“I’m flying home today”, that was the first thought that entered my head this morning as I lay cocooned inside my hammock, strung up under a Talisay tree; the waves quietly lapping against the shore and the breeze gently swaying me back and forth.


What a journey this has been, what a bittersweet moment it will be to say goodbye. I am actually composing this as I sit on the ferry taking me from Talicud island back to Davao City.


Precious: our room for the night.

The ocean is so crystalline blue that it sparkles in the sunlight. I’m still dazzled by the beauty around me and not just in the grandiose beauty of this island or the never ending ocean, but in simpler everyday sorts of things. I especially love the sweet Filipino faces and the wide eyes and smiles as they see me in all my whiteness walking through their small island village.  It will be strange to return to a country where there aren’t a dozen eyes on me wherever I go.

Bringing Sarah to the Philippines has given them something else to gawk at because not only is she “so white” she is also “very tall”.


Precious Island Garden Resort: “She put the lime in the coconut and she drank them both up!”

I may have mentioned that my best friend was coming out to see me before I left? We joke that she only flew out to make sure that I came home. We have had a lot of fun, spa days, bubble tea, street food, markets, clinics shifts and most recently a few days at the beach.


Paradise Resort: April, Sarah, and Sharon enjoying a little bit of paradise.

The last few days of beach hopping have been an amazing wrap up for this trip.
Out first night was spent under a open air hut right on the beach. Then we enjoyed one night at a fancier resort, our room had A/C and hot showers! We trekked to the most amazing falls and even had a swim! Our final night we took another ferry to the smaller Talicud island and I showed Sarah my favorite beach locale: Isla Reta. We enjoyed snorkeling, playing cards, food and sleeping in our hammocks. It was a great time of resting in God’s presence and fellowship with friends.


Isla Reta: Don’t we just look ridiculous?

But as they say: “All good things must come to an end”, and so it is with this trip and with my time in the Philippines as well.

I have now completed my packing and my biggest prayer now is that the airlines don’t say I’m over my 50lb baggage allowance (per the scale in our house each suitcase is 49.5lbs!). This evening I am having a little goodbye dinner with many of the people I worked alongside for the past 4 months before boarding a plane and starting my 28+ hrs of traveling. It will be hard to say goodbye, but I am so excited for what comes next!

Please be keeping me in your prayers: Prayers for save travels! Prayers for finding a new job! Prayers for my grad school application! Prayers for easy transition back to my life in America.

Thank you to each of you who have followed me on this journey and those who will continue to support me as I journey onto the next thing God has planned for me.  I have felt your love and support across the miles. I will see you soon!





September to Remember

I’ve started a couple blog entries over the last couple of weeks, but I either found myself interrupted by life here in the Philippines or at a loss for any words worth sharing.  I can’t believe how quickly life moves here, in a flash a week can go by, a month, 3 months and before you even realize it 4 months.  

I remember when the director at Mercy first asked me if I would come for four months it seemed daunting.  I hadn’t planned on that much time, I wasn’t sure I could handle it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be away from MY life for that long.  I am so glad I said yes to God that night back in March and made the decision to come here when I did.  I have been so blessed to have this time and this extended time. This really has become MY life.  I will be here longer than any of the other interns (most have already left), which has really allowed me to grow my skills and develop relationships with those around me, more so than if I had left last month like I had originally planned.  I didn’t repair my first perineum until just last week and now I’ve done it twice!  I just had my first patient hemorrhage and while that’s not so exciting, it’s still great to have had the experience and to learn from that experience.  (No worries, she was fine, I saw her at a postpartum visit yesterday and she was healthy kaayo!)


This evening I was blessed with my twentieth catch.                                           

TWENTY BABIES! 10 boys. 10 girls.

I flopped down on the couch at the dorm house after shift tonight and said:        

“okay, I’m done, I don’t need to catch anymore babies while I’m here.”   

Because really, how can you beat that perfection? 

Of course, I will catch more babies, and I might catch a lot more babies!  I had 4 babies last week.  2 babies this week.  I still have two full weeks of shifts left.  Who knows what God has in store for me?


ImageRose (my continuity patient) returned for her three week checkup recently and I weighed her little boy, he was just about 3500 grams.  I held the little bundle up to her tiny frame and told her that in America most babies are born that size.  Her eyes got as big as saucers and I just laughed.  I think when I start working in the hospital again I’ll also be pretty shocked at the size of the average American newborn.  The average baby in the Philippines is 5.5lbs, compared to 7.5lbs in America. 




You may have already seen some of the pictures on Facebook, but a couple weeks ago I went with a few fellow interns to the beach!  We took a ferry ride to a little island off of Davao called Talicud Island and stayed at a rustic little “resort” called Isla Reta.  We rented a concrete room with a fan (though the power was only on after 5pm) and a bathroom with salty rain water for a shower.  It ran us 800 pesos a night, or about 18 dollars.  However, we didn’t actually sleep in the room; instead we strung hammocks along the Talisay trees that lined the beach. We snorkeled in the bluest water I have ever seen.  It was amazing.  

Image  Image


I definitely think that when my best friend arrives in 10 days we’ll be making a stop on Isla Reta for the night!  It is 10 days until her arrival and then 10 days after that we both depart on the same flight to Manila.  Wow.  I’ll be home in a flash!  For those who think I don’t miss home at all, I do, I do.  I miss my family, friends and my sweet little babies who are all growing up so fast.  I miss the cold and the smell after it rains.  I miss driving.  I miss my bed.  I miss playing jeopardy with my dad and watching dancing with my mom.  I miss a million little things.  It will be exciting to go home and start the next chapter in this excellent adventure. 

Thanks to those who have been following this journey of mine and lifting me up in your thoughts and prayers.  It hasn’t always been easy here, but’s it has been extraordinary.  I love birth more than ever, but I also find I have pinpointed a focus on education and global midwifery.  I’m so excited to see where God takes this passion and how He chooses to use if for His glory.  

Wait With Me…

I have experienced so much here.  I am changed from within by this experience, not profoundly, but in subtle ways that the world might not first notice by glancing at my outward appearance.  It is my heart that has been changed, refocused and realigned with the path and passion to which God has called me.  There is as much to be said for for the journey as the destination, but oh I wish sometimes to know that destination.  Sometimes I just want to fall on my knees and beg God to show me what my life my will be and where I am headed.  There is a nagging fear that I strive to crush, a fear of the unknown, a fear of waiting, a fear of life without the things one desires.

I have been reading Jesus Calling and sometimes the words strike such a chord in my heart, the one from a few days ago had just such an effect on me.  I felt the need to copy it down, to remind me on the days when I am most anxious and most desiring to know His plan.

“Wait with me for a while.  I have much to tell you.  You are walking along the path I have chosen for you.  It is both a privileged and a perilous way: experiencing My glorious Presence and heralding that reality to others.  Sometimes you feel presumptuous to be carrying out such an assignment.  Do not worry about what other people think of you.  The work I am doing in you is hidden at first.  But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be born.  Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust Me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace.” – Jesus Calling


ImageHere name was Rosemarie, nickname Rose.  Everyone in the Philippines has a nickname. Sometimes it’s a shortened version of your own name, sometimes it’s just a sound repeated twice, like CheChe, or Jing Jing.  I love the concept of nicknames, it’s very endearing, but I don’t often feel like I should call someone I just met by their nickname, I feel as a nickname is almost a term of endearment and should be reserved for those who know you beyond just an acquaintance.  It’s not like just anyone can get away with calling me Apes, right?

I met Rose when she was 28 weeks pregnant and she insisted I call her Rose.  I did a prenatal on her and I immediately fell in love with her sweet gapped toothed smile and quirky demeanor. I checked her chart and saw that her due date was September 2nd and realized, that if she wanted, I could be her midwife for her delivery.  She agreed cheerfully and we exchanged phone numbers and she promised to text me if she had any questions.

A continuity patient is different from what we normally do here because we take on sole responsibility for all her care, whether we are on shift or not.  I would follow up and attend all her prenatal visits and I would be on-call for her birth, whether it happened at two in the afternoon or two in the morning.  It’s a model more similar to how midwifery might work back in the states, without a plethora of midwives available to care for her.  It has the benefit of allowing the midwife and the patient to have a well established connection prior to the birth, something that can lead to a much more positive birth experience.

Rose came in for her prenatal the other day at 38 weeks, her basketball of a belly protruded out comically from her tiny frame as she came to sit on the bed.  I took her vital signs and we chatted about how she was feeling.  She said she’d been having some pain since the morning and maybe a little spotting.  I told her I thought I might see her late tonight

and she said that she though the baby would wait until the morning.  I measured her fundus, and listened to the baby’s heart tones and I told her that everything looked good.  She said she was ready for labor and that her bags were all packed.  We prayed together.  Previously Rose had mentioned being very scared about delivery, despite this being her second birth, there was still a lot of fear about what would happen.  I prayed that Jesus would give her strength and courage and that she would feel His presence always.

I sent her on her way and she promised she’d text me if the pains got stronger.  Just before seven I received a text asking if pain every five minutes and white blood washing out was a normal sign of labor.  I told her that if she could still rest through the pains that it was okay for her to stay at home.  Fifteen minutes later she texted again saying the pains were now every two minutes.  I told her to come into the clinic and we would check her.


It’s the rainy season in the Philippines and as luck would have it the rain had started to come down in buckets during our text conversation.  The clinic is a bit of a walk from my house and doable, but not really possible in the pouring rain and when it rains Taxis and Jeepnies are nearly impossible to find.  I sent a text to the clinic to see if the guard could come pick me and twenty minutes later I was at the clinic, arriving just after Rose did.  One of the other interns was checking her in for me, but I took over as soon as I arrived.

She was 6cm and in active labor after I had finished my exam.  The first thing she wanted to know as how long it would be.  I told her that it was hard to know, it could be very fast, but it could also be several more hours. I told her that the best way to get the baby out quicker was to be up and moving around.

I met her bana (husband) Jobert for the first time that day as he came into the cubicle, a look of concern for his very uncomfortable wife on his face.  I explained to him that she would stay and told him what he could do to help her along.  I had them both sign the waiver that releases us from any obligation or liability if we have to transport them to the hospital (my least favorite thing).

Rose and Jobert labored together beautifully.  She preferred standing, and so they spent most of the time front to front, her arms wrapped around his neck and her head on his chest as he rubbed her back and hips (the greatest source of her discomfort).  At one point, as the pains became more unbearable and she felt urges to push, Jobert actually became a sort of birth swing for her.  Rose is fairly small, so she would wrap her arms around his neck and holding on she’d place all her weight on him and actually lift her legs off the ground.  It was like she was pushing in mid-air.  I’ve never seen anything like it, but it seemed to work really well for her.  It was amazing to just see her responding to her body and doing what felt the most natural to her.

Rose had her first baby at Mercy back in 2011 and records for that birth were attached to her current chart.  One of the things that the midwife had written down was that she was “very dramatic, but a good pusher”.  So I was prepared for a bit of drama.  There were a couple times that I had to calm her down or refocus, but overall she did amazing.

She pushed for a while standing and then I had her lay down and rest for a bit because there wasn’t much progress being made.  Eight minutes after ten o’clock she pushed little Hedrick Jhon out into the world.  Her husband Jobert nearly burst with excitement, saying over and over again “praise the Lord. Thank you Lord. Thank you”.  It was pretty beautiful.


I crawled into bed after one in the morning that night, and had to set my alarm for seven, but it was with a smile.  I was at clinic the next morning at 8:00 am for Agdao Outreach and peeked into the see them, Rose looked tired, but smiled when she saw me.  She  was holding little Hedrick and he was breastfeeding away quite content.

The best part of delivering here is knowing that I will still be seeing them for the next 6 weeks at all their well-baby checks.  As I filled out their scheduled I realized that it would be my last birth that I would be around for the final 6 week check.  That means I have only 6 weeks left in this beautiful hot crazy wonderful country.

I can’t believe it.

I Hope You Know

I hope your wandering mind and feet find peace in this life. I hope you find someone who can be all the things I couldn’t be. I hope you learn to forgive and let go of those who have wronged you. I hope you know that letting me go was the best gift you ever gave me. I hope you know I’m okay. I’m still a little broken, but repairing day by day. But I’m happy, content, joyful, and blessed. I hope someday you will be there, too. Maybe you already are.

Ten Tiny Fingers and Ten Tiny Toes

Ten is kind of a significant number in the birthing world.  Ten fingers.  Ten Toes.  Ten centimeters.   And if you ask some women who follow a lunar calendar, ten months of pregnancy (40 weeks, you know).

In keeping with that theme, tomorrow marks 10 weeks of being here in the Philippines.  Ten weeks.  I am actually sad to think that I only have 9 weeks left.  I have fallen in love with these people, this culture.  The tiny jeepney rides, the food, especially the fresh fruit.  Mangosteen.  Pomelo.  Kalamasi.  Oh My!

Another milestone occurred yesterday, I was blessed with my tenth birth!  Ten. Ten. Ten!  I actually had a two week drought where I didn’t have any births.  Slow shifts and the return of new students pushed me to the back of the rotation.  I think God knew that I just needed to rest a little.  With every new baby comes weeks of follow up postpartum visits and paperwork.   I love it, but it’s still work!

In closing, here are my ten beautiful little babies.  Each one is special in their own way.  I have been so blessed to get to be a part of their lives, even for just a little while:

ten1 ten2


This week I sat with one of my dear sweet intern friends for about two hours and watched as a young Filipino man took ink and a needle to her skin to create a permanent marking, an imprint, a piece of artwork. It was fascinating.

I’ve never watched a tattoo artist work before and I brought a book in case I got bored at some point during the projected two and a half hour process.  Instead, I spent most of that time taking pictures and “doula’ing” Sarah, especially near the end as it became incredibly painful.  It seemed that initially, when the skin was still fresh and unmarked, the pain was more manageable, but as the flesh became more raw and he was working over the same spots, it became like rubbing against an open wound.

At some point during the last hour or so, as I started to see the tattoo come to life before my eyes, I started thinking about how this process could be something of analogy for our life and for how God works within our life.

If you’ve ever seen a tattoo being done you know that it can actually look pretty messy.  In the case of this tattoo what we started with was a very simple outline that the tattoo artist had made, one that he copied off a picture that Sarah had given him.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him” Psalm 27:1

When we start out in the life, I feel like we are like this.  We are the image of God, a mere copy, an outline, a start, but God needs to fill in the details over time.  In this situation, once the tattoo artist transferred the stencil, the next step was creating a permanent outline. After the outline he started with the shading.  What is most intriguing and a little bit scary is that by all appearances it looks like he is just creating a smeary mess.  The ink seems to run all over and doesn’t seem to follow the clear path or have any real direction.  I watched at first unsure of how this would all turn out.  It seemed like the artist could not possibly know what he was doing, how could it be that underneath that smear of ink was anything at all resembling beauty?

It wasn’t until the artist wiped away the smear of ink and small amounts of blood did he start to reveal his creation. Beneath the muck there was life.  Isn’t that just like God?  When events in our life occur it can sometimes seem that there is no purpose, that God is not working, that He can’t possibly know what He’s doing…and then He comes along and wipes us clean and reveals that underneath the mess of this world He has been creating something beautiful.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4



I’ve talked about transporting patients to the hospital before.  Prior to this week I had only been once, and that was in a non-emergency type situation.  A sixteen year old patient had failed to progress after many many hours in labor and government regulations dictated that she must go to the hospital.  This patient walked into the ER without much assistance and I left her waiting in chairs in the ER and I thought that was hard. 

My last day shift was a completely different situation.  When my patient was endorsed to me she was already 7 cm dilated.  It was her first baby, but she seemed quite uncomfortable and moving right along. I instructed her to try different positions to relieve some of the discomfort, especially the labor pain in her back.  I had some concern that the baby was positioned OP, which means that the back of the baby’s  head was against mom’s back.  Some call it sunnyside up, so that if the mom were on her back the baby would be face-up.  It’s much harder to deliver the baby this way, and ideally we would like that baby to turn so it is facing the mom’s back.  Position changes and being up off the bed is the best way to accomplish that.  Pelvic rocking, hands and knees, and squatting are all encouraged.  My patient, Rowena, was a trooper at doing all of them and her bana (husband) was very supportive rubbing her back and wiping her sweaty brow. 

After a couple hours of some pretty intense labor Rowena told me that she felt like she needed to push.  We really try to minimize the number of internal exams we do, so in my broken visayan I try to encourage her to breathe through the contractions as long as she can.  She looks at me like I’m a mad woman, but she is compliant and keeps breathing.  Ginhawa long.  Just breathe. 

I keep updating my supervisor and after some time of breathing, always with the urge to push, she begins spontaneously pushing and I know it is very possibly time.  The supervisor tells me I can do an IE (internal exam) and check to see if she is fully dilated.  I grab a sterile glove and some gel and find no cervix, just a very bulging amniotic sac.  I note the station of the baby’s head and while it is engaged in the pelvis it is not very low.

At this point she is clear to start pushing, so I help her grab her legs and show her bana how he can support her head during pushing.  I had been previously sitting on the edge of the bed, facing her, but stood up to help her get positioned for pushing.  After 1 or 2 good pushes she rests and waits for the next contraction.  When a contraction comes she pushes with all strength she has and I tilt my head down to see if there is any visible and literally a split second after I tilt my head back up she has spontaneous rupture of membranes, and does it ever rupture.  It shoots across the bed and nails the opposite wall, the very wall that I had earlier been leaning my back against as Rowena breathed her way through one contraction and then the next.  

Unfortunately the amniotic fluid was not the nice clear color we like to see, but stained greenish brown with meconium fluid.  In late term newborns it is not uncommon to see meconium as it is considered the first bowel movement of the newborn, meconium is the protective lining in the intestines as the fetus is developing.  In Rowena’s case her dates were still before 40 weeks and meconium in that case can often indicate some sort of past fetal distress.  Another risk of meconium is that during labor or deliver the newborn can actually aspirate the meconium into the lungs and it a very sticky tenacious substance that while meant to line the intestines, is very harmful if inhaled into the lungs.

We immediately check heart tones and they are okay, but still lower than before.  She pushes again and my supervisor sees the same as I have been noting, nothing visible with pushing.  Fetal heart tones were checked again and they have now dropped to 80, then back to 90 and after head stimulation (basically tickling the baby’s head with one sterile finger) back up to 110 (normal heart rate for a fetus is 110-160). The supervisor instructs the patient to stand on the bed, her bana behind her and she squats as she pushes.  The next time we check heart tones they have dropped to 60 and we are in hurry up mode.  02 is given to the patient, positions changed, and IV started (my first IV at Mercy, done while patient is semi-squatting on the bed).  Even with head stimulation the heart rate only comes up to 90.   It is time to transport this patient and it will be an emergency.

We switch her to a portable O2 tanks, someone is filling out papers.  I am doing head stimulation and checking heart tones..  This practice of head stimulating is interesting and debatable.  All current research actually says it is not the right course of action, for while it might be bring the heart rate up temporarily it may cause a stressed baby to become even more stressed and have further decelerations in the heart rate later.  However, at Mercy if your supervisor tells you to do something, you do it.  We are practicing under their license and whatever happens is ultimately their decision, so it is the right thing to do here. 

Our guard is notified of need to do emergency transport and the stretcher is brought in.  I hold the IV bag and 02 tank as another student and the guard carry the stretcher.  We get to the ambulance, which is really just a big covered jeep.  The floor is metal and the stretcher is just two poles with canvas across, and the patient is set as nicely as possible on the floor of the jeep.  

I can only imagine how terrifying this must be for Rowena.  This is her first baby, she is only 21 and we are these white foreigners putting her in the back of the ambulance and rushing her off to a hospital where they or may not take good care of her.  She lays pretty still in the ambulance, though, I think she has no idea what to do.   Her bana is supporting her head, and I have both of my flip flop clad feet resting alongside the top and bottom of her belly, protecting it.  I have one armed stretched across her, and my hand pressed against  her back as we bump down the streets to the local government hospital.  

I don’t know if I have ever talked about driving in the Philippines, but it is crazy.  You have to be very aggressive here or you will get nowhere ever.  There are very few stop lights and absolutely no stop signs.  If you want to turn into traffic you just have to push on out there, regardless of traffic.  You share the road with motorcycles, tricycle type rides, and pedestrians who cross at anytime and at anyplace.  So when I say that Kuya Romy drove like mad it was unlike anything I have ever seen.  He laid on that horn, weaving in and out of traffic.  

It was a rough ride and if it was rough for me, I can only imagine what it was like for Rowena on the floor.  I prayed the whole way there and as we sat waiting for the guard to bring another stretcher when were at the hospital I kept praying.  I only stopped praying long enough to give report to the female doctor who didn’t seem to care at all that we had a baby with a heart rate in the 60s.  They wheeled her back to the “OB/ER” and moved her onto a “half-bed” with stirrups.  I held her hand as they settled her in, then laid one hand on her head and prayed an audible prayer.  There were tears in her eyes and in mine as she held my hand.  I looked at the other student and asked where the pt’s bana was.  It was then that I remembered…he can’t come back with her and she would have to be left alone.  

I gave her hand one last squeeze and then I walked away. 

One of the hardest things I have ever done. I felt useless and helpless and frustrated.  No doubt she delivered, maybe with the help of fundal pressure or forceps.  I pray she didn’t have a cesarean, but if she did, I just pray that the baby is healthy and she is well taken care of. 

So it’s not always sunshine and roses here, sometimes it sucks, a lot.  

Statement of Purpose

I am just a labor nurse playing at being a midwife, this experience is just a little taste test for the real thing.

I’ve started applying for programs that would allow me to continue my education and start training to be real midwife. One of the programs that I am applying for asked for a statement of purpose and I thought that I would just share that statement here in lieu of another journal entry. I’m working on another one, with pictures, but that will wait until another day.



I’m six thousand miles from home and there is sweat running down my back, the air is thick with humidity and the quiet moans of women in labor. I’m perched on the edge of the bed, my eyes locked onto the woman in front of me as she rocks her hips back and forth, her pregnant belly swaying with each move; she breathes slowly as she eases through another long painful contraction. Her eyes meet mine, I tell her she is strong, that she can do this (“kaay nimo”) and she looks back at me and I know she believes me.

That is my purpose; to empower women, to make them believe that birth is natural and that their bodies were made for this. One thing that my five years as a labor and delivery nurse has taught me is that fear is one of the greatest barriers to an amazing birthing experience. The primary cause of this fear is that many women lack an accurate understanding of pregnancy and the birthing process. As a labor and delivery nurse, and in the future as a nurse midwife, I strive to educate women about pregnancy and maternal health, and through that education help them overcome the fear that surrounds birth.

I also feel called towards service, which matches well with Georgetown’s mission to “live generously in service of others.” I am currently volunteering as a midwife intern in Davao City, Philippines; working with a high risk patient population who would otherwise have little access to prenatal care and a respectful supportive labor experience. It has been a life changing experience for me and has solidified my desire to work with women in the area of maternal health. These women have a strength that I find both humbling and compelling, but they lack education and resources; through this clinic we have been able to provide both. This volunteer opportunity has shown me what women are capable of and also what a difference education and resources can make to women both during pregnancy and in their long term health care.

Ultimately, my faith and belief in a God who loves us and calls us to service drives my life and gives me my purpose. When selecting programs to apply to Georgetown was a natural choice, not only for its reputation of providing an excellent education, but also because of the shared mission of glorifying God and bettering mankind through service. I know that I have been called to work in women’s healthcare as a nurse midwife, and I’m excited for the opportunity to further develop my clinical skills through your program. I believe that pursuing an advanced practice degree through Georgetown will give me the tools and the knowledge I need to to bring my goals to life.