We Fail and We Succeed

I totally failed yesterday. I missed it big time. I could’ve made a new friend and instead I introduced myself to a stranger and left her stranded.

We were at story time at the library and El was hungry, but I couldn’t resist smiling at a gorgeous young mum with a rounded belly and a little boy at her heels as we walked out the door.

“When are you due?” I asked and she glowed as she responded saying that she was 38 weeks, scheduled for a c-section in two weeks, but was feeling like it might need to be sooner, maybe even later that day!

My hands were full with library books, a chubby hand, and a hungry baby but I smiled in excitement and said, “OH! Congratulations! I hope it all goes well.”

Even though I was stepping toward the car, she wanted to know where my accent was from and tell me that she was Malaysian and had family in America and had only moved here two weeks ago but she’d be back at story time next week and would we be too?

I smiled and said I only knew one Malaysian in America and best wishes again with the baby and we have something next week but maybe the week after? We’d look forward to seeing her new little one.

It wasn’t until I was a couple of kilometeres down the road that I realised what she’d said. They only moved here two weeks ago. All her family was overseas. This was her first attempt to make friends. And she might be having her second baby… today.

All of the things I could’ve should’ve would’ve done flipped through my head. Sure, I’m busy changing the world, but I have time to make a meal or host a play date or just be the new friend on the other end of the phone!?

But I missed it. I wanted to drive back to the library and find her and tell her or do something but the moment was gone and so was she.

I’m sure I won’t be so quick to miss it next time.

And I’m glad that my good mate didn’t miss it.

Even as I was at the library, she was in a village in PNG and she too was meeting a new mum with a tiny baby. Only this mum had tuberculosis and couldn’t feed her baby. When mums in this part of the world can’t feed their babies they don’t run down to the store and pick up some formula. Either the women in the village help feed the baby… or the child dies.

The women weren’t helping. They were afraid they’d get TB. But my girl new better…

With her own gorgeous baby on board, she took time to express some of her milk to feed this tiny little one… and even helped the other women in the village learn to do it as well. So far, they are all helping to feed this tiny life.

Even as I kicked myself for my little oversight, I rejoiced in the beauty of my friend giving life in such a gorgeous way. We women can feel so stretched and pressured, or even insecure and unsure, but the reality is, we have SO much to offer one another. So glad i can share in the joy of my friend’s success and have a precious reminder to take up the opportunities as they come my way!

Newborn Baby Joel, the first patient on the YWAM ship for 2012! Photo courtesy of Anna Scott/YWAM Medical Ships

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Born In Paradise

Hannah Peart and Jennifer Perry were excited to be heading back to one of their favourite villages last week after visiting there last year. Ero is its official name but they dubbed it “paradise” and were telling the ship’s crew and allied health workers about the beautiful waterfalls and fabulous people.

When they arrived, Ero and its villagers delivered.

On their last visit late last year, Hannah and Jenn assisted a woman in labour. After a long battle, the woman ended up needing a cesarean. Unfortunately, the girls were unable to stay for the surgery and left the village wondering what happened to the woman and her child.

As Hannah was in the neighbouring village of Wowo recently, a man approached her with a familiar line, “Are you the nurse Hannah from Australia who was here last year?!”

When she confirmed his question, he was so excited. He was the father of the woman we had helped through labour several months ago. He went away and came back with his daughter… and her healthy baby boy.

What a joy to meet this healthy little boy born in paradise.

YWAM Delivers 6,000 Free Health Services in First Ten Days!

YWAM Medical Ships has just completed its first 10 days of providing health services in rural Papua New Guinea. Deep in remote estuaries, the volunteer crew have delivered over 6,000 health services to people in incredible need.

The beautiful Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea

Forty-eight marine and medical volunteers arrived in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea to one of the largest welcoming ceremonies in the region’s history. The next day, the work began, with people literally jumping into tinnies and dugout canoes to make their way to the vessel, moored just off the coast.

Lining Up

In just 10 days, the volunteers including doctors, nurses, primary health care workers, physios, optometrists, dentists and dental assistants, encountered diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, tropical wounds, worms, vision impairment, oral caries and more.

Thanks to so many of our friends and family for donating eyeglasses!!

In addition to the health work, YWAM volunteers also engaged in community development projects – teaching locals how to repair broken outboard motors and generators – items which are critical to their livelihood in these remote areas. They also visited a drought-stricken village where rain water tanks had recently been donated; however the water could not be accessed as there were no taps. The engineering crew on board the ship helped to create make-shift taps; the next day the village experienced rainfall to begin filling the tanks and allowing for access to clean water.

Director Ken Mulligan says, “We are really proud of the outcomes we’ve seen in PNG over the last two weeks, both the big numbers – and the individual stories.”

The YWAM Medical Ship is currently in Port Moresby for a supply restock and to pick up volunteers before returning to the Gulf Province to continue the work early next week. It will return to Townsville for routine maintenance in October.

And then there were three…

“I come that they would have life to the max”
(Paraphrase of John 10:10)

We have been overwhelmed with God’s grace to us during the arrival of our firstborn that we wanted to share the story. Just a forewarning, mixed in with the precious details of his arrival are some gory details of a fascinated first time mom. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum!!

Early labor started at 7:30 on Saturday, February 6 when our little man was officially one week overdue. After lots of exercise in the pool, contractions started and were consistently 10-15 minutes apart. I got a bit of sleep but not much as the contractions were strong enough to wake me from sleep. Around 3 am they really started getting closer together and by 8am they were around 4 minutes apart but short and manageable. I excitedly reported the progress to Jared when he woke up and we decided to text our midwife to let her know we might be in later in the day.

Within the hour, they abruptly stopped and slowed back to 10-15 minutes. We spent the day wondering what would happen, taking walks, and trying to rest knowing we’d need our energy if he arrived that night. Sometime in the evening, around 8pm Ken and Robyn (who had been chilling with me through the contractions for a big chunk of the afternoon) popped over and Ken prayed for this little life. It was shortly after that the contractions started to pick up and they progressed very quickly. By 10pm they were 1-2 minutes apart and lasting at least that long. I was in PAIN! I was determined to labor as long as possible at home but it got to the point where they were so strong that I wasn’t sure I could handle the ride to the birth centre. We called the midwife, she heard me and said, “YES! Come now!”

When we arrived I was 6.5-7cm dilated. My goal had been 5 so I was stoked. We labored in the tub for a while and then the shower. It has hard but it was good. Things continued to progress and within a short time I was 8cm. I moved back into the pool and could feel things really picking up. There was a breakthrough moment for me when my waters broke. I felt this huge pop and for the first time, I just KNEW that I was going to make it. Before then I was doubting myself the entire time and wondering why in the world I wasn’t going to the hospital to have an epidural.

Just as quickly as I began to feel empowered, Vanessa, our (amazing) midwife said, “Rebekah, there’s meconium (baby poo) in the water and we need to transfer you upstairs right now.” I was SO disappointed. The water was feeling so good and I had just mustered up the confidence to get the baby out. Things were not going according to plan.

I hopped on a gurney and they began to wheel me to the birth ward. I was in SO much pain and I have to admit my lungs during labour were SO loud. I had no idea I could scream that loud! I was hurting even my own ears and Vanessa thought I might deliver the baby on the way. In the elevator I had a doozy of a contraction and yelled so loud she covered my mouth and told me I had to be quiet or I would scare people!

When we got to the room and hooked us both up to the monitor, our precious baby’s heart beat had dropped from a healthy 140-150 during the entire delivery to 60. The doctors – who were already in emergency action to prepare for any complications from the meconium – took their precautions to the next degree.

I was in so much pain from the contractions and it was such a whirlwind. All I remember is the doctor looking at Jared and me and saying, “I am very concerned for the life of your child.”

Shortly after they were putting a mask on me and I asked what they were doing. I heard them say, we’re preparing you in case we need to resuscitate you. You’re loosing a lot of blood. DEFINITELY not going according to plan as we had been having a hard but very healthy labour up to this point.

I heard them telling me, “We have a few minutes to get this baby out of you.” I wasn’t quite fully dilated but they offered to let me push with the assistance of a vacuum. If he didn’t come within a few minutes, we were going immediately to c-section, an awful thought after living through almost 30 hours of early and intense labour.

I remember being scared but determined. I remember wondering whether after all of this I would actually have a baby who was alive. As I had that thought, God reminded me of the name we had been considering, Max, and the Scripture that Jared thought of when the name came to him, “I come that that they would have life.” Immediately I knew this baby was going to live.

I started pushing, and since he wasn’t quite down enough for the vacuum I had a lot of work to do. It was so confusing to be in so much pain and such an emergency and 3 different people yelling at me “PUSH! PUSH! Stop! You’re pushing wrong!” All the instructions were overwhelming and I just wanted to get this baby out before something terrible happened to him. Vanessa was amazing. She cupped my face and quietly told me exactly how to push. I got him just far enough so that they could get the vacuum on and after a few attempts we had one strong contraction and I told the doctor I was going to push and together we got him out.

At 3:08am on February 8, I heard a big cry and they put him straight on my chest. He was so blue but he was alive and breathing. Even though he was covered in poo, and I was so exhausted I was so happy he was okay.

First Hug

Unfortunately at that point, things took another turn. Pushing the baby out so quickly had torn me quite badly inside in multiple places and I was bleeding very bad. I lost around 1 1/2-2 Litres of blood in just a few minutes. As they ensured the baby was healthy, they were taking very strong precautions to make sure I would be okay.

I had three IV’s in me (wishing at least one of them was pain relief!!) and after all that labour, they had to put me on Pitocin to contract my uterus quickly to help determine whether the bleeding was only from the tearing and episiotomy or whether it was coming from the uterus. I was not thrilled to have consistent contractions even after my baby was here! I was expecting pain in recovery but not that! They were no where near as bad but I was still exhausted from so little sleep over the past 72 hours.

It was an awful recovery and testing time. We were so exhausted but I was too tired to cry. I couldn’t even open my eyes to look at my baby but I was so happy to have him with me. Sweet Vanessa helped him latch on for a feed. Jared had been so strong the entire time. A constant encouragement. I couldn’t have made it through any piece of the labour without his encouragement and faith… and backrubs! I was so scared but he was SO brave. I remember opening my eyes enough to see him slumped over in the chair asleep as they continued to run tests on me.

Not knowing where the bleeding was coming from, the doctors decided to run tests on me for several hours… from just after 3 when he was born until about 9 that morning. We were informed that since they had not determined the bleeding, I may need to go into surgery to make it stop. We called home and asked for prayer and finally were told that the bleeding had been isolated and I could move into recovery. PRAISE GOD!

First Smiles

I was very very weak from the blood loss and required three bags of blood for a transfusion but around noon they finally let me eat (I had had a half an apple and some popcorn in the past 24 hours and wanted to eat SO bad!). The blood transfusion gave me a lot more energy. I didn’t realise how sick and weak I was. I am so grateful for everyone’s care and prayer. So many stories I could describe!

As Jared & I reflected on the entire experience and began to share with people, we found out that a number of people had been prompted to pray for us not even knowing that I was in labour. So many things could’ve gone wrong… and yet both Max and I are now cuddled at home next to the most amazing husband and daddy. It truly is a miracle!

Almost Better

And, as we reflect on our little miracle, we are reminded of the women in Papua New Guinea, who live in a part of the world with one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates. Had we been there, it is most likely that both Max and I would not be here today.

As we were choosing our little man’s name, Jared had been reminded of the Scripture “I come that they would have life to the max.” Weeks later we had felt that this was also to be our message for the Australia & PNG Ship Tour. We are amazed at God’s ways! Our little boy – not just our special story – is a constant reminder of the precious people who need life. And our prayer is as a family we can help bring that life to others.

We love our little Max and are so grateful for all of you who hoped and prayed him safely into our arms! We love you!

Going Home

Jared, Rebekah and Max

PS – This is SO long but Jared (the practical one) just informed me I left out a lot of the detail! Haha! It really was an experience and a half …