Friday, August 31, 2012

Niclete's Redemption

Last year, Niclete was just another woman in Uganda living in the slums, trying to provide for her family of growing children, alone. Last year, she did not have a job, or access to maternal health care. Last year, Niclete gave birth to a still-born baby boy, body too twisted. 

Last week, God redeemed all that.

As I struggle through the why's and wonderings of why bad things happen to good people or any people, for that matter, I look at a picture of Niclete, and I am satisfied that God remembers us. That His intentions towards us are always good. 

Even though last week, I lost my baby, last week Niclete gave birth to a healthy baby boy she named Joshua. 
He's perfect. In every way. 

Last week she had a family surrounding her as we all welcomed this new little one as one of our own. Last week she had money to buy him blankets because she has a job working for our jewelry program, Imani. Last week she had sisters from Zion Project to surround her and hold her other babes, while she took care of this new one. 

This is the miracle of love. The miracle of redemption. 

And all the dusty trucks rides to hospitals, and doctor appointments, and sonograms. And all the love poured out, is worth it. And if you still don't get why I do what I do--then you'll understand now. 

Love makes all things beautiful in time. 

I hold hands with her in the dark knowing that just as the morning came for her, it is coming for me too. 

Because God is that good. 

If you want to help us reach more women with our maternal health care programs we offer all our ladies then you can give here.

But mostly, give thanks.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


It feels like the inside of me is being wrung out like a wet towel which no longer holds water.

I wanted my first blog back in the States to be full of stories from the vacation we've been meaning to take for 3 years, or the crazy adventures of seeing family and friends we've missed so much, or a blog on rest, and how I was getting it. All the many testimonies of God's faithfulness to us in Uganda over the last six months.
This is not a story about that.

It might get too real and too honest for some of you, and many of you I wanted to share with in person, so please don't feel left out, or bad that you didn't know. But I'm a writer. I have to write it out.
It's the only thing that helps.

It feels like yesterday that I was happy.

Yesterday, I was pregnant. They said somewhere between 8-10 weeks. By 8 weeks your baby has a heartbeat. By 8 weeks your baby has tiny nub-like hands that will form into fingers you will kiss with your mouth. An internal organ system. A brain.

My tiny blueberry baby.

I dream his blond curly hair and dimpled smile that creases just like my husband's.

We're never prepared, and yet, this one was so wanted. Being pregnant, creating love and life in the world, is such a joyful experience. It should be. We already had 10 names for him.

I never had a fear about pregnancy. 

Never doubted if I could get pregnant or if my body would carry a child. I never let those twisty thoughts in. I am after all half-Latina. These hips should be made for birthing. And every day in Africa I see women who are pregnant. All the time.

They pop out 7 or 8 kids like a gumball machine that just doesn't quit. So fertile, so strong.

Every day I love them, help them go to sonograms, and spend hours in hospitals, and help give birth. Every day I hold babies. At least one.

Every day she holds one child while carrying another in her belly. It all seemed so easy. If they could do it without pre-natals, without proper nutrition, and exercise and good doctors, how much easier would it be for me. I held their children, but never with envy, because I knew someday it would be my turn.

It's not something people talk about much. Everyone says to wait those 12 weeks, until you “know for sure,” but it doesn't really make sense to me. To go through this kind of trauma, alone. Because its part of my life, and its happening to me.

And maybe if we can talk about it, we can help each other.

I read a book yesterday that says that we have to hold our heart open, because when we close it, we begin to shut down, we begin to die on the inside. So I have to let it open, let these things pass through me. And let it go.

I did all the right things.
I ate my greens. I did the stupid aerobic prenatal video.
I drank the water.
I took the horse-pill vitamins down my throat.
I journaled.
I tried to meditate.
I read 5 books.

I googled everything. 12 times a day.
I tried not to be “stressed out” for my baby. With all those pregnancy
hormones coursing through my body...yeah right.
I tried to be a good wife. A crazy wife. But a good one.

So why does it still feel like my fault? Because at the end of the day we always wonder. Did I do something wrong?

Because we want an explanation. Someone to tell us why. Because my Daddy God loves me. Because he loved the spirit of this yet unborn child.

The blood spotted slow at first. Then it was more like leaky faucet, bright red, and constant. Then the fear clutched. Can't breathe, hard to breathe. The pain. A little. But enough.

I felt it, in a place yet un-named.

Something is wrong.

Then the white lights of the hospital room without my husband. We don't think we can bare it but then we do.

And we go on living. With a hole in our heart blown wide open.

The waiting in between the space of what I hope and the worst of what might be like a minefield in the mid-day sun I know I will have to cross.

The belief is hard. The hope. Maybe its going to be ok. It needs to be ok.

I turn into Daddy's arms. Why?

I hold you in the palm of my hands.”

That's all he says, but I yearn for more.

I think of God, not just Father, but mother too. I think of how He holds us to His chest, how he would do anything for us. How it hurts him when he loses a child. How the mother heart of God beats true and fierce. Would go through it for me if He could. Like my own mom.

I think that this can't be happening to me. I go through all the possible worst-case scenarios first because it gives me the illusion of control.

No baby in my arms in 7 months.
No grandbaby.

In Rwanda, in April, they grieve the names of the dead. Maybe mine will join them.

And like the arms of Africa have always accepted me, maybe they will surround him too.

I can't write it all because its just too horrible. And this will end up sounding more like an over-dramatized version of Grey's Anatomy or Private Practice. I make fun of them, but I just watched a show where the baby was born without a brain. I put a hand on my belly and prayed. Not this one.

I'm not trying to make you cry. Or maybe I want you to know that it's ok to if something like this has happened to you. This happens to so many moms and they hold their heart in silence. With all the questions, unresolved.

Can I get pregnant?
Will I get pregnant again?
Does my body just reject my babies?

Every time I went to the toilet, my biggest fear was expelling him out into the world.

I go to the hospital again. This time they are being very nice and saying words I'm not understanding. They are giving me options that my brain cannot compute.

Ectopic. Things like:
1 in 4,000 women. Rare.
25% more likely to have one in the future
60% chance of having a healthy baby in the future.

The words slur drunken together. Try to breathe. Try not to break down.

My best case was the medicine. Where the baby is broken down and absorbed back into your body. 

I liked that idea, of him being with me forever, little particles of light.

But in my case, it was the worst case scenario. After hours of waiting, I had to have the surgery.

It was not what I wanted. None of it was what I wanted, but the doctors and my family and friends were so kind.

And my husband was able to get there. He was a rock. A refuge. We held each other close and said goodbye through so many tears that I feel my eyes will always be swollen. I could not have gone through this without him. 

Our love grows strong against the cold. 

Stephanie and I talk about his spirit. Him being in heaven. Growing up there. I think of a baby cherub.

Somehow, it makes me feel better.

I'm not sure how we survive things at all without friendship.

I like to think that I was brave at the end. 

Tyson tells me to be positive. To want to wake up. So I think these things. I imagine my big angel at the foot of my bed, protecting me. I imagine Father waiting to receive him. And it makes me feel better.

You know, I thought I would be angry. And maybe I will be. Oh but the grace of my Daddy.

This could have happened in Uganda.
Without technology.
I could have ruptured and bled out.
Without Trans-vaginal sonogram machines with really long wands that you hope are not going where they look like they're going.
But end up saving your life.

So many blessings peek their heads through my stained-glass shatter of pain.

Before I go in, I tell my husband I'm going to stop working so hard.

No better time to make a resolution than before you go under.

I think that in a few months we can try again.

The meds make me drunk and I think I tell the doctors they are the nicest people in the world.
I wonder when I'll be able to have sex again.

You know, really important thoughts.

For a minute, I forget about what they are about to do.

When I wake up, I remember.

The body lurches with myriads of pain. He's gone. Today, today I am no longer pregnant.

Today, I can barely move because of the hurt in my abdomen. And this heart that can't bear to swallow one of the worst days of my life.

I've lost many things in my life. First love. First baby. First happy sonogram with healthy beating heart. The enemy has stolen many things. Tried to destroy me.

But I try to keep my heart open. God helps me keep it open.

Like a prayer plant hungry for the sun.

I try to be strong enough to know that this doesn't mean God isn't for me. It doesn't mean there isn't double waiting for me.

After all, I'm still a mother to a couple hundred babes in Uganda. There are still very many babies to hold.

I'm still a broken one absorbing the light. A supernova.

Waiting for the day I'll give birth
into a luminous night.

**For our baby: “I carry your heart in my heart. I carry it in my heart. I am never without it. Anywhere you go, I go my dear....this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart. I carry your heart in my heart.” -e.e. cummings-

***Thank you for all the prayers, support, phone calls, and kind words. For those of you who did not know I was pregnant yet, sorry for the shock. I may be off the grid for a while, but I love you all. If you want to help and don't know what to do, the reality is,we are going to have massive medical bills. But mostly we need prayer and friendship. And maybe the space and understanding to get through this, even if we forget to call you back. We appreciate your love. You can send notes, words of encouragement, and any help to Tyson and I: P.O. Box 321 Quinque, VA 22965

***The picture is of my sister when she gave birth to her son Ethan. A ray of hope in the dark.