Monday, June 29, 2009

health update

So it has been a while since I blogged abut my puking. I figured it was time.

I am now a month into my second trimester and I am counting down the days until I am done. Sad but oh so true. All that garbage (or research.....whatever) about women only being sick the first trimester is so not true for the lucky few with HG. As I learn more about HG so much makes sense to me, it makes me feel not (as) crazy. Although it is sort of funny (or makes me cry...depends on my day) that I cannot join the on-line support groups because our Internet is too slow. It is a serious condition and women feel really terrible and all that feeling crappy can lead to emotional issues; yeah, no joke!!As if I needed any extra emotions pulsing through me. At least 10% of women with this have what one doctor called "therapeutic abortions" even for a planned pregnancy! Now, while that it is not a choice we would make or even think about it at least makes me feel better knowing I am not a complete wuss. I would take labor 4 times over in a row before this whole puking, weakness, sensitivity to light, motion, feeling like I got run over by a dala dala thing, etc again. I force feed myself most days and still wear sunglasses a lot of the time even indoors (I choose to say I am bringing a new style to Swahili culture) because my eyes are so sensitive to light. I am still feeling nauseous everyday, all day but things are better. And for that we are so grateful. After a really trying month before my mom and sister's arrival we finally decided to stay here. It was a hard decision but the way everything worked out was amazing. It was God. I want to record it all so I can always remember His goodness in our doubt and difficulty.

After the last time back on the mainland to see the doctor we found out that I was still losing about 2 1/2 pounds per week (about 1 kilo for our British readers:) and obviously this was a huge concern now that I was in the second trimester and things "should" have been getting better. We decided then that after seeking counsel from many friends, family, team members, etc we would give it one more week and pray everyday earnestly seeking a solution and then make a decision. The doctor said if I could stop losing he would be comfortable with me staying here and coming over for check-ups as needed but if not that I needed to seek attention in Nairobi or back home in America. He actually said I was too sick to go to the hospital in Dar (as an aside that is never a good sign about your local hospital:).

So we prayed everyday that something would change. We started making tentative arrangements and thinking about what it would really mean to go home. So many emotions involved in that as well since we had mentally prepared to be here for at least another year before setting foot on American soil. We wanted to make the best decision for our family and of course did not want my or the baby's health to suffer but we also sensed that if this was a trial we did not want to run home at the first sign of difficulty. Either way we wanted to know guidance, to sense peace, and to move forward.

We asked God to clearly show us and specifically asked Him to stop my weight loss if we were supposed to stay. This was really what I needed to feel emotionally ok to remain here. I just got more and more discouraged when the scale kept going down so I asked and begged and pleaded that I would get the reassurance of not losing anymore weight so I could feel peace about staying. And if not we knew we should go home.

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes when He knows you really need a clear answer God provides one. All the stress was mounting in trying to decide what to do. We (ok, my husband, would anyone seriously believe I would do this?) made a spreadsheet chart of all the pro's and con's of our 3 options. We prayed, our family and friends and team prayed. And we waited.

After 1 week I stopped losing weight and was able to keep down liquids and some food. We borrowed a scale from our team leader and it was like "magically" the number would never go below the lowest it was that last day we were at the doctor's office in Dar even on days I kept down hardly anything. It even went up a pound and a half (but later I lost one of that). But it still never went below that lowest number and still hasn't. He answered our prayer in a real way we can see every morning when I get on the scale. It is so ironic that I spent so many years on Weight Watchers; counting points, working out everyday and always getting on the scale each week at weigh in (taking off my earrings and making sure I peed right before) hoping the number would go down. For the first time in my life I am hoping it goes up. So all in all I lost 14 pounds and as long as I can stop losing anymore I am ok for now. The doctor and another midwife said not to put too much pressure on myself to gain right away. So I am giving my body time but trying everyday to drink, eat, not throw up as much, and move around more. I am still taking the meds for chemo patients (we have it in IV form if needed and in pill form) but after taking them at the full dosage I started experiencing terrible headaches and some other nasty side effects (I will spare you). Plus, they never really did much for the nausea. Although when on them I do tend to throw up less frequently. So, it is a toss up? Puke a little less but wicked headaches and other nasty problems or more yaking with no headaches.....I am still taking them at a lower dose and hoping to avoid the side effects. Eating is still tough. Nothing ever sounds good to me but most of the time if something is put in front of me I can try it. I drink a lot of soup and eat a lot of bread. But the main difference is now I am able to keep more liquids down, even if it is toxic waste; coke. At least it is calories. The doctor even said if I wanted beer he would be happy for me to drink it. Now, I hate beer even when not blowing chunks daily (although my poor hubby could use one...or a case) but the point being he said eat whatever you want. I am over feeling guilt about the nutrition (or lack there of) I am giving this baby. I also have good days scattered in with bad days (not many days of not eating in a row) so that is a huge relief. Also, about half of women with HG feel some relief at about 20-21 weeks so I am hopeful. God knows I am coping, trying my best, and we are all surviving knowing He is faithful to answer. And the last scan showed a big baby (even moved up the due date a week) growing and bouncing around enjoying a lil' party in my womb amidst the constant surround sound of my vomiting. Yep, mtoto mchanga seems to be doing just fine. A true miracle. So we stay put and rely on Him, try to stick together as a family, continue to lean on friends here, and wait.

God has also blessed us in making the decision to stay in friends from home sending packages, notes, emails, and even generous donations to help pay for the extra cost in having to go to the mainland so often or so we can go out to eat (poor Jason and Anni can stop eating bread and rice everyday). Asante!! Thank you so much! This is an amazing blessing that we know only comes from Him. Some friends from the neighborhood continue to visit and one girlfriend came by to tell me she was so surprised I was staying. I told her about my answered prayer and she said she was so happy I decided to stay. That made my day and reminded me that when we are weak, then we are strong. A good reminder for a girl who likes to always appear strong. This verse has brought me so much peace over the last few weeks...
"Three times (or in my case 9,867) I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 corin 8-10

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Adventures....Part 3

Last round of pics of my fab family visit...

the girls in the old part of town
eating out local style on the ocean front, fish, lobster, sesame bread, and chips (fries)
amazing craftsmanship on the doors here! showing Bibi & Katy around the local food market....walking through about 6 inches of water!
Annikah teaches Katy how we cook here (she also taught Bibi how to wash rice)
Katy gets henna done before heading home
Anni and her friends played on the swings, Anni had to show them all her rafikis
Anni always held Katy's arm in the sweet!

Anni tried to hide in Bibi's suitcase to go home with them!
I secrety wish we all could have fit, we miss you both so much!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Adventures...Part 2

Uploading all this pics with sketchy Internet is quite a feat! Here are some more of our time with Bibi & Katy. Our team leader and two of his girls joined us in renting a small boat and heading to the island with the huge tortoises and a beautiful beach. We spent the day relaxing and playing in the sand and water. Ahhh!

Anni and her friends get ready for the boat ride

boat ride over.....Mom and Katy were a little leery of the boat but we made it safe!
Every time we take a boat Anni claps & cheers when we get there safely, I think she is a little shocked :)

there were very few people on the island.....we basically had our own island paradise...Amazing!
exploring the island, it used to be used for a quarantine center
Katy feeds the giant tortoises after Anni showed them the ropes..
Everyone (minus our team leader taking the picture). We all loved feeding them mchicha!
Anni LOVES these girls!
Anni wanted to wash the sand out of her suit and I could not resist taking this pic......
little tan lines are so sweet.
Jason shows off the eel our team leader speared scuba diving
Wearing a starfish the boys found scuba diving
Anni and " my best friend" enjoy the sand bank

more later......

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Adventures ...Part 1

Just wanted to update on some more of what we did in the week and a half Bibi & Katy were here. Here are some pictures of our first few days...

The small plane we took to the island.
We were so excited to show them around our school site. It looks great and for the past few months since we have been "out of the game" ( & by 'out of the game' I meaning 'puking in the house') our team mates have been doing all the work and doing an amazing job. Above is Rich working on the roof of the car workshop.
school from the front gate....check out that coral rock they dug up
I love this picture of some of Jason's friends that are working on the classrooms that will be used for teaching English, computing, etc. Exciting Progress!
Mom, Katy, and Jason went on a spice tour to see how they grow the spices here.
Lots of shopping in town....Mom managed to fill those suitcases! Was there ever any doubt?
Showing them around some of my favorite stores in town
We took a drive to visit some of Anni's favorite sites. On one drive we got pulled over and because Mom was not wearing her seat belt she was written up and told we had to appear in court. Sure, a family of five can ride on a motorcycle with no helmets but hassle us for no seat belt.... really? After about 45 minutes of arguing our team leader showed up (he happened to be driving back from another part of the island with his family) and since he knew the officer he talked to him for a few minutes and offered him some soda ...two minutes later he told us we could leave and ripped up the court notice. We were relieved Mom did not have to spend the rest of her trip in a Tanzania prison, always a good thing!
Anni shows Katy & Bibi how the women wear their head coverings above.
We had to show them the forest full of crazy was an adventure as always!
How amazing is this picture Jason took? They are THAT close!
Annikah has been taking about taking them to see the kipepeo (butterfly) for months and they enjoyed seeing the local butterfly sanctuary
how sweet is a chubby hand holding a kipepeo?
I love this picture Katy took...pure joy!
more to come......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This is my new favorite picture! Anni and the b-day boy!! One of the first days my mom and sister were here I took them to a friend's house to celebrate her son's first birthday. It was a small party and although we arrived late my friend was walking up to her house at the same time as us telling me she had to bathe and change:) When she finally did make her appearance she looked gorgeous in her new dress, hair-do, and beautiful henna. I had tried to prepare Mom and Katy for everything. The basics we figured out quickly after moving here; always take your shoes off before entering any one's home, eat anything offered even if you are not hungry, how to greet people, etc. But upon entering I realized I had forgotten to tell them that for celebrations almost always the furniture is moved out of the house and everyone sits on mats on the floor. I am so used to this that it never even crossed my mind to inform them but they both did amazing! Considering everything that was said was Kiswahili and the room was extremely hot they were gracious and I think even had fun!! We danced, drank fresh juice, did thew whole cake thing (everyone feds the b-day boy, takes a picture, everyone then gets a bite), and spent time with everyone. It was awesome to be able to share some of the culture and dear friends I have here with my family.

we all sat on the mat waiting for everything to begin
Anni actually followed the "rules" this time and waited for her turn to eat the cake!!
She is learning culture!
Go Katy!
everyone feeds the cake....
and everyone gets fed cake...
and there are many photo ops! This is one of Anni's friends in our neighborhood
Bibi got to hold the b-day boy! He was a little unsure of who this Mzungu was....but he did not even cry.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Papa Day!

We did not do much for Father's Day. I still am struggling to have much energy for anything besides breathing.....but we could not let the day go by without an ode to the greatest Papa we know!! I helped Anni paint a picture for Jason and he did get to go out and get the closest thing to a burger here which made him a very happy boy! He also sported this shirt my mom brought for him.

It came with paints to make hand prints and Auntie Katy helped Anni put her lil' prints on it; pretty sweet! I even forgot to send my own father and father-in-law something!! I am a jerk. I plead a sick jerk, but still: jerk. Sorry! I am hoping the Papa's in my life will forgive my minimal efforts because they certainly do not reflect how thankful I am for the fathers in my life.

Despite the lack of "hoopla" I have to give Jason special props this year; He already is the best Papa for Annikah and the most amazing husband I could ask for. I just cannot let the day pass without acknowledging the awesome man he is and has become. Especially over the last 4 months he has proven over and over again that his devotion to the Lord and our family are the driving forces in his life. He has been taking care of me, dealing with the emotional wreck I am in addition to being an invalid, carting me around to see various doctors, cleaning up my puke, doing all the housework, trying to still work, and doing everything with Annikah. I know he has moments of frustration but he always is willing to serve and love us, despite our unlovable moments and for that I am truly grateful. Happy Father's Day to all the Papa's out there and for my husband... I love you and am so grateful God put us together...through it all.

My favorite pic of Annikah and her Papa, so content she does not even notice the extra breeze...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Missing them already

My mom and Katy left yesterday. It was such an amazing blessing to have them visit and I miss them already. We toured the island, visited our school site, they met many of our team here and tons of our local friends and neighbors, shopped until we almost dropped, experienced the beauty of this place as well as some of our frustrations in living here, helped me during a tough time, and loved on us (pics to come as soon as I look thru the billion we took). I felt a bit better with them here but I think I definitely overdid it as I am exhausted. We took them to catch their first of 4 flights after some last minute shopping and beach time. They were hassled at the local airport about having too much luggage but after Jason argued a bit in Kiswahili they only had to pay 10 US dollars for all the overage:) Once we had to say goodbye all of us girls burst into tears at once. All the women in my family are emotional, and I love it, makes me feel normal, known, understood. We had tons of people watching us cry and hug and cry more and hug again. I think after so much time apart I can convince myself that although I miss my family I am really ok, really able to thrive apart from my loved ones but after some time together I really realized how true it is that one of hardest things about following this leading here is saying goodbye over and over again to those who have had a huge part is making me who I am, those people that are my safe place. There is a huge sacrifice in missing the big and small in each other's lives; holidays, dinners, births, parties, phone calls, and tons of other times. After they walked through security and turned the corner out of sight I started sobbing. Like had to sit down sobbing. It hit me I may not see them again until after a year has passed, after we have another baby, after so much has happened in all of our lives. I collected myself and we got in our car and drove the 5 minutes home. Anni kept hugging me and touching my face saying "Mama, it is ok, Bibi and Katy go but me is still here." It was so sweet and comforting. But it remains that I am missing them already. It means so much that they traveled all this way to experience how our lives have changed, to see the work of our hands, to just be with us and bless us with their presence and the dear reminder that although we are far away for the time being we are family and the bond we have transcends distance.

Monday, June 15, 2009

it is hot?

So my mom and Katy think it is hot here....Jason and I say try living through December-March :) but since we want them to have a blast and relax we were willing to sacrifice and spent the day at a resort that has an amazing pool to cool off. The fee is a bit steep but Bibi aims to spoil so we spent the day getting our tans on, relaxing, swimming, playing in the sand, and enjoying the amazing weather. When they leave and we go back to being poor Anni is going be one sad kid:) It is actually cooling off a bit....I even put a sweatshirt on last night which should indicate that I have indeed lived here a while!
Today I feel wrecked again so Jason took my mom and Katy on a tour to see how the spices are grown here. I am listening to Miss Annikah play with all her new toys while she is supposed to be sleeping and later we hope to go into town. It is hard to not be able to do much but I am grateful they are here and willing to sit with me while I lay on the couch. They are both helping so much with cooking and with Anni: what a blessing!

the girls get sun & cool off

Papa & Anni get some sun

Bibi & Anni in the kid's pool
2 minutes before this pic was taken:
Me: "Anni, are you tired? We were swimming all day!"
Anni: "No, me not tired"