So this week we started at the government maternity hospital. WOW. I really struggle when thinking what to write between being completely honest and not shocking you or put the people who do not know any other way in a bad light.
Many of these hospital workers are overwhelmed, overworked, exhausted and underpaid and working without the tools and equipment necessary to do the job properly yet they show up each day to do what they can. Also, culture and worldview plays a huge role. As Christians we believe that every human life bears the image of God as it says in the Bible, that God made us in his image both male and female and we believe that every life, because it bears God's image, is precious and worth fighting till the end for. This is not the worldview here. Sadly we have observed little fight and little compassion when the worst happens. Our team delivered 3 stillborns this week alone, along with a few that we delivered that we are insure if they will make it and this was just in the short time we were there. Sadly, it’s a regular occurrence and one that someone who is there all the time could become numb to. A lot of the time it is viewed as "well it was going to happen whether I did something or not, so why try?" We have seen some doctors and post-grads (residents) and nurses who are still soft and are fighting to change things but they too are overwhelmed. They are surrounded by others who just don’t know better and are only doing what they have observed themselves. With all this said we have seen huge progress since the Birth Attendant School first came to India 7 years ago and we are truly humbled to be coming in on the backs of those who have fought before us to change these things one woman and one baby at a time. They walked with humility and with God’s spirit waiting for the opportunities to show God’s love and compassion in situations and have opened doors for us to join in the work they started.
One major change noted is that they used to take the baby immediately after it was delivered and place it in a cold metal pan and take it immediately to the baby room. As of last year, from observing our midwife students, they now take the newborn and place it up on the mom’s tummy immediately after delivery and leave it there for awhile before wrapping it in a cloth and placing it in the pan taking it to go the baby room for stats. They have now changed to doing this all the time and they now have birth kits on hand with a cloth to cover the baby with when it is first delivered. When we came in the second day they had placed rubber mats under the women instead of them just laying on a metal table and the women were allowed to wear gowns if desired (something that wasn’t allowed before). These are little things that at the same time show huge value to these women.
I ask the Lord for wisdom so that you can sense what we are seeing and feeling and continue to pray for God’s love to shine through to the "least of these".
MGMH (Ironically called "modern" government maternity hospital) was quite a shock to my system coming from an understanding of a Western world hospital. First thing that was such a shock is the fact that there are little to no provisions to clean with. From my view of a sterile, mostly cleaned and at least disinfected delivery room it was a shock to see blood and fluids left on labor tables and the next woman hops up right on top of it to deliver. There is nothing but a few swabs of cotton to clean a newborn and nothing clean to wrap the baby with individually (after it's initially cleaned) or hats to keep them warm.
Yesterday I took a baby directly after delivery and placed it on the table in the baby room to cut the excess cord off, clean the baby, and take vitals. This time there were no clean scissors, nothing the clean the baby off with or wrap the baby in and a small cockroach ran past inches from the baby’s head!! I had one of those moments where I just sighed, thanked God for this little life and said you do what you can with what you have. Its always a battle mentally to compare what you know how things should be and being disturbed to just pressing on and doing what you can to make the situation the best you can. Our team brings hats and towels and blankets with us. I was able to wash the scissors with a little soap I found on a semi-clean rag and then used hand-sanitizer. Praise God this was a normal healthy baby!
Yesterday I also delivered my first baby. It was an 18-year-old girl who was delivering a baby that had already died in the womb at about 30 wks. It was a breech delivery and my heart just broke for this young girl who had to labor with a poor outcome. She was so brave and strong and I was really blessed to be there for her. It was a little girl and I named her Hannah which means gracious. There was no one around her when I took on the delivery. It was intended for her to labor and deliver alone because with so many moms needing attention, situations like these (still borns) don’t make the top of the list. She will also be sent to a mass post-natal ward where all the moms and babies go after delivery and she will bed next to them.
I can't leave off talking about the hospital without me telling you that there is a cat that roams the delivery room. Let your imagination take that one where it will.
This week was my first week with homeschooling the kids and trying to establish a routine for us while Heather is at the hospital. So far it has gone well but by midday I am exhausted! (hats off to you stay-at-home moms) This weekend we’re planning a little more specifically how to spend the days with the kids. We do sing songs and play as well as do lessons. Abigail is really taking on reading and she gets excited when she’s able to recognize a new word. Thank God, there is also a courtyard on the premises where the kids can run around and kick a small soccer ball that we brought. The only problem is that it attracts the kids from the adjacent school which is usually a lot of fun but doesn’t allow you to have any sort of relaxed playtime. Which brings me to another point.
I never thought I’d say this, but I love India! It is dirty, crowded, and chaotic. There are people everywhere and you are almost never alone. Just walking down the street is stressful because you constantly have to be on your guard not to get hit by a car, motorcycle, or rickshaw. I knew this about India before which is why it never made my wishlist of places to visit. It just seemed too much of a headache to take in and enjoy. But now, I have to say, despite all the stress and cultural differences it is such a beautiful place. There is so much life and humanity here. People are beautiful and India is full of people.
Back to this past week…yesterday (Friday) Heather was able to stay home in the morning and I was able to see some patients at an HIV clinic in one of Hyderabad’s slums. The ministry Nirikshena (“life to the fullest”) is a medical ministry that helps the HIV positive people of the city and the surrounding area. YWAM has had a relationship with them for some time. HIV has really been a growing problem in India over the past decade or so. Fortunately the government has been supplying some medication and services but like a lot of medicine in India the need is so great that it often it outstrips the supply. Anyway, it was a great first time experience and I hope to be able to continue working with them every other week or so if possible.
The kids are adjusting to everything pretty well. They mostly miss food and are overwhelmed at times by the number of people who want to pinch their cheeks, want to take pictures with them or just stand and stare by our table when we are eating. Its seriously like being famous and we have the paparazzi on our tail at all times. Lol Josiah has decided that he is Abigails protector and when ever a hand reaches out to touch one of them he says “don’t touch us!” which does not deter the hands as they think its even cuter that he talks! They are seriously doing great and we are so proud of them!! We went to a grocery store the other day that had a freezer section and they saw frozen peas and proceeded to jump up and down and beg for frozen peas! We of course bought them some and they devoured the entire bag in minutes! Dairy and frozen food is not readily available because the power goes out so often and fresh fruits and veggies have to be bought with care and washed and peeled and sometimes cooked to prevent getting sick so its not a regular occurrence for us. Yesterday the kids requested McDonalds for lunch and we were able to get them cheese pizza for dinner. Afterwards Josiah exclaimed "today was a GREAT FOOD DAY!"
Proud mom moment.. Abigail read her first book yesterday!!
Proud mom moment.. Abigail read her first book yesterday!!
This morning we went to a Western style church and we really enjoyed it. We definitely will be back on Sundays. It was like stepping back into home for a bit. On a side note the bathroom was clean and had running water and soap and I said “thank you Jesus for this bathroom” and Abigail responded “thank you Jesus for this church!” : )
Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for the health and safety of our team and children. God is so faithful to us!
|Hanging with Ronald|
|courtyard outside where we stay|
|a young girl who was in the courtyard one day who spoke english|
|hanging at McDonalds with the team kinda creepy that the woman on the wall looks like she is in our pic!|
|Debbie! our youngest teammate|
|caught Abigail teaching Josiah.. so sweet!|
|The lethargic dog that protects our courtyard (the kids have named him Bobo)|
|Prisca and I at MGMH getting ready for our day|
|a mom I visited to practice a newborn check on|
|another mom I did a newborn check on|
|The Slum where Bruce worked|
|Saturday morning cartoons missionary style|
|Abigail and I messing around practicing crazy hair|
|Veggie Burger anyone?? (chicken is the only meat available and it is rare)|
|at Mocha cafe' where we are posting this. (I wear Indian clothes daily)|