Saturday, March 27, 2010
We recently had our "Bradley Class Reunion". "Bradley" is the birthing method Josh and I chose to follow. It is a 12 week program that walks you through more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-birth and preparing for baby. It was immensely helpful and I would highly recommend it to any expectant mothers out there looking to get ridiculously overly-educated about what the heck is going on with their body and their babies. We particularly chose it for its involvement of the father. In fact, the book that supplements the class is called "Husband Coached Childbirth"...and they aren't kidding. Just as Josh how exhausting it is to support someone through labor - I can attest to his superb skills, along with the relaxation techniques I learned, that kept me going through my nearly 15 hour unmedicated period of labor, with contractions coming every 2-4 minutes straight. (Roar, I am woman).
Ironically, though we spent hours and hours preparing for a natural labor, the only two students who could make the reunion ended up with c-sections! The class was small - only 3 couples - and 2 of us ended up in the OR, much to our chagrin. The other couple was able to have a homebirth with a midwife, so kudos to them and many congrats on the use of their Bradley-learned-skills put into practice! I was sad they weren't able to make the reunion, and our instructor was sick and unable to come as well...so, us c-sec gals got to finally catch up and compare notes...as well as meet each other's precious little bundles (now, nearly 5 months old!) It was awesome to see each other, now as parents, and literally look at the fruit of our labors laughing and playing with each other.
Now, here's what I have to say about childbirth. No, no, I'm not gonna get all graphic on you - no need for panic. What I mean is, in my journey to find the best method of preparation for bearing a child, I can pretty much sum up in this: educate yourself on everything, expect the unexpected, and enjoy the experience. I think these are all valid things you can actually choose to do...the rest is up to God, your baby, your body, and your doctors which are entirely unpredictable until you are in the midst of it.
It seems that there has never been a more open time for options in the world of birthing than there is today. There are women that schedule their c-sections months in advance to accomodate their (or their doctor's) schedules...and there are women having natural water births in the middle of their living rooms. There used to be no choices at all - the doctor would just tell you what to do. Then, "to get the epidural or not to get the epidural" was the question. Now, women are taking the decision-making into their own hands, dictating a "birthplan" to their doctors, midwives, doulas, and husbands as the authority over their own birth experience.
A lot of good has come from this movement. I'm a big supporter in educating yourself and becoming your own health advocate. I think there is a lot of wisdom in listening to your body and learning about what it is trying to tell you. I also think, however, that I'm no expert when it comes to medical emergencies. I know that birth is not a typical "emergency" and there is often no cause for alarm or stress...but, I also know that I would have had more stress if I stayed in an environment that was not equipped for the unknown. This is certainly a decision each woman has to make for herself (with great input from a supportive husband, I might add)! Simply put - there is no "one right way" to have a baby. That's just the truth.
I am all for the natural birth experience. I wanted it, I prepared for it, and ultimately I had it for several hours. I'm also thankful for the time we spent educating ourselves on the various scenarios that might arise during labor. It saddens me that several mothers I've talked to look back on their birth experience with regret or disappointment instead of the wonder and joy they hoped for. I've had several different reactions to my having a c-section, ranging from "they are the best way to go" to "it's too bad you gave in" to looks of horror or pity. I haven't been surprised. The road to childbirth is paved with all kinds of criticism. It truly can bring out the best and the worst in some women. I tried to remain level headed throughout my pregnancy - always hoping and preparing for the best scenario while educating myself about the various crossroads of decisions I might (and did) have to face.
After 15 hours of unmedicated labor, 4 more hours of labor on pitocin with an epidural, and then a c-section after failure to progress...I couldn't be happier with my 3-versions-of-labor-in-one experience. Here's the main reason why: I decided long before my water broke that it was going to be a beautiful day.
Did every little step along the way go perfectly as I would have liked? Of course not. And I wouldn't have had it any other way. I embraced the drama from the beginning - from the excitement of the water breaking just like it does in the movies (turns out sometimes it DOES happen that way!) to the tearful and prayerful decision to go forth with the c-section...it all led to the perfect ending: meeting my daughter.
If I had one piece of unsolicited advice to pass along to future mothers, it's to remember this: As long as you go home with a healthy baby that's yours...your birth was a success!
I kept that mindset from the begining and handed the rest of the stress (which I had no control over anyway) to God. He knew exactly how Matilda was supposed to arrive, and He was with us every single step of the way as we approached 5:03pm on that Sunday evening we finally met her. Now, who could ask for a better day than that?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tonight, i would say, was one of the most significant nights of my life. I wanted to find a way to honor these women. Most of them are living here at their work..in tents with the orphans. The reason? Because their houses were destroyed in the earthquake. They work around the clock because day after day they are finding children in the rubble. They have had an 80% increase in children in 2010.
Here's the beauty...
They LOVE the kids so well. In the tent where so many infants lay one beside the other....it's soo hot. And when one is finished crying another begins. It's a recipe for tempers and impatience to brew. But not these women. At each cry, they take the crying baby, feed the baby, and read psalms over the baby. Then they move to the next. Meanwhile, other ladies are outside handwashing clothes, carrying buckets of water, making dinner for kids and for us, teaching the older children in a pre-school that is behind the orphanage, and i could go on and on with their demand of duties.Oh, and they make 5 bucks a day...they work 12 hours a day. They don't make much now because of how many orphans the orphanage is having to care for.
They are so steady. I can't explain it. They just love endlessly. The amazing thing too is about every hour they all gather in the middle of the yard and they sing hymns and they all pray out loud. I would have to say it is the most beautiful thing that has ever graced my ears. I wake up to them singing. I fall alseep to them singing. And I know that when a baby wakes me up at 2am, they are nursing it back to sleep.
So, I wanted to find a way to honor them. It's so easy to come here and go straight to the cute little kids and ignore the caretakers. The heart of The Oak Project is to honor those who are caring for others.
I approached the director and I told him I had a very American question to ask him. He laughed and I went on to ask if he knew of a pizza place around town where we could get pizza's for these ladies and give them tasty food and a night off of cooking and cleaning.
And guess what? Domino's is in Haiti! Today we went to the Domino's in Puert au Prince only to find it had collapsed during the quake. Pier (the pastor of the orphanage) assured me there was one on the mountain we could go to. So he, myself, melody and tracy set out on a mission. He shared a lot with us about Haiti and Haiti since the quake...i could write a book about what i've learned. But one of my favorite bits of information is that many of the ladies we were serving tonight had never had pizza. The poor live on rice and beans so this was going to be a treat.
We arrived back at the orphange and set it all up. We bought beautiful flowers at a street market for them. They were bright white and beautiful. We bought them each their own soda and tracy picked up some chips a hoy chocolate chip cookies just to top it off!
They all gathered together and before we served them we told them why we wanted to do this. I told them not to feel guilty...I know that they were thinking that money could have gone to something else or to others. But I reminded them of the story when the woman broke the expensive perfume at the feet of Jesus. The critics cried out that the perfume could have fed many of the poor...but Jesus made it clear that there is a time to be extravagant and crazy in our giving...and i told them that tonight this was the best way we could find to honor them. As I was giving my little pre-dinner talk I said to them, "You have amazed us. You love these children so well even with the deep grief you carry in your heart. I know that it is easy for groups to come in and only see the children, we want you to know that you are not invisible to us and you are the ones we see."
Just as those words came off of my lips, they ERUPTED in applause...screaming and shouting with joy. We were all in shock and in tears. They would not let go of their flowers. They held them tight even as they ate. After they ate, they began clapping and shouting and they grabbed us and we all shouted, danced and clapped together.
One of the women said, "kelly, kelly, come take my pictures and you can show everyone you know how happy i feel right now!"
One by one they would come to us with a translator and say to us that they are so thankful for what we have done. They would say that they would now pray that God blesses us for what we did for them.
Okay, you realize we're talking about pizza and some encouragement...right? I can't wait to show you guys the video.
Anyway, I feel very confirmed that these are the people God spoke to me about before I left for Haiti. Turns out, they've been praying for God to send an "esther" to be a voice for them in the states. I told the women and the pastor and his family.... that when I advocate for Haiti...they will be the Haiti I advocate for.
The Oak Moms are in love with the women and we are excited to see what God has planned for us as we begin walking in relationshihp with these wonderful people.
One of the ladies here is named Andrea. Tonight as we were dong the pizza thing another part of our team went to her local fellowship and took dinners to the families there. It was crazy when we went to the grocery store today to buy for these families. Each family can be fed for FOUR days and it only costs ten bucks. They get rice, beans, noodles, tuna, salt, coffee, creamer and a couple other items.
I wrote to you guys because you are leaders and I wanted to ask if you could tell people you know to go to www.theoakproject.com for the next 24 hours and donate 10 bucks and we will take that money direclty out and buy a family four days worth of food.
Tonight we had to turn away a lot of the families at andrea's church and we want to go back before we leave and be sure that those families are provided for.
There's so much more to tell.