Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Blog

Hello, faithful friends and family!

This post is to let you know that our family has created a new blog. If you've been following us here, we really want you to keep following us on our new blog. Since our family has grown, we decided to start a new blog that would allow us to post on different pages (one for our family, one for just Caleb, one for the mission). Here is the address:

Please click on this link and check out our new blog. Of course, while you're there, please subscribe to it as well so you know every time we post something new!

Thanks for switching with us!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Introducing Caleb!!!

David and Olivia Nelson are proud to announce the birth of their amazing, wonderful, beautiful, healthy son, Caleb James Nelson!
Caleb James Nelson
Caleb was born Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 10:35am. He was born weighing 3.95kg and was 55cm long (approx. 8lbs 11oz and 21.5 in).

He is a wonderful child. On average he eats every couple hours, but sometimes he'll give us 3.5-4 hour naps in between feedings. He is able to be loud when he cries, but fortunately this is rare. At night he usually gives us about five minutes of smacking before he even starts to cry for food. I think he takes after his father in that he is strong. Though he is a newborn he can lift his head and look around (briefly). He is gassy, seeming to stink up the vicinity around him frequently (which I think is normal).

He is in a house surrounded by people that love him. We were blessed enough to have Olivia's mother and my parents here for the birth and a little while afterward. They told us they came to help us out, they just neglected to mention the specifics of this help would mainly be helping to hold, hug, kiss, and love on their newest grandson.

If you would like any pictures of Caleb just ask as we have a few thousand of him already. This boy's grandparents should not be referred to as grandparents but grand-paparazzi.

The Delivery and Hospital Stay
After many months of preparing, planning, and praying; it all came down to the final moments. I woke up at 2am to my wife nudging my shoulder telling me that her water had just broken. I cooly and calmly got out of bed and said "Okay, let's go". I was then told we have to wait until the contractions start and get to be about five minutes apart. Being 2am I was thinking, "Okay, I'm going back to sleep it's going to be a long day", but being sensible, I asked, "Okay, what else do we need to do before we go to the hospital?" We then spent about 20 minutes gathering the last of the items together that were on the list the hospital had given us, and put them in Liv's pregnancy bag.

So after everything was gathered we jumped back in bed and were going to sleep as much as we could getting ready for the day ahead. This unfortunately was not going to happen. Almost right away Olivia's contractions started, and they started quickly. The first one came, then six minutes later the second one followed, then 5 minutes later the third came, then 3 minutes later the fourth came. And from that point forward contractions were coming consistently every 2.5 minutes. Needless to say we woke everyone on the house up and got out the door as quick as we could! (Liv going as quickly as she could down the stairs since our elevator was still broken).

All the way to the hospital I was going over in my mind what I had read the day before on how to deliver a baby if you don't make it to the hospital. We were rushing! It was 2:30 am so the roads were clear. And I was looking forward to flying down the road reaching the hospital with a couple police cars in chase. Of course, for a couple reasons that didn't happen. Every light we came to was green, we saw no police, and if you have driven in Ukraine you know that the condition of the roads is not good enough to speed along with a pregnant lady on board.

Once at the hospital though, things slowed down. As most of you know, Olivia and I have been studying the Russian language since we moved here. Unfortunately, despite the progress we have made, we struggled to communicate as well as we would like in a hospital setting with medical terms. This is something that we were expecting when we decided to deliver here, but we felt confident enough that we would be able to handle it. Obviously it all worked out, but at the time with the added stress from a baby about to come and it being very early in the morning it was difficult.

I won't go into a lot of details about the deliveries, but I will share a few things that were significant to us.

The overall attitude of doctors here is that they are the doctors who know what they are doing so we need to let them do whatever they want. I do admit that the doctors here do know more than I do, but it is extremely frustrating for a doctor or nurse to give me an annoyed look and shake her head no as a response to me asking what they were about to inject my wife with. It goes against everything we have have experienced medically in the States and New Zealand. There the doctors inform the patients as to what is going on, what they are doing, and ask what they would like done, leaving the decision in the patients hands. That is not the case here in Ukraine. Here, we the patients do not know what is best for us, therefore there is no need for us to know what is going on.

Delivery was... interesting. Going into this I knew that I did not want to be anywhere except by Liv's head when she was delivering. I had no desire to be anywhere else. I have no problem with blood or anything, I have a problem with smells. I'd like to think I have a very very sharp sense of smell and that is why bad smells really get to me, but really I probably just can't handle bad smells. But when it all started happening, I was there for my wife doing everything that I needed. When she was in too much pain and too tired to even understand what the doctor was saying, I was there telling here when to push, breath, and relax. When the doctor asked her to try delivering standing up, I was under her arm holding her up. When the doctor told her she needed to hold her legs back further, I was there helping her do this. When the doctor needed me to start pushing on Liv's belly to help her out, I was there pushing. Before we went to the hospital, I wasn't interested in being anywhere except by Liv's head, but when the moment came I wanted to do everything I could to help Liv do her job.

Our hospital stay lasted from 2:30am on Wednesday morning to noon on Saturday. And our time there was an eye opener. Usually only the mother and child can stay up there, and visiting hours are from 11am to 6pm. But for us they made an exception. Because we had the hospital's head doctor as our doctor, we were able to have special privileges that others did not have. I was able to stay the whole time with Olivia without leaving. And when we had guests, they did not have to have the required chest x-ray to come and visit us. All throughout the day starting at 6am we had nurses and doctors bursting into the room asking for the temperature of the mother and baby, dropping off water to wash Caleb's eyes, coming in and stabbing Caleb's big toe and taking his blood, checking how Liv is recovering, making her go get an x-ray, making her give blood, telling her how she needs to feed the baby, telling us to open the window to let fresh air in, then another nurse telling us to close one window and open the other one, then another one telling us off for having windows open with a baby in the room, etc. Seems like every time the baby had just started to fall into a deep sleep, the nurse would barge in and mop the floor. All in all I think it was probably pretty close to how hospital stays go worldwide, it was just extra trying for us, because the only English spoken to us was "September 15", and more than half of the staff we dealt with did not exercise much patience with us in our inability to speak/understand Russian fluently.

Probably the most frustrating thing for me though was the very frequent trips to the hospital pharmacy. A few weeks before the due date we met with the Hospital consultant (with an interpreter) and received a run-down on how everything would go as well as a list of everything that we would need at the hospital. Well, come to find out the list they gave us only contained about a tenth of the things that we would need, and almost half of the things mentioned on that list were not necessary at all. When the nurse would come around and tell Olivia to bring her gloves for a blood test and we didn't already have them, we would then be told off for not having gloves when we were supposed to have already gotten them. Same thing with the x-ray paper, for some reason unimaginable to them, we did not realize we were supposed to have brought our own x-ray paper. In the end there were many trips to the pharmacy to buy yet another item that they expected us to have, but no one informed us that we needed.

I hope I am not sounding too negative about our hospital experience. There were a lot of great things about the hospital stay as well. Like I mentioned before, our doctor was the head doctor, and she went out of her way to make sure our stay there was as nice as possible. She was very friendly and accommodating. She was not the only wonderful person there, there was a nurse that would come and spend about ten minutes with us everyday that we got to talk with. She was very nice and complimentary of our language saying we speak very well and with a very good accent. Especially compared to the other foreigners she has met in Ukraine. We know that we will be remembered at that hospital for awhile, and hope that through our contact with the head doctor, we may be able to participate in some sort of ministry there at the hospital.

One last comment about the hospital. The first day there they had no running water. Yes that's right, there was a group of about six nurses that filled up hundreds of buckets and distributed them to all the toilets, and rooms of the hospital. At the six hour mark after delivery, when they have the mothers get up and take a shower to clean up, they brought Olivia a bucket and ladle saying that she needed to hurry and wash up before the water gets cold. Yeah, this is Ukraine, what can I say.

Now that we are home, Olivia is recovering, and Caleb is sleeping and eating well. We look back and laugh at our hospital experience. At times it was frustrating and at times made us regret not leaving the country to give birth, but now we are past it and can laugh about it. And we are extremely happy and proud parents now.

We were blessed by God that nothing went wrong, that there were no complications, and that Caleb was born healthy. We thank God for taking care of us, and we thank all of you who have been praying for us as well.

Thank you God for giving us an amazing son!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ultrasound Picture of Caleb

We went to the doctor today to get things checked out with Caleb and walked out with a new ultrasound picture... so, of course, we're sharing. Here's out little one... sleeping away and apparently content inside Olivia.
Olivia is doing great, just getting bigger and more ready every day for him to come out. She's 40 weeks and 2 days today... so just a little past the due date. We're praying he comes soon, preferable this week. If she hasn't delivered by Monday, we go back for a check-up and they'd really like to just put her in the hospital until he comes. Of course, there's nothing wrong, it's just customary for them to put moms in the hospital at 41 weeks. So, be praying with us that he comes soon! We've also got some grandparents around (Olivia's Mom and David's parents) who are here for a limited time and would like to hold their grandbaby! :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pregnant... and Living in Ukraine (Part 2)

As we get closer and closer to our due date (just 5 days away now - see picture), I felt the need to write another post about my experience being pregnant here. (Note: If you missed the first post, you can go back and read it here.) I know once Caleb arrives on the scene, he's going to become the center of attention for a while and I know my time will be even more limited. So, I'm taking a bit of time now to write down things I want to remember as well as things I think you will enjoy hearing about. And don't worry - I have lots of pictures in this post as well! :) Of course, I have no experience of being pregnant in the States or New Zealand to compare my experiences here in Ukraine to, but I'm still very confident they do things really different here. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about some more of those differences!

My Prenatal Clinic
Depending on the region you live in, you have a specific prenatal hospital you are required to go to. Thankfully, our prenatal hospital is just about 3-4 blocks down the road we live on. (See picture below.) I should have gone to this hospital as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but we didn't know that, so I started my "official" prenatal care late - at 31 weeks. Since then we've been doing a lot of catch up work and tests. Every woman is given a pregnancy passport (see picture to the left) that I take with me every time I go. In this "passport," they record the results from all tests, ultrasounds, and appointments. Medical information is not recorded on computers here, everything is written down, usually in a simple, lined or graphed notebook. In other words - I'd better not lose this passport or I'd be in a heap of trouble.

Every two weeks I walk down the street enter my hospital and wait in line at the elevator that can only hold 4 people. There are actually 3, but 2 have been broken the whole time... I think they might be permanently dead. It's an old elevator, so we have to watch the button until the light goes off (meaning it's not occupied) and push it, just hoping we've beat everyone else on the other floors. :) From there I go see the nurse who enters my new data (from urine tests or blood work, etc.) and writes out a bunch more "prescription papers" for me to do before my next appointment, then I see my prenatal doctor. I've been blessed and haven't had any complications with my pregnancy, so the visits usually go pretty quick. My doctor asks how I'm doing and if I have any questions, then she measures my belly, feels to see how the baby is positioned, then she gets out her little wooden funnel and listens to the baby's heartbeat (see picture).

Errands In Between

Real quick, I'll expand a little more about the "prescription papers." These are little papers (picture provided) I have to take to various other clinics/labs. They've become the things I dread most - having to go to many different places with specific hours to do little things. I have to go certain days between 7-10am to drop off my urine, other days to another place between 9-11am to give blood, another day between 8-11am for something else, etc. And yes, I've showed up several times past time (unknowingly) which means a wasted trip. I am usually given between 3-4 "prescription papers" every two weeks. When I go to give blood, I go to the pharmacy first to buy the syringe they'll use and sometimes gloves as well. Although Ukraine doesn't have the best health care, I have always felt pretty confident that they do their best to stay clean and sanitary. I took a picture of the room where I give blood - the pots just crack me up (some are for clean syringes, others for dirty, some for cotton balls, etc.). These poor nurses and doctors also do not have air conditioning, so this whole last month where the temperatures were over 100F (40-42C), it was HOT with no relief. I also took a picture of the place where I drop my urine off... it's the red bricked building and the picture of the stairs goes along with it. For some reason, the lighting and the condition of the stairs just makes me smile.

They also gave me a piece of paper with a list of places I have to go get a wellness stamp, places like the eye doctor, the dentist, the heart doctor, the lung doctor, the nose/ear/throat doctor, and a few others. In my last post I mentioned the fact that I have bad eyesight. Bad eyesight runs in my family, sadly, but it's "unusually bad" for Ukraine. Doctors look at my prescription or my glasses and their first determination is that I should not give birth naturally, I must have a cesarean. Thankfully, I found a great private clinic who would actually examine my eyes to see if I would have any problems giving birth, specifically with my retina. I've been given the "ok" for natural birth and here's the official paper that says just that. (Yes, we had much rejoicing over this!)

Prenatal Personel
Finally, here are a couple photos we took this last week when I went in for my appointment. I wanted pictures of my doctors/nurses who have helped me at the prenatal clinic.
The first picture (to the right) is with Valeria. She is a really great friend of ours who has been a help to us from the beginning. She actually was the delivery doctor when my sister gave birth to Max, and has just become a good friend since then.
The next picture (to the left) is me with the nurse at my prenatal clinic (she's the one who records all my information for me in my passport).
The next picture (to the right) is with my prenatal doctor. Here in Ukraine, your prenatal doctor is different from your delivery doctor.
The last picture (to the right) is with my translator, Julia. She's been a great help to me as I really only understand about 50% of what they are saying on my own.

Hopefully the next time I'll be writing about doctors and my experiences here, I'll be writing about Caleb's delivery. :) Many of you are praying with us now and we're so thankful for your prayers and ask you continue to keep us in your prayers. We are excited and can't wait for him to arrive!!