Only a Few Days Now and We’ll be a Family of Six
What a pregnancy this has been. I’m writing this from the perspective of a husband and father as my wife isn’t quite up to sitting down at a computer to type out her feelings.
What a crazy nine months. Our pregnancy with our fifth child (we lost one during a pregnancy in 2007) has been quite the experience, as our new daughter has been an added blessing and challenge in our transition to our new roles as missionaries, especially for my wife. I thought I’d share some of the various ways Jenni’s pregnancy has been a bit different this time around.
First off, we can’t forget Lyla’s (that’s her name) grand entrance into our lives. We found out that we were pregnant only a week and half before we left for the Dominican Republic. I remember Jenni feeling very lethargic last summer and she just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Finally, I just said, “Umm, do ya think you possibly could be pregnant?’ And the word “pregnant” just hung out there in the air for a bit before we both looked at each other with feelings of “are you kidding me” and “no way” to “What??…How??…NOW??” Of course a pregnancy test confirmed our suspicions, and then we had quite a frank “talk” with Jesus. Not that we challenged Him, but just that we felt like the timing was a bit… inconvenient in our human perspective.
While we were a little flabbergasted (I love that word) about our pregnancy, we weren’t all together shocked by the Lord. He has been in the habit of giving us these little gifts in our lives wrapped up in reminders of “Obey me” and “I know what I’m doing.” And after we get over ourselves and our preconceived notions of what we feel is the best timing of things, he sends us this message in our hearts – “You may not understand it now, and it will rock your world, but this is my present to draw you closer to Me.” Indeed! Each of these “gifts” (our adoptions and pregnancies just to name a few) have been amazing reminders of His love for us. And now we have the pleasure of receiving another beautiful miracle with the joy of and praises to our great God. Another living example of His magnificence and His love for us. Blessed indeed.
Of course we also love the story of the day we were prayed off at our home church, Calvary Chapel Chattanooga. At this point we had told only two close friends about our news. So then our pastor, Frank, proceeds with sharing about our time in the body at Calvary and how our calling to the mission field reminded him of his calling to move from Florida to establish the church in Chattanooga. And as he illustrates his own story, he states that the only difference was that his wife was pregnant at the time. As those words hung out there for a bit, we take a glance over to see our friends sitting near the front row almost falling out of their chairs, barely holding back their laughter. Apparently, Jenni and I also shared enough emotion to peek the curiosity of some others (specifically Pastor Erik, our missions pastor) in the audience who quickly approached us after service and asked us if we were pregnant. The cat, as they like to say, was out of the bag.
And so, we moved forward in faith (again), while chuckling a little to ourselves about how crazy it’s going to be to pick up and move to another country while also fully knowing we are expecting.
Not the Only Living Thing in Jenni’s Tummy
The amusement with the reality of her pregnancy ended abruptly, though, when after only a couple of weeks into living in the Dominican Republic, Jenni begins to get very sick. At first we chocked it up to morning sickness, which would be new for her as she didn’t experience that with the other pregnancies. But after comparing symptoms with a few other people who weren’t feeling well either, we discovered that it wasn’t morning sickness after all. Instead, she (along with the others) learned that she had a parasite which she ingested somehow (from bad water or food most likely). This news was NOT good. First off, she got so sick that her muscles (she has a neuromuscular condition) completely grew weak, leaving her with a harder time to walk and function in a normal way throughout the day. Not to mention, it was even worse dealing with this while living in a public missions house (where we spent the first 6 weeks). You know how it feels when you’re sick. You just want to let go of all forms of decency and just veg out. And of course with her being pregnant it caused us to jump through a few more hoops in regards to her treatment of it (including a rather eventful trip to the emergency room). But that kicked off her pregnancy in a foreign place in such a way that from that point on it never had been the same physically for Jenni. Thank the Lord, though, that the medicine did kick in and the parasite was evaporated.
Being pregnant in the Dominican Republic comes with a few different cultural perspectives. Pregnant women are treated surprisingly better sometimes than other women. They are in general very cared for as both Dominicans and Haitians feel that pregnant women are fragile, as if they will break easily if jostled, bumped into, or if they move around a lot. This even carries over to a few laws. For example, pregnant women are not supposed to sit in the front seat of a car (although we haven’t been so obedient to this rule, much to the dismay of our two oldest who would love to steal the opportunity to sit up front). Pregnant women also apparently don’t clean their own homes. Even when Jenni was only about four or five months into her pregnancy, locals (especially other women) were shocked when they learned that Jenni still did a lot, if not most, of the housework.
Another big difference are the OB/GYN appointments. Jenni’s doctor’s office is located in a private clinic attached to the private hospital where we’ll have the baby delivered. When it’s your day for your appointment you are not given a time. You just show up to her office, sign in, and wait…for a LONG time (our longest has been three hours so far). The doctor has morning and afternoon office hours and she sees you on a first come, first serve basis, so the key is to get there an hour before she is scheduled to be in so you get your name on the list early. Like all other things related to time in the DR, there are times she comes an hour or two later than expected. The “waiting room” is a very crowded, narrow, non air-conditioned hallway that is shared with about ten other doctors. There’s a tiny, old school television set hanging from the wall that usually has a fairly risque Spanish soap opera showing. But the other people waiting in the area are very friendly, and even more so to us gringos, especially when we have Asher with us. And while it’s so much fun sitting around in this environment with the kids and all, we typically would drop Jenni off and then go run errands while she waited.
We have been impressed and are quite confident in her doctor, who went to medical school in Mexico. She specializes in ovarian and cervical cancer as well. And best of all, she speaks English well enough to make it comfortable and less nerving for us. And while I’ve never been in the room with Jenni during an exam, she tells me that the technology used may be slightly older fashion (think our parents’ generation) but is still thorough. I won’t get too graphic here, so if you want to learn more about this aspect, you’ll have to contact Jenni – haha.
Jenni is scheduled to have a C-section three days from now. And while everyone, including even Jenni’s own doctor, is surprised that we are staying here to deliver the baby, we feel very good about it. C-sections are by far the preferred method of delivery here as something like 90% of women have them (Why? Let’s just say it has something to do with wanting to keep their husbands pleased in bed). Because Jenni had a C-section with Asher, we knew that was the method we would have to do again. And with that percentage as high as it is, it is a good indicator that doctors must know what they’re doing. Dominicans and Haitians do after all have babies themselves.
The Wait is Almost Over
We are so excited for Lyla’s arrival. Our other kids are getting more and more excited themselves. And while it clearly isn’t up to us, one thing is for sure … we feel that this little girl will most likely be the last child we have (well … naturally at least). Of course the Lord may decide to give us the joy of more “gifts” in the future. And while we’d most assuredly be shocked, we would equally welcome those opportunities to embrace those special ways to enjoy His love and presence in our lives.
We can’t wait to introduce you to our sweet Lyla. Be sure to return to the blog (and our Facebook page) in a few days to (virtually) meet her for the first time!