Sunday, May 26, 2013

Final Week of BAS

We arrived safely at about 2am Perth time after a 7hr flight from Zambia to Dubai and Then 11 hrs from Dubai to Perth! Whew! Kids did amazing on the plane and besides Bruce and I being unable to get much sleep everything went well! The kids even slept for about 10hrs after we arrived. 

Now for some debriefing and graduation! and of course some beach time! (its winter here don't get too excited)

We are celebrating 9 yrs of marriage on Thurs of this week. looking forward to some semblance of a date night in our near future!

Thanks for all your prayers and support!!

The Wilkens Fam!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Final Week in Africa

So not sure how long its been since we posted.. 2 weeks? 9 days? its pretty much becoming a blur these days.
We have had a good couple of weeks in the hospital. Lots of experience and I have been privileged to welcome 4 babies into this world in just these last 2 weeks! What an amazing experience it has been.  I agree with one of my classmates who said "Sometimes I just stop in the middle of what I am doing and say, "What am I doing? This is amazing!" Truly we never would have gotten these experiences apart from this school. We have been from the beginning just able to "go for it" and its been such an amazing way of learning. In 9 months time I've been able to conduct 24 live births and and 5 unfortunate still births, assisted and watch countless other births and given newborn care and resuscitation. As a team in 9 months we have conducted 499 births!! One of our classmates also had the privilege of welcoming the 4000th baby delivered by the Birth Attendant School since 1997!
We have as a team experienced a lot of laughs and joy as well as loss and sadness.  We have learned to work together to fight for life and give complete care to mom and baby.
Recently there was a article written about SubSaharan Africa being the riskiest place to be born.  The article states that over 1million babies die within the first day of life and "On average, one in six African mothers is likely to lose a newborn baby, a commonplace but largely untold tale of grief."
Read more here...
Reading this article and experiencing these losses over the last 6 months really opens your eyes to the need not only for mother and child healthcare, but for simple healthcare teachings that can save lives. Nutrition and Anemia top the reasons for these deaths and not just nutrition when the mother is pregnant but the nutrition when she (the mother) is a child growing and developing. Sadly, most of the malnourishment doesn't come from lack of food but lack of knowledge of how to eat the food around you to gain the right nutritional balance.  For the example there's a mindset that says I can't afford to feed my kid meat but then overlook the beans that are within reach. Or they can't afford dairy but then cook the leafy greens that can supply calcium to the point where they lose their nutritional value. 

This last week we experienced the loss of a couple of newborns who our team had been checking up on and caring for.  Purpose sadly lost her fight with life and succumbed to an infection.  With her brain exposed the way it was it was only a matter of time.  We are sad but thankful that she is not in pain and is with Jesus.  Her family has come around and were able to celebrate her short life.

Two other babies also went to be with Jesus this week.  One was an orphan because her mother had died at birth and one of our classmates who is a Zambian resident was set to take her in for foster care.  The other was a baby we knew because of relationship that was built while the mother was in the antenatal ward.  These things never get easy. Especially when its viewed as culturally normal and you know it's not meant to be.  I am thankful for the times we have been there to give comfort and dignity to those who are suffering.

Bruce here. Zambia for the kids and me has been less exploring and more home time. Since we have a small house here in a compound with a playground it's been a chance for the kids to get a bit more settled with our homeschooling routine being interrupted with playtime outside rather than consistent field trips every week. I've visited the hospital only twice but the second time I got to observe an orthopedic surgery. An older gentleman had dislocated his ankle (5 years ago!) by falling out of a tree and had been walking on it like a club foot. So they opened his ankle, chiseled away the excess bone, repositioned the ankle and fused it with some hardware. He won't really have much range of motion but at least he'll be able to walk on the sole of his foot again.
Another privilege I had was this past Friday when I got a chance to teach a local soccer team about God's plan for marriage and sex and why the alternative is so damaging. They were really grateful and had a lot of questions which, with God's help, I think I was able to field.
This video is from Easter when a group from Malawi came to perform at the seminary where we are staying. Amazing voices! Check it out!

We have one day left in the hospital, mostly to say our goodbyes.  Then we have a few days of final projects, debriefing and then Friday the 24th we fly to Perth! It's been an unbelievable journey. We are so blessed to have had this amazing year but are really excited to be done!
I leave you with a few team pictures.. and 4 pics of the kids... one from each country just to see how they have changed.
ready for the labor ward!

Abigail getting her baby snuggles in with Ezra (the 3 month son of our staff Rachel and Menno)

Zambia !!




Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hippo Lunch

So some of you may remember our post on our trip to Livingstone where Bruce called the kids and I cowards because we wouldn't eat lunch with him outside of the car because there was a hippo about 10 feet from the shore....

check this out...
I Was Swallowed by a Hippo!

Whose the coward now??

Final Projects, Home Visits and Purpose Update

It's been busy busy in the hospital labor ward. It's been actually really interesting.  The past 2 weeks there has been a weird flow.  They only have about 12 beds for women and 4 high cost beds (a more private and cushy environment.. although there isn't that much of a difference) Lately there has been a lot of obstructed labors or complicated ones. This is the highest level of referral hospitals in the area. So all of the patients are referred from clinics or hospitals for higher care for one reason or another. Most of what we see is pre-eclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension and then we get the women who are more prone to hemorrhage or maybe have had problems in previous pregnancies. We also see a lot of VBAC patients (normal delivery after a c-section).  Lately the beds have all been taken for long periods of time by more complicated patients leaving the currently non-complicated ones to labor on the floor or bench in the hallway. This makes for very interesting care of patients. There is no real way to monitor the moms in the hallway because its crowded and well.. it's a hallway.  This sometimes ends up with cases where someone starts delivering in the hall and you just have to run and catch the baby.  We had one such case last week and the mom ended up hemorrhaging right there on the floor. One of our staff was the one to catch the baby and all of us scrambled to give care, setting up IVs and trying to administer the drugs to stop the bleeding... all on the floor in the middle of the hallway. 

On Sunday I received a phone call from a mom that I have known for a few weeks. She was in the hospital on Friday again because her blood pressure was sky high. She was receiving drugs as a preventative for stopping seizures and lowering her blood pressure. She was about 34 weeks pregnant but she was measuring per ultrasound at 27 weeks.  She called me crying saying that she needed to have a c-section because her blood pressure was no longer responding to the medication and it was becoming unsafe for her. We prayed together that the baby would live and that the ultrasound which said the baby was only 1 kilo would be wrong.  She called me the next day to say she had a baby girl that weighed 1.9 kilos! Baby is doing well but is receiving care in the nursery because of her preemie status.  Praise God for answered prayers!

I met a mom a few weeks ago who seriously brought light where ever she went. I helped her labor most of the day to no avail. She ended up having a c-section that evening because she was not progressing and was a VBAC patient. She was the best patient. I told her to walk up and down the halls and dance and to keep moving hoping it would move the baby down and progress her. She did it all.. and with a beaming smile on her face! Most of our girls got to know her that day because they were like "who is this smiling dancing woman?" The real kicker is it was discovered 2 days after she had the baby that she had malaria during her whole labor!! You would have never guessed. Betty was amazing. She shared the food her family brought her with those around her and she was such a pleasure to be around.  She is 2 years older than me and she has a 21yr old, a 10 year old and now a newborn! As a family we had the pleasure of visiting her at her mom's house. Her mom and dad were just as sweet as she was and our kids had a blast playing with her 10 yr old and some neighborhood friends in the front yard.  Home visits are a part of what we do during this school. Its a great way to build relationships and also offer after birth care to the moms. Its also just a great way to share the love of God.
Her daughter Precious.

Betty's 2nd born Elias

Josiah was in heaven being pushed around in this.

grandma spoiling rights cross all cultural barriers. Josiah enjoying a jelly doughnut with Betty's mom.

Beautiful Betty!

Bruce had a blast with Betty's mom.. she was hilarious!

Bruce put on some sympathy weight.

big boy!

Betty's Dad

I wish I had an amazing update about baby Purpose. But I don't. She has, against all odds, remained alive now for 3 weeks despite her fragile state. She is still infection free and eating and is still self sustaining.  She has had some tissue die and has seemed to make a turn for the worst but then the next day she seems much better. We have so many times asked ourselves "How is this baby still alive?" We have seen babies far better off than her physically that don't make it. But she keeps fighting away. The docs have taken her off of antibiotics and she is just now receiving regular care and our team continues to change her dressings. 
Her mom has received a lot of flack from the family as culturally a lot of times any deformity is considered a curse. Please continue to pray for this mom, this family and this baby. We don't expect Purpose to make it in her current surroundings but we do believe she is alive with a purpose. We have already received a lot of feed back from the staff thanking our team for the care that has been given. If anything we are able to share the message that life is God given and all life is worth fighting for. This is a huge thing in a culture where death can be so normal that if you see a life struggling to survive you don't delay the inevitable.
We are very aware that baby purpose probably didn't stand a chance in her surroundings. Even if she had, by some miracle, get the care she needed it still would've been a long hard road caring for her in a developing nation. But every day of life is a gift from God and worth fighting for!

15 days left in Zambia and I have finished all my skill requirements and final project. I am just now trying to enjoy the last 2 weeks and soak up all the experience I can. It's going to go fast!

I leave you with a few pics of the kids from the past week:

thanks for the fun craft Grandma Davis!