Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Friday, February 8, 2013

23 Weeks....

....And still belly sleeping!  I know that is going to have to change eventually but I have high hopes I'll make it another few weeks with my pillow propped under my side so I can continue facing downward.  It is impossible to sleep on my back and I'm not much of a fan of side sleeping these days. And, after all, sleeping is very, very important.

This morning I saw an OB-GYN here in Bloemfontein.  The general practitioner I saw yesterday referred me over to this guy and I really like him. He did an extensive scan of the baby (which by the way is still a girl) and took lots of measurements.  He said everything looks very healthy so of course I am relieved.  She is measuring a few days small so maybe she's petite or maybe she'll come a little after her due date or maybe it doesn't matter at all.  I'll come back to the Dr on March 8th, and probably again around April 8.  Then on the 20th of May we plan to come here to Bloem and stay in a guest house while we wait for Ellee to make her appearance.

After my appointment with the OB, I walked to the adjacent building into the labor and delivery section.  It looks almost identical to the hospital I delivered Kyle in and their proceedures are about the same.  There is a check-in room where you go to determine if you are really in labor and if so, they'll take you into a labor and delivery room until after the baby is born. The recovery rooms make me a little nervous, as they vary from 1-2-3 patients per room depending on availability.  The nurse I spoke to today said that they were swamped at this time but hoped when I come in June, they won't be nearly as busy.  Either way, assuming everything goes normally, I'll spend about 48 hours in the hospital after delivery before being discharged.

I'm still about 7 or 8 pounds lighter than I was when I got pregnant.  The ridiculous morning sickness I battled for upwards of two months was quite the weight-loss program.  I've actually put about 7 or 8 pounds on since my lowest point of dehydration and malnourshipment.  And I've eaten like a hog these past couple of days because I know we are going to a village-stay for 3 weeks starting tomorrow where we will be eating very unfamiliar foods again.  So, I feel no guilt over the half of a large pizza I consumed upon arrival into Maseru on Wednesday.  Or the quarter pounder with cheese I ate yesterday at McDonalds.  Before you lecture me about the need for healthy foods, I am planning to eat a pile of grapes, yogurt and granola in about 5 minutes.  Yes, I found all the necessary components to my favorite goop here in South Africa and I am so excited to have it as a snack!! 

I don't expect to gain much weight over these next couple of weeks so I'll be surprised if I end up spending more than about 12 weeks in my maternity clothes.  Right now I am still wearing the jeans I wore when Jonathan and I got married; occasionally I have to use a hair band to loosen the button a little after I eat.  It works out nicely because most of my maternity clothes are for cold weather and the temperature is supposed to stop dropping in March.  So, if I can make it until then in my skirts and t-shirts, I'll be set for the last few months of pregnancy! 

Nevertheless, regardless of weight gain or loss, I can't really describe how thankful I am to finally be eating again.  The last meal I lost was right when we got to Kenya at 19 weeks.  Since then, although much of the food has been hard on my stomach, I have managed to keep the little I have been able to eat in my belly.  Ellee and I are both very grateful for that.

Speaking of Ellee, she is an active little thing.  During the sonogram today, it was neat to watch her and simultaneously feel her punch me.  During our many long sessions at ABO, I would find myself watching my belly jump around for entertainment.  Jonathan has felt her multiple times and can see her bouncing, too.  I don't know how much Kyle understands.  When I ask him the baby's name, he points to my belly and says "Aye" which obviously is his way of saying Ellee.  Of course, I'm the one who told him she was in there in the first place.  He hasn't felt her yet, but I don't think he would make the connection.  Nevertheless, he'll figure out soon enough that she's here to stay.  I think he will be a good brother.  After watching him with the little girl, Ruth, at ABO who was not quite a year younger than him, I am more excited to see him be a big brother.  He is a sweet boy and he was so tender towards me during all those days he watched horrified as I violently lost my meals in the bathroom.  He gladly follows instructions and I think he will be a big help to me once Ellee arrives, fetching various items for me when directed.

I brought a few white long-sleeved onesies from the US to stitch for her once we get done with our village stay.  I don't have any way to smock for her here and I don't have a sewing machine.... yet. :)  But, I'll get creative, I'm sure.  I brought all my floss so I can at least embroider plain shirts and pants or skirts for her.  Mom and I settled on a beautiful pattern for her quilt which is going to be made from these fabrics.  Having these things picked out makes it seem more real that she's coming and I'm getting excited.

It was hard to be excited about her during the first 20 weeks of this pregnancy because of how sick I felt.  But, now that it has passed and I feel so much better, I'm really looking forward to having her here.  I finally feel like I can enjoy the idea that there is a baby growing in my belly instead of dreading waking up in the mornings facing another day of miserable sickness.  I wonder if she'll look like me and what her personality will be like.  Around 17 weeks until we meet her and find out!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Nearly three weeks have passed since we first arrived here at Scott Christian University in Machakos, Kenya.  We have had little down time over these weeks.  Our days have been filled with learning, via lectures and discussions and several activities in the local town.  We have gathered from many different countries and backgrounds and have enjoyed getting to know each other thoroughly over these days.  I believe there are 57 of us in total, including children and a few staff who facilitate our sessions.  Many of us came from the US, naturally, as about 70% of AIM's missionaries are from America.  However, we have quite a variety of other countries represented as well including Switzerland, England, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Brazil, and South Africa.  

Our living arrangements are in the college dorms and despite the rustic bunk-bed set up, I have slept like a hibernating bear nearly every night many thanks to my trusty earplugs.  The halls are loud and echoey and the open windows cause a draft which regularly slams open doors shut.  Not being keen on the experience of sleeping enclosed in a mosquito net, I utilized the duct tape which was packed in my bag to secure a net over our open window.  We have managed to spend three weeks with very few mosquitos in our midst, at least in our bedroom.  Kyle has slept like a champ (despite the noise) in his pack & play which I am so thankful we purchased and were able to check plane side all the way here for free.  Although this is supposed to be the dry season, we have experienced heavy rain many days and a few windy storms.  It seems that rain automatically makes the power go out.  Welcome to Africa.  Fortunately, there was a generator for some of the power outages, but we did have to manage in the dark many evenings.  Showering in flashlight is fun.... not.  Speaking of showering, as you can imagine we've had our fill of community bathrooms.  Nothing like three weeks to force you to give up any clinging to privacy.  Kyle has bathed every other night in a giant wash tub in the company of all the women who walked through the bathroom.  He didn't seem bothered.  On the up side, we had hot water nearly every day.  That is a real plus!

Home for three weeks

The food has without a doubt been the roughest part, just as I suspected.  In my almost month in Africa, I see that variety isn't something which is highly valued.  We eat about the same thing every day: some combination of rice, potatoes, plain spaghetti noodles, steamed cabbage, rubbery beef, chicken, fish and fresh fruit are the trusty components.  Variation in cooking style of aforementioned ingredients is almost undetectable and seasoning is sparse.  The fish (if you know me well, you know I'm not a big fish fan to begin with), however, is heavily seasoned and gives me miserable heart burn.  I try to smother the taste in ketchup and eat as much as I can.  We have thoroughly enjoyed what are called chipatis, a type of fried pita.  Heavy on the grease but tasty.  The chicken is typically pretty yummy but there isn't a lot to go around for 57 people.  Thankfully, Kyle has eaten very well all three weeks and has only had one bout with an upset stomach.  I fought an upset stomach nearly all week last week but it seems to have finally died down.  I've purchased some snacks from the local grocery and tried to supplement with those where I could.  The yogurt was tasty but the refrigerator broke so I had to ditch the rest.  Kyle and I downed the Goldfish I brought from home early on.  I have found some really delicious cookies, but alas, one cannot live by cookies alone.  Almost, but not quite.  Anyways, needless to say, I don't think I've packed on much weight these three weeks and for that I am grateful.  Despite the lack of palatable food, Ellee is still growing and kicking just fine.

Taken 2/6/12 (Ellee at 22.5 weeks)

A couple times Jonathan and I have ventured into town for some decent food and I really enjoy the simple selection at Kenchic, chicken and chips.  A fried (without the breading) quarter chicken and a plate full of fries for about three bucks, with a coke, $3.50.  Full of grease and full of flavor.  We might just go again tonight...

Our sessions have been helpful, some highly interesting, some review from topics we covered in pre-field training.  Our typical schedule has been breakfast, devotions, prayer, then sessions from 9:30-12:30, lunch, sessions from 2-5, free time before dinner and the evenings have been free.  We covered (really just scratched the surface on) African culture, world-view, spiritual warfare, and "biblical vs cultural" with a Kenyan pastor.  We spent days going over safety tips for living in Africa, HIV/AIDS overview, security precautions, contingency plans, and cultural communication and conflict.  We also had two full days of training from another Kenyan regarding Islam and it's origin and spread across Africa.  We've received a regional overview of each of AIM's four regions, North, South, East and Central.  That was very informative and encouraging to hear about.  All in all, it has been long and exhausting, but beneficial for sure.

Kyle has been a total champ and I am so proud of him it makes my eyes sweat.  He has done great in this little toddler sessions, taking lots of walks, coloring lots of pictures, making lots of crafts, eating lots of snacks and playing with lots of toys.  The childcare worker said he has been the easiest and eager to help by passing out the right sippy cups to each of the other two or three (depending on the day) toddlers in his class.  A boy after my own heart, the kid values snack time.  He has gone cheerfully to his teacher each morning (okay, not the first couple of days but after that....), and then been all smiles when we picked him up at lunch time, albeit very "unree" (hungry).  He might have a crush on the youngest girl in his class, Ruth, as he points her out every time we pass her, or her mom, or her dad exclaming "Ru", "Ru Mama", or "Ru Dada".  One evening he accidentally poked her in the eye and the next morning when he woke up the first thing he said as he stood up in his bed was, "Ru eye."  Sugar baby.  Sweet, sweet sugar baby.  So glad he's mine and I get to keep him with me.

We leave Machokos in the morning and head back to Nairobi.  We'll eat lunch and dinner there and then head to the airport.  I'm dreading our 2:25AM flight to Johannesburg, SA.  We'll have about a three hour layover there before catching our jump into Lesotho.  We should arrive in Maseru around 10 AM.  Our plans for what happens after we land have changed multiple times since we've been here.  Welcome to Africa.  Now, we will be picked up in Maseru and then taken back to Bloemfontein, South Africa for a few days of rest.  That wasn't in the original plan but there has been a medical emergency on our team in Lesotho and we've had to arrange our plans accordingly.  The teammate is in the hospital in Bloemfontein and our team leaders and another lady who was supposed to intercept us in Maseru are there helping care for him and his family including four children.  One of the team members has already made me a doctor's appointment in Bloemfontein so we can check on Ellee and try to get a referral for an OBGYN in the area with whom I will deliver.  So, we'll spend about five days there, I believe, before we're taken back into Lesotho for our village stay.

We'll be in the village for three weeks living with an African family.  I'd be lying if I said I was excited about it, but I am hopeful that it will be at least more relaxing than these three weeks have been.  Again I am nervous about the food situation and I really do feel like I'm gonna deteriorate if I don't get any familiar or at least truly nutritious and tasty food for yet another three weeks.  However, this is the plan so we'll go with it.  At least I shouldn't have much baby weight to lose come June.  Anyways, after our village stay, the plan right now is for us to return to Maseru and live in the empty house of a retired missionary until near Ellee's due date.  Then, we will travel about two hours back up to Bloemfontein and await her arrival.  Again, this isn't the plan we had been going off of for the past couple of weeks, but with the medical situation I mentioned, this is the plan for now.  We'll see if it changes again.  Regardless, after Ellee is born and I have recovered, we should be set to move out to Mokhotlong as planned in July or August.  The reason the medical situation affects us so much is because that was the family who was supposed to be receiving us and facilitating our transition into Mokhotlong.  Until there is a decent prognosis made, we won't know exactly how the plan will unfold.  Regardless, our time in Maseru will be spent learning the local language and culture as well as the details on the theological program Jonathan will be coordinating in the mountains.

The couple here at ABO from South Africa has been a great resource to have around.  I've asked many questions about availability of groceries once we get to Lesotho.  Of course we figure much of what is readily available in South Africa will be imported into Lesotho but what isn't we'll have to go out occasionally to stock up on.  Unlike Kenya, apparently there are various types of cheese, dried fruits, pecans, pastas, and ethnic foods available in South Africa.  We also had lunch one day with a couple who recently moved out of Mokhotlong to take an administrational position.  I was very relieved to talk to them and hear that internet really is readily accessible and the availability of familiar groceries in the local stores is increasing regularly.  They did say it is very cold and snows every winter.  I have a feeling we'll be investing in some more long johns.  And probably some ear muffs.

I'm really excited to get where we are going and pretty frustrated that it is still so far out.  However, I'm trying to soak up these weeks and months of transition and know that once we are out in Mokhotlong, two and a half years will feel like a long time to be there.  My nesting instinct is strong anyways, and expecting another baby isn't helping the situation.  I'm really having to learn to go with the flow and trust that God has gone before us and ordered our steps.  With all the change in "our plans" I know there is no change in His plan.  For that I am thankful and in that I can rest.  I ponder when I have down time (which right now is almost never) about what life will look like in the mountain town of Mokhotlong, Lesotho.  We are being told that the local language, Sesotho, is a very difficult one and I expect to be frustrated.  I'm up for the challenge though and am determined to learn it and learn it well during our three years there.  I wonder what our house will look like and I hope it will be the first house we've lived in which we can claim all four walls.  Up until now, we have always shared walls.  We are praying we'll find a reliable vehicle and be able to make a wise purchase.  I am praying I'll have a stove to cook on and that I'll be able to find pretty furniture and things to put in our house.  Since we have been married, I have lived with this mindset of living temporarily.  Even though we spent two years in SC, I still didn't invest much time or effort into nesting because I knew we would be leaving.  Of course, when we moved there, we didn't know it would be two years, but I digress.  This time, however, I really want to do what I can to make home seem like home and I'm excited to have the opportunity to do so.  I hope during our time in Maseru after our  village stay and before it gets too close to Ellee's due date, we can make the trip out to Mokhotlong to see the place for ourselves.  It will be hard to go through the rest of this pregnancy not knowing what I'll be bringing my baby "home" to and not knowing how to plan a special nursery for her.  But, I think if we can make the trip to visit, I can at least have a grasp on what to prepare for and look forward to once we get there.

I'll leave it at that for now and probably won't have much chance to update over the next few weeks.  Until then, I'll be munching on the decadent chocolate bar I found in town..... Mmmmm milk and white Cadbury chocolate, where have you been all my life?