Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The River Trip and Beyond

Thu, Feb 26: IRR - and I! - leave Francia for our trip up the Rio Coco (Coconut River) to take clinics into villages that have never had medical care before. We leave early so as to arrive in Waspam early enough to take our boat all the way to Krin Krin, our first stop - but the boat isn´t there. By some mix-up in communication, it is actually hauling lumber on the river today. We have to wait till tomorrow for a boat. We spend the night on the open floor in the city´s community center.

Fri, Feb 27: We spend all day in our boat. Literally. We leave early and don´t get to Krin Krin till almost dark. We´re starving. We set up camp and eat a small supper. The guys set up their tents in the clinic, and we girls set up in the Pastor´s house, and on his porch, too. We´re very cramped for space.

Sat, Feb 28: We go to church in the morning and have clinic in the afternoon in the nearby school. Patients come and come and come . . . we stay open until after dark and still can´t see them all.

Sun, Mar 1: And we do clinic again in Krin Krin today, all day.

Mon, Mar 2 or Tue Mar 3 (I´m a little off on my dates): We take the boat to Krisnak, a little village up the Waspuk, a tributary of the Rio Coco. We set up camp in the old Catholic church building - by old, I mean that there´s light coming through between every board in the walls, and you can see the sheep and pigs below you through the floor. Tarantulas also come up through the cracks, and cochroaches. We hold a clinic in the afternoon.

Wed, Mar 4: Instead of starting clinic first thing this morning, we take a break first, and head up river a little ways to a waterfall. It´s a gorgeous double cascade, one after the other, with a deep pool in between that´s perfect for jumping into and bathing. There´s even a small trickle coming down that forms a perfect shower head. We´ve been bathing in the river every day (despite the threat of alligators), but this is better than anything else yet.

We run clinic in the afternoon.

Thu, Mar 5: Only a few of us head to the waterfall this morning. The group is starting to fall sick - there´s been a cold going around, and now a stomach bug has started. Even those who aren´t throwing up are tired.

We go to a village at the mouth of our tributary, named Waspuk, like the tributary. The people are so happy to see us, especially the children. They crowd around us, jumping excitedly whenever we take out our cameras. We take loads of pictures, just for the pleasure of showing them themselves. Clinic today includes a small tumor removal that I get to help with - I inject the lidocaine before the procedure. Very exciting.

Fri, Mar 6: We do clinic for a few patients in Krisnak in the morning. Except a few turns into a lot, and we don´t leave until almost noon. No matter, our boat ride back is only supposed to take 4 hours, or 6 . . . 8 hours later we finally hit Waspam. Those of us who are sick are completely miserable. I am at least not throwing up, but I am getting a sore throat.

Rusty does not meet us at the dock. We despair, assuming he got tired of waiting and left for Francia without us. We start making plans to spend the night, when the deuce rolls up. That un-naturally loud engine is the sweetest sound in the world.

Sat, Mar 7: We recover.

Sun, Mar 8: Packing day.

Mon, Mar 9: We take IRR to Puerto Cabezas and say goodbye.

Tue, Mar 10 - Thu, Mar 12: We get ready for Union´s nursing group to arrive. I spend a lot of time resting, since I now have a stomach bug on top of my sore throat.

Fri, Mar 13: The Frontier Nursing class from Union College arrives on this night.

Sat, Mar 14: We go to church in the morning, then the group hikes out to the Rio Wawa again in the afternoon. I stay home and rest.

Sun, Mar 15: We organize the supplies Union brought with them, and open the clinic for Francia in the afternoon. I assist Gina Foster, the OB/GYN nurse practitioner, with translating. I translate to Spanish, and Amelia, the local midwife, translates to Miskito for the patients. It´s awkward, but it works.

Mon, Mar 16: Union´s first clinic in Tasba Pain!

Tue, Mar 17: Clinic in Esperanza. I´m helping Gina again when a girl comes in to be seen who´s actually in labor. She´s only 15 years old, so Gina decides to take her to Francia Sirpi for the birth, because we have more resources there. I assist Gina and Amelia all afternoon with translating and helping the girl through labor. In the evening, she starts pushing, but it takes a long time, partly because it´s her first birth, partly because she´s worked up emotionally. Her mom is in another village and we have no way to contact her. The poor girl keeps crying for her mom and saying how tired she is - she doesn´t think she can do it. But she can, and she does, to a little girl, which they name . . . Katie. Seriously. It was Amelia´s idea. I´m very honored, but I kind of feel bad for the kid. Imagine growing up with a name no one in your village can pronounce.

Wed, Mar 18: The deuce goes to Kapri again! Rusty tries to take it all the way into the village again! And gets stuck again! I´m so glad I stayed home on this day. They actually did make it all the way in, but got stuck again on the way out, on the same steep hill as last time. They had to hike out to Miguel Bikan again, but this time, Jeremy was there with the second deuce to meet them. They didn´t all get back until 3am, tho.

Thu, Mar 19: Rest day.

Fri, Mar 20: Last mobile clinic in Tikamp.

Sat, Mar 21: The nursing students leave. :( Now I´m even more homesick, because I had my friends here for a while, and now they´re gone. But, only one more month and I´ll be home.

Sun, Mar 22: Dr. Rafael Lacayo, a local doc, Janet, Amelia, and Ruth´s mother, who´s a nurse, go with us on a small mobile clinic to Wisconsin. Union had planned on hitting Wisconsin, but had to miss because of the truck getting stuck.

Mon, Mar 23 and Tue, Mar 24: Rest and clean-up from the groups.

Wed, Mar 25: Come to Port - and here I am. And tired. Aren´t you proud of me for staying up so late to tell you what I´ve been doing? ;)

I love and miss you all, and I´ll be home soon! May 3, Lord willing and the crick don´t rise. Pray for our last month to be productive and happy.

A very muddy tale

Well, I´ve been absent from my blog for almost two months now, and I´m almost afraid to try to catch you all up to speed on everything that´s happened since. But I can try, at least a little bit.

Wed, Feb 11: I go with Rusty and Jenny on the deuce to Port to pick up supplies for the groups coming in.

Thur, Feb 12: I go with Rusty and Jeremy on two deuces (yes, we have two that work now). We head to Leymus to pick up IRR (International Rescue and Relief from Union College), who are supposed to be crossing the river around noon there to leave Honduras and enter Nicaragua. We wait by the river all afternoon, from 1pm on. Finally after dark, at 6:30 we leave to spend the night in nearby Waspam. We check email there to see if they sent us anything, but no. We sleep in a sparsely furnishing hotel of questionable cleanliness. The barrel of water that I am supposed to use to clean myself has mosquito larvae in it. I entertain serious questions about whether this ¨shower¨ is worth it.

Fri, Feb 13: We go back to Leymus and get IRR. Apparently they reached the river about 20 minutes after we left. Oops. :P We load up and head back to Francia Sirpi.

Sat, Feb 14: Valentine´s Day! We take IRR to church. Then in the afternoon, we hike to the Wawa river. It takes about an hour through the jungle. It´s still muddy, but not nearly as bad as the first time I hiked it last August. And the rapids are totally worth it - cold and fast and fun. After showering, we spend the evening eating candy hearts and giving each other back rubs. :)

Sun, Feb 15: IRR sits in lecture, and Jenny, Mindy, and I get to organize their pharmacy! Apparently all the hours we spent organizing our clinic´s pharmacy were meant to prepare us for something. :) We get faster every time we do it.

Mon, Feb 16: IRR´s first mobile clinic in Tasba Pain. Some of the students treat a little baby with bad pneumonia. Everyone´s worried about it - Dr. Duehrssen especially thinks it needs to go to the hospital. We´ll send someone back tomorrow to check on him.

Tue, Feb 17: Mobile clinic in Kwiwi Tingni. We get back late, and then Mrs. Brown comes up on the hill to tell us that her daughter, Dexli, who´s almost ready to have a baby, is having pains. Several of us head down to check on her, but it turns out she is not having contractions, but pain in the area of her liver, maybe gallstones. By the time we figure that out and get her pain medicine, it´s past midnight.

Wed, Feb 18: Break from clinics. I go with Rusty, Mindy, and Jeremy to Port to buy groceries. We leave at 4am or some such ungodly hour so we can pick up the baby and his family from Tasba Pain and get them out to the main road where they can catch a bus to Waspam. We also send Dexli to Waspam. We get back from our grocery trip around 10pm, very tired.

Thu, Feb 19: Back to clinics again! Today we go to Kapri, a town down the road past Miguel Bikan. But I´m using the term ¨road¨ very loosely. It has huge mud puddles at the bottom of each hill, and after a while it cease to be a road for vehicles and turns into a footpath for horses and muddy humans. Rusty says he got the truck all the way to Kapri last year, so he can do it again this year. But it´s been rainier this year . . . Rusty tries to take the deuce through one too many mud puddles, and it gets stuck. Very stuck. The men of IRR start trying to pull it out while Rusty jumps on the motorcycle to go back to Francia and get the other truck. The problem is, the second truck has no brakes. It gets stuck too, without doing the first truck any good.

Meanwhile, we girls have hiked a small amount of medicines into Kapri and are setting up a limited clinic. Some of the guys join us, and we go until early afternoon. We hike back to the two deuces - by now they are both unstuck. But it´s rained while we´ve been in clinic, and we still have several steep hills to go up. Here ensues the great battle with the mud. Our pack of IRR guys gets the trucks up one hill, two hills - but not three. The third hill is much too steep. But we don´t realize that until we´ve tried for two hours or so. First all the guys push at the back. Then we load all the girls onto the truck for extra weight to create traction, and all the guys push again. The tires spin mud up into their faces, and many of them are soon coated. (I promise to post the picture of Jeremy after I get back - he was the best monster.) Then all the girls jump up and down in unison while the guys push, again to create more traction. It helps, but not enough, and we decide the danger of us falling off the truck is greater than the benefits. So all the girls go in front of the truck and pull with the chain while the guys continue to push. We still only make it to halfway up the hill.

So when it gets dark, we start walking, and Jeremy and Ryan Veness take off faster than us. They get to Miguel Bikan first and borrow bikes so they can get back to Francia and ask Mike Halverson to come get us on his truck. We get to Miguel Bikan a little later and settle down to wait for Mike to come. We bunk down on the wood floors of a church. After a while, it gets cold, and, prepared IRR souls that we are, we have metal matches, so we build a fire outside. Cow poop covers the ground all around us, but we try to avoid it when we lie next to our fire. Between the fire and the Space blankets, everyone manages to get warm, some inside the church, some out. And we sleep. Mike never comes.

Fri, Feb 20: We wake up at dawn and start walking. None of us have eaten since, at best, late afternoon yesterday. None of us have water left. We don´t talk much - walking takes a lot of concentration right now. When we´re getting close to Francia, Clint Hanley, another local missionary, comes along with his pick-up truck and takes some of us the rest of the way in to Francia. He explains that Mike didn´t come last night because one of the axles on his truck was broken. When we´re finally home, food and water have never been so sweet before.

Sat, Feb 21: We rest our beaten bodies.

Sun, Feb 22: Mobile clinic in Esperanza.

Mon, Feb 23: Off day.

Tue, Feb 24: We go back to Kapri, scene of the disaster. Wiser this time, we stop the truck in Miguel Bikan and hike in. We split our group in Kapri, and half of us go into Polo, a village even further back. We make it back to Francia on the same day. :)

Wed, Feb 25: We pack for the river trip.

You´ll notice the above account of the truck getting stuck in mud is different in some details from the story Union College´s Clocktower published about the event. The date, for instance, is incorrect in the CT, as is the statement that we were back in mobile clinics the next day. (No way did we want to do that). Just thought I´d set the record straight...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Surfing and Other Vacation Activities

Yes, I did surf, and yes, it was fun - and much easier than I expected. I stood up on my first attempt, and on my fourth try I stayed up all the way in to shore. I really enjoyed it - I could see myself getting into it as a hobby - and then the sad truth looked me in the face and told me, ¨You live in Nebraska.¨ :(

We stayed Tuesday night in San Juan del Sur, then took the bus back to Managua Wednesday morning to start the next part of our adventure - the journey to Corn Island. And what a journey it was! Wednesday night at 10pm we left on an overnight bus to Rama, which arrived at 4:30am, giving us just enough time to lug all of our bags down to the docks and board the Captain D., a small ship which left at 5am. We floated down the Rama River toward the Carribean coast, then out onto the sea. The river part of the trip wasn´t so bad, but the sea was rolling high that day. We found out later that the Captain said that the sea was the roughest it had been in his experience making that voyage. Jeremy and Mindy got drenched with waves splashing onto the deck, Bridget and Ruth threw up, and I crashed onto the deck when the bench I was lying on flipped over.

Altogether we spent 13 hours on the Captain D. By the time we got to Corn Island on Thursday night, we were exhausted. But it was worth it - we rented a little house on the island and spent the most relaxing week we´ve had since we´ve been in Nicaragua. We had television, air-conditioning, a refrigerator, real mattresses - and, the real point, beautiful beaches a short walk away. We spent time with the islanders - a man named Sparky invited us to his house Saturday afternoon for a traditional meal called rondown. It´s made of fish, breadfruit, yucca, plantain, and flour-and-water balls all cooked together in a big pot under leaves. He served it to us with beans and rice cooked with grated coconut, and gave us whole coconuts to drink and eat too. The whole meal was extremely delicious. Then that afternoon we went out to the beach with Sparky´s kids and played in the sun and water.

My one regret about Corn Island is that I came down with a bad headcold Friday night and kept it the whole time I was there. It prevented me from scuba diving and snorkeling with everyone else. But I still had fun - played on the beach, went to a baseball game, went out to eat with friends, got sun-burned . . .

We came back to Managua last Thursday - the same trip in reverse, except the sea was a little calmer. Also, we took a small ponga up the river instead of the bigger ship. Then we took the long bus ride from Rama back to Managua, where we spent the weekend. We all went to a SuperBowl party at the home of one of Payton Zimmerman´s teachers from the Nicaragua Christian Academy. (What a game!) And then Monday at noon we hopped on the 24-hour bus that would take us across the country back to Puerto Cabezas. I don´t know when I´ve been more miserable in my life. The roads are not paved most of the way, and it was nearly impossible to sleep. My shoulder is bruised from banging into the wall of the bus so many times. But here we are, in Port once more. We´ll take the bus back home to Francia in the morning.

Time to prepare for groups to come in and do mobile clinics! Our last three months should be busy. Keep us in your prayers, that we can stay motivated and accomplish much in our remaining time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

San Juan del Sur

So we flew out of Puerto Cabezas into Managua last Friday and found ourselves in the civilized world once more! Everything amazed us - the cars whizzing by outside the airport, the fast food available in the airport, billboards, shopping malls, movie theaters . . . after living in the jungle for five months, we have forgotten that such things exist. When we first came to Nicaragua, Managua seemed small and run-down to us. Now, all it takes is a real mattress in our hotel room to make us feel like aristocrats. (By real, I mean about 6 in. tall with springs inside, as opposed to the cloth-covered sheets of foam we sleep on in Francia.)

In Managua we stayed in Covanic, the Adventist school that we stayed at when we first arrived five months ago. On Sunday we took a day trip to Masaya, a city a short distance south of Managua (or perhaps a sort of suburb). In the morning we visited the Masaya volcano. We drove up to a parking lot near the top. From there we could see down into the crater. The smoke rising from its depths obscured the lava I assume lay in the bottom. We walked up some stairs to a viewing station where we could see more of the area around the crater. A few hawks were wheeling around the volcano´s mouth, soaring through the smoke. Swallows swept by me, too. I wondered how they could live in the sulfur fumes.

We hiked up a hill on the other side of the volcano to get a bird´s eye view of the whole area, including a beautiful lake. Then we left for the famous Masaya market, where you can buy everything a tourist could ever want, including frog-skin purses with the frog´s head still on and highly indecent coffee mugs portraying the feminine figure. We much prefered the mugs with the ceramic cochroach in the bottom - they reminded us of what it´s like to live at home in Francia Sirpi.

Today (Monday) we headed to Costa Rica to get our visas renewed. It was a boring day - we spent most of it standing in lines. We only stayed in Costa Rica long enough to eat lunch. :) Nicaragua requires foreigners who hold tourist visas to leave the country every six months. After three days, you are free to re-enter and apply for a new visa. We didn´t want to spend three days in Costa Rica, so we just spent about an hour and came back. Nobody seemed to mind, so we assume the three day rule isn´t that important.

On the way back towards Managua from the Costan Rican border, we turned off on the San Juan del Sur road. We found an inexpensive but nice (real mattresses!) hotel with a breath-taking view of the ocean, then headed out to the beach just in time for sunset. I´ll post pìctures when possible. Just a short description for now - the beach is on a little bay and there are craggy hills on the edges for the sun to set behind. The clouds made the sky a fiery pink-red color. The waves crested on the shore in perfect little rolls. And the sand was fine and soft - extremely nice to dive onto. Also nice to wrestle your friend down onto, which we did repeatedly.

After months of work and stress, this was the perfect evening. Having worship with my friends that I love as a second family, sitting on the beach in an almost perfect world . . . how much more can I ask in life?

Tomorrow I may learn how to surf! The beaches of San Juan del Sur are famous surfing locations, and we can rent boards and get lessons. We´ll see how it goes. ;)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bush Medicine

Some days here in Nicaragua medical care seems fairly straight-forward. We see patients at the MINSA clinic and diagnose ear infections, respiratory infections, stomach bugs, and parasites and treat them with antibiotics and antiparasitics. It´s just like a family care practice in the States, except for the parasites. :)

But some days we have emergency transports to the hospital. We turn the back of our truck into an ambulance by laying a mattress down, and we drive two hours on a dirt road, bouncing all the way because we don´t have shocks, and using the transmission to slow the truck down, because we don´t have brakes. In the States, the same distance would take perhaps half an hour, because the road would be paved. Also in the States, I would have a fully equipped ambulance so I could actually care for my patient on the way to the hospital.

On Tuesday, January 6, we took a patient to the hospital who was having convulsions of some sort. Mindy said they didn´t look like seizure convulsions to her, but they certainly looked bad, whatever they were. The young woman would start thrashing around agressively, obviously not in control of her body. Her fists were clenched so tightly her nails were digging into her palms, and she was screaming in obvious pain and terror. Her eyes looked strangely glazed over. The only thing we could do for her was hold her down to keep her from hurting herself.

We got her to the hospital, carried her in, and laid her on a bed in the emergency ward. She was still convulsing violently - three or four people had to stand next to her bed and hold her at all times to keep her from falling on the floor. A doctor came in with an injection to calm the convulsions. But all of a sudden, the girl´s mother started saying no. She refused to let the doctors touch her daughter and said that she wanted to take her to a sukia (witch doctor) instead. I was listening to this conversation in Miskito, and couldn´t understand what was happening. All I could gather was that the mother was saying something about the doctors at the hospital not speaking Miskito. Which is true - that particular hospital is staffed solely by doctors from Cuba, which is one of the things that makes it a good hospital. But in this case, it apparently contributed to the mother´s distrust of the hospital.

I tried to ask the other friends and family of the patient what was happening, in Spanish. One young man told me that the mother wanted a witch doctor, but he used the Spanish word for it, which I didn´t recognize. Suddenly the people picked up the mattress and carried it outside. not knowing what else to do, I stayed with my patient and helped. While we were carrying her, Janet told Jenny what was going on, and she told me, so I finally knew that they were taking her to a sukia.

They loaded her onto a pickup truck in the street outside the hospital. She was still screaming and convulsing, and I felt desparate to get her help - real help, not whatever dubious ¨care¨ the sukia would provide. But how to communicate? I didn´t think the mother spoke Spanish, and I couldn´t say what I wanted to in Miskito. I started trying to convince the friends and family, in broken Spanish. But I was talking to the wrong people, and I was too late. The mother had decided, out of her fear and ignorance, that her daughter would be better off with the sukia than in the hospital. The truck left before I had barely started making my case.

The next week, on January 12, I met another case that tested my limits. Sunday night around 8pm, a woman in Santa Clara walked under her house. From what I could gather, she was chasing a chicken. All the houses here are built on ¨stilts,¨ so you can get under them easily. While she was down there, a beam fell from the underside of her house and struck her. They came to our mission the next morning to ask for medical transportation.

When I got to the patient´s house in Santa Clara, she was lying on the floor moaning with pain. They showed me the places on her left side and abdomen that were hurting her, and then they rolled her over and showed me her back. She nearly screamed when they moved her. There was a lump near her spine halfway down her back, where I assume the beam had hit her. Just the gentle pressure of my hand touching there hurt her badly.

All the medical training in my head said I needed to keep the patient´s back straight, because it might be broken. In the States, that would involve strapping her to a back board, chalking her head, and packaging her in a Stokes basket for transport. Here, of course, I have none of that equipment. So I had to get creative.

In my own quaint mixture of Spanish and Miskito, I told the family her back had to be straight, and asked them to get a piece of wood. They came back with a 2 by 4. I tried to explain log rolling to them, and we got the patient on to the board without bending her spine too much. Then they put the board and patient in a hammock and carried her out to our truck.

As we drove out of town, I wrapped some rope around the patient and the board to secure her and keep her from bouncing off. Then I tried to show her family how to hold C-spine on her head to keep her neck straight. I ended up doing it myself most of the way back to Francia because they couldn´t understand.

We took the woman into Janet´s MINSA clinic. Janet started an IV, gave her diazepam to calm her down, and inserted a urinary catheter, because the patient had not been able to urinate since the accident. Mindy got some webbing from the hill, and I took the opportunity to do a better job of patient packaging. The result still looked ridiculous, but I hoped it would hold until we reached the hospital.

It did. We carried our patient into the emergency ward. I was happy that I had kept her back straight, but knew it hadn´t been straight the whole night she spent in her home. And then when the doctor arrived, he untied the ropes and pulled my board unceremoniously out from under her - no log rolling involved. Why did I even bother, I wondered.

I felt so helpless in both these incidents. I didn´t have the words to get proper care for one patient, and I didn´t have the equipment to care for the other. I did my best, and that´s all I can do, but I stuggle to accept that truth. As an American nursing student, I have a concept of the ¨right¨ way to do medicine. Unfortunately, that way doesn´t always exist here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

You Know You´re a Student Missionary in Nicaragua When . . .

your Christmas tree has an angel made of a toilet paper roll on the top.

you name the tarantula in your shower Peeping Tom.

your clinic has a possum living in it.

you have to push your truck down a hill in order to start it in order to have power to pump up the tires on your four-wheeler.

you try to stay up until midnight on New Year´s Eve, but you´re too tired to stay awake because you normally go to bed at 8:30.

candlelight dinners no longer seem romantic because the candles are necessary to see your plate.

you´ve forgotten what it´s like to be able to hear your friend´s voice over the noise of the vehicle you´re riding in.

everyday conversations are conducted in three languages at once.

the chickens come in the kitchen and you get a kick out of closing the doors and chasing them till you can catch them and hold them upsidedown by their feet.

the plane flies into the airport and someone has to shoo the horses off the runway before it can land.

you have a truck engine chained to the bottom of your porch.

a chicken walks into your dorm every day to lay an egg next to your suitcase.

you take a pan off your shelf to bake a cake and cockroaches crawl out of it.

out of 7 bicycles that your group has bought, only 3 or 4 are ridable at any given moment.

you have to take an extra pin with you to put the wheel back on your four-wheeler in case it falls off while you´re riding it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year

This past week was a little more restful than the rest of December. After I got home from Puerto Cabezas Friday night (actually 12:30 Saturday morning), I got to crash for a few days. Finished an excellent book (Three Cups of Tea) on Saturday afternoon. Had a headache most of Sunday. I dragged myself out to visit a few patients, but spent most of my time trying to sleep in the hammock. Then Monday I was still dead tired, so I took a nap all morning.

Boring, right? Don´t worry, it gets better.

Wednesday, New Year´s Eve, Janet came to the mission hill and handed us a letter from Esperanza. It was a request for transportation for a pregnant woman there. She had gotten into a fight a few days before and the other party had battered her pretty well. Whoever it was hit her hard in the stomach. Not a good thing to have happen to a 32 weeks and 5 days pregnant mother. She had started hemorrahging and having labor pains.

Jeremy went with Janet to Esperanza to pick the woman up on the four-wheeler (which was still running at that point). Then we took the truck into Waspam. The woman was in quite a bit of pain, probably both labor pains and pain from being beat up.

Outside Waspam, we got stopped by a roadblock - the Yatama, one of Nicaragua´s political parties. No idea why they were blocking the road - that´s just something people do around here. Janet told them to get out of the way, so they did. :)

We got the pregnant lady to the hospital. I went in with her, but Jeremy went to go get gas. The doctor examined her in the labor and delivery room and said she was 7 centimeters dilated already. The doctor said the baby was still alive, but she wasn´t sure it would survive because it was so premature. They gave the mother a bed and wanted her to lie down and wait. But when she was about to get into bed, she decided it would be a better idea to go back to the labor and delivery room. :) She laid down and five minutes later the baby popped out.

It was my third time helping with a birth, and as usual I felt like I got in the way more than anything. Every birth is amazing to watch, and in this one I felt especially worried about the baby because it was so premature and so small - 3.25 pounds! He was a fighter, tho - started screaming right away, and pretty loud.

About two minutes after the birth, Jeremy walked in. He looked at the baby and said, ¨Well, that was fast.¨ :) The baby had been born about 10 minutes after we reached the hospital. If that roadblock hadn´t been cleared for us, we could have been delivering the baby in the back of the truck! Thank God we got to the hospital in time....

So that was my amazing New Year´s Eve. That night I stayed up till midnight listening to music and playing games, and the next day we took a day trip to Esperanza to swim in the beautiful Wawa River. We also took a dugout canoe up the river a little way - we put 6 people in it and then tried to paddle it up stream in a spot where the current was just a little too strong - and we shipped a bunch of water all at once and the boat sunk out from under us. It was hilarious.

Probably not the way you spent the New Year´s holiday. Nicaragua is always different. :)