Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Biggest News of All

If you know anything about malaria, the question may have entered your mind at some stage - why was Kelly so sick, why the evacuation and the ban on returning to Solomon Islands? Yes, I was sicker than most people, and no, you wouldn't normally get evacuated to be treated for malaria. The reason was that I wasn't the only one with malaria. We found out, about a week before I got sick, that we were having a baby. We guessed it was pretty early days, and so he/she was nicknamed "Ziggy" (the zygote - google it if you haven't done biology!).

As I have learned, pregnancy depresses your immune system, meaning that illnesses are more severe than they otherwise would be. Malaria carries extra risks for the fetus as well: an increased risk of miscarriage, problems with the placenta, risk of poor growth and premature delivery. I have done enough work with infants to know that having a fever while pregnant is not a good thing for the baby. And boy did I have a fever....

I don't normally talk about God in these posts, because I suppose people have so many wrong ideas about Him that I don't want to word something clumsily and put them off more. But I can't leave Him out of this, because I believe with everything that He is responsible for getting us and Ziggy this far. So sorry if you're offended by the following talk of supernatural things, but our lives have not taken these turns so far because of "the natural order of things". So it is with this part. As we know, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing: I have seen a lot of neurologically messed-up babies and kids through my work, and know that it is important to be healthy during pregnancy. So as I was getting sicker, and was convinced that something really was very wrong, naturally I was extremely concerned for whatever might be happening to this little guy, whose life had barely begun. My own inclination is to worry myself silly, and to think of all the catastrophic implications that this illness would be sure to have: miscarriage, severe disability, a lifetime of grief, struggle and hospital admissions, the works. But oddly enough, even in the midst of a pretty scary time, I had complete reassurance that this baby would be okay, and I didn't have to worry. That, of course, goes against everything my head knows, yet it is something I've learned to trust.

Maybe it is the wrong time to be telling this story, maybe I should have waited ten years until we had this child I could hold up and show you was completely healthy, completely normal. But everything we have heard and seen along the way has supported this seemingly irrational knowledge that this baby is okay: the early scan in Brisbane showed that everything looked well, we made it past the crucial 12 weeks without any hint of a problem, the obstetrician said I was sick too early on for the malaria to have affected the placenta and thus Ziggy's growth, the baby has been kicking like a pro-footballer since 16-and-a-bit weeks, the 20 week scan was beautiful and showed appropriate growth....

I can't tell you exactly what the future holds for Steve and Ziggy and me, but we're excited to be safely home together, all three of us, and the size of my 24-and-a-bit-week belly says things are growing well. After such a rough start to our little bubby's life, it is good to be excited about the future, and to be feeling well as we prepare for his (or her) arrival in mid-September.


Monday, 20 April 2009

Easter Flooding

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter. We had a great one with plenty of visitors to brighten our days. Just wanted to share one of the events which was the Easter floodings. Pictures will describe better than words so I'll leave you with the following. Just to say the change only took an afternoon of torrential rain!!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Steve's been voted off the island!

I'm just writing to let everyone know that I've safely made it out of Malaita, and am in NZ waiting for Kel to arrive. I've been without her now since the start of Feb, and it hasn't been the easiest of times - but I can't wait to pick her up at the all familiar Akld airport, as she flies in from Melb...

To be honest, I've been pretty exhausted the last couple of weeks. There's been so much to do on top of our physically demanding construction work at Kilu'ufi (hospital), and I wouldn't have made it this far if it weren't for some good mates who came to help in Kel's absence.
Karl & I

Rob & Lara, of course, kept the construction going. And Karl (Kel's dad), David, Libby & Jennifer (mates from St Matt's who were in Auki earlier in the year) really rallied around me over the last few weeks to get me over the line (and help at the hospital and Dukwasi village). The team helped me with all the cooking (we ate exceptionally well despite my culinary shortcomings), and getting the house packed.David, Karl, Jennifer, Libby & Me!!

We managed to give a whole lot of stuff away, and with all the extra luggage allowance between the five of us, ended up sending only 9 boxes home - a good effort I thought...
Some of our friends at the party!

The hardest thing about all the goodbyes was that Kel couldn't be part of it...
We had a big party (with lots of Aussie party food!) and over 150 people showed up. Our good friend Silas' band (called Traditional Roots) played until the power went off at 8pm! We fired up the generator and kept going for a while - eating and showing off photos to all the pikinini. We called Kel, and many of our friends got to talk to her (they were very surprised that she could still remember Pijin!). People were still showing up at 1am the night before we sailed out of Auki, just to spend time with us, which was really sweet.
Rob & I

We're going to miss our good Auki mates Silas, Willie, Frank, Goretti, and especially everyone at the Auki AOG and Dukwasi village. It was really sad to say "bye" to Rob & Lara after all the good and bad we've been through together over the last couple of years, but the net and power situation should be a little more stable when they move to Honiara in a couple of months - which means some good skype sessions will be in order...
Frank & Willie & Me!

Finally, we've decided to re-settle back in Melbourne for family reasons, so we're shipping all the stuff we stored under Ben's house (thanks mate) from Auckland to Melb. Auckland feels more like home than Aussie because we've never lived in Melbourne together since we got married in 2003. Many thanks also to Allan, Kay and the Life crew for all you've done for us! We have nothing against NZ - we would've loved to have been able to settle there - but 7years away from family is enough for me...

So I've got work organised at St Vincent's Hospital Melb, and Kel's already back at work. We'll be living in Berwick, and we expect many Kiwi visitors over the years to make use of our spare bedroom (we insist!)

Stay in touch everyone!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Stimulating blog?!

Yes it has been awhile since we have sent a stimulating blog to fly around in cyberspace. . . so we’d better attempt to amend the situation.
Well as Steve alluded to in his blog (congratulations are in order Steve – your first blog!!!! Well done, wasn’t that hard was it!) we had a wonderful whirlwind of a time in NZ, including attending a wedding, Parachute music festival (Rob’s highlight but we won’t rub it in (see picture)), catching up with family and a few friends. Back in the Sols we had the sad experience of saying goodbye to our Kiwi wantok the Harries but we wish them all the best in their next adventure and hope to share future holidays together.

Back to the workshop and it’s starting to look like a building!!! Big thanks to the St Matt’s team who got the bulk of the walls done. With funding provided by the Sol Ministry of Health we have been able to employ a few extra hands to speed up the process. So now all the walls have been completed. It was a great spectacle to see the manatou (mobile fork hoist) come in for an afternoon to assist with getting the roof beams up. Lots of excitement – no wonder it attracted a crowd of spectators! You will be pleased that no one was hurt, not even the manatou who just managed to scrap under the doorway.

Rob managed to catch malaria, however unlike the dramatic stories Kelly and Steve can share, all we can say is – Rob got tested for malaria quickly at Kilu’ufi hospital, took the medication and was back at work the following week. Not so exciting aay?

To make up for that I will post a dramatic (well it is dramatic in real life) photo of the waterfalls we visited. There were five awesome waterfalls in a row. We could have stayed for hours trying to capture their magnificent beauty. Anyway, there it is . . . a blog, can’t really categories it as stimulating but at least now you know that we are alive and well, haven’t been eaten by crocodiles, a coconut hit us on the head or been squashed by an overpopulated truck crabbing sideways!


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