25 September 2014

A trip to the doctor

It was my last doctor's appointment today. As we sat in the car waiting for the doctor to arrive, it made me feel a bit nostalgic, so I thought I'd bring you along this time.

Even though this is probably the best gynecologist in Haiti, there are roosters tied up under a giant mango tree. The grounds are nicely landscaped with small flowering shrubs, ferns and vines. The parking area is tiled, and I'm thinking it used to be part of Biomed, the lab which shares their gated parking lot. It's 9:15, and there's about 15 Culligans sitting inside the gate that no one's had the energy to drag upstairs yet.

In the waiting room which is shared among several practitioners, they are showing a French game show with some kind of celebrity panel on a thirty-two inch TV. The host is a young man with a beard and a navy skinny tie paired with a navy suit. Large ceiling fans are going and the windows are open, letting mosquitoes in. Pete parks it on a slightly-worn chair and continues to ask for the crackers he is sure he's entitled to, as he has since we arrived. Breakfast was at 7:00, two-and-a-half hours ago, and he didn't eat his toast. M, the receptionist, is dusting--she speaks at least three languages well, and she sometimes helps me practice French. 

"Oui, Oui," Peter parrots the TV--he has just recently started speaking Kreyol, saying "bondoo"--an attempt at "bonjou"--for hello. He can't decide between another cracker and getting down to run around. "Baby? Baby?" Yes, I tell him, we get to see the baby soon. "Ball? Ball?" No, I didn't bring one, sorry. He entertains himself climbing up and down the stairs, as the house is tiered, like so many houses are here. 

M lets me know that he's ready for us, and we climb the stairs to his office, the door to which has an inset stained glass window in it. He shakes all our hands (even Peter's) and greets us in English, which he speaks very well. On the wall behind him are diplomas and certificates from Haiti, France, and the U.S. and an air conditioner working overtime. On the other wall are a collection of exotic masks, some of which I think are mildly disturbing. Most of the artwork in the office is of Haitian women. I find Haitian artwork to be hit-or-miss in general, but he's got some nice paintings that are evocative without being gaudy. 

My favorite is in the bathroom, a pregnant Haitian lady in profile, not meant to be realistic, but somehow capturing the dignity of the woman. I look at it as I change into the gown that's sitting in a neatly-folded pile on a tempered glass shelf. It has snowflakes on it. I snicker and hope he got a good deal on them.

He weighs me, takes my blood pressure, and prepares to do an ultrasound. We do an ultrasound every time. It is the best thing about being pregnant in Haiti. The stress of an untimely birth aside, I get to see my girl once a month, and I still think that's amazing. In general, she's been uncooperative, denying us confirmation of even her gender until 20 weeks. Today, she's showing us half her face, and I still think it's beautiful. David thinks she may not have a nose. The doctor measures her head, femur, counts kidneys and listens to her heart. He explains the different measurements and indications about her health over Peter's running one-word-at-a-time commentary about how it's "DAWK" and we should turn on the "IGHT." The doctor seems pleased that she's not as big as Peter was at the same age, and I ask him to predict her weight. "That depends on how much you eat in the U.S.," he replies, giving me a stern sideways look.

His phone rings, and despite the fact that I'm half-dressed and covered in gel, I expect him to answer it. He's done it before, and I would absolutely want him to. Because around here, part of what people expect is that you're available since there's no emergency room. He's been there for me at some untimely moments when I needed medical help, and I wouldn't want to deny anyone the same treatment. But after he checks the number, he sends it to voicemail, and I can hear him return the call in French as I'm changing my clothes later. David takes a squirmy Peter out to see the sharks in the office...he is just. sure. that those goldfish are really sharks.

We make plans to pick up my paperwork on Monday to transfer my care to OHSU, where I delivered Peter, and he promises to write me a letter so that American Airlines won't try to deny me boarding. We shake hands again, and I thank him for all his good care. He makes me promise to send a picture of our little girl, and it occurs to me that it's probably a bit sad for him that he won't get to deliver her himself. I know he understands, but that might not make it easier.

Back in the parking lot now, we say goodbye to M and head for the car together, as someone is waiting for our spot in the small parking lot. Normally, I have to take David to work afterward, but today, another pilot is meeting him at our house to carpool. It's a big relief, because it saves me an hour of driving and allows me to put Peter down for a nap on time...allowing Mom to eat lunch in peace. 

I fly to Portland on Tuesday; prayers are appreciated for a smooth trip with Peter and an uncomplicated delivery for baby girl in November.

10 September 2014

It's not what you think

That's what I told Peter as I cut up plantains for dinner. "Manay!" he insisted, using his made-up word for bananas. "Beet! Manay!" 

"You think you'd like some of this?"

"Aye." (This is his word for yes. He thinks he's a pirate.) I give him a tiny taste, and the look on his face is classic. For a starchy, hard plantain is nothing like a soft, sweet banana, and that was immediately apparent to him. 

But sometimes things aren't so clear. The other day, my neighbor's househelper sat outside breaking glass bottles. It was a very distinctive sound--a "chink chink chink KSSH." It's not what you think--he wasn't on a bender. He wasn't just mad about something. He was increasing the security on their southern wall by imbedding the necks of the bottles into the concrete...leaving the top part open to catch rainwater and therefore breed mosquitos. "Razor wire is too easy to take down," my friends explain. She had a break-in recently...it's on the rise. I won't say it doesn't bother me.

And then there was the incident at the grocery store...I saw that they had (what appeared to be) chicken thighs for sale. This was exciting because 1) It's usually breasts or whole chickens or nothing. 2) They were cheaper. However, not being fluent in French, I wanted to make sure that's what I was really getting, having been burned before. (I bought veal, okay?! It was traumatic...and delicious.) Here is how Google translated the label:

Hmm. Chicken crotch casserole doesn't sound very tasty. I asked someone who looked official, and he seemed to be pointing to his leg...I took a chance. 

And that's the whole thing, isn't it? Here in our second term, we feel a bit like experts. We sit back a little and think we've got things figured out. Sometimes, we do. But sometimes, we have no idea what's really going on, and when that becomes painfully apparent, we scrape the starchy taste off our tongues and begin searching around for the sweetness of a life that makes sense. And since that's "not a thing," we lean on a faithful God whose parenting techniques are sometimes inscrutable, but always infallible. 

Please pray that we'd find the sweetness in leaning on Him more each day.