Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The "Final" Leg

It's been a couple of weeks since my last chat about my experience. I feel like it's time to wrap this journey up. Mainly because while I feel better about everything that has happened, it's still painful to talk about parts of it.

The actual procedure itself was fine and successful. I had much less bleeding than what I had imagined, and the physical healing aspect of the procedure went remarkable well. There were moments when I was quickly reminded of where I was. Here are a few of those moments:

 A close friend had come to visit and drop off food for us. I was still coming out of the grogginess of it all and can remember little of what we spoke about. I was covered up but was self conscious about not having pants on. My body began to shiver- I thought that this was due to my awareness of not having pants on. I made the comment about me being really cold, which never, ever happens here! In the course of 2 hours I had spiked a really high fever. It seemed to have come from no where- just came right in and gave me intense whole body shakes. Josh called for a nurse and three followed him back. He asked them to check my temperature because I have a fever. They brought back a mercury thermometer, stuck it in my armpit for less than a minute, and pulled it out with a normal reading. Everyone in the room could feel that I had a fever, although I was shivering. With Fiona on the phone, Josh asked if he could use an alcohol wipe to clean the thermometer and put it in my mouth for a better reading. I could hear her yelling on the phone," No!! Do NOT put that in her mouth!! No!!" We found out later that those thermometers are used rectally to check the babies' temperatures, so really who knows how clean they really are! Josh ran across the street to the pharmacy to buy an unused thermometer so we could safely stick it my mouth. My fever was well over 103, and at that point the nurses realized something was going on. The only way my shakes would calm down was with the gentle, reassuring touch of a Papuan nursing intern. She would gently place her hands, which were warm and comforting, on my arms, which were freezing.

After discussions about the best course of action and rejecting medicine we (who have no medical experience) decided I didn't need, my fever began to go down after given a large dose of a fever reducer. During this time I went to the bathroom. The nurse tried to get me to use a bedpan- I have never used one before. In Indonesian the word for "bedpan" is "piss pot". I did not learn that term (along with many other medical terms) in language school! The nurse helped me to the toilet. My birthing experience with Kate was that when I went to the bathroom, the nurses changed out bloody disposable gauze  sheets. That is not the case here. I returned to soiled disposable gauze sheets. That I could handle because we could easily throw that away and get another clean one- because we had to purchase all of those things before hand. What threw me off was the puddle of my own blood under the detachable bottom of the bed. This was from the procedure and had not been cleaned up. I only noticed it when I entered the room. 

There was also a sweet concerned intern who was practicing her English skills in the midst of all of this. So we chatted about the schooling process required to become a nurse here. Let's just say that during our conversation she paired the word "juicy" with describing a body part. In my feverish state I don't think I busted out laughing, although now when I tell the full story I can't keep a straight face. 

Due to the fever, it was recommended I stay overnight. This was not part of my plan. Karen's gracious response to this relieved so much stress. It would be our first night away from Kate, and this wasn't the ideal reason why. Knowing Kate was well taken care of made this momma's heart rest a little easier. Although resting did not happen. Josh and I argued about whether we should stay or go. This was interesting because it was in front of nurses- so I asked them to leave, I'm sure I had provided enough entertainment for the whole week. Looking back I'm proud of Josh- it's not easy to argue with me and even harder to win. I respected his reasoning and know it came from a place of love, although at the time I was really upset. We were moved to a private VIP room- which contained a *working toilet* with *toilet paper*. They brought in an extra bed for Josh. We tried to sleep. The fever returned in the middle of the night, and Dr. Josh did an excellent job of treating the patient with what he had. Sleep finally came around 4:30 AM, with the only check was a nurse who walked by and looked in our window at some point in the night. At 6 AM, the nurses crashed into our room with their metal cart, flipped on the harsh fluorescent lights, *pushed* Josh's bed out of the way (while he was still waking up) to get to the patient to check my blood pressure and oxygen level in my blood. We started the process of checking out of the hospital at 6:30 AM. Josh had to find the nearest ATM because the card reader was broken in the hospital. After agreeing to waive responsibility from the doctor to me, we were finally in the car heading home 3 hours later. 

I felt like I had severe jetlag- headache, tired, cranky, sore muscles. It turns out I was also having a reaction to the antibiotics. Red, itchy skin. So we stopped all of the meds, pumped me full of Benadryl and waited. I took the max dose of Benadryl and was awake and alert until 2 AM Tuesday morning when my body finally crashed.

Tuesday was when the grief came. The grief hasn't lingered, but does return frequently. I have a heightened sense of awareness of all things pregnant around me- women, dogs, cats. I grieve over birth announcements that I won't be making with this Little One. Pinterest is still giving ideas of how to decorate a nursery along with baby advice, which I won't be needing now. I've heard people say in the past when speaking of a lost loved one that "not one day goes by that I don't think of you". I thought that was just something that was commonly said among those who grieve. Oh, how my attitude has changed. While I have never met our baby face to face or held them in my arms, I did carry them for 9 weeks and 1 day. I think about this Little One every day. Not all day, but every day my thoughts drift towards what life would be like or imagining the flutter of life in my belly. It's an interesting mixture of happiness and sadness. God is gracious and gives me hope. I would be lying if I said this leg of the journey wasn't difficult. My comfort has come from the Lord. It's hard not having your family around during a really difficult time. Life continued as normal and the days are long when you're left alone with a toddler. God is my comfort and continues to comfort. 

Kitty Therapy

The ER

Ready for procedure 


Dr. Josh resting in our private VIP room

The Patient waiting for freedom! 
Thank you to all who have reached out to us. Thank you for the words of encouragement and words of hope and healing. Your friendship and prayers are what have propped me up and helped me continue on when I would rather just sit down. Thank you just doesn't even seem to convey the depth of appreciation. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Part 2

*This is not the entire account of the journey. There's just too much to say. It's too raw and I'm not sure this is the forum I want to re-live every single aspect of my journey. Thank you for walking with me and sharing in my grief, joy and healing. -Amber* 

Friday approached. Karen came to our house at 6 AM, and we left our sleeping Kate to get an early start. I began fasting the night before to be ready for a procedure that would start around 10:30 AM. The procedure should be quick, and I would return home that afternoon to recover. This was *the* plan. It was the *only* plan that I had in my mind- silly me! After living here many years, I should know better than to think that way- often things don't work out the way I plan. 

After going between a couple different buildings a few different times, I waited as Josh registered with the hospital. There was a stray cat who had walked into the waiting area. I still think it's interesting the areas cats are allowed admittance. The cat was familiar with the area, and at one point I lost track of him. The receptionist began shushing out of no where, and it was clear where the cat was. The cat came back to the chairs where I was sitting, and I began to pet this stray cat. It was therapeutic in some ways- calming nerves. 

My journey began in the ER, which is heartbreaking place. Incredibly sick people come hoping for answers to their pains. A little girl, no older than Kate, was writhing in pain on a hospital bed while her exhausted Momma helplessly looked to the nurses for an answer. Already emotional my heart broke for this Momma. My heart began to pray for answers. 

I was taken to a bed to wait for something- no one said what we were waiting for. The walls had dried blood next to my face when lying down. A nurse approached to insert the IV line. She attempted first on my right wrist under my thumb. I stared at a spot on the dirty ceiling willing myself to be strong. She kept pushing on the area of the inserted needle asking me if it hurt. Bravely I said," Yes, it hurts but it's okay." I finally looked to where she was pointing because she held up my wrist and said," Does this hurt? (poke. poke.) Because it's big right here." My skin had a huge swollen bump where the needle had gone in! With each poke pain shot up my arm- yes!! That hurts!! So, she took it out and left. She returned with a friend who attempted to insert the IV on the back of my left hand. The attempt failed even though she pushed and pushed the line in. Be brave. Be brave. I yelled at Josh to please call Fiona thinking she could come and put in the IV for me. They kept asking why my veins were like this? Had I been fasting? Why had I been fasting- my procedure was not until 3:30 that afternoon. What?! This was news to me. 

The two nurses left. Fiona came. She said in her Aussie way "How you going?" and I burst into tears. They flowed. Tears mixed with fear came streaming out. Phrases like "I don't want to do this!", "What am I doing here? I just want to go home. But I don't want to do *this* at home!", or "Is there any other way?" came jumbled out. Fiona listened. God restored my strength and we pressed on. A third nurse came in at some point to insert the IV. We dubbed her "The Ringer", because she looked like she had done this a thousand times. She put the IV in on the back of my right hand. The first nurse was left to complete the job. Cross cultural lessons do not stop in the midst of an ER. She poked her failed attempt and asked if it was still sore. I said yes, it is. She then poked her friend's failed attempt and said "Yes, but *this* one is much more sore, right?" Seriously?? I almost lost it- I said No- your's is much more sore! I was then wheeled away through the hospital to my next destination. I'm glad someone was pushing me because I'm sure I would have gotten lost. It was a sight to see- a bright red-faced, crying white woman being pushed in a wheelchair through the hospital. 

The Women's Ward was in a beautiful new building. The rooms were spacious with little to offer for comfort. We had a bed, which we provided our own sheets for, and a plastic chair for Josh. I stared at a blank wall that had a wall clock and a gold crucifixion hung above it. Josh was given a list of medicine and supplies to purchase at the pharmacy in the hospital. In Indonesia the patient is required to purchase the supplies needed for any procedure prior to the procedure. The pharmacy in the hospital did not have the majority of the listed items and told Josh to go across the street to another place. The pharmacy across the street did not have the items and recommended he make a 15 minute drive to another place. He returned after hunting down all the listed items at the various pharmacies around town. Fiona kept me company while Josh was on the hunt, which was nice because fear was on the edge of my heart throughout the whole experience. 

The nurses entered in a whole team- like a pit crew at a NASCAR race. The head nurse said they wanted to give me a medicine to help begin the miscarriage process naturally. I told Fiona in English- the whole reason I'm here is so I would not have to experience anything naturally! She calmed me down by telling me the facts- the amount they wanted to give was 1/8 of a dose that would be given in Australia or America. The medicine was inserted and I was to lie on the bed for the medicine to take effect. 

This is the part that I'm convinced the Lord was gracious to me and gave me perspective of love rather than bitterness. The Women's Ward was a place grief and joy slam into one another. I was there because my baby had died, and others were there because their babies were being born. Two sets of twins were born that morning. I heard first cries of other babies, knowing that I would not hear my baby's cry. At the moment (and even still) I'm grateful for life. Also in that moment I realized that I lived in a world that disregarded the emotional side of medical care- it should not be that death and life share a room. Even now a month later, my heart is stirred and tears well up at this memory. 

A flurry of activity swept into my room around 2 PM. The nurses seemed excited that something was finally happening on this somewhat slow day. They had attached the stirrups and were about to remove the lower part of the bed when the head nurse came in and stopped all activity because the anesthesiologist would not be ready until 3. The nurses hung their heads as they left the room. The whole crew returned at 3:30 ready to go. We have a photo of at least 8 people in the room besides me- doctor, anesthesiologist, interns, med students, nurses, and patient. No privacy- I'm glad I was knocked out. 

The anesthesiologist talked fast and was right in my face. When someone is that close you can see straight into their mouth and examine all their teeth. It was too much for me. I just nodded and smiled as he spoke because I only understood about half of it. Fiona was with me the whole time. She said," They are about to give you the medicine to make you forget." I replied with "Good. I don't want to remember any of this." My last remark was "I think it's working..." 


Friday, February 26, 2016

Walk With Me

*This is a personal post with potential emotional triggers. 

Living in a developing country presents new aspects of life that I had never experienced growing up in a developed country. Clean drinking water straight from the faucet, trash truck pick up twice a week, good medical care, and food always available at local stores are a few of those advantages. It's now normal to drink the filtered water and a having a grocery list rarely gets accomplished in one spot. The realm of medical was always on the back burner of my reality- I knew it was there and had heard stories from others of their personal experiences, but really was never impacted by it.

We were told by Fiona that we needed to go get an ultrasound at the pharmacy (apotik) in the next town over. We were told that due to a death in his family he would not be practicing that night and for us to come the next day. Sure... the next day... wait, but I want to know now (developed country mindset).

So we returned to the same local pharmacy that did the ultrasound for Kate.

To make an appointment you have to physically put your name on a list and wait until the doctor comes and calls your name. It's almost like a walk-in clinic, but there's a rank and order. We dropped Kate off with a close friend, because we didn't know how long we would be waiting. The wait was short. The lack of privacy is a reality- the assistant told me to take off my pants and underwear. She was holding a blanket by her legs, but wasn't using it to cover me. "This is normal here. This is normal here." The doctor did two types of ultrasounds. The machine was grainy and undefined. During the second ultrasound he asked me repeatedly if I was pregnant or if I had taken a pregnancy test and even at one point said there was no baby there. We finally found the baby, but there was no way we could tell if there was a heartbeat. He attempted to run the Doppler, which shows the heartbeats of momma and baby. There were no heartbeats to be heard, and I'm certain that I had an active heartbeat. Feeling like there were no answers given, we returned home to wait until the next evening. 

The next day (Friday) we went to the apotik we were originally meant to go to. We registered, got some dinner, and came back to wait and people-watch, which is really just you watching other people who are watching you! The machine was beautiful- clear, modern, and reliable. The doctor found the baby on the first touch down of the ultrasound thingy on my belly. There was our baby tucked away safely. He was immediately able to tell there was no heartbeat and explained that the baby had died. It was a brief experience. No sympathy. No time for crying. Just facts and more facts of what was to come. The doctor recommended taking care of things immediately and wrote a script for admittance to the hospital on Monday. 

We didn't go on Monday. Instead we took the weekend to process things and make decisions. My body was showing no signs of miscarriage. No cramping, no bleeding, nothing other than the disappearance of pregnancy symptoms. Fiona said we could take our time. My back burner thoughts of medical care here was quickly becoming a reality that I couldn't avoid. I weighed the pros and cons of having a natural miscarriage vs a DNC at the local hospital. My main concerns were my personal pain level and what to do with the baby after the baby passed. Through prayer and seeking advice from Josh and others, I decided that the procedure at the local hospital would be the best fit for me. 

Instead of going to the hospital on Monday, we went to Fiona for one final ultrasound just to make sure we were not terminating life. There was no beat, and we decided to go to the hospital on Friday. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Beginning of Processing It All

Tired. All the time tired. 

Nauseous. A little of the time nauseous. 



How do you read this thing?? 

Yes. 2 lines = pregnant, even in Indonesian. 

We arranged for an appointment with our lovely midwife, Fiona. This is the second time Fiona has seen a photo of my pregnancy tests to confirm. Kate and I went to the clinic, and Fiona used the ultrasound machine and we saw an image of an itty-bitty baby. 

Over the course of a month I would go back and we would try to get a measurement of the baby for a more accurate due date. Fiona found a heartbeat that was strong and fluttering beautifully to a beat that only my baby's Maker knew. August is your due date. Each measurement showed little growth. Where I thought the baby should measure further along, the baby's measurement was actually smaller.

Our family began to plan and dream of a life of 4. Dreading the midnight cries but longing for midnight snuggles. Dreading the pains of labor, but anticipating that first look of love and imagining the proud Daddy face when he sees his baby and watching Baby Kate become Big Sister Kate. We began to plan our trip back home, dreaming big of the route we would take. We told our family, enjoying the reactions and sharing in joy that life was given to our family. 

Tired. Yes, but not all the time.

Nauseous. No. It stopped on Sunday. 

Yes!! I'm clearly out of that stage!! 

I shared this news with Fiona in the clinic while Kate played with the borrowed toys available. We used the ultrasound machine, the same machine that finds babies in the village and shows mommas who had only felt the movement, but now are seeing life for the first time inside their bellies, to measure. Baby measured around 8 weeks, again not matching Momma's mental measurement. We used the [same] machine to find the [same] fluttering heartbeat. This time the [same] machine found no flutter. The beat that only my baby's Maker knew was gone. 


Still full of hope. 

A possible mistake? 

Several scans confirmed the same answer. No heartbeat. No life. Just a beautiful, tiny image on a screen of a face we will only imagine, until we meet our Maker who formed our baby's beat. We have hope that our baby is healthy and whole. My Jesus, who has held my hand while walking through uncertain paths and has sometime just held me up steady on my feet, is the same One who is carrying our Little One. He will protect and care for our baby. 

Seeking Hope. 

Full of Hope. 

"But I know whom I have believed, 
and am persuaded that he is able
to keep that which I've committed
unto him against that day"

Josh and I have committed many things to Him, but the most important and most precious are our babies. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Against All Odds

There are a few friends of mine who live in these *luxurious* places that provide electricity almost immediately after the power goes out. The power goes out and a few seconds to minutes later a generator kicks on providing power! It's incredible. This does not happen at my house. We have a generator and can [and do] use it when the power goes out, but I have to drag it outside and crank it up by pulling the cord like you would use to start a lawnmower- which also has never been easy for me.

So I feel like the days I use my slowcooker/crockpot I'm making a huge gamble. I'm placing everything (dinner) on the line in hopes that the power will stay on for the 4 or more hours I'm (really the machine is) cooking dinner. I take even more of a risk if I leave the house while the crockpot is in use, because what if the power goes out and I'm not there to start the generator- dinner could be ruined!! At this point in my life, providing a yummy dinner that is kid and parent approved becomes how I measure success in my life... This is a safe place where I can share these things that only come out when writing, right?? Don't judge me. Please, don't. 

One week I used the slowcooker **two nights in a row**. Against all odds the electricity stayed on the WHOLE time and a delicious meal met the needs or my family AND dinner guests! My friend recently blogged about being a risk taker by playing sports in an environment with poor health care... I feel like I'm living on the edge when I use my slow cooker 2 nights in a row! 

Here's a recipe that I have made recently in the slow cooker: 

Greek Chicken from
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 1 pound boneless, chicken thighs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pita Bread
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Chopped tomato
  1. Lay chicken in the bottom of a greased crock.
  2. Place onions on top and sprinkle garlic and spices c over everything.
  3. Place lid on and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
  4. When chicken is done, remove it from the crock and shred it with two forks.
  5. While chicken is out of the crock, stir in sour cream. Add chicken back to crock and stir well.
  6. Ladle chicken onto warm pita bread, using it as a taco. Sprinkle with tomato. Fold over and serve.
Yield – 4 servings
We did not have pita, so it was served over rice. It was a hit! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cooking Series

In my experience of living overseas I have realized that it's hard. I'm reminded of this again and again when I watch others who have newly arrived struggle with those same things that I did, and in some cases still do. There are some things that I've gotten used to, but other things I don't think I will ever get used to. There are some things that each day is step in my journey of life becoming "normal". One of these daily steps is cooking overseas. 

I'm not only talking about gathering all your ingredients from at least three different location or gathering your fresh produce from the local market or that you need to learn substitutes of foods/spices or how to make things from scratch... because all of these things are learned along the way. 

Now that I have more time on my hands I find myself looking up recipes online of copycat foods from home. For some reason I was stuck on the "ever delicious" Taco Bell. It's interesting because when we're home we make a "run for the border" because it's convenient not necessarily due to taste. But when you can't have something it becomes that much more delicious in your memories. Always satisfying, and never make you have to run to the toilet... 

So I decided that I was going to make a Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme at my home in Papua, Indonesia. 
Here are the ingredients:
Flour Tortilla
Refried Beans
Taco Seasoned Ground Beef
Nacho Cheese Sauce
Crunchy Corn Tortilla
Sour Cream

Thankfully we had a few of these ingredients from care packages so didn't have to make everything from scratch, but if we make it in the future things would be made from scratch. 

Here are the things made from scratch:
Flour Tortillas (Our wonderful house helper makes these each week for us) 
Refried Beans (Pressure cooker to the rescue!!)
Sour Cream (1 Cup Heavy Cream mixed with 1 tablespoon White Vinegar, stir) 

Future items from scratch:
Nacho Cheese Sauce (Make a White Sauce and add cheese and spices)
*Corn Tortillas (I would have a hard time making this here, so I might request from some to be sent)

We also made Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas, which even with a great imagination left much to be desired. 

Heat your oven to 400 (or in our case as high as it would go) and let your corn tortillas crisp up for about 10 minutes. 

Cook your taco beef. 

Assemble your crunchwraps, and remember this is not Taco Bell so be okay with ugly crunchwraps! 

The taste of our homemade CrunchWrap was spot on! It didn't take that long to assemble after everything else was already made. 

Images by Freepik