Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanksgiving, Running and Babies Being Born

I am definitely overdue on posting. My apologies.
This year I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving twice. The first time was a celebration involving all members of my province. We ended up making tacos (yeah, not Thanksgiving food, but easy to make and so tasty). Jac and I made the homemade tortillas (using beer bottles as the rolling pins) and everyone else worked together to make the salsa, meat and veggies. We then made two homemade pecan pies and brownies. We of course didn't have an oven (because no one here uses them) so we made friends with the only family in town that sells bread and has an oven. They tasted AMAZING.
My second Thanksgiving was at my wonderful friends Tim and Jess's house (along with their son Ian). We made omelets for breakfast then ordered a traditional Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant in town (it included everything important: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and PUMPKIN PIE!) for dinner. It all tasted so good! We also made coffee cake and lemon bars. All the while a year old football game was playing in the background! I even took a nap mid-afternoon and complained a couple dozen times about how full I was. Thanksgiving in its truest form.
Since being back from America I've attempted to train for a 1/2 marathon. It's been difficult to train due to the rain, muddy- and sometimes impassible- roads, dogs, Cambodians thinking I'm from another planet and constantly asking me if I'm "tired", etc. However, this Sunday I finished my second 1/2 marathon. The race was in Siem Reap province at Angkor Wat. There were a few moments- those precious few when I wasn't thinking about how stupid I was for running a 1/2 in Cambodia, talking myself out of stopping, or generally thinking about how much pain I was in- that I was struck by how beautiful and surreal it was to run in the temple ruins of an ancient civilization. It was also fun to see so many Cambodians come out to cheer us on and have little kids give us a high-five (which I did a few times but then decided against it for various sanitary reasons). Also, it was encouraging to see Cambodians, who had been disabled by landmines, participate in the race (maybe it was 3K). That was truly inspiring and made me realize how lucky I was to have a body that was healthy and able to run so far. Overall a good experience and many of us are looking for another one to run in the near future.
Babies, Babies, Babies:
I FINALLY got to see a baby born at my health center! I've missed about 3 births thus far so I was very excited when the midwives invited me to come after lunch to see a birth. I showed up at 1:00 when they told me to come; however, she had already "crossed the river" as they say here! I couldn't believe it, but then they told me not to worry because there was another woman in labor. At one point during the 3 hour adventure, the midwives told the woman that the child would come out with a face as white and beautiful as mine saying "bonjour" (the slang word for foreigner is French, thus, why the baby would say "bonjour" instead of "hello").
My conclusions I hear you ask? First, I will hopefully NEVER have a child in rural Cambodia. Second, the woman barely made a noise. Pain medicine you ask? Nope. No pain medicine. What happens when the head is too big to exit? They take scissors and make it bigger. Then they sewed her up and she didn't make a peep. I couldn't believe it. The baby didn't cry for the first 5 minutes. I, in my inexperience, didn't think she was going to make it and thought that if that happened I'd never see another birth because I'd be bad luck. The baby was so white and clearly lacking oxygen. Finally, after rubbing the baby, blood started to circulate and she began to whimper (because she couldn't cry). The whole time the midwife kept telling me that I was never going to want a husband after watching. To myself I was thinking maybe I'll adopt. The other midwife asked if I wanted to see another birth- which, I answered yes. I thought all the blood would freak me out, but it didn't in the least. I just kind of stood there in awe of what was going on. Furthermore, what I liked most was that the mother, sister, and aunt were all there encouraging her and helping her with the birth of her first child. The men were sitting in the next room looking nervous (or possibly drunk?) I felt so lucky to be a part of it. The new mother even thanked me (in English) for coming. I definitely want to see another.

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