My Apprentice #4

The Big Woops

Soon after arriving in California and getting to Jerry’s house, we get a labor call, “She is having pains”. We neglect to find out what type of pains, and instead jump in the car and fly to Mexico. It is a two hour drive at best, but with afternoon traffic on Thursday evening it could be three. After a long and beautiful trip through the mountains where this flat land girl’s ears popped constantly, we drove east to the smaller boarder crossings (Otay) arriving just at dusk. Past the entrance with an amazingly long line waiting to enter the US and past all the vendors selling food between the cars, we went up and across a large entrance ramp to Tecate Cota, (the fast toll road to Tecate) Driving with many trucks and few cars we are in Mexico. Then we came to a main street that was mostly void of other cars but had huge speed bumps, then swung a U’y to avoid the $6 toll and finally pulled off to the right on a dirt pad off the highway at the second canyon. There were no cars but ours along the road, but stacked one on top of the other up and down the canyon were hundreds of houses pieced together from plywood and pallets and garage doors. (Photo above, we are going to a brown house, sandwiched between a white and blue house just a bit to the right of Augustine's left shoulder. I also have 4 other young primips in this canyon, and 2 may birth during Augustine's stay) Jerry said that more than a thousand people live in this canyon and there are hundreds of canyons in Tijuana. Carrying our birth bags we start down the well worn dirt trail and are greeted by a short smiling man who beckons us to follow. We turn to the second left and carefully step down the rocks that form steps in the steep hill, we enter a blue door and step up onto a wood floor. The small room smells of bleach and is swept clean, we stoop to enter the next room that has two beds pushed together, a beauro, a small low table, and two lawn chairs stacked up as well as two big screen TV both on and both showing the same channel. Our gracious host puts out the two lawn chairs for us to sit in and greets us warmly as does the young woman (Fabiola) sitting on the bed. He joins her and their two small boys climb on their laps. It becomes obvious this is not a labor call, but rather a misunderstood request for prenatal and birth care as well as a few questions about the pains that she has in her pubic bone, which is a common pregnancy complaint. We examine her and find her to be 32 weeks pregnant and very healthy. The couple excitedly shows jerry the pictures that are framed and hanging over their bed are of him delivering their first two babies and say that she wants no one else to take care of her and would not want to go to any Tijuana hospital. We say our good byes and go back out to the trail and up to the car. It is really dark now and walking is a challenge, but once we are at the top looking back over the hill is amazing because of how many lights there are in the canyon. All the houses have electricity! Driving back to the boarder is fast and it is then that I realize that I have forgotten my ID. Woops! Jerry undoubtedly thinks I am the most irresponsible person ever and I am ashamed at my stupidity. We have a discussion about what the boarder crossing will be like and what questions they will ask. I prepare myself to be separated from Jerry and searched. Finally it is our turn to pull up to the inspection station booth and have our car walked around. The boarder control man asks for ID. Jerry hands his over and I say I have forgotten it on my bed, which is true, it is in the computer case and not my wallet because of the bags I was using in the airport and I forgot to transfer it. He asks where I live, I answer, and he hands Jerry’s ID back and says go ahead! Jerry smiles at me as we pull away and says good job. I ask why and he says all they want to hear is your accent. So apparently, I have a horrible memory and bad common sense but good pronunciation.

Below is Augustine and Maria Candelaria. Maria Candelaria had a cesarean for her first birth and vowed to never have another one. Maria Candelaria had her next 3 children in southern Mexico with parteras and she gives birth in the traditional southern style, squatting on the floor. A couple of years ago, Maria Candelaria and her family moved to Tijuana. Midwifes are hard to find in Tijuana, but they found a neighbor who had my number and Maria Candelaria had her 5th. child with me in August, 2003. Maria Candelaria called me recently, because she is expecting her 6th. child, and does NOT want to go to a hospital. Maria Candelaria and her family still live in a very traditional way and speak their local indian dialect in their home as well as Spanish.


On Saturday we arrive in Mexico early before any of the stores are open, Jerry drives me through the down town of Tijuana, it is a big city, but it is very different than what I have seen before. It is huge and small at the same time. I feel overwhelmed. Traffic increases as we try to leave the red-light district. To get to El Niño we drive for a while past slums and up a big hill that allows a view of one of the main valleys. I am amazed and take many pictures. There are so many houses and so many people. Soon we past the Tijuana General Hospital that does 45 birth a day and then drove down a half paved road past many giant industrial parks.

We start our day of prenatal visits in El Niño. Just as we are driving up the hill toward the house were I am to stay, we are hailed by a man who tells Jerry in Spanish that there is a young woman looking for him. We continue up the hill and instead of going to the house where I am to stay we go left up to Angelica's house. She and her children and her mother are standing outside waiting for us.
I learned why everyone has electricity; it is all stolen. Even the poorest shack with a dirt floor has lights and a blaring TV. There are hundreds (in some parts) of wires coming off the big main power lines and poles. The wires hang low close to your head and some are purposefully stretched across the ground so that you drive over the lines. All these people are electricians it seems. The Government strings power lines for schools and paying areas and the poor people just steal it on the way.

My Hormones Betrayed Me

In the evening, almost at dark, we come to El Niño for the second time. I was following in the huge old brown dust covered Chevy, that was to be my car for 6 weeks. The roads were more bumpy in the dark, but I went faster to keep up with the pace. Up the hill and park to the right under the Partera sign. Jamie and Chano live in the house were I stay with their three small children. Ages 3, 2, and 4 months, boy, girl, girl. I couldn't help it, I reached for the youngest, without thinking. I put her in my sling and got a lump in my throat and my eyes got wet; as my hormones betrayed me. I couldn't resist, she was so beautiful and this little breast fed smiling Mexican baby, overwhelmed my lonely mothering hormones. I carried her around, making a salad dinner for myself, until she wanted to nurse and I handed her back. Twice in the night she woke to nurse and with the holes at the top of the wall separating our bedroom letting in the whimpering, I woke too, with a wet shirt.

El Raton

After I discovered that the bag with my toiletries, all my clothes and my sleeping bag went home to California in the other car, I meet El Raton. Tiding up the cobweb infested, dust covered room, I lifted a cover on the top bunk and the mouse jumped at my scream. I had been warned about the spiders and mice, but it was still a shock. Although I am sure that the mouse was more scared than I, he has lived undisturbed in that room for 4 months. I resolve not to cry; I will not be the spoiled white girl that I look like in this third world country. Using the broom, I sweep some of the cobwebs out from under the top bunk and off the ceiling. I count my blessings and light a chamomile scented candle. I find sheets and covers and make a nest/bed, unpack my books and laptop and listening to a TV football game and the accompanying cheers from the next room, I fall asleep.

A Trip through the Tienge (Open air market)

I must wash my clothes, but for now, I don clothes I have been wearing for 2 days, bring my camera, cell phone and a cloth bag on my shoulder. The tienge comes almost to the front of this house and stretches down the rutted dirt road, almost to the beginning of El Niño. There are metal frame tents covered in blue and red fabric. They sit close together and at times the passage between them is no wider than two people to pass. Some of the stands are just blankets spread on the ground and covered with a bizarre assortment of clothes and shoes. There are two large fruit and veggie stands which sell lots of apples, oranges, pears, lemons, bananas, mangos, pineapples, and a prickly pear. They also have ten buckets of different kinds of dried peppers, tamales, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cucumbers. They have oil, sugar, salt and large bins of dried beans and rice. The stands selling prepared food smell good, they are mostly some form of meat and tortillas, although I saw one that was selling soup in Styrofoam bowls. The booth selling pizza and soda was the busiest. They had several ovens that used to be in someone’s wall, hooked up to the power lines. Music was blaring all around us because of the men selling revamped stereos and copied CD’s. The day starts out sunny and warm with a crystal blue sky and smelling sweet., but as the day wears on the clouds roll in and the flies appear and the smell of burning plastic hangs in the air. It is acrid and burns my eyes. I stop at a stand that looks like an old ladies garage sale in the US. Old dishes, pots and pans, mismatched silverware, and old sheets and towels. I buy a small yellow pot with a lid that is made in Belgium and is a heavy iron sauce pan for a dollar. I also buy a knife, wooden spoon, and can opener that I hope I don’t get tetanus from. There are more and more people coming down the hill to market so I head off on a side street to get away from the crowds and maybe take some pictures. I see smoldering piles of plastic garbage, and more disposable diapers than I can count just on one street. There are flowering bushes that I don’t know the name of and tall pink flowering holly hocks. The police pass by in big white Ford trucks with lights flashing; they have several men in the beds of the trucks. I turn a corner and hear English.

The Americans

On top of a half finished pink house are many Americans. In fact, the further I look there are several houses with Americans hammering away. Lining the streets are giant Explorers and F-250’s and Yukon’s and construction trailers. I say hello to one of the ladies and she is surprised. They tell me they are building houses for their church group. They are building 6 this weekend and more in a few weeks. One of the houses is being build for Irene, a patient of Jerry’s and she excitedly waves to show her grand new house. It has two bedrooms, a kitchen/living/dinning room and a loft, at least twice as big as the dirt floor, two room house behind this house that she lives in now. The Americans are working hard, but it’s hard not to notice the pity on their faces and also the smug satisfaction that they are “doing good”. Why is bigger better? Why do we Americans always show up our world neighbors with the bigness of our life? And why is that better anyway? It is really rude, and yet Irene is happy. And certainly these Americans feel happy as they build a bigger house with more tools that all these people combined own and toss empty single serving bottles of water off the roof into the neighbors yard without a second glance.

No Aqua Por Una Semana

Today there is no water. The radio says “No agua por una semana” (No water for one week). I feel very lucky that I have washed my one extra pair of clothes this morning and took a shower yesterday, but I am still worried about no water for that long… We have drinking water, but no shower, clothes, dishes or toilet water. The water trucks come by daily selling big jugs of water that are filtered and distilled. They look like the jugs at office coolers, however, no one has the cooler part and so it is a learned art of how to poor them one handed into the pot or glass you are holding.

Finding Otay

Because of the no water sign and the fact that I am down to $17.50, I decide to cross the boarder for money and a snack and a little English talking. I was told to check the old Chevy's water, so I look at the capless tank to the left of the engine, it is ½ full to the line that says full, so I head off. The sun is very hot, but the breeze is cool. I decide to take the crossing at Otay instead of Centro, because it is smaller and less traveled and it being the middle of the day on Wednesday, I hope I will get across quickly. It is common to spend an hour or more in line to cross the boarder. Otay is the crossing we first entered the country with, but that was almost a week ago at dusk, so I hope I can find it. I have yet to purchase any maps. I know that there are many exits titled Otay, I remember that the name of the road that we came in on the first night was insurgence. So when I see an exit sign with both insurgence and Otay, I get off to the right and follow the signs for "Gareta de Otay", hoping it means crossing at Otay. I also have yet to purchase a Spanish/English dictionary too. It goes up a hill overlooking a densely populated valley and past many large factories. Soon the road comes to an intersection and as I turn right the car starts lurching and jumping and failing, I pull off to the right on a large shoulder where there are many 18 wheelers parked and a man in a pick-up truck selling puppies out of wire cages. I stop and put the car in park and it promptly dies. I start it again and try to back up and it dies again. I call Jerry, he asks if I checked the water and I say yes, however, he makes it clear that he means the radiator and the water tank. I ask him where the radiator is and he makes a noise obviously disgusted. After assessing that I in fact have no car sense, he announces that there are two kinds of people; those who drive new cars and know nothing about them, and those who drive old cars and have to learn how to fix them. I am woe fully in the first group. He tells me there must be a jug of water in the car to fill the radiator with, instructs me where the radiator is and signs off. I can not find the jug of water, but have many empty water bottles from drinking and see a restaurant across the street. I put the $17.50 in my pocket, swing my laptop over my shoulder and across my chest, gather five water bottles in my arms and lock the car. There are many truckers looking down on me as I walk up the street to the intersection. It takes a while for there to be a break in cars, but once there is I run across the first 3 lanes and make it to the median where I wait again for a break and cross the other 3 lanes to the other side. I find the entrance to the restaurant which is in a totally blue building. I enter and am blasted by the smells of Mexican food and a seven member Mexican Band up on a stage playing away. "Donde es un Batharooma?" (my broken Spanish works;-). I fill the water bottles from the sink in the bathroom and weeding my way through the tables of chattering Mexicans at early dinner, I go out, through the traffic and back to El Caro. I unlock the car and lift the hood. Where is the radiator again? I open what I think is the radiator cap as slowly as possible with my face way to the side. (I'm afraid of it still being hot). It comes off easily and looks almost full of green liquid. I check the tank to the left that has no cap and it is lower so I add two bottles of water and hope that works. I am just going to start it again when a smiling man with a toddler on his hip starts speaking to me. In Spanglish he tells me what to do. While he fiddles with things under the hood I start the car and then he adds water to the radiator from one of my bottles. Soon the red heat light is off on the dash. I am so pleased I give him 5 dollars and wave good bye. I continue on the road I was on hoping it is the road to the boarder. I think it is as I see a few California license plates. I turn left and crest a hill and there it is the boarder crossing with a long line of cars.

The Crossing

I pull to the left lane and creep forward along with the others. There is an impatient man in a souped up coup trying to pass people going about 2 miles an hour he screeches to the right and then to the left. There are very old ladies with aprons and no teeth pan-handling with cups that say Disney world. There are vendors selling 3 ft. tall crucifix's and wall relief's of the last supper. And there are about 20 people with green jump suits that say "Dollar boy" on the back, going up and down the isles of cars with fists full of money. It takes me a minute, but the "No commission" sign on their back finally tips it off - they are exchanging Mexican money for American money going car to car. We inch along going 5 ft. every minute or so. The car seems to be shaking now, more so in drive than park, I worry about what is wrong. Soon the "check engine light" comes on. The line seems to have come to a complete stand still, so I turn off the car, hoping that it will start again. Up ahead I see most of the cars in my lane with turn signals on to the right. Evidently they have closed the lane I am in. To get over too, I try to start the car. Nope. It turns over, runs, but dies as soon as I put it in drive. I try this several times. It isn't working. Luckily, no one is mad at me for holding up traffic as my lane is now empty except for me. I sit, not knowing what to do next, thinking maybe it is over heating. I go to open the hood and check the radiator again, but the man who helped me last closed the hood cocked, so the release inside the car wouldn't give. I get out with hundreds of cars eyes on me and try pushing on the hood, sitting on the hood, and finally jumping up and down pushing on the hood to close the other side. None of it works, so I get back in the car. It is getting very hot. After a while I try to start it again and finally it starts and I put it into gear and because of the empty lane I move forward quite a few cars before I merge right. I get in right behind a tow truck of all things and I am half tempted to ask them to just hook up the car and tow me! The lane is moving every few minutes, I am just praying that I can make it over to US soil so if it dies again, I can call a US tow truck. I get to just two cars from the inspection area and the car just completely dies in mid sputter. I try to start it and it has no power, no lights, no noise - Dead. The giant shinny Ford Expedition behind me starts honking and I feel very small. Soon a pair of Policeman walk over, one with a German Shepard on a leash. They ask what is wrong and state that I must push the car to the side right now. Thankfully they help me. So there I am stranded 3 inches on US soil but not over the boarder yet with a dead car! I call Jerry, who when I tell him what has happened, says, "You have no car smarts, that's the problem! Even If I told you what to check, you don't know what a radiator is, so how can I give you advise on more complicated things to check?" I call Barret and he tells me he wishes I wouldn't call to tell him about these things!, But he makes me laugh and I feel better. I call the policeman over and ask about calling a tow truck and he says yes, it can come through the wrong way and pick me up and pass through again. I am heartened that at least it wouldn't have to wait in the line that has taken 1 hour and 45 min. to get to the front of the line. I ask the car next in line what the name of the closest US town is, and call information and get the number of a towing company. I am on the line with the towing company when a man starts walking over from under the branches of the few trees that line the road between the entrance and exit.

Mexican Magic

The tall man says hello and motions to open the hood. I notice that there are others trailing him, making their way to me. One on crutches with a bandaged foot, one very crippled man in a wheelchair, another with no legs on a skate board. They hover around me all talking or grunting in Spanish. I am totally overwhelmed by the questions, I can't keep up attempting to translate them. The first man points again at the car and says "esta muerte" ( its dead), Si, Si, I say. He smiles and puts his hand into the engine and the car starts! (He probably knew how to use a quarter to jump the starter solenoid terminals to crank the engine, and now it will start because the engine has had a chance to cool) I didn't turn the key, he just touched it and it started! Mucho Gracias!!! Bueno! I say and hand him the rest of my money! He smiles and walks away. The others are asking tambien?, I say no mas dinero, get in the car and as quickly as possible get back in lane wait the two cars to the inspection point and present my ID! The man asks me why I am here and asks if I am bringing anything back from Mexico, then He asks to see what is in the trunk, I have to turn off the car and get out and unlock the trunk. All passes and holding my breath, I turn the key, it starts and I drive through into the US! I make it to the first exit and pull off at the closest gas station, marveling at the cleanliness of everything. With no power steering fluid, I man handle the car into a parking spot and turn it off. I call Jerry and he advices that I drive the car to him to have it fixed. He says that the problem is only 2 of the 4 cylinders are firing and that is why it shakes and goes so slowly. Plus it has a loose battery cable which is the power problem, plus it has a leak in the power steering column and it drinks water in the radiator. Well, at least that is all I know that is wrong with it. When it works, it runs smoothly and has a great suspension system, but when it is broken, its really broken. As Jerry says that's not my problem, it's that I don't know how to fix it, but I'm learning. Looks like this trip is going to be a lesson in many things. I get gas and maps and water and food and get back in the car preparing for a long drive up to Jerry's house so he can fix the car. I clean the windshield of the Tijuana dust and drive up a small hill out of the gas station parking lot and almost hit a car as it unexpectedly gains full power! The car fixed itself!

San Diego

Driving along the road with the car working fine, I suddenly don't want to drive the 2 hours north to Jerry's, so I think I might drive around San Diego to see the sights and see if the car really is working OK before I decide to drive back to El Niño. I call Bear to say I am alright and safe in the US with a working car, and suddenly I ask him if he has Dave's number ( long lost friend from SC who is living there.) He calls Dave who was about to go out to dinner and invites me. I get off 2 exits later and it happens to be his exit and when he calls I am 5 blocks form his house. We meet in his parking lot and there I am in American paradise. Beautiful Condos, Tropical landscaping, lush green grass and a swimming pool. My car looks atrocious! Compared to the American Ritz. But compared to Mexico standards, at least my car has a hood. I have a beer and reminisce with Dave. We go out to a Polynesian restaurant. I have coffee and taste his many dishes. There are burning tiki torches and tall wooden carvings and a giant fish tank. It feels so exotic. I am 7 miles from the boarder. On our way to the restaurant we crested a hill and saw a spectacular pink sunset over green hills. Dave says that the sunset is so brilliant here because of all the methane and other gases in the sky from Mexico. The burning plastic in Tijuana makes pretty sunsets. When we drive home from the restaurant we go back up the hill and see hundreds of thousands of lights off in the distance and Dave says yep, there's Mexico. I am still amazed that these two disparate worlds are so close. When we get to Dave's it is close to 8 pm and I am tired. Dave and Gina convince me to spend the night because of the car's condition. Finally I agree, I'm not to keen on breaking down in the night on a random road in Mexico. I am in the lap of luxury. I sleep in a climate controlled room with my own bathroom that is so clean and white it sparkles, I have sheets on the bed and they smell clean. Gina being a dental hygienist has laid out a tooth brush, floss, and tooth paste and a towel. I sleep very well and get up early. I shower for a long time enjoying the hot water. I check my email at Dave's computer and answer a few personal emails. As I am getting ready to go Jerry calls and says he hasn't been able to get through, there is a woman in Labor. It is Angelica who lives in El Niño. I say good bye and head south once again.

The First Rain / The First Birth

It has rained all night, the air smells fresh. It is still raining lightly as I cross the boarder easily. The car is fine and drives smoothly. I enjoy knowing where I am and where I am going. It is a grand feeling! Getting out of the US is easy but once I am on la Via Rapida, traffic slows down and I worry about getting to the birth fast enough. When I get to the turn off for El Niño, which is unpaved, I suddenly realize what the rain has done to the land. What had been a hard packed dirt road up the side of the hill through the center of El Niño is now soup. Literally, It is a giant mud pie. I drive through several puddles that are deep and then spin my way up the hill sliding backward at one point. I can go no further up the hill when I am almost to the house so I try my best to get over to the right at least. I finally through slipping and sliding sideways get off the main part of the road and on to the verge and wave at the man in the window above and ask him to watch the car and he says yes. I get out of the car into the mire and muck wondering why I didn't bring hip high rubber boots. I grab my birth bag and my medicine bag and start up in the direction I think Angelica lives. Slipping and sliding down the road in front of me is a tall man who is looking right at me. He comes up and motions to take my bag, I assume that he is related to Angelica some how as there is no one else out in this wet muddy mess. He leads the way up the hill. It is really hard to walk, the mud is so full of clay that your feet are instantly 5-10 lbs heavier because of the tons of mud clinging to them. Finally half way up the road we go through a white doorway in between garage doors and down a steep path under electrical wire and past a small pink house to the back. He beckons me to enter and I do, but I'm not sure what to do about my shoes, they are beyond muddy! There is an older woman there who shows me where to put my shoes and I do and step past them to the bed room that is carpeted with dirty maroon colored carpet. The bed room is just large enough to fit the bed. The four feet from the bed to the door have a closet area, a little baby basinet and a small table. The whole room is about 8 by 7 feet. I am the first to arrive. Angelica is pacing with a smile on her face. She asks if I will check her and I say yes. She has a contraction and has to breath and concentrate. I wait for it to end and then ask her what hurts? She says that her back and her legs as well as her belly hurt. I ask her is she would like to be in a different position and she asks which one. I suggest on her hands and knees on the bed and I will rub her back. She says yes and it feels better. I rub her back and legs for while and she say that better, she wants to walk. Before she gets up to walk, I listen to the baby who sounds fine. She continues walking and the older woman who I find out is her cousin brings me a danish and hot chocolate. It is hard to explain that I can't have milk without offending her, so I thank her and set it on the table. Soon Jerry arrives. He is out of breath from climbing the hill too, saying he couldn't get his car any further that I could. He remembers that Angelica wanted her birth video taped, and so I go back down the hill to retrieve the video camera from the back of his car. Jerry does his mojo and soon Angelica is sliding through labor fast. After she releases the water from the enema by sitting on a 5 gallon bucket, she is 7 and then quickly 9 and soon pushing. Jerry says he likes his assistants to watch him do a birth before they do one themselves, however, he says go ahead and get gloves your on, you can do this one. After a while of pushing, I check her as she pushes to be sure that she is complete. She isn't, in fact the cervix feels more like 8 and a little swollen, but it gives easily. Jerry encourages Angelica to push, so I hold the cervix back. It takes a while to bring the baby down past the cervix, but when it does I take my fingers out. Angelica wants to stand, which according to Jerry is unusual for Mexican women, they usually like to be on the bed. She pushes standing for a long while holding onto her husband who looks a little panic stricken, but does as she asks him. I periodically check the babies progress and alert jerry who says he wants her to lay down when she is crowning. Once she is settled on her back, her cousin begins the customary fundal pressure from above. Crowning takes a while and when the head births it comes out to its eyes and then slowly the mouth and chin birth. As the baby rotates it also seems to turtle back a bit. I feel for cord, yep there it is. It is too snug, to pull it over the head, but loose enough to give some and I think the baby will birth through it or with it. We wait for the next contraction. When it arrives, Angelica pushes hard, I gently apply downward traction for the anterior shoulder, no thing. Still pushing hard, I try lifting up instead, nothing. When that contraction is over the baby is turning more and more purple, and also starts trying to take a breath and moving his lips. The bed is very squishy and around her bottom is an inch deep in amniotic fluid that came pouring out with the head. I suggest hands and knees and with Jerry translating she very quickly gets there. At this point, I feel for the posterior shoulder which it too far to reach and then switch to the anterior shoulder which is also behind the bone, but being the pubic bone, it is closer and with a little bit of finesse get my finger all the way through the arm pit and begin slowly flexing the shoulder to the oblique angle of the pelvis. It is lodged at first, then starts to come with the next contraction. The head is pretty dusky at this point, and as the shoulder deliver they are pretty white. I un loop the umbilical cord after the delivery of the shoulders. Angelica has to even push out this guys hips. He is born very floppy, dusky blue and white. I have him in my hands and am trying to stimulate him, but I have no blankets or suction. Finally someone hands me a blanket and I rub him vigorously. Jerry puts down the camera and looks for a bulb syringe, and just as I am about to contemplate giving him a puff of air he takes his first breath. It is quiet and shallow, but then there is another and another. He is very slow to change color, but I feel the umbilical cord and it is still pulsing well. I ask Angelica to roll over and put the baby in her arms where with her warmth and exclamations of joy he promptly starts crying. I estimated that it was about 3 min from the birth of the head to the birth of the body, and according to the video later, I was right. It took a little longer than I thought to get him breathing though, still it was about 2 min. Angelica didn't tear at all, just small skid marks. She was very happy because she has three girls and this is a boy, Juan Louis. He was 4.6 Kg, which is about 10 lbs. We cleaned up fast and repacked our bags, Jerry says he likes to hand the baby over and his job is done, so we left quickly. The way back to the car was disgusting. The mud was so think and slippery. I took a picture of my shoes because it was so funny. Soon Jerry leaves for California, and I had some food. But I wasn't feeling quite right.

The Tijuana Trots

Instead of the runs, Barret always calls diarrhea, The Tijuana Trots. I never really understood it other than to think it was a funny euphemism. Now I know exactly what it means. Boy was I sick! For 48 hours I has such severe diarrhea that at times I couldn't leave the toilet for an hour. Sometime during the first night I developed a fever. I got out of bed for one of the hundred trips to the bathroom and was overcome with such heat and heaviness that it felt like the sky was pressing down on me. My head was so heavy and knees were so weak, I actually crawled to the bathroom. Luckily I brought some ibuprofen with me. I don't usually take it but it helped push the fever away so I could sleep instead of shake all night. Jerry got a false alarm call on Friday night and so he spent the night and bought from a 24 hour Farmacia a special medicine for flu. When I asked what was in it, he just said take it and so I did.


Saturday was the day for prenatal appointments, so I took the Mexican medicine again and got ready for a long day. We started in El Niño again seeing 7 clients and 2 new ones who want Jerry's services and also 2 postpartum moms to bring them the photos that Jerry took at their birth. A few of the appointments I can't come into because I am too tired. I am wasted, even on the medicine, I am just very weak. I haven't really eaten anything in a couple days and I also have been throwing up and having pure liquid diarrhea, so I have no reserves. As we prepare to leave El Niño, I am glad to be on the paved road away from the fires. But not for long, we go down a long dirt road that is deeply rutted and full of garbage. To the right there is a shabby white rail fence containing black and white cows. And we soon come to a deep water crossing, the water seems really deep, but we come through fine. We were going to visit a new Colonia, one we didn't go to last week called Terrazas del Valle. We visited a first time mommy (Maria Edith) and a mom in mid pregnancy with her 6th. She was so small, I couldn't believe it. (Candelaria, above) I asked her if I could have a picture and she said yes and her children laughed at how big I was with my full shoulder over her. We continued on doing prenatal all day seeing about 20 women. With two more to go it was 6 pm and Jerry and I were very hungry, so we decided to stop for a taco.

My First Taco.

I, up until now, had not eaten anything from Mexico nor drank any water that wasn't bottled, in an effort to avoid getting sick, but since it happened anyway, I decided what the hell. The road side restaurant (downtown Murua) was clean and had big bunches of radishes in the middle of all the tables. It was completely open in the front with a floor to ceiling metal garage door rolled up. I ordered a strawberry bubbly drink and a taco. It was good, but very different that what I think of tacos. It was a corn tortilla but soft not crunchy. It was fried beef, but chunks not ground and very little seasoning. And topping it was raw onion chunks chopped cilantro and lime juice with guacamole. I enjoyed eating something solid. Other that Gatorade ( which is my new best friend) and oatmeal and soup broth, I hadn't eaten anything solid in a few days and also had had no meat
since I have been in Mexico. It went down fine, but what was memorable was how well I felt afterwards. I felt so much brighter, so much more “here�. When you are wasted of reserves you burn ketones and it makes you airy feeling. I suppose energetically you are living more on air and less on things of the earth. So in a way eating that one little taco, I felt much more grounded.

Dollar an Hour

Today there is no gas for the stove or shower; we have run out. I ask when we will get more ( really meaning when will they get more) and am told that in a day or so they will get more money from his parents. Having just recovered I don't think I
want go for a day or two with no cooked food. Since all I have in the refrigerator is raw veggies and bread, I decide to buy the gas for the house. I ask how much it is. In dollars, 8.75. I am ashamed and grateful as I hand Chano one of my 8, $20 bills. A few days ago while the family and I were companionably cooking dinner together, them, eggs and meat of some sort with tortillas and salsa and me, a salad; we talked of money. I asked Jamie how much she made at work. She works the night shift at the Samsung factory. Each evening around 5 PM she gets dressed in her uniform of a puke green monogrammed shirt and lime green pants and white keds that say Samsung. She catches the bus at the bottom of the hill and rides it a few miles to the industrial park and the Samsung factory where she works until 2:30 AM making TV, VCRs and Phones, and Computers. She said she makes $70 a week. About a dollar an hour. She wants to know what My husband makes and when I tell her that he doesn't work any more, he stays home with the kids, she is impressed as are all Mexicans when they hear that, apparently most think it is impossible for the man to be primary care giver. A few feel sorry for him. Some say "poor kids".

Cleft lip / cleft palate

Today I do a few visits on my own, seeing a very near term mama, the woman whose birth I was just at and a mom who delivered right before I got here, who Jerry has left some photos for. I know this woman's births story, but am still shocked when I see her infant. After a fast labor but a long pushing, she gave birth to a normal size baby girl. However it was a face presentation and a very sever cleft palate and lip. This sweet baby girl has a horrible defect. The cleft goes all the way through her palate and through her sinuses and up to the base of her nose. There is a gaping hole in her face between her bottom lip and her nose. Your finger can go all the way up to the base of her forehead inside. She is sleeping when I get there and her loving mama picks her up and loves her, kissing her all over, she hands her over and I do a quick exam, mostly because I am fascinated, not because she needs it. I ask her what happened after the birth and she says she hemorrhaged and went to the hospital where she stayed for 4 days and her baby stayed for 5 days. The baby is completely normal except for this hole in her face. The mom says that it will cost lots of money to fix and she worries about it. They want to do the operation at 3 months. I don't see how they will pay for it. Maybe there is some charity work for children that Jerry knows about. I ask how she is eating (literally how and also what). She promptly gets out her breast and shows me. I am amazed. I was getting ready to tell her no you have to use a bottle ( as I had read about this type of defect), but she has obviously nursed other children and so it comes naturally for her. The baby grasps her very large nipple in its face and manages to get a suction going at least for part of the time. As there is no nose holes, she must break suction to breath, but by this time she has ellicitated a let-down from the mom and so the milk drips and sprays into her mouth and she licks and sucks and gets milk anyway she can. I say, "muy bien" and am so impressed! I leave her smiling at the door and when I get home I check Louise Hays book, Heal Your Body:.Birth Defects: Karmic. You selected to come that way. We chose our parents and our children. Unfinished Business. New Thought Pattern: Every experience is perfect for our growth process. I am at peace with where I am.? Hmmmmm


In order to email, I must drive to the Centro of Tijuana about 20 min away from where I am living and find a place to park that is right next to the boarder and hook up my cell phone to my lap top and hope to get a signal. Today while I am parked in a large neighborhood I watch a police chase and arrest. There is a man trying to scale a tall spiked fence around a storage unit place. He jumps but is grabbed anyway and hand-cuffed and then, a police truck comes flying down the road and the man is put into the bed of the truck handcuffed and on his stomach. I guess the idea being that he wouldn't jump out because of how fast they are going. Certainly his punishment starts immediately as he tries to keep his chin from slamming into the bed of the truck as the cops flies over ruts and potholes.

Car on Fire

Fortunatly I make it all the way back to El Niño before the car dies this trip. It back-fires and dies in the middle of the street on the way up the hill into town. I have to pee so badly, that I just get out of the car, lock it and walk to a grocery store nearby. The hell with the car, its not like anyone can steal it anyway. When I come back a man waves at me and walks toward the car, he was sweeping in front of the tortilleria. He speaks a good deal of English, a surprise to me. He calls over a neighbor and says that he is a mechanic. He tells me to pop the hood and fiddles with something and asks me to start it and it does, he brings around a black air filter and says that that is the problem. I say thank you and ask him what I should pay him, he motions at the Fresca I have just bought. I hand it over. Half way up the hill, within sight of this guy, it dies again. I walk back down to him and he says he doesn't know ask the guy in the blue house. Well great, but what about my soda. Thanks for the 20 ft, buddy. I start back up the hill and am joined by a good looking guy in a baseball cap with Los Angeles on the front. He comes running out of the video shop and say El Caro, si, si, I say. He motions up the hill and we walk together in language-barrier silence. Once there, we notice some other guys there already. Guys that I know, they are brothers of the guy that lives in Jerry's house. They all start talking and looking under the hood, they motion for me to start it and I do, it takes a while but they do something to get it started and they say drive! I drive all the way to the driveway. But I can't park, this morning a huge plow truck can up and down this dirt road and fixed all the ruts, however, in crowning the road for water run off, he has left a foot high difference between the road and the driveway. I stop beside it and get out and wave to the brothers, they walk up and encourage me to drive over it, which looks impossible. Down the road a little I see a little lip and think that If I can get one wheel up I can make it diagonally up. I turn on the car again and back up and then try to get up the incline, I get one wheel up and it dies again. The guys go right to work and encourage me to try again. It wouldn't go, dying every time I put it in drive, Finally, the guy from the video store offers to drive, I hand him the keys and stand back. He tries again and then gets out and tinkers under the hood, soon he is giving it more and more gas and then all of a sudden there is a backfire and a streak of flame shoots up from the engine all the way up to the hood. (Not a good idea to operate a car with ignition problems AND with the air cleaner removed, if it backfires, there is nothing to contain the flames.) That is about all I can handle. I motion to him to stop and get my laptop and purse out of the car and just go inside. Cars on fire is my limit for the day. I hear them still gunning it and talking to each other, and soon, I have to go back for one more look. They make it up the verge and into the driveway with flames coming out from the engine and the hood up. I manage to say thank you in my shock and when offered a cigarette from one of the guys, say yes. It soothes my nerves and again I am able to smile at this bizarre world I'm in and be grateful for all that I'm blessed with.

Above is Norma, 16, G2, EDD 5/30/05. Norma had her first child with me 2 years ago. Norma called me at 5:45 AM, 5/18/05. I got dressed and headed for Tijuana. The traffic was really bad, so it took more the usual 2 hours. Norma's husband called about 7:30 AM, saying that Norma was now having very hard pains. Norma had told me that she only wanted me to attend her birth, not Augustine. I had asked Norma if it was OK if Augustine came to her birth, because Augustine had traveled a long way to get her "numbers" "OK" said Norma, but she made it clear that she wanted me to do the birth. When I finally arrived at Norma's house, I was pleasantly surprised to find Augustine there. I guess they figured it was better to have Augustine there, while waiting for me to arrive, and it was easy because Augustine was only 2 blocks away. As time went by as Norma labored, she became used to having Augustine there, so it made it easy for Augustine to move in at the last second and catch Norma's baby, a 3.3 Kg. boy born at 9:49 AM, 5/18/05. #412 Jerry.


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