Monday, October 26, 2009

The Maternity Clinic

Today I had another one of those uniquely “African” experiences: the maternity clinic. The private doctor has become too expensive for me so I thought I’d try the public route. Elton’s auntie, Cordelia, offered to escort me. Namibian health care is first come, first serve whether you are going to the private doctor or public clinic. Monday is the day they see first-time maternity patients. We arrived a little bit late and there was already quite a line… by quite a line I mean I was #9 out of 10. The nurse was convinced I should be seeing the private doctor. She used her best arguments to deter me. She was sure I wouldn’t be seen until at least 4pm despite the fact we were entering the clinic at 9am. All she managed to accomplish was to steel my determination that the mikuwa (white person) wouldn’t be defeated. Honestly if Cordelia wasn’t with me, she would have refused me.

So I waited…..first we had to go through the line for vital statistics: weight, blood pressure, urine sample, shoe size (????? I honestly have NO idea what that has to do with anything but they use it to determine level of risk), medical history, etc. You wait until all 10 people are done. Next you move as a group to a room to be counseled about why they do blood tests, about eating habits, the risk of HIV, family planning (a little late for that, isn’t it?!) and how not to contract syphilis. Fortunately they conducted the session in English for my sake. Then it is back to waiting in a line for everyone to receive rapid HIV tests and their results (I’m happy to report: HIV-). Then back in line to wait, wait, wait to see the nurse for drawing blood and the physical exam. Just my luck: the same nurse that wanted to send me away. At this point, it is almost 1pm: lunchtime. She saw maybe 2 patients then went out of the office. Everyone else assumed she was leaving for lunch so they left too. Since I had no where to go, I continued waiting. Lo and behold she came back after just a 10 minute break and continued to see patients. Since almost everyone left I jumped from #9 to maybe #4. She continued in her “rosy” personality until she read my medical card and realized that she is somehow related to me through Elton’s father. Small world. After taking blood, poking my stomach for a few minutes and handing me a bag of multi-vitamins, she happily welcomed me to come back in a month for a checkup and to receive my blood test results. Oh, and not to forget to greet my husband for her. By this time it was about 2:15pm. I lucked out… much earlier than the predicted 4pm.

I walk away from this experience shaking my head. Not only that I wasted an entire day to save myself something like $40USD, but also about the treatment I received. I’m not quite used to being subjected to prejudice. It’s a horrible feeling to be judged based on one’s skin color. Elton’s family has always been so welcoming to be that I’ve never really suffered that feeling among them. Usually if I receive someone’s hasty judgment, it’s that I have abundant resources to help them, not usually to deny me some sort of acceptance. And how quickly that opinion can change when they realize I’m actually “one of them.” I hope to come away from this experience with the memory of how it feels so as not to commit the same offense against another.

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Acts 10:34-35 TNIV

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kuku & Siukulu

So since the cat seems to be getting out of the bag faster than I can spread the word… Let me try to reach a few of you before you find out on facebook or something!

Alright can you stand it??? The big news…..

You can start calling my mom and dad by “grandma & grandpa” in April! Or “kuku & siukulu” in Lozi if you prefer.

I know this puts many immediate questions in your minds… like where will we have the baby? What is it like to have a baby in Africa? Am I really this crazy? Let me see if I can answer a few of those…

As you can imagine, medical care here is less than stellar. I’ve already had the flu, a horrible head cold and a huge abscess the size of a golf ball on my leg from some sort of bite. Not to mention intense morning sickness. And this has only been the first trimester. Let’s hope things improve. At this point, we are really praying about where to have the baby. One thing I know for sure: Katima Mulilo Hospital is not an option. If we remain in Namibia we’d have to go to a more modern city around the time of delivery. There are so many factors in this decision!

So you want an insight in into what it’s like to have a baby here? Very early in our dating relationship, I got quite the lesson in African childbirth. I got a call to go to Elton’s village to bring his cousin’s wife to the local hospital. It took them quite awhile to get a hold of me on the phone, so we raced to the hospital. We got her all checked in and then I settled down on the bench to wait. All of a sudden I noticed that everyone else was headed back to the car… Basically it is common practice here to bring one’s beloved to the hospital then drop them off and come back in the morning to see what happened. As you can imagine I was shocked! A long discussion about American practices ensued and I made it quite clear to Elton what my expectations were if we ever had a child together. Incidentally it turned out that she delivered a healthy girl 15 minutes after we arrived. Good thing I wasn’t any later getting there.

Though this is a huge praise and something we are so excited about, we are also in need of your prayers! There are always risks in childbirth, but here I am exposed to so many things I wouldn’t be at home. I know God has us here for this season and we’re in His hands but it doesn’t stop my worry-wart nature from popping up all too frequently. At this point we need prayers for wisdom and guidance to make the final decisions.

Life is such an adventure: Parenthood here we come!