Celebrate Christmas With Abundant Grace of God

14 11 2014

Hi everyone!

I came up with a great idea this Christmas.

Maybe it’s because I have a hard time thinking of good ideas for Christmas presents, but whatever the reason let me share my idea.

When I think of Christmas I often think of Baby Jesus and how his mother delivered him unassisted in a barn because there was no room for them anywhere and no one willing to help them.

Baby-in-a-Manger

How about this Christmas, sponsoring the delivery of a mother and baby much like them?  (Minus the baby being the Son of God of course!)

There are so many mothers here in Kalinga that still deliver their babies at home without someone to help them and in conditions very much like a barn. We at Abundant offer these mothers a safe and comfortable place to deliver, with well-trained midwives who love and take care of them in their hour(s) of need. We don’t require that these mothers pay anything and if they can pay something it is a very small amount.

The cost for one mother to receive complete prenatal care, labor and delivery care, and postpartum visits until six week postpartum is almost exactly $200.00.

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How about sponsoring a delivery this Christmas in the name of that person on your list who has everything?

For a donation between $50 and $200 the person whose name you choose as a “sponsor” will receive a card in the mail with a set of footprints and a brief story about the baby who was sponsored in their name.

You can even do it in your own name and receive the card!

If this sounds like a good idea to you, please click on the “Sponsor A Delivery” tab above and get all the details.

Have a blessed Christmas Season everyone.

 





Maboy: One of the reasons I am here!

5 10 2014
Beautiful Maboy when I first met her in 2004.

Beautiful Maboy when I first met her in 2004.

Maboy is one of my favourite mothers in Kalinga.

Every time I see her she has a huge smile on her face and she always asks how I am doing.

Since I very first came to Kalinga in 2004 she has welcomed me with open arms to her village of Pakak.

Maboy is the mother of 10 children – all of them as beautiful as she is. She came to deliver at our clinic when we first opened in 2007 but all the rest of her children she delivered at home unattended. This year Maboy found herself pregnant again. We had been doing regular prenatal visits in her village but she was always working in the fields when we were there so we barely saw her during her whole pregnancy. In the first week of July I happened to see Maboy at her home and asked her if she would come and deliver at the clinic. I told her we would come and pick her up no matter what time of night or day. I told her I was worried about her, because of her multiple pregnancies she was at risk for having a difficult labor and delivery. I think sometimes it is hard for mothers of so many children to believe they need help during their deliveries– especially when they have done it themselves for years! Maboy just smiled at me and said “we’ll see.” And so, I as very surprised to see Maboy come into the clinic one day for a prenatal check-up. She was having some common discomforts of pregnancy and we were able to send her home with a good quality medicine for a low cost.

We got word from Pakak a few days later that she was feeling better. Then, on the evening of July 7 , we got a text from someone in Pakak that Maboy was in labor. The midwives on duty drove out to the village to pick her up, with their emergency birth bag in tow – you can never tell if the women are going to deliver the minute you get there or even possibly on the way back to the clinic. Maboy was still in early labor so the midwives took her back to the clinic. By early morning I went into the clinic to see how she was doing. She was exhausted from having strong contractions all night but still no baby. We gave her IV fluids and lots of encouragement. A few hours later, with a lot of support and help from her midwives, Maboy delivered a beautiful baby girl.

A few hours later as Maboy lay resting in the postpartum room, she shared that this was such a hard labor for her and she wasn’t sure that she could have done it herself. She told me that she decided this little girl would be her last. I feel so blessed to have been able to help her with the delivery of her last baby and to have made sure that she stayed safe and healthy for all her other children too.

Maboy holding baby Zanelle as she gets her BCG vaccination.

Maboy holding baby Zanele Grace as she gets her BCG vaccination at the clinic.





A Night to Remember

9 07 2014

 

Novelyn came to us in her second trimester of pregnancy for prenatal care. She was living about an hour outside of Tabuk at the time but she came faithfully for all her prenatal check-ups. There was something about this strong, determined woman that drew me to her and I took her as my “continuity of care” patient. A “continuity” patient is one that a midwife will choose to follow through her prenatal care, labor and delivery as well as postpartum even if they come in when the midwife is not on shift. I don’t often take patients like this because I am so busy, but I took Novelyn. During her pregnancy we were able to get to know each other and I had the opportunity to pray for her often. She was nervous about her delivery, which was normal, especially because her two previous deliveries had been difficult.
Novelyn came into the clinic in labor early one afternoon in April. My missionary Alex was helping me monitor her and everything was going well. After a few hours Novelyn’s labor started to get more intense and her bag of waters broke. The first thing a midwife does when the bag of waters breaks is to check the baby’s heartbeat to make sure that he/she is handling it well. We checked the heartbeat immediately and noticed that it was extremely low! I checked and felt that the baby’s cord had slipped over its head and was being compressed during the contraction. This is an obstetrical emergency call “cord prolapse” and the only course of action is to hold the baby’s head up off of the cord until an emergency C-section can be performed.
This is exactly what we did! I held up that baby’s head while Alex and some other staff carried Novelyn to the emergency vehicle and our emergency driver took us to the hospital 10 minutes away. Alex and I were praying out loud for the baby the whole way to the hospital. So that you know how amazing the next part of the story is, you have to know something about the hospitals in Tabuk. Even though we went to the private hospital where the care is considerably better than the public hospital – the hospitals are not staffed 24/7 with doctors and anesthesiologists. The operating rooms are not always ready to go in case of emergencies. Sometimes you will have to wait hours for a doctor to arrive or for the appropriate staff to be found. On some occasions we have had to pick up the staff ourselves at their homes.
We arrived at the hospital 10 minutes later and alerted the ER staff of the situation. They informed us that the doctor was just finishing up a C-section in the operating room and we would be taken in right after! We waited less than 30 minutes for the C-section and we were able to stay with Novelyn and I held the baby’s head off of the cord. We prayed for both of them the entire time. When we were wheeled in the OR it was only a matter of minutes before Novelyn was prepped and the doctor started the C-section. I got a close-up view of the operation as I was still holding the baby’s head! I kept my hand on the baby’s head right until I felt the doctor’s hands pull the baby out. She lifted out the baby and he gave a big cry and the whole OR staff cheered! We were all so happy! Usually if there has been a cord prolapse the baby doesn’t make it, so the staff were all so excited to see a healthy baby born!
I went to visit Novelyn and her baby at home two days later. We talked about what had happened and I explained exactly what was done and how much of a miracle it was that her baby was fine. She knew it already. She told me that the last thing she remembered in the OR as the anesthesia took effect was Alex right beside her, praying for her.
I am so thankful that we work for such a mighty and gracious God … and that he lets me be a part of amazing stories like this!

Double take? That is Alex, not me, with baby Kade the day after he was born.

Double take? That is Alex, not me, with baby Kade the day after he was born.





What’s your excuse?

5 06 2014

Yes, it is true that I have been a bad blogger lately! My excuses are all of the following events that happened in the last few months…

Okay, first off we delivered identical twin girls at our clinic in the middle of March! This was the mother’s tenth pregnancy. In a regular prenatal check-up her midwife noticed that she was measuring large for dates. She was sent for an ultrasound … she came back with a BIG smile on her face and told us that she was pregnant with twins!  About a month later she came back to the clinic in labor. No chance to decide whether or not to take her to the hospital – these girls were on their way! It was a beautiful birth attended by about a dozen excited midwives.

The twins mother is sitting next to Jackie who is holding the babies! A very excited staff and babies' family members all around.

The twins mother is sitting next to Jackie who is holding the babies! A very excited staff and babies’ family members all around.

 

Irish and Aiza

Aiza and Irish – 2.5kg and 2.6kg

 

 

Next, I got to “catch” my first ever white baby! One of my  missionary-midwives-in training took the whole practical learning experience to another level! Edolbina, and her husband Andrew welcomed their first child Ariel Cornelius on April 29 at 3:12 am.  It was an honour to be a part of Ari’s birth. My boys are a little smitten with this guy as are we all!

Ariel Cornelius

Ariel Cornelius with Lucas and Emmaus admiring him.

I have also been making numerous trips up to our sister clinic in Bugnay over these last few months. My wonderful staff are currently awaiting a new clinical supervisor and so I have been trying to help them out and encourage them as much as possible.

The Bugnay Clinic Staff and their daughters!

The Bugnay Clinic Staff and their daughters!

In May my friend and fellow midwife, Jen Sawchenko and her daughter Ella, along with Filipino midwife Marielyn Basak, visited from Cebu City and accompanied me to Bugnay. They taught at a seminar for the mothers and staff regarding best breastfeeding practices.

Marlene and Jen outside the clinic.

Mar and Jen outside the clinic.

Jen shares at the Bugnay clinic - Ella helps her!

Jen shares at the Bugnay clinic – Ella helps her!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with all these happenings we still continue to do almost 100 prenatal check-ups and postpartum visits a week and reach out into 3 villages in the community and deliver over 20 babies per month.

Me and Lukay before she heads home to her village.

Me and Lukay before she heads home to her village.

Thank you everyone for your support that makes us able to do all of this!

There are many more stories to tell, but it will have to wait for next time. I have a good one coming … Stay tuned!





“In my day, we gave birth in the rice fields!”

2 03 2014

by Crystal Meeks

The other day I met an elderly lady in her 70s from Bugnay who explained to me how times are changing.

Old lady in Bugnay with Zion.

Old lady in Bugnay with Zion.

 

She said in her day, the women were strong and they would give birth in the rice fields, tie the babies to their backs and keep on working. She stated that now-a-days the women are lazy.  She said that now, when the women get pregnant they stop working.  I needed her to define “work” because I have never seen any Butbut sitting idly.  They are always cooking, washing clothes and dishes, pounding rice and chasing after their children.  According to the old lady, in her day, women worked much harder.

So I asked,  “Do you think it was better in your time and the clinic here is not effective because the women should be strong enough to deliver without a midwife?”  She grabbed my arm and prepared to correct me, “Oh no Crystal! We thank God for the clinic!”  She continued to explain that before, they didn’t cut a woman’s stomach to get a baby out and that she didn’t like that many women do that now.  I agreed with her that I didn’t like that either.  She continued, “But at the clinic you let them try to deliver normal and if you think it’s better, you take them to the hospital to have their stomach’s cut and Crystal, even if they have to cut their stomachs when they come home they still have a live baby.”

The next statement I asked a few times to make sure I’d translated it properly.  My mouth gaped open when she informed me that she gave birth to 13 children but only three lived past their first year of life.  She shared she would have been willing to have her stomach cut also if it meant more of her children would have lived.  Our conversation was a reminder of our effectiveness here in Bugnay.  My favorite part of the conversation was that she didn’t thank me or the other midwives but rather expressed all her gratitude to the one that deserved all the credit…Our Heavenly Father.

 





Life and Death in the Mountains of Kalinga

23 02 2014

Did that title get your attention?

I hope so!

The truth is that our sister clinic in the village of Bugnay is the difference between life and death for many in the remote mountains of Tinglayan, Kalinga.

Have you heard the story about the baby that suddenly stopped breathing?

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The parents noticed she was having difficulty breathing and by the time they brought her to the clinic she had stopped completely. The parents were about to turn around and take her home to bury her when midwife B-lyn grabbed the baby and started to resuscitate her. That baby is running around the village of Bugnay today.

 

 

 

How about the story of the woman who began hemorrhaging seconds after her baby was born?

Sinchong

 

 

If she had been at home without midwives attending her, like she had been for all of her other babies, she would have died. For this delivery she decided to come to the clinic and have trained midwives attend to her. They were able to stop the bleeding immediately. You can meet her in the village of Bugnay as she takes care of her five young children.

 

Did you hear about the girl who found herself pregnant and married before her sixteenth birthday?

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She was scared and confused when in her eighth month of pregnancy she began having terrible headaches and dizziness. Her mother and aunties told her it was because she was lazy that her legs and face had swollen up; if she would only exercise more, she would feel better. This girl came for a check up at the clinic instead and was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. She was referred to the closest hospital two hours away and delivered her baby via C-section. Both of their lives were saved.

 

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Our midwives in the clinic in Bugnay are literally the difference between life and death for those living in the mountains of Upper Tinglayan.

Yet it is one of the most difficult parts of our ministry to keep going. We are challenged to keep the clinic appropriately staffed because it is such a remote area and it is a sacrifice for midwives to work so far from their families.

We are in the midst of such a struggle right now as we are down to one staff midwife and one volunteer. Neither of them trained to do deliveries without supervision.

 

These are the three things we see that need to happen:

1)  Missionary midwife Suzie Campana is willing and able to come and help at the Bugnay clinic but is still needing financial support to get here. We need her to receive all the necessary support to come immediately and help with the work in Bugnay.     (http://philippines.eaglemissions.org/suzie-campana/)

2) We need more experienced Filipina midwives who are willing to work and live in such a the remote area until more local midwives ready to take over.

3) We need funding to build appropriate staff housing for missionaries and Filipino midwives to live nearby the clinic.

Please pray with us for these things. If you feel you want to help in a more practical way please consider helping fund Suzie Campana to be a missionary here (see her information above), or help with local midwives and staff housing by sending a donation to us specifically designated for Bugnay.

(Specify Bugnay- no tax-deductible receipt available through this method)

 

http://www.msccanada.org/Donate/PayPal-donations.html

(Specify Georgia Macad, Bugnay – tax-deductible receipts available here)

We will keep you updated on how things progress!

(All stories are true however those pictured above are not actually the individuals written about)





Rest in Peace Sweet Baby Ashley

30 08 2013

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We are very sad to say good-bye to Baby Ashley Manzano who has become a big part of our lives over these past four months.  Ashley went home to be with Jesus on Wednesday August 28 after a lifelong battle with repeated lung infections that were never diagnosed.

Ashley was born at our clinic on March 18, 2012 and was transported to the hospital immediately for breathing difficulties. Ashley’s mother Julies never came back for her follow-up check-ups at the clinic and we didn’t see her again until over a year later.

This April Julies and Ashley came to attend a Well-Baby seminar at our clinic.  Ashley was more than a year old then and still only weighed 10 pounds. She also seemed to be suffering from severe pneumonia.  Julies told us that she had been back and forth to various doctors to try to get help her for her daughter but was continually told that it was her own fault that Ashley was sick because  she was malnourished.  Julies told us that she tried to go to the community health center to ask if they could help and the midwife just looked at Ashley and looked back at Julies with condemnation and said “It’s severe malnutrition!” As a last resort Julies brought Ashely to us to see if we could do anything to help.

For the last four months Ashley was a big part of my life.  I tried to get a concrete diagnosis for her condition but she kept having these terrible bouts of pneumonia that we had to deal with. Julies tried to get Ashley’s weight up by giving her high protein milk. Ashley’s dad found them a safer place to live that gave them some protection from the weather. Ashley was hospitalized four times in the last four months, each time getting weaker. When we took Ashley for her third admission to the hospital I spoke quite forcibly and told the doctor that it was NOT MALNUTRITION!  I then heard one doctor whisper to another that it was probably Cystic Fibrosis. We never did have a chance to take her to Manila for further testing – I don’t know if she would have made it back even if we had.

Last Wednesday morning Ashley was at home with her mom. Julies was getting ready to take her to the hospital again and as she was getting dressed she heard Ashley call out “Mama”.  When she turned around Ashley had stopped breathing. She rushed her to the hospital where she could not be resuscitated. My social worker Kate and I arrived a few minutes later to hold Julies and cry with her. I still cry every time I think of Julies holding her precious Ashley in her arms, calling out to her to ‘wake up’.

Sometimes I get so sad and discouraged with the lack of medical care available here in the Philippines. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of diagnostic tools available, but the blame for childhood illnesses is usually shifted to the parents; they are not doing enough or they are doing something wrong.  With this blame comes enough guilt and grieving to break your heart.

Please pray for Julies, her husband and her three other children. Please pray that they will find peace in knowing that Ashley’s suffering is over and she is waiting to see them again. Please pray that they will find freedom from guilt and condemnation in the arms of Jesus.