After Agatha ? Survivors

When we were in San Miguel yesterday, we went into the church where people were staying after losing their homes. I didn?t take photos because it would really have been intruding. People stared at us like we were aliens as it was. I was looking for my friend and we asked several people if they had seen a gringa with a red headed baby and her tall gringo husband. No one had. One man told us, ?We have many unclaimed children here, in that room, but no white babies, I?m sorry. You can look to see if you know any of the children.?

Families were huddled on the floors of the rooms in the church. Like all churches and homes here, there was a courtyard with a fountain and since the rooms were overflowing, they hung plastic sheets around the edges of the courtyard so people could lie in the corridors. Men were mostly out digging or seeing what they could salvage if their homes were still standing. Women and children huddled in small groups, talking quietly, their faces downcast. Volunteers were cooking lunch for those who were staying there.

Outside, near the actual slide, a man told us, ?There was no warning, everything went all at once. It?s because the water had nowhere to go, it just built up pressure and boom.?

Another woman told my sister-in-law, ?We thought it was an earthquake. The ground started to shake violently and then it all came down. There was no time to do anything.?

It?s amazing how Guatemalans pull together after a disaster. Say what you will about their living day to day methods, about their Guatetime . . . these are people who get into it when they are needed. Long before any foreign organization was in there, San Miguel already had people handing out food and water, helping clear debris and bringing clothing for those who lost everything. I?m sure it?s just a drop in the bucket, but it was help and it was there before the authorities could even get into the town. It reminds me of Stan, when men from San Juan, which was barely touched, took the bus to Jocotenango to spend the day digging everyone out of the mud, returning weary and filthy at the end of each day.

If you want to help, Common Hope is working in this area to help get people what they need and to help them rebuild. I haven?t worked with this organization but they do seem legit.

After Agatha Part 1

Well, we made it through the storm unscathed, though a little damp. I was disappointed that my zucchinis were drowned.

And our yard was flooded.

Irving sunk almost knee deep into the dirt in front of the bathroom, most of which was taken away by the gushing water.


But today, we went out on his dad?s bike to see what was going on around us. And suddenly, my zucchinis didn?t seem too important anymore.

Up the hill from us, trees were down in the road, but the damage was minimal.

Below us, going toward Antigua, things were a bit worse.

Some people had the right idea!

This guy was very careful to keep his feet out of the muck, but his kids seemed to have the opposite goal in mind!

There was a lot of sandbagging along the way.

We turned to go into San Pedro, with the idea of heading through to San Miguel, where a woman I know and her family live. She hasn?t been online since Friday and I was worried. While I didn?t know where she lives, I just wanted to check the area out.

The entrance to San Pedro was full of mud and broken walls.

The river here had overflowed, since the riverbed is much shallower than where we live.

At first glance, the town seemed fine! Everyone was out and about, looking for damage.

But a couple of blocks past the central park and we hit this:

The water came right through this residential area and wiped out the house below.

Just a short distance further and we came across two cars . . .

An entire section of wall had washed away from the residential.

This is where we turned back and headed through Panorama to San Miguel to see what things were like there. The devastation in that pueblo was incredible. However, since this post is getting very long, I?ll post it separately.

3 Years Ago Today

Exactly three years ago, I was extremely pregnant (moving in on 43 weeks) and VERY grumpy about it. There is nothing more irritable than a woman who has gone past (loooong past) her due date, I think. The last month of pregnancy is uncomfortable anyway and then to have it just keep going and going and going . . . ugh.

Anyway. I got up three years ago today, totally down because I was supposed to have a home birth, but my midwife had to have her gallbladder out and she?d been waiting until Dante was born and couldn?t wait any longer. She came to see me in the morning and check, no dilation, but as with previous days, ?Anytime now.?

I was having contractions, but very light ones that had been bugging me for a few days and didn?t actually do anything but make me more irritable. In a desperate attempt to get this thing over with, I spent the day hiking between my house and my MIL?s, pausing for contractions. The midwife informed me around 10 am that I had dilated to 1cm. Big whoop.

She gave me some orange blossom tea with peppercorns and some other herbs in it to help speed things up and then she went to the hospital for her surgery. After my traumatic experience with Dorian?s birth just 16.5 months before, I was freaking out at the idea of going back to the public hospital! But I chugged the tea, insisted that Irving make more, and walked and walked and walked some more while Irving kept Dorian busy in our two room house.

Around one in the afternoon, I burst into tears because the contractions were getting pretty hard, but I didn?t feel like anything was actually happening, I was just uncomfortable and tired and hot. Irving finally said he was taking me to see our ob/gyn to see what was going on.

We got to the office and I was let in immediately. My doctor smiled and said, ?Your babies sure do like to hang out in there, don?t they?? Then he reminded me that pregnancy can?t last forever and had me hop up on the table for an ultrasound. He checked it all out, ?Yup, still a boy? and while he was wiping my belly free of gel, he said, ?Well, you?re going to have this baby within the next 24 hours.?

I didn?t believe him, since everyone had been saying I?d have the darn kid for the past three weeks at any moment. My doctor shook his head, ?No, this baby has no amniotic fluid left, he?s been in there too long. So if you don?t give birth tonight, we?ll do a C-section in the morning.? ACK! He checked me, said I was dilated to 4cm and stripped my membranes to help move things along. We went home, I took a nap because I was already exhausted and couldn?t even think about laboring all night as tired as I was.

By 7, when Dorian was put to bed, I was having REAL contractions, the ones that make you stop and gasp in pain. Irving wanted to take me to the hospital right away, since he?d never actually seen me in labor before, but I refused. I didn?t want to go until the very last minute.

At 9, I was vomiting into my MIL?s pila, where I was hunched over so I could be away from our house and not wake up Dorian with the pain. Finally, I agreed to go to the hospital, but when we arrived, the intern told me I was only ONE cm!! When I said I would just walk until it was time, he told me they had a no-walking policy.

In disbelief I asked, ?So you want me to just lie on a gurney, by myself until this kid decides to come out? I?m going home.? He was really worried and told me I couldn?t check out, but I did anyway, against assurance. My labor actually stopped, I was so stressed out about the idea of being in the hospital!

So, by ten, I was back home, leaning on the pila again, with my MIL telling me that this was the same darn thing every woman goes through and to just suck it up, she?d done it seven times, etc. I felt like punching her in the face. Well, actually, I kinda felt like punching everyone in the face, but I restrained.

At midnight, I reluctantly was taken back to the hospital, with contractions that were every 1-2 minutes and they didn?t stop this time! Interestingly enough, there had been a shift change and instead of a snot nosed intern that looked about 12, there were two mature female doctors. They were AWESOME! One took a nap since no other babies were being born that night, but when she heard me breathing harder, she got up without complaining (the interns at Dorian?s birth complained BITTERLY about being woken up by women giving birth) and came to talk to me and help me breathe properly.

She asked me what sex my baby was and if we had a name and then she decided to break my water to help things move along (I was at 8 cm by this point). So she did . . . but there was no liquid left at all! After that, things moved very fast and by 5:45, I was pushing. Minutes later, they plopped a very wiggly, very loud baby on my chest. Welcome to the world, Dante Luka.

Those moments right after the birth are so amazing. Your body still feels like the whole of Guatemala used it as a piñata and you?re still in pain, but then there is this rush of love and joy at finally being able to see your little one as more than just a giant bulge. I said to the nurse, ?I can?t believe I?m a mom of TWO now.?

Dante looked at me and opened his eyes and they were BLUE. I was so excited. Then they took him to clean him up and I asked if he had an anus (an all important question if you?ve had a kid with an imperforate one) and they assured me he did. It took forever to get him back . . . he was the only boy born in three days and the second baby in that night. Add to that the fact that he had very blue eyes and curlyish hair and all the nurses came in to hold him . . . I actually had to ask if I could have my baby back! They were busy exclaiming over him and admiring his eyes.

After Dorian?s birth, Dante?s was so completely different that it could have been another country.

Dante newborn