off the sugar and to plug away at my diabetes diet. 

The funny part of the  appointment came when we were done with the physical examination and she felt the side of my belly and said, in a very serious & concerned tone,

“Have you been moisturizing???  Your skin seems quite dry!” 

I didn’t really know how to respond at first.  When has my OB/GYN or midwife (that’s what I’ve always had in the past) ever been so worried about A) stretch marks and B) the quantity of moisture present in my baby bump?  I finally  fumbled out some answer of how I had been using the special belly cream she so kindly prescribed in our first days of meeting, but that I simply hadn’t minded to moisturize that morning. 

And then I added, “I guess it doesn’t feel so dry to me, I’m used to it like this.”  And honestly folks, this skin is not dry!  But, I guess I’ll be one of those pregnant women who adds “moisturize” to the things that must be done before going in to an appointment/examination or labor. 

Come on, you women know what I’m talking about.  You are the same ones (like myself) who make sure you’ve got a pretty pedicure the week before your due date and gosh knows all of the other things we might get done in an attempt to “beautify” the process of birthing or examining or whatever.  Why else do people endure Brazilians??  Don’t answer that.  That too is another story, better left untold.

In other pregnant news, I was informed by the gate security at a popular Nairobi mall that I had been absent for some time.  This is while I waited in my car for them to check the boot (trunk) for explosives and my undercarriage for similar.  One looked at my preggo belly and said, “You’ve been gone a long time!”  Another added, “Your husband has been busy” and then the first added, “You are most definitely having twins!”.  Stop Already!  I  must consistently remind Kenyans in general that while I may look big compared to the average Kenyan with child,  compared to most Americans (and myself in previous pregnancies) I am small and proudly so!  I just smiled at the 2 security guards, assured them  it was not twins, but a lovely little girl and proceeded to the parking garage.

And so my pregnant week has gone.  Pretty darn good I’d say actually.

Baby bump

Some of you at home have been asking me to send you pictures of the bump known as little Miss May.

So, at 30 weeks, this is what she’s looking like.  Perspective and clothing can make a big difference in the “bump” looking small or huge in my opinion…the last shot making her look huge, but actually, this is the kind of view I get most of the time!

I am savoring each bit of this precious pregnancy, thankful for the gift that has been given to me after 2 that have been lost.

I think this is a "feel small" kind of outfit.....


Momma clothes as the market sellers call them....


the view for the kids most of the time....