Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010: Today

Today…another one of those anniversaries I’d rather not have. After two days on bed-rest in the hospital, our seventh child was born 30 weeks early, three years ago today. The city in which we lived has an "anonymous" funeral (anonymous meaning that it doesn’t cost us anything and there’s no marker) twice a year for all babies under 500 grams, but we were the only parents who responded to the invitation and met with the pastor taking the service, so our baby was the only one mentioned by name, we chose the only song that was played ( Your Faithfulness, by Brian Doerkson), and the sermon was mostly for us.
And now I’m at nearly 32 weeks with our ninth child, who is actively kicking away and reminding me not to lean too close to the computer! We spent the day near Limassol at a homeschool get-together with four other families, our five running-around, living children being one-third of those present. A good day.
Then we were supposed to see friends off at the airport this evening (a family of four, moving back to Norway), but because of the currently erupting volcano in Iceland, their flight was cancelled. We don’t mind in the slightest having them around for another week (at least…we’ll have to see what the volcano does–could be longer!!), but it’s of course rather unsettling for them. A relatively calm evening for us wasn’t a bad thing, either.
Last week I did actually find a doctor (ob/gyn) who after much grumbling said that although he’s never done so before, he would be willing to attend a homebirth for me, "because I’m from Germany." I did explain where I’m actually from originally, but when he realized that I lived in Germany before we moved here, he switched to German with me, as he studied medicine in Germany. Many, many years ago, however…and I’m not at all sure that I’ll go to him even for a check-up (haven’t had one since I saw my own doctor in Germany in January), much less call him for the birth. Seeing as he’s been practicing for 30 years and has attended over 4000 births, but had no idea that it’s even possible to have a first baby of any size with neither an episiotomy nor tearing, nor a 4000-gram baby at any time without either of the above, I’m really not very encouraged. (I’ve done both–only had a first baby once, but had two others that were just over 4000 grams each, and those were two of my three homebirths, and no episiotomy, no tearing with any of the five.) But at least SOMEONE was willing, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll find someone else in the next eight weeks who sees birth as something normal, not something medical…

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 5, 2010: Nothing unusual–visitors, emergency room, etc.

We have friends from Germany visiting, which we’re enjoying very much–spending time with them, but also getting some breaks because they keep offering to babysit! At the moment, they’ve taken Katie and Helen out for a walk, so it’s quite peaceful here. (Edited to add: I started writing this at 11:30 this morning, now it’s almost 6:00 p.m. and a little less peaceful. But it’s been a nice, calm day overall, which is nice after the last week…)
I met Barbara nearly nine years ago, as she ran (runs still…) the playgroup that I started going to when Marie was four and Jacob was two. Other people came and went, most people only having one or at the most two children, and most people only go with a first child anyway, in my experience, but I’m harder to get rid of. I kept changing which child/ren I was taking, but thoroughly enjoyed "my" Thursday mornings all those years. Barbara also occasionally babysat for us (including having the three older children overnight the night Katie was born, the four children overnight when I was in the hospital with my third miscarriage, and the girls overnight the night Helen was born) and my children are all crazy about her. She left her husband and 15-year-old son at home in Germany and is spending two weeks here with us, along with her nearly-17-year-old daughter, Andrea. Andrea will probably be coming back in September to stay with us for about six months and do volunteer work in a rest home. :-)
As we usually do with visitors, we did do a little bit of sightseeing. Marie, Jacob, and Lukas went on a two-day hike last week, Wednesday to Thursday, which made for more space in the car, so Wednesday afternoon we drove up to Nikosia. We couldn’t go across the border to the northern part of Cyprus, as Barbara and Andrea only have European ID cards, not passports, but we walked around and enjoyed the farmers’ market. Then on Thursday we drove to Lefkara, a traditional village where lace and silver are made, before heading further up in the mountains for a picnic and then a short stop at Mount Olympus, the highest point in Cyprus. We got home less than an hour before the children did–good timing.
And on Friday, we went to the beach, for the first time this season. When we lived in Germany, I would have considered the slightly overcast and windy day to have been quite a warm one, and most certainly would have gone swimming if we’d gone to the beach in the Netherlands with that weather, and with the water MUCH colder than the Mediterranean. But having survived my first summer in Cyprus last year, I know that it will get much warmer here, to put it mildly, so it wasn’t worth the effort for me to actually go swimming, but I was perfectly happy to sit on the beach. Barbara and Andrea considered the water actually warm, and the children NEVER think it’s cold. (Well, Marie actually stayed home. But the other four were all in the water.)
When we’d been there maybe half an hour, Jacob came out of the water, crying, saying that he’d cut his foot. I went to him, thinking it’s good that I have a little plastic box with antibiotic ointment and bandages (Band-aids, sticking plasters?) in my bag…but quickly realized that that wasn’t going to be enough. He had a great jagged hole with blood pouring out, so the decision was quickly made to head for the hospital. The most sense would have been for Jörn to take him, or even to take the extra five minutes to pile all of us back in the car and drop off the extra people at home (which is on the way to the hospital anyway), but although we don’t exactly panic, the sight of lots of blood gushing out of our child does hinder us a bit in thinking logically. So I put Helen in the car and Barbara and Jörn carried Jacob to the car, then Barbara came too, and we headed for the hospital. Meanwhile, Jörn called our friend Richard to pick up the rest of them at the beach and take them home, as we of course couldn’t know if our visit to the emergency room would be 20 minutes or several hours.
At the hospital I dropped Barbara and Jacob off at the entrance to the emergency room and then parked the car, and we were able to register within a couple of minutes, and it wasn’t more than about 10 more minutes until they called Jacob’s name. But they wouldn’t let me go with him because I’m pregnant, so I was really glad Barbara was there to stay with him. They x-rayed his foot, and then they sat around waiting for awhile inside, but I had no idea what was happening all that time. Richard dropped Jörn off at the hospital, so Jörn went in to find out what was happening, came back and told me that he’d been x-rayed and they were just waiting for the doctor, and then Jörn stayed with Jacob and Barbara, Helen, and I went home.
All in all, it was "only" two hours from Jacob’s arrival at the hospital until Jörn called me to pick them up, just as I was dropping Marie and Andrea off at youth group to walk to one of the English-speaking churches for their Good Friday service. They put three stitches in Jacob’s foot, which seemed a sort of strange number to me–I would have thought it would need a lot more if they stitched it at all, rather than gluing or taping it, but although they did have to dig a piece of rock out of it, it was rather more superficial than it had looked at first. Jörn and I even had time to have a sandwich each and we made it to the Good Friday service we’d been planning to attend (at a different English-language church) only 15 minutes after it was scheduled to start, and at least 5 minutes before it actually did, leaving the children home with Barbara. :-)
Today Jörn took Jacob back for a check-up, and they discovered that his foot is infected. So now he’s going to get antibiotics (starting tomorrow–the pharmacies were all closed today, as it’s a holiday) and has to be checked again on Wednesday.
Easter Sunday we had breakfast together (a big concession on my part…I prefer my bowl of granola and yogurt a couple of hours before anyone else is up…), with Easter bread that I made that morning and hard-boiled eggs that I dyed the night before. After church (we arrived around 11:00–people arrive anytime between 10:00 and, well, anytime–and as always stayed for a shared lunch and chatting, and left a little past 4:00) we left the three younger children with Barbara and Andrea, who took them to a playground and for ice cream, and the rest of us went to Richard and Sue’s house for a game of Settlers of Catan, which Jacob had been begging for for a long time. Then Richard and Sue came back with us for dinner and another game of Settlers after the children had gone to bed.
Today has been fairly calm, really. Jörn took Barbara, Andrea, Lukas, and Katie to the beach this afternoon and I read to Marie and Jacob for awhile, then we played a game of Alhambra, and in a few minutes we’re going out to dinner (all nine of us), for a Meze (sp.?), a traditional Cypriot meal, which we’ve never had before, so having visitors is a good excuse to try it out.