Friday, December 25, 2009

Carthage Christmas Outreach

"Who is our neighbor?" The question that prefaced the parable of the Good Samaritan. This Christmas we gave up the tree, the presents, the extravagant food, and time alone with our family to be used of God to take GOOD NEWS to the poor. In return we have had the greatest Christmas experience to date and a new family tradition. Thanks to everyone who gave of their time, funds, and more to make this happen. God is so good!

Below are some photos of the families we visited Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and a little about them. We took each family an entire meal (Roasted Chicken, stuffing, greens, bread, drinks, and dessert) along with gift bags for the kids and 3 presents to open each. Each family got a gift card to use as needed and an invitation to Home Church. AND everyone got bibles!! Thank you Jesus!!

Getting everything ready, organizing according to family - presents, gift bags, and food. Excited to put faces with names!

Zeke "helped"!!

Wrap stars.

A special thanks to Hannah Mendiguren for helping with the shopping, Ashlee Kerr for helping organize, wrap and distribute while taking turns being Mommy to Zeke and Jordan, and to Christ Mendiguren for jumping in and helping us distribute and connect with the people. An extra special thanks to everyone from Mosaic Ministries and all others who donated gifts, finances, and prayers toward this project, we couldn't have done it without your help!

This young man was thrilled about a brand new sweater he recieved for Christmas! We didn't expect him to be at this house and someone had donated a random gift we didn't have a place for. Little did we know! Jehovah Sneaky strikes again!

What a beautiful family! Mom of five and just in our back yard. Our new friends.

Jordan made pals with all the kids so easy and naturally. All the families graciously and humbly invited us into their warm homes and we all connected so quickly it was beautiful. The little girl in this family was camera shy.

How do I turn it over? Oh well... we spent about half an hour in each home until the end when we had to just drop off and say a quick hello since it was getting late. Some of the families we didn't get photos of because it was more important to just stop for them and listen and shower them with God's love.

Some families don't have transportation and were so grateful to have the simplest of things brought to them on Christmas. The kids opened their presents with immense joy and the parents/grandparents were glad to have a little something for their needs as well. Every family received the gospel well and were happy to have their very own bibles!

This Sunday is going to be so full. Thank you Jesus for being our Savior and showing us how to love.
Stay tuned for more great exploits.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Birth Story

Many of you have asked to hear my birth story and I had planned on sharing it with those especially who are pregnant now. So I'm going to do it all at once, and feel free to ask questions after. (Sounds like I'm giving a speech.)

So one week ago today (wow!) at around 5:15am I woke up with a cramp; full moon shining through the window. I'd been having these so it was alarming. But usually once I got up and walked around a big they would go away. This time though, it remained. I told Darryl and he immediately called in to work and got going on the pool (it was already set up, he just needed to get the warm water in it). I wasn't as convinced, but I called the midwife and my mom anyway. The midwives were on their way and I was instructed to time rushes. My mom said to call her back in an hour. Now, my mom is 1.5hrs away and the midwives were 2hrs away (half of that was travel time). My rushes were 5 minutes apart and 30 seconds long; they were steadily increasing in duration and getting closer together. Darryl insisted I call my mom right back and tell her to be on her way. Good thing we did because by the time she arrived I was feeling the urge to push and plastered to the couch for fear that my water would break and the already intense rushes would become more intense. She says now she thought for sure I had a ways to go. However, a little while later the midwives showed up and got the room ready with their supplies and then asked if I wanted to get in the pool. YES! By the way, during this first stage everyone was very attentive to my needs and quiet. I was excited to be in labor but was past that emotional signpost (probably slept through it), so I was serious at this point.

As I got up to get in the pool, my water broke - and it was clear, no sign of meconium in the amniotic fluid. Getting in the water seemed to revive me. I felt alive again in between the rushes whereas just laying on the couch I felt like the space in between them I had to be completely limp and quiet to conserve my energy. Breathing through the rushes was difficult because I wanted to hold my breath. But holding your breath just makes them worse, breathing helps tremendously. So it was good to have two coaches and two midwives helping me remember to breathe! Back to the water. It took the pressure/weight off and was so warm and comforting. As per the midwives instructions I would change position every few contractions to allow the cervix to dilate evenly. At one point they noticed my contractions went from being 2 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart. I was now in the pushing stage.

Again I pushed in a few different positions and the baby was quickly moving down. Sitting up on my knees he moved very fast and sitting back his heart rate slowed a bit. So I tried pushing in side reclining and his head crowned. Amazing! Darryl was holding my arms up keeping me from sinking into the water, and my mom was holding one leg up so I could relax and concentrate my energy. On the next push his whole head and body emerged quickly and he was immediately put on my chest. We were all so amazed and filled with joy and tears! I did it! We covered him in a towel (still in the water) and started to breastfeed. Then the placenta came out (large and healthy! and the amniotic sac was the strongest they'd seen!) and Darryl cut the cord.

We bonded for a good 15-20 minutes or more, I really don't know having lost all concept of time since counting those first rushes just 6 hours before. Then Darryl held our baby while I got a shower and then into bed. The baby was checked, weighed, and measured and then Gramma held him while I was checked and stitched. I was hoping and praying I wouldn't tear but a 9lb6oz baby shooting out in one push is not good odds. It wasn't bad though and the stitches were painless (so was the tear). After all of that, me and baby were settling in together breastfeeding and Darryl snuggled in too. It was all so awesome. I can't think of the words to describe it.

THOUGHTS ON NATURAL CHILDBIRTH: I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It was not as bad as it is made to look in this culture because our bodies are made to do this. I had amazing coaches (Darryl and mom) and amazing midwives attending the birth of our son and it made all the difference. The rushes were intense, but like combination of menstrual and gas cramps. It is really different though, but not unbearable or uncopable. The only "painful" part was the ring of fire when his head was crowing and it wasn't for long nor was it excruciating. In fact, I said at the time, "this hurts!" Also I made some interesting sounds during birthing, but it helped. There are more thoughts on the whole thing I could share but I'm having a hard time finding the words to truly express it. Grateful, exhilarating, exciting, unforgettable, rich, blessed.

Now we have our baby Ezekiel "Zeke" Judah Russell. He is thriving. His cord stump came off on its own the 6th day and breastfeeding is going great. He is already trying to hold his head up! I can't believe it has been a week already. I'm so in love.

Friday, January 9, 2009

42 weeks and counting.....

Well just to make you aware of what is going on. Debbie (midwife) just left and everything is going great. She said I am fine the baby is fine.

There is no need to go to the hospital just because I'm "late" and if the baby were to pass meconium while inutero, it will probably get filtered out by the time he comes out or if it is thick when he comes out, precautions will be made and he will be properly handled to prevent contamination. In other words, he is not breathing it in or swallowing it at present. Those were some of my concerns. She also said babies can pass meconium at 37 weeks too. And also, the baby is not terribly big either. She doesn't feel like I'm going to have a large baby or a small baby, but probably around 7-8lbs. She said she's had other moms give birth at 43 weeks to babies around 9lbs with no problems or complications. Some women just gestate longer than others.

She didn't do anything to naturally induce today as I had mentioned previously because she feels strongly that everything is happening as God has made me and the baby to do so. She is coming back Tuesday and may try a membrane sweep then, which could possibly break the waters and that in itself could be helpful or not. Even then, if the water did break, she doesn't put a time line on when I should be concerned, but that precautions will be made to prevent infection and so forth.

There are no signs at the present that I am at risk or the baby is at risk and/or not doing well. We are both doing great and gestating along nicely. She said it is typical for women who are having their first birth to go longer than the "norm" which in itself is just an average. On top of that add more time for a longer menstrual cycle (which for me is around 35 days average), and add yet more time for a family history of longer gestation periods (which I also have). So I would be just about due now. Having said that, I could go longer than even that estimation. I just wanted to share that with you all so you can share that with others who have concerns about my situation. In this country the average induction rate is 25%. It shouldnt' be more than 10%. Induction can be dangerous and risky to the mother and the baby. Although I know plenty of people who have had induced labors and they and their babies were fine, that is not something I'm going to do. Having no signs of problems, there is no need to induce or go to the hospital. If there were, that's what we would be doing. I just want to help dispell any concerns that in turn are causing fears. There is no need to fear, God is in control.

On another note, having spent a significant time in Africa this past year, I think about how those women fare in maternity care. Many children there do not survive past age 5 (post breastfeeding) but the babies, they are the healthy ones (that are not diseased and are in mother's care). God has made this body to do this task and it will in fact succeed. Debbie told me of a midwife she knew who was helping in a remote African village and had no fetascopes or anything much that would aid in monitoring the babies during gestation - most of all, no due dates. She would palpate the women's abdomens to feel for the baby when they were obviously pregnant, ask them a few questions and send them on their way until they started labor. That's pretty much how it works in nature.

That's the latest and I wanted to let you know of my progress. Hopefully next I'll be letting you know more about the baby and less about my pregnancy! :)