Thursday, May 31, 2012

Child Labor

My 3 year old had her first "job" this weekend. The neighbors went out of town and asked her to feed their fish.  What was your first paying job? Your kid's first paying job?  I want to hear.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The circle of life......

We have just completed a three day safari at Kruger park, one of the biggest game parks in the world (its the size of a small country). A typical safari day goes like this---- wake up REALLY early-- like 5am, wear warm clothing (thank goodness for thermals!),have some coffee (not too much, since there are no bathrooms on safari!)...get in an open air jeep with a slowly on the path, scanning left and right to see if there are any interesting animals---look up and straight ahead, and a pack of elephants are literally crossing the road right in front of our jeep!!!! Take lots of pictures. Wait for the elephants to cross the road and then start driving again....scan the Bush for anything interesting-- suddenly spot a mother and baby rhino, not two feet away from our vehicle. More incredible picture-taking.Stop at a snack station and share your bench with babboons,trying to steal some food, until a man with a stick chased them away. This went on all day---hyenas, buffalo, giraffes, wild dogs, a leopard and even a female lioness......much of the time was spent sitting patiently and waiting for something to see----which is why a safari takes all day long! Its an experience I wouldn't trade for anything and one I will never forget! Tomorrow, back to work. We will be driving south about 5 hours to Tugela Ferry where we will re-open our medical and dental clinic;not sure what to expect as far as accommodations and work conditions, but I'll be ready! Probably no WiFi while we are there though so this may be the last blog post until Thursday.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kruger Park

Here the "Big Five" is not a sporting goods store; its a list of five animals that one should try to see while on safari-- buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant and rhino. And I'm happy to say today we saw them all! Scary elephants, charging at our jeep, and a mama and her baby rhino not two feet away from us. Its amazing here and SO beautiful. Internet costs money here so that's all for now--- we are all safe and well.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last day in Zandspruit

Today was a bit of a sad day here. I finally got to speak to my 12 year old today, which had been proving difficult with the time difference (I'm 9 hours ahead) and the lack of Internet. I'm sad to say he is getting along fine without me. I miss him terribly and have never been away from him this long. It was also a bit sad today because it was our last day at the Zandspruit clinic where we have been working. You know that old commercial that goes "she'll tell 2 friends, then they'll tell 2 friends, and so on and so on"? That's what's been happening here. The word was out in the community that people could come see a dentist and a gynecologist, two services truly either unavailable, or very expensive. And we have gotten busier as the days have gone on. The dentists have done a great service, filling cavities, extracting teeth and generally putting people in pain out of their misery. As for me-- I KNOW Ive been helping people with information (if I hear one more person say "I think my womb is dirty".....), treatment for infection (I must have seen 12 cases of Herpes, and people had NO clue that it was something someone gave them.), and, in 2 cases, performing small procedures that they would have needed an OR for. We have taken pictures of and with grateful patents, and have all anxiously been asked when we will return. It was sad to say goodbye to the patients and to the Network of Caring staff that have taken such good care of us. It was also sad to have to turn away the last few patients who showed up after all of our equipment was already packed away. We went to dinner afterward at an authentic African restaurant (who says only kids get their faces painted?!),and ate local dishes like ostrich snd oxtail, listening to beautiful traditional African music and drinking (lots) of South African wine! Today we leave for a three day Safari in Kruger Park. That will be an amazing experience! Not sure about the Internet there so this may be the last blog for awhile......until next time,when I may be up close and personal with some wild animals!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

finally....some South Africa Info!

I am really not sure where to begin....but the word "overwhelmed" seems a good place to start. Overwhelmed by the amazing people that I came on this trip with---Dr Fenderson and his wife Jeanne-- Fred, a dentist from NY, Angie his dental assistant, and Judy, another dental assistant;wonderful, caring medical professionals, all. They are all taking fantastic care of the poor people from Zandspruit, a poverty-stricken township here in Johannesburg where people would otherwise not have any care, or at least not the emergent care they need. As for me, by the time we get to the clinic at 8am, there is a huge line of women waiting to see me. The first day I saw 17 pregnant patients in the morning and 23 gyn patients in the afternoon....everything from vaginal infections to biopsies to educating about fertility and safe sex, to a woman in labor that we had to send to the hospital by ambulance (which took 3 hours to come)! I even did a little surgery on an infected hand!! I am overwhelmed by the poverty, by the kindness and appreciation these patients are showing us, in spite of the grim circumstances most of them are in; overwhelmed by the beauty of this we went to a lion park, where even I (not a big fan of close ups with what are usually zoo animals)petted a cheetah! There is even a pet cheetah on the grounds of the lodge we are staying at! Anyway, I know we are doing good work here, performing needed and valuable services and I can only say that it all has somehow left me.....overwhelmed.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

we have finally arrived!!

A short blog oday because I'm exhausted aftersuch a long trip...we arrived this morning in Johannesburg and drove immediately to Zandspruit-- the township where the clinic will be located. Thanks again to everyone who donated items. I set up what looks like a well stocked obgyn clinic. ready for tomorrow when patients start showing up. I have very limited Internet access so I will blot when I can!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

First leg... very long day...

First leg....very long day today. VERY proud of my stepson Carson who graduated today from college---Sac State! We all (My husband and I-and our other four kids--) all went to the graduation and then headed tor the airport to drop me...where I now sit with about forty minutes to spare before boarding an overnight flight to NY--- for the first part of this South African adventure. Airports have a strange and significant meaning for me; as much as I always know I am going TOWARD something-- I am also always going away from something....or someone. Anyone who knows anything about my strange past knows that my husband and I spent many years living on opposite ends of te country...even after we were married. So Airports always fill me with an unstoppable feeling of happy anxiety and dread in about equal amounts.....and I'm not a BIT afraid of flying. I like the solitude...the reading and thinking...(and blogging hopefully)that I can do......but I am SO connected to my family--to my husband and my children that I can just be happy and sad:and also marvel at the comment that my (21year old) son made this afternoon...."its gonna suck here without you"......boarding now---- to be continued

Happy Birth

I just want you all to know how much I love my job.  Not because I get my own parking spot :) , but because I love what I do and who I get to work with and who I get to help. 
There aren't many things more joyous than a woman becoming a mother.  
Because of this work I am truly blessed. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Packing....and working....and packing....

As I continue to get ready for my trip to South Africa, I just keep thinking, "This would be so easy if I didn't have ANYthing else to do but get ready.....".but I have two college kids home from school (well, one newly graduated college kid, and one sophomore) one in Middle school, oh, and BTW a full time job. Add to that, the fact that I am in the midst of selling a house, and planning several big family summer events, and I'm kind of thinking that being away for a few weeks, even on a working trip, is really going to be a bit of a break. Planning for this trip has made me think about what kind of a traveler I really am----can I do without electricity? A hairdryer? A mattress? Wireless Internet? Well, I am surely about to find out. I have traveled quite a bit--in all kinds of circumstances, with many different companions, and in many different stages of my life; and I have never considered myself as someone in need of luxury, or even a soft mattress---but I really have no idea what type of accommodations we will be expecting. And as I have gotten older, sleeping on the floor (as I have done more than once) or traveling through multiple time zones (again, been there....) has gotten harder to recover from. My luggage contains multiple medications, MOSTLY for donating, and warding off Malaria----but there is plenty of Motrin, and Tylenol (and some better, stronger stuff, just-in-case) for my personal use, especially after an especially long plane ride (or jeep ride on unpaved roads!!). I am up for the task---but it may take a little more than it used to to KEEP me up and running.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Getting Ready For South Africa

Hello. This blog is by me, Dr Rebecca Levy. I am (hopefully) going to be a "guest blogger" on this site, since I have been lucky enough to be connected to the very nice people who run it. Thank you so much for all the "likes" awhile back--that resulted in a sizable donation to my medical mission to South Africa. I have been planning for and thinking about this trip for what seems like forEVER, and in 6 short days, it will be here!! Somehow the old John Denver song which begins "...all my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..." keeps playing in my head, but it seems I could never be totally packed, and, even though I am leaving next Friday, I don't think I'm totally READY. The plan for the trip will be to arrive on Sunday morning (yes, that's right--I'm leaving FRIDAY-----it is THAT long of a trip), and after landing in Johannesburg, we ( dentists, nurses, dental assistants and ME) will go to Zandspruit, a community near there where we will work in a clinic, doing whatever is most needed and is in our capability, based on the need and the supplies there. We have shipped several large crates with all kinds of supplies (THANK YOU, nurses and all other personnel at my office, and at Queen of the Valley Hospital for supplying me with all things big and small---what I will do with that epidural catheter, I don't know, but it COULD come in handy!!!). After four days there, we will go to Kruger Park for two days, on a Safari (very exciting, but I did get a little worried when they told us not to wear any clothing colors that would ATTRACT the animals!! What is a not-looking-tasty-to-eat color????) Anyway, then we will go to a place called Tugela Ferry, about four hours away, where there are many sick adults and children, who really never get care of any kind. We will set up dental and women's clinics, and do whatever we can to diagnose, treat and help there. Then we head back for another almost-two-day trip home. I am SO looking forward to this trip, and this opportunity, and now that I have actually started packing things in suitcases, the fact that we are leaving soon has become very real. I will continue to blog whenever I can. throughout my trip preparations, and, if I can find some wireless internet, while I am on my trip as well.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Body For Baby Update: Vitamin D

As I continue to prepare my body to be ready to support a pregnancy I was gently reminded by a fellow midwife that I should get my vitamin D levels checked. I am not sure if that was a tease that since I am so white and never see the sun that maybe I should get checked... or if she really just checks every pregnant patient.

Well my friends, my midwife friend does check every single patient and I guess I also need to get out in the sun a little more.  I went and had my vitamin D level checked and it is 17!  Okay, so you may not know, but 17 is LOW. We want these levels to be at least over 30ng/ml, but 50 is optimal.

When women are deficient in vitamin D they often feel fatigued, imbalanced, achy, sore, and about a million other symptoms can come along with vitamin D deficiency.  However, when pregnancy women are vitamin D deficient that can lead to problems for their babies. Babies need vitamin D to help their little bodies grow.

I found this really cool article on vitamin D, actually a whole website- yes it is not fact and it isn't peer reviewed, but it has some good information as well. They do site a lot of peer reviewed articles and studies though. So read through it and make some educated decisions on vitamin D and the importance in your life.

I guess I am off to go buy some vitamin D to add to my sunshine.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Photo Shoot With My Girls

How come a simple Saturday impromptu photo shoot with your girls can turn into you getting your face licked by a "baby dragon" named Stormlight????
 There was also a little puppy named Pepper.  Just try to get them to respond to any other name besides Stormlight and Pepper. Not gonna happen.

When did your kids start playing pretend?  When did your kids think that licking their mom is a fun thing to do?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Missing Pictures

Ashley and I always wonder why we have no pictures of us together. I think it has something to do with the fact that we are trying soooo hard to get these girls to take ONE decent photo together.

I have a feeling that this week we are spending together in Phoenix we will finally get some pictures of us together and hopefully we will get a picture of our girls that is better than this one.

There is always tomorrow.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy International Midwives Day!

May 5th is always a fun day for me. The past few years I have spent my May 5th with a small group of women in my community. I spend the evening with my sister midwives.

I spend time around a pool with good food, laughs, and chatting with the midwives of the Phoenix area.

I don't just spend time with the certified nurse midwives or the certified professional midwives or the licensed midwives  or lay or homebirth or hospital or medical midwives.

I spend it with my sisters. These women who care for the health and safety of mothers and babies. These women who know that moms have choices... the choice of how and where to give birth... the choice to bring their babies into the world without fear... the choice to connect with their midwife and remember the day of their birth for the rest of their lives.

I am proud to be a midwife.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Startup Nation Winners

104LaborLooksNapa, CA

Recently we asked for your help in voting for us in the Leading Moms in Business for 2012. We were awarded #104


What a fun award this is for us.