Phew, it's been a quiet almost-three-weeks on the blog, we know. It hasn't exactly been a quiet almost-three-weeks at home, though I think we are getting a handle on being parents of three. I (Heather) lost quite a bit of blood after the delivery of Aaron, so it's taken a bit to get my strength back, and we've all been battling our share of illnesses, but now we are starting to come out of the fog, and we're feeling pretty good.
I've been wanting to share a little about Aaron's birth and our experience of having a baby in Kenya, so we'll see if I can put my thoughts together.
The weekend Aaron was born was the long-awaited Sophomore Restaurant. On Saturday night, the staff of RVA, lower station families (those who work at the hospital or other surrounding ministries... RVA is "upper station"), and junior and senior students, all got dressed up to be served by the sophomore class. The sophomores plan and prepare all year to put on "dinner and a show" as a fundraiser for the banquet their junior year. So here we are, ready for our big date on Saturday night. As it was three days prior to my due date, we had reserved a table for two not knowing if we'd have a newborn or not. Lo and behold, here we are, still waiting.
I woke up at 4 am, rather uncomfortable and unable to sleep, but kept resting until about 10. Jim got the kids off to sunday school, and I got up for church. Church starts at 11, so we went down to the chapel to worship with the rest of the community. I was starting to notice contractions, but nothing very regular, and it felt much different than my other two labors, so I wasn't very convinced anything was happening. After church, our Sunday tradition is to eat in the cafeteria, and Jim asked if I was up for that. I told him only if there were mashed potatoes. Well, there were mashed potatoes, so we had a nice lunch together. However, the contractions were feeling a bit stronger, so we hurried home and I laid down while Jim put the kids down for a nap. That's when everything picked up. Instead of ten minutes apart like they had been all morning, labor seemed to be speeding up... 8 minutes... 7 minutes...
After resting and walking for an hour, we called Jacqui, the nurse, at 3:00. She came to the house, we visited between contractions, and she was timing them, something I had lost concentration to be able to do. Labor seemed a bit erratic still, but we decided the baby was probably coming, sooner or later. Jacqui called Dr. Myrick, who was playing Sunday-afternoon ultimate frisbee on campus. She told him he could probably finish his game, but would he please come by afterward. He came to the house around 4:00 (also the time my baby shower started... needless to say I missed my own party!) and decided we'd better head down to the hospital. On the way, Jacqui ran into our neighbor's house, who happened to be the pediatrician on call for the day, and told him there'd be a baby to check out in a little bit. There really are some nice things about having a baby here...
The call button.
The sterile delivery sheets and gowns. Yes, really sterile. The hospital found that this system would save quite a bit of money, and help to employ more people.
Myself, Jacqui, and Faith, a good friend who I asked to attend the birth. She knows the Kijabe hospital ropes quite well. Two of her four children were born here. Oh-- and note the dress. It was what I wore to restaurant, church, and to have my baby. Seriously multi-purpose.
And then things got going. Right outside that window is a big sidewalk where a lot of people and visitors wait, as well as the cafeteria.
From 5:30 until Aaron was born (6:27pm) I worked pretty hard. I remember looking at Jim's watch at 6:00 and thinking that I wasn't going to ever see my baby! I was thrilled that he came quite soon after that. I was so thankful for the support of everyone that was with me. It was nice to have the gentle encouragement of Jacqui and Faith, and Jim's hand on my back. The most important thing for me was to not feel alone. Dr. Myrick is a family practice doctor here at Kijabe. I'm not sure how many years he has worked here, but before Kenya, he and his wife served in Jordan, so he's got years and years of experience in overseas medicine. While I was hoping and praying throughout my whole pregnancy that an OB would show up in time to deliver my baby, I really forgot about that in the end, and we were very thankful to have his skill and expertise when the time came.
Being new here, I'm not sure I can accurately put my finger on what makes missionary doctors different. You can have a specialty or a focus as a doctor, but here, or elsewhere on the field, you've probably done way more than that. For Dr. Myrick, being a family practice doctor, and having years of experience in overseas medicine, and due to his experience, means he's a regular on the OB rotation, and delivers babies all the time. I also think being a medical missionary means that you see extreme cases day in and day out, and so when the routine comes along, there's thankfulness, and no need to make something more than it is. As one of the pediatricians told me last week "why go looking for trouble?" And of course, there's not the liability or the worry of malpractice here like in the states. Medical care is a luxury and a privilege, and thankfulness is often the perspective of the patient here, no matter the outcome. All of this makes Kijabe a wonderful place to have a baby as well...
Aaron arrived safely at 6:27 pm. Thinking all along in this pregnancy that I must be having a girl (we really didn't know, however), it was a fun surprise to welcome a little boy, which was cause for lots of giggles and laughter all around. He was wiped off a little bit, bundled up in a surgical gown, and put into my arms. Of course, we didn't know he was Aaron (we named him the following morning) so we had to keep from calling him Joel, he looked so much like his older brother.
After a few hours, a Kenyan nurse checked him out before we went to bed. (He was also examined by one of the missionary pediatricians right after her was born.) No one bothered us again until the next morning, and being our third child, there was no way we were going to wake Aaron up to eat. We enjoyed the hands-off approach very much!
The next morning, Jim ran around the hospital, getting discharge papers, medicines, paid our bill ($130) and got Aaron's record of birth, which is needed to obtain his Kenyan birth certificate. By 11:30 we were on our way home!
Needless to say, there are no car seat checks here... (He will ride in one, I promise, just not the half of a kilometer it took to get back home.)
The best part of the day: meeting the new sibling!
First family story time with three kids... we'd been waiting nine months for this!
We are so thankful for our experience here, and although things looked a lot different on the outside, it's really not that different. We had excellent care, and as in most cases, the labor and delivery went smoothly, and when there was a little bit of trouble, there were resources to help. It sounds a little cliche, but it really is true... women do have babies everywhere. For me, the lesson was putting my trust in the Lord and his creation (Aaron and myself) and not into medical practice, buildings, or culture.