Saturday, January 26, 2013

Goodbye January.

It is hard to believe that January of 2013 is just about over...

This month has been full of mountains and valleys, blessings and testings, but always full of the Lord's faithfulness. Here's a little insight..

The most exciting news of the month is that my clinic fees for this Spring are COMPLETELY covered! I am so thankful to all of you who donated and prayed and BELIEVED that God's faithfulness would shine through. It overwhelms me heart to be able to stay here and continue ministering to these moms and families--I love it so much! Thank you!

Also in January, I've had some 'adventures' with my 2 continuity patients..

First is Abby. She was due to deliver her baby at our clinic this month. Throughout her pregnancy, she had quite the number of complications, requiring a lot of care and encouragement. I loved getting to see her quite frequently. When she texted me at 6am this past Tuesday that her pain was intense and frequent, I met her at the clinic to assess her progress. She was in a lot of pain, appearing to be really active and almost ready to deliver. Yet, when I checked, she was only 2cm dilated (10 cm is fully dilated). I sent her back home, with instructions on when to return. I went to the market, did some work around the house, and headed to the clinic at 1pm. As I was doing a check-up for one of my patients, Abby called me, and informed me she was on her way back to the clinic because she was ready to deliver. She came in not much longer and drudged to a bed. I encouraged her to lay down, breathe, and relax. (She had been having high blood pressure the last 2 weeks of her pregnancy, and I wanted to prevent that as much a possible.) I checked her dilation again, and she was 5cm! Much more active and closer to giving birth. The problem was her blood pressure. It was high and after 20 minutes and checking it again, it had elevated more. Because of the risks maternal hypertension presents with birth, we don't attempt deliveries for those cases at our clinic. I was SO bummed to have to tell Abby she would be transported to the local hospital for delivery there. We inserted an IV, I prepared transport papers, and we took her to the hospital. I knew it was best for her heath and the baby's, but I so badly wanted to help her through her birth. She did text me early the next morning saying she had had a Cesarian late the previous night and gave birth to her first child--a baby boy. :) I am planning to visit her in the hospital this week.

Second is Love-love. Her story is just as interesting. Wednesday morning, I got an early text from the clinic saying my cont patient was back. I was SO confused, because I had transported Abby to the hospital just 12 hours ago. I only have 2 conts and my other one (Love-love) wasn't due until the second week of March. I hurriedly got ready and got another text from the clinic saying it was indeed Love-love. She was only 33 weeks along. Surely she wasn't really in labor!? By the time I got the clinic, the ambulance had just returned from transporting her to the hospital for pre-term labor. Supposedly she was indeed in active labor. I haven't talked to her to find out what happened with her and her baby, despite attempts to contact her.

Needless to say, my adventures with continuity patients has been interesting, both ending with bummers. As a first year here, we aren't required to take continuity patients, but I really love that aspect of relational care and took the 2 as my own choice. I'm thankful that we were able to transport them both for their risks, though. Hopefully situations with my conts in the future will allow me to actually help deliver their babies. :)

The experience here is incomparable. And if I haven't said it enough, I LOVE IT HERE. Glory to God for this opportunity and for people who support me here. I am a happy girl.

Until next time,

Midwife Brittany

Friday, January 11, 2013


As I was at the clinic today, I began to marvel at how much God is at work here. And I have found lately that I very much LOVE so much about being here.

I love worshiping the Lord, singing songs in English and Visayan, with 80+ women who come for prenatals on a given day. The picture that paints of heaven overwhelmed me this morning.

I love taking public transportation--jeepneys are the best. Passing down my 8 pesos (equivalent to about 20 cents) and being familiar enough with the city to yell to the driver to stop for me to get off is a small joy.


...packed with people as usual.

I love learning anything and everything about the language here. There is something deep in my soul that is satisfied when I hear someone pray or sing or read in Visayan. It is also equally satisfying to be able to understand and communicate back with my patients in their language.

I love eating rice. I really, really do.

I love laboring with an expecting mom and her bana (husband), especially when the bana is extremely helpful. Helpful banas are blessings to midwives.

I love my continuity patient who texts me all the time to tell me about the progress of her pregnancy. I don't love that every time she comes for a prenatal that there is another complication, but I do love her. (She is due to give birth any day now and I am SO excited to be her midwife!)

I love sitting on shift in the birth room and 'making chika-chika' (just chatting) with the filipina midwives. They always laugh and joke and are wonderful. The culture is genuinely full of joy, and I love it.

I love waking up in the morning and drinking my 3-in-1 kape (coffee).

I love reading about birth and learning about how the Lord creates us in our mother's womb. I love being an eyewitness to that miracle on a daily basis.

I love seeing my patients weeks after they give birth. Pure, inexplicable joy.

My first ever patient as a handling midwife.

Baby Bryan Jr. :)

Most of all, I love the Lord. I love that God sent me here. I love that He has stretched my faith with this leap more than I have ever been stretched. I love that even now that I am here that I can't survive without depending on him for my daily needs--every day. And I love that this is His plan for me.

Overwhelmed with goodness and a purely grateful heart,

Midwife Brittany

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Disaster Relief-Cateel

So I began writing this post a while back, but am just now finishing it up. Read about what happened in an area affected by typhoon Pablo on December 4th here on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.
 Remember, this was written a few weeks back...

I don't really know how to begin this post. It has been such a long time since I have given an update to you guys who read. Forgive me. Life here in the Philippines has been quite busy. I think I could write for hours upon hours about all the things I have learned, seen, and experienced. Because of that, I will most likely be updating my blog with a lot of new posts in the next few days.

The major thing going on over here as of recent is the horrific typhoon that hit Mindanao on December 4th, just a week ago. Typhoon Bopha, or Pablo as the locals call it, caused terrible damage in various parts of the island of Mindanao. The latest update on the damage and death toll that I found can be viewed here. By God's grace, Davao city, where I live, did not incur any damage, just heavy rain for a few days. However, areas nearby were not as fortunate.

Last Friday (December 7), I was given an opportunity to be a part of a group headed to Cateel, an area that was hit hard by Pablo. Along with 3 filipina midwives, 4 classmates of mine, and a mixed group of local missionaries, we headed to the area around 4am on Saturday morning. The drive up was long because the shorter route was blocked by a damaged bridge. Not only was it long, it was devastating. Sure, we were headed to an area that was really damaged bad, but from what I was seeing on the ride up, how could it get much worse? We got to a stretch of road where people and their families were lined up for miles, amongst heaps of devastation, all with signs and outstretched hands. They too had been hit hard by the storms, yet we were just passing through. That was such a hard drive. We had a bag on candy in our car and would toss and few pieces out to groups of children we saw as we went along. Was that helpful or even culturally appropriate? I don't know, but it was something, something to show that our hearts were broken for them too.

I think that so often I have heard of natural disasters tearing apart the land, destroying everything that people own, taking the lives of so many, but until I had witnessed it and lived up close and personal with it, I really had no clue. And for me, it was so different than hurricane damage I had seen reported in the states. Don't misunderstand me--the people effected in the states are equally as important as those here in the Philippines, and I'm in no way trying to lessen the effect that those storms had, but I just can't wrap my mind around how much damage I saw here. And the bigger issue of rebuilding and relief and help--it's just not even comparable to what kind of help is immediately deployed when something like this happens in the Western part of the world. I will admit that I quickly began questioning why the Lord would allow something to happen in a place like here. 

We finally made it to the hospital in Cateel. The building barely passed as such, as the roof was gone, supplies were destroyed, there was no electricity, and the water had stopped. For the next 30 hours, we did anything and everything to help, with just an hour of sleep.

Since the pictures will speak louder than any words I could type, here are pictures of all the things we helped with. Some of the images are graphic in nature corresponding to medical injuries.

Damage from the typhoon

More damage. Notice all the trees and how they are cut off.

Damage in the community.

Some kids we gave candy to on the side of the road on the way up.   

Cateel Hospital where we helped with emergency medical cases.

Organizing supplies when we first arrived there.

About 30 minutes after arriving, a few of us got sent to the station set up for wound care. The wounds were the worst I have ever seen in my entire life.

A baby with a wound that had been sutured but not well taken care of. Infection had set in and a doctor came to re-suture.

Another wound that had gotten infected after previously being sutured. With no clean water and no homes, it was hard for the typhoon victims to take care of themselves.

Violet and I doing our best to help clean the wounds

A deep head wound on a child.

I was assigned to the Tetanus Toxoid station, too, where we gave Tetanus shots to all those with wounds. One after another after another...

We also worked the initial interview lines. People would come from the areas and wait in line for their vitals to be taken and tell us what was wrong. We would see everything from diarrhea to deep wounds to high fevers to infection. It was also such a neat time to listen to the people tell their stories. Most of the stories included a family member who had died or was missing or hurt badly. 

We had a makeshift pharmacy area set up, too, for patients to receive medications.

This is an inside view of the hospital. Notice the damage ceiling and the patients flooding the hallways.

The Philippine Army was there to transport those patients who needed emergency care. Most included internal bleeding cases or critical spinal injuries. The sad thing was that after loading the patients up, all the patients had to return to the hospital because the helicopter wasn't able to make the trip because of bad weather. The next day when our team was heading out, the patients were being re-loaded up in hopes of finally getting transported to hospitals in cities nearby.

Nancy, Violet, and I taking a 20 minute dinner break. We were accompanied by an awesome support team from Global Impact that set up a makeshift kitchen area and cooked us our meals (and also shared with doctors in the hospital and the Army), provided us a place to sleep for a little bit, and encouraged and prayed for us as we worked around the clock.

Food line area.

And again....what an awesome support staff!

So other than the wound care, injections, interviews, and medicine-giving, we had shifts inside the 'hospital.' We checked all the patients' vitals who were admitted, monitored IVs, and changed dressing on wound. AND being the midwives that we are, we got to help with TWO births on the one night we were there. This mom pictured with my classmate Echo had such a hard birth. She ended up giving birth to a baby boy around 7am after laboring through the night and having the scare of fetal demise when heart tones for the baby couldn't be heard. The birth really was a miracle. (Echo wrote an awesome blog about the story. You should check it out!

And this is sweet Glen and her baby girl. After being on shift in the hospital and then staying over 2 hours to help with the other labor, I was headed to sleep for a few hours, but another pregnant women (Glen! :) came in. The other midwives were busy with the first woman, so I took Glen, found a bed in the dark hallway, and took all her initial vitals. (The light that was being backed by the generator was giving light to the room where the other woman was.) We had forgotten our fetascopes and dopplers (used to hear the baby's heart beat) so I used a stethoscope and found a strong heart beat on the baby. Nancy (my fellow first year) and I had someone go and get one of our Filipina midwives who was sleeping. She came quick and asked who was going to handle the birth. I had thought she would do it--she was more experienced, and plus we were in a dark hallway, with extremely limited supplies. She said she would assist and that I should catch. At this point I had only caught 3 babies previously, so of course I was nervous. Nancy gave me her headlamp, I checked and found out that the Glen was 9 cm dialated and ready for her baby to come out! She pushed for about 5 minutes her sweet second child, a baby girl was born. The birth was fairly uncomplicated, minus the fact that we were in the dark and the mom had no clothes or blankets, etc for her newborn. We improvised as a team and were able to happily comfort mom, dad, and new baby. Talk about an experience for one of my first catches! Praise God for His direct hand in caring for these moms and babies.
This is the story of our short trip to do immediate relief care for a span of two days. I think that in that short time, God opened my eyes to the need in such a new way. I can't even begin to explain the joy and sorrow that teeter back and forth in my heart over such need and such provision all in one. All I know is that we serve a God that is ALWAYS in control. And I praise Him for allowing me the chance to be here, in the Philippines, in this specific time of need, with certain skills He has equipped me with. I am once again forever changed.