Word from Haiti

Friday, July 30, 2010

Instead of posting my own story today, I'll be sharing a post that Kelly recently wrote straight from Haiti. Josh will be home in just a couple days! Thanks for your continued support and prayers.

From Kelly:

It’s one thing to hear about the medical situation in Haiti; it’s another to watch someone you love be held in it’s weak hands. I had to go into a bathroom for solitude to let out a big cry before we loaded Andrea into the van this morning. I hated seeing her hurt and I hated seeing her feel so powerless to find help.

Josh accompanied us for support, a guy named Brett drove and Duncans interpreted for us. Brett and Duncans were such imperative and beautiful servants.

Josh was awesome and he was so perfectly loving toward Andrea. I think my favorite moment with him so far was when he leaned over the seat and kissed her on the forehead. My heart was filled with joy to see his love for her run deeply.

Our friend Andrea had been suffering shortness of breath, had pains in her stomach, pains in her chest and extreme fatigue.

Today her condition worsened and we knew we needed to move on it.

Andrea laid across the seat of the van. I was in the floor holding her hand and Josh was behind helping hold her up in the seat as big bumps and the quick stops tossed her about. Josh and I, of course, made the occasional joke to help us through the situation. It did Andrea’s heart good to hear our laughter.

We finally arrived at the medical tent. It sat in the middle of all things poverty. Two different doctors gave us two different opinions. I was so concerned for her. How can we go from a potential heart attack to a terrible inner infection to an ulcer all in five minutes? Well, because there’s no way at this place to test her. No way to get a blood test. No way to get a heart test. No way to scope for an ulcer.

They tell us to go to another place but that she MUST finish another IV here but time COULD be of the essence. Josh suggested to take her IV with us and we did just that. So, we put her and her iv into the van and began to drive her to another location for a blood test and ekg. We had a post-it note referral and we were banking on it. The IV hurt her arm with every bump of the van because they had put it in kinda funky. Josh and I kinda wished out loud that we could google about IV’s and put it back in the right spot for her. I mean, we would have needed a good dose of steady hands and courage but it could have helped….maybe. ;)

We kept pouring water on her face very lightly to cool her off. Again, Josh made sure she didn’t fall off the seat…and I held her too. She kept winking at us to reassure our hearts and to thank us. Her smile was like the strength of the ocean’s tide. It amazed me. I also kept thinking about how easy it is in the states to get a blood test.

We continued to drive on the painful roads. We ended up on a strange dirt road full of tent cities and at the end you could see a cluster of white tents. That cluster is called the “hospital.” I imagined that i’d try to set up my tent near a hospital if I had to live in Haiti. I imagined it would give me a little hope to find help in a time of need…..until I saw the line.

Anyway, the line was LONG but luckily we had a post-it note referral. The welcome also became stronger for Andrea when they saw she was with Americans. On that note, let me just say that we have a great opportunity as Americans to advocate for the suffering…think on that.

Sadly, the post-it note referral did us more harm than good. They refused Andrea the tests because she had already “been to another doctor.” We tried to explain we were referred…we were trying hard to pretend that mattered. I tried to convince myself it mattered. I felt really passionate about the power of that post-it.

Another local friend of ours FiFi came down to help us talk to them. We were all feeling powerless and angry. Just as I was about to get crunk and use my violent american tongue to lash out at the impotent system all around me….the Father whispered to me to forgive.

Plant healthy seeds here, Kelly. Plant forgiveness and mercy into the atmosphere. Establish the beauty of my kingdom. Look at the sick ones around you and the doctors working tirelessly. Forgive.

I thank you, Spirit of God, for whispering to me and aborting the plan of of the enemy to plant more seeds of powerlessness, unforgiveness and anger into the spiritual culture here. Just as I took a deep breath and confessed my heart to Josh, things started getting clearer and adequate attention was granted to my dear friend, Andrea.

By God’s grace, we encountered a french doctor who was with Doctors without Borders. He examined her well and he felt strongly that she had a really bad ulcer and a urinary tract infection. He said that if her chest pain continued that she could come back, ask for him (dr francois) and he would do an EKG. He sent us away with antibiotics, ulcer medicine and hope.

The team gathered their spare cash together and we went to the grocery store to buy her food that does not have a lot of acid or salt. Now she has medicine, love, and good food to eat. Thank you, Father.

When we returned to our tent, Andrea asked for an interpreter to come in. She said, “I have no mother or sister here in Port au Prince. You have become both to me. You see me and you cared about my pain and now I have medicine. I wish I could give you something in return but all I have to give you is my heart.” I replied, “Andrea, we are friends and that is simply what friends do for one another.” Then, Andrea and I both looked up at Ladonna. She nodded her head in agreement and smiled a nurturing smile toward Andrea. We all silently agreed that family is supposed to take care of family and that we have become just that.

The truth is we were never powerless, unseen or alone. The beautiful Holy Spirit of our Father was guiding us, healing her and directing us to the right place amidst the chaos.

I Heart Haiti [part two]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well, the time has come - Josh leaves for Haiti in the morning! Well, I guess you could call it "morning" thought I will have to get up at about 4am and drag my poor baby from her crib to drive Josh to the airport. Four am is definitely the most ungodly of hours...though I will be thankful that there won't be any of that heinous L.A. traffic at that time.
So, he is Haiti-bound! It's been a whirlwind week making sure he is ready for his trip. Josh got all his shots this week and has been on malaria medication for two weeks already - prepping his body like he was playing a game of "worst case scenario". We've actually had two friends contract malaria on mission trips before - both of which prayed for death because of the extreme pain and agony it brought them...thankfully, by the grace of God, both friends were spared and healed, but it definitely makes you think twice as you see your husband down the giant pill that will hopefully protect him from coming home with a story like that (or being airlifted home as one of our friends had to be!) Yikes. This is serious stuff, folks! It is just amazing to me that it is so easy for us to go to the doctor and take the meds ahead of time, while diseases like malaria continue to ravage countries worldwide.
Josh will be bringing one ginormous army-surplus-bag full of baby clothes to Haiti. The clothes are nearly new, generously donated from some neighbors of ours who don't need them any more. It was fun to pack them, weeding out the unnecessary winter clothes, and imagining some sweet girl holding up a pink dress with a kitty on it and smiling...at least, I hope that will be her response! As we packed each little item into the pack, I just kept imagining the little Haitian children receiving them and wearing them. I wish I could be there to see their faces. I wish I could be there to hug on them and tell them they are beautiful. But, I'll have to pass on my sentiments through Josh, and I'm so excited for that too.
We have been in prayer a lot this week, specifically for this trip and what it will mean. I know that Josh will come home with too many stories to count. I already can't wait to see the pictures he returns with, each one holding their own story and meaning that he'll tell me all about. And, how will our prayers change after he returns? After he's seen the devastation, after he knows the very names of the children who need help, after he's held a child's hand that may have never been held before...
I'm full of questions and anticipation as Josh takes this leap across the globe. I am hoping to skype with him while he is there - depending on the timing and the internet connection! I would love to be "present" with him there, if even for a moment. Plus, it would be nice for Matilda to hear daddy's voice while he's away.
Speaking of which, Matilda and I will be taking our own little journey. We are hopping on a plane on Sunday - again, having to get up at 4am...what's with these early flights??? - and heading to Kansas! We are going to go stay with my parents and see my sister and her family in Kansas for a few days while Josh is away. It will be wonderful to be there...it's just the getting there that I'm a little apprehensive about! I've never flown with Matilda by myself, and I'm a little wary of the logistics of everyday things like naps, nursing, and dirty diapers aboard a plane with her all by myself. It will be tricky to say the least! Luckily, I'm traveling home, so if I forget anything my mom and sister will be there to borrow from as soon as we land.
All this to say, folks - your prayers are appreciated!
Please pray for safe journeys for our whole family! Please pray that God protects The Oak Project team and uses them in tremendous ways to impact the orphanage while they are there! Please pray that Matilda doesn't try to climb whoever we sit next to on the plane like a baby koala bear!
God is good. I'm so excited to see what He has in store for us this next week! Thank you for all your support and prayers!
(It will probably be a couple weeks before I can truly get out a reasonable update after our journeys - but feel free to follow my tweets to keep up!)

Cried Me A River

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In the last two nights Josh and I have gone from Zombie status to now full-fledged-actual-human-being status! That's right...our baby is on the verge of fully sleeping through the night! I can't believe it. A week ago I was convinced that Matilda's strong-willed nature had reared it's so-ugly-it's-cute head and that she was just bound to be a challenge when it came to napping and bedtime. It had appeared she was just so spirited, so awake, so happy to be social that she just never ever wanted to sleep or dare miss out on anything - so she didn't. This child just never slept. From about 10 weeks of age (where we hit a peak of about a 5 hour stretch) her sleeping has only decreased. It got to the point where she was only taking maybe a couple 20 minute naps during the day and then waking at least every two hours at night - only to take anywhere from 10 min to a full hour or more to go back down again. Exhausting? Yes. But, somehow I had eased into enough to just get used to the routine. It didn't always make getting up in the morning for work easy - there were some days I would literally stumble out of bed and the very first thought in my head would be "I wonder if a person can die from sleep deprivation? How long would that take?"
Still, there were many nights that I would get up and try to soothe her, which usually ended in me nursing her back to sleep. I would be wide awake by then, and so I would just spend the time praying, gazing at her sweet face, thankful that I had this little moment to cherish even if it was 3am. Truly, it was a special time of bonding for us and I had been determined from the beginning to not take a moment for granted, and honestly I have to admit that I sometimes even looked forward to those moments after going to bed. I'm not saying I never complained about the lack of sleep - but I will say that her snoozing absence had left me more perplexed than irritated.
I checked the books, I turned to friends, I prayed and tried to follow my "maternal instinct". I was BabyWising one day and BabyWhispering the next. I would let her cry for 10 min and convince myself that surely she had thought I'd abandoned her forever and then sweep in and be the hero who rescued her with comfort and nursing. No wonder the child was confused! Matilda is such a happy baby too, that it was very deceiving that she was tired at all! She would smile and jump around and pull up on things and crawl after our kitties...and it would escalate from there! In the last few weeks she had gone from "busy" to "hyperactive"...and this is when it triggered in me that something was indeed, not right here. How could she be so active on so little sleep? It didn't add up! People had been telling me that with such a spirited baby - "You gotta wear her down. Go on walks, keep her up later, fill her up before bed..." all which led to less and less sleep. This was not working.
Then...the miracle book. A girlfriend told me about this magical book that changed it all, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". I'm not saying it is the be-all-end-all and that every parent should follow it. But, I just know that when I looked it up online and started reading the "free pages" on amazon that I had finally found the resource I was looking for. There were stories of babies EXACTLY like Matilda...zombie babies who were so sleep deprived their systems worked overtime to just rev them up even more! It emphasized the importance of sleep for sheer healthy development, and promoted that "sleep begets sleep" instead of the "keep her up later and wear her out" theory...have her sleep more and she will want to sleep more. I figured, Hey, what can I lose? More sleep? I'll give it a try, it made sense the way they explained it.
There are more steps to it than to just let her "cry it out"...but essentially, that's what it led to. Only, in this book, they call the practice "Extinction". Isn't that absolutely dreadful? Is there any word more heinous to describe their "sleep training"? Extinction. Yikes. This scared me right away.
I thought that I would have it all planned out - know exactly when to start this process and be prepared to leave the house ahead of time if necessary.
But, then, this Wednesday after reading the chapter on "Extinction" and putting her down early to bed (yes, early!)...we just jumped right in. She started crying and against every maternal (and even internal) instinct that I had...we let her keep crying. She had her paci. She had her giraffe (bedtime toy of choice). She had been changed and fed. She was fine...or so I kept telling myself.
I had Josh peek through the crack of her door to make sure she hadn't tangled herself up in the slats of her crib. Nope - she's okay - just totally peeved that we're not responding.
Then I did the only thing I knew to do in that moment. I said a prayer, poured a glass of wine, and turned up the volume of The Cosby Show rerun I was watching. My heart was pounding. I thought Dr. Huxtable was going to stop on the screen and turn to me and say "You crazy mother! Go get her! She's crying out for you!" But, alas, he did not and I was left huddled on the couch trying to concentrate on not running to her.
She was shrieking, she was screaming...she sounded like a wild jaguar on the hunt! This child hit pitches I didn't know existed! Even our cats were looking at us like "Do something!"
But, we didn't. For an hour and a half.
Then...silence. It was that kind of silence when you stop and realize "how long was this sound not going on?" and you think you still hear the phantom echoes of her cries even minutes after they've stopped. But, indeed, it was silent. Josh tip-toed down the hall and back only to report - yes, she was finally down. Success! But how long would it last?
Six hours later (already a new record!) it started up again. It was 2:30 in the morning and I had already been on edge all night just waiting for the piercing cries of my baby jaguar.
There was no wine to sip, there was no Cosby to distract me. I just laid in bed, sobbing for my baby. That's when it really hit me. I missed her! It wasn't just the crying that broke my heart - it was the grieving of our little moments together. She hadn't only needed me, I needed her too. I loved our special nighttime bond that was just ours. I loved snuggling her sleepy little jammied body and laying her back down (even if it was for the tenth time that night). Perhaps it wasn't her that had prolonged this rollercoaster routine up until now...perhaps it was me! I've heard many parents talk about their seeking out sleep as "selfish"..."I just couldn't take it anymore, maybe it is selfish, but I let our baby cry it out cause I had to sleep!" (And no, it isn't selfish). But here I was, "selfishly" keeping myself and my baby sleep deprived! There aren't many books on that!
All the times I had thought I was soothing her and comforting her and going in and rescuing her from wakefulness...I was just stimulating her more and more. It would keep her excited and restless and only lead to less and less sleep (and less and less development, and less and less focused energy for her little brain). I had created a monster!
When we woke up in the morning - and she was still asleep - I knew we were on a new road to freedom. Success! We had all survived the torturous night (maybe not all together unscathed, but truly no worse for the wear nevertheless). Yesterday was another success (a two-and-a-half hour nap!) and last night was the true testimony...she only awoke at three different times...but for 15, 5, and 10 minutes each...an amazing turnaround from the three-hour-cry-fest of the night prior.
I'm sure we'll have our ups and downs ahead of us. Schedules will get messed up, life will happen, and I might have to endure another screaming-jaguar-night in the future (Lord, I hope not). But it is the little successes and the lessons we learn from them that keeps parenthood both invigorating and challenging. I learned that true love can hurt - doing what's best for my child is way harder than doing what's easiest for her. And Matilda learned that sleep is a good thing - and a solo event - and that mommy and daddy are there for her...in the morning.

You Can't Handle the Tooth

Sunday, July 11, 2010

There is just too much teething going on at the Pardy house. Ok, maybe not exclusively "teething" - but teeth-related-incidents nonetheless. Between Matilda's teeth charging through her little gums and my saga of dental perils that seemingly have no end, we are sorry bunch of smilers at our place these days.
I have never been a fan of the dentist. I don't have any hugely traumatic story to think back to, so I don't know why I have developed such a dentophobia, but there are many many horrible things I would rather do than go to the dentist (labor anyone? *cringe*)
My mother always took us to the dentist on a regular basis (thanks mom!) We would go see Dr. Hanson at his little office that (though legit on the inside) resembled a renovated-Mexican-restaurant-turned-dentist-lair. Maybe that sounds familiar to folks around here, but in Lyons, Kansas a Spanish-style-dwelling stood out among the lot. (Maybe that's why stucco can still make me wince?) Dr. Hanson was nice enough, though I still remember his "disappointment glance" as he would ask me about the frequency of my flossing. I hate flossing. I just hate it. I mean, if there's only a few things you know about me, you probably know I hate flossing...that's how much I hate it. I think it is because my teeth are so close together? Or maybe because I know the outcome will only lead to bleeding and having to slosh and gargle again and again until your spit turns from disdainful brown to clear again. Yuck. Dentists will tell you "bleeding is good when you floss - keep it up and soon you won't bleed"...ugh, what kind of terrible logic is that? I remember thinking as a kid that flossing must be a horrible conspiracy against children - right up there with eating spinach and going to bed early. But, unlike the latter responsibilities, I have not grown to love flossing as I've gotten older. I still hate flossing.
The last time I engaged in this necessary evil, it only led to worse and worse news. There I was, flossing with some new "glide floss" which promised to be less intrusive than the rope-like floss my husband prefers (How can he use that stuff? Is he tying boy scout knots in there? You could anchor a small ship with that stuff!) I get to in between my third and fourth teeth on my upper left side and nightmare of all nightmares - the floss is stuck. I take a deep breath. "Just pull gently. Ok, pull harder. Whew, okay, no worries, this stuff is meant for this - just yank the darn thing out!" One yank later and I'm holding a tiny chunk in my hand. EWW - what IS that? How long has that been stuck up there? Then I navigate my tongue to the newly found void in my upper deck...and realize...it's my TOOTH. I just flossed out a chunk of my own tooth! (Did I mention I hate flossing?)
Three trips to the dentist later, I have had three root canals in the last three weeks. I know, I know, you are so jealous. Turns out the chipped tooth was the easy one to fix - go figure. As with most trips to the dentist (or the mechanic, or the plumber...do these guys all work together?) they discovered something worse in a different tooth that I didn't even know about, nor did I go in for. Yes, hidden in the Xray (by the way, don't you just love those bite-wing Xray things? Could they make those any less comfortable, really?) they discovered an infection in my last molar. They've now tried to root-canal-it twice, but it is too calcified to fix. They are going to attempt one more time (per my pleading) before they decide to extract the tooth altogether. (I am praying to save the tooth, because otherwise I basically have to just say au revoir to the sucker - to purchase an implant would cost around $4,000 even with insurance...and last time I checked, the tooth fairy was not handing out that kind of cash for infected molars.)
Meanwhile, while I'm trying to cope with my dentophobia by loading my iPod with the Beach Boys and tell myself to calmly envision a tranquil setting in my head to drown out the sound of the drill...my sweet baby girl is teething! Matilda already has two bottom teeth. They poked through a couple months ago and she only had a couple nights of discomfort before they were through and soon enough she was grinning with her new chompers. Now, I know her top teethies have got to be on their way - though they have yet to make an appearance. I know she is teething because she's got all the wonderful symptoms - ear tugging, bouts of fit-throwing and extra drooling and nibbling, etc...it's lovely. Poor baby. I'm so glad we don't remember this time in our lives. I'm highly sympathetic for her, and I think it is no coincidence that God is having me experience my own dental angst at the same time. We are just a mess! (I'll admit that I've probably used her baby orajel more than she has - we should really have bought stock in that company! Ha!)
I never anticipated bonding with my daughter over teething. As my teeth are falling out, hers are just peeking their way through! In fact, my dental specialist told me that my teeth issues are most likely linked to my having had a baby. Evidently it is very common for women to suffer teeth decay during and after pregnancy, either because you aren't able to go to the dentist during pregnancy (they don't allow it) or because of some sort of body-chemistry/parasite-like/your-baby-sucked-all-necessary-nutrients-from-your-body kind of reason. Hmm, thanks Matilda. Nevertheless, as we snuggle on the couch and watch another Amy Adams movie together and I kiss her with my half-numbed lips and she looks up at me while she slurps on the end of a frozen wash cloth, I can't help but smile...smile with my rotten-toothed-smile, indeed. Afterall, I love spending time with this little gal, and if I can relate to her on a closer level (even if it means a little pain) - then that is something I can truly sink my teeth into. ;)
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