Today we celebrate one wonderful year of having Ameena in our lives.
What a full year this last one has been.
Being pregnant while living in Africa was interesting. I felt healthy, but had more physical symptoms than with any of my other children. Crazy high blood sugar that I monitored much less than I should have—seriously, you think they have glucose meters and testing strips there? I think the chemist laughed me right out of his pharmacy when I asked about it. About 4 months into the pregnancy my in-laws were kind enough to bring a meter and strips…and I rationed those babies out til almost a month before the baby was born. I perfected a pretty good routine of walking a brisk path from our house to the Centre office, around the playground and back to the house…generally before I started dinner as darkness falls quickly and routinely every night there by 7pm. On some evenings if my sugar was especially high I’d lay on the thin rug covering our concrete floor in the living room and do the “bicycle” like I was escaping town. I’m sure it looked humorous, but it was pretty effectively in bringing the sugar levels down.
I also dealt with some horrid lower back pain which was in no way helped by the fact that we did all of the washing by hand until mid November. Unlike our Kenyan househelp who would come twice a week and stoop to do the laundry, I happily seated myself on our little green plastic stool to dunk the clothes in and out of the bin. The laundry (aka shower room) was my home for good parts of the day. Sometimes I’d go to stand, and would cry out in pain……it seemed like the only relief would come from going into the child pose. Many a Kenyan walked into our home in the evenings and found me there in the middle of the room practicing some good ol’ yoga.
I also suffered a great deal more nausea than usual. This was not helped by the schizophrenic driving conditions we navigated on a daily basis. One day, when driving with Megan into Nairobi I had to pull over to vomit on the side of the road. We had just passed through a rural town and I carefully picked the pullover spot to ensure that it would be free from the usual roadside gawkers. I got out of our car, crossed in front of the car to the side of the road and bent down to vomit. Out of no where a group of school kids appeared and in broken English began to ask questions like, “Why the muzungu vomit?” “Muzungu vomit?!?” “What wrong pretty lady?” as they pointed at me. Megan yelled from the car for the kids to go away. They were unphased. I quickly signaled for her to take the wheel and climbed into the car hoping to escape their curious stares and prying questions. A staff member at the Centre later informed me that Kenyan’s have all sorts of beliefs about white people: 1) We never vomit 2) If we are in the sun too long, our skin might melt 3) We can get anyone into the US and so on.
Even my delivery with Ameena was interesting and so Kenyan. I was pretty determined to not have to have an epidural during this delivery…I mean I was at a nice hospital, but crazy stuff happens in a 3rd world country and I didn’t want first hand experience. Having had my first two babies in the US, I was used to nurses coming in and out, checking the vitals, seeing how “far along” things had progressed, bringing in ice chips, wiping down your forehead, fluffing the pillows, telling you what a great job you were doing. Pretty high standards. While I did get a visit from my doctor at 9 am, I had labored all morning mostly alone and had walked my room (not a delivery room) wondering when someone might come to check on me. I parked myself on that labor ball and counted the floor tiles in my room. There were a good 30 tiles that I could count through on every contraction.
Ian finally arrived back from breakfast (it’s never an easy trip in Kenya) at about 10am and after one good look at me went for a nurse. She came back and decided we better MOVE! We barely got into that Labor and Delivery room, had me on the ball and in a position to see a good 30 tiles when DANG that pain ramped up. I started to panic and asked if we might put that sweet bathtub to use. I’d always wanted to try it during labor. True to Kenya again, the nurse indicated that it would take a while to get some hot water into it. I was willing to wait.