Archive for January, 2013

For years I’ve had this blog named “birthinukraine” but I’ve posted very little about actual births in Ukraine. Now that I’ve seen a few more “Ukrainian” births, I’m in a stage where I can come up with some general observations about cultural differences in birth that I’d like to share in a  series of posts.

This post will address the medical personnel involved in birth. This is the same in all births I’ve seen for any couple.

The system I’m familiar with (American/European), either an obstetrician or midwife attends a birth. Nurses do things like monitoring fetal heart tones, checking vaginal dilation, etc. And the doctor or midwife enters usually at the end to catch the baby, get the placenta, and suture. (This is very simplistic, I know.)

Here it’s a little different. During the labor, the obstetrician comes in periodically to check the fetal heart tones and check cervical dilation. He/She is also the one who breaks the water.

(Note: I’m not saying any of these interventions are healthy or normal; but in institutional birth here, it is regular practice.)

Once the mom is pushing, a second careprovider enters the scene–this woman (I’ve never seen a man in this role) is generally translated as “midwife,” though it’s not really an accurate translation. Her job is to get the baby and the placenta out. (I will talk about this process in a separate post.) Usually the doctor is in charge still, ultimately, so he and the midwife communicate about what’s going on at various points of the birth.

If there are tears, the obstetrician sutures. If a piece of placenta or membrane is retained, the obstetrician deals with it.

The midwife later helps to initiate breastfeeding.

Also, there is a woman who comes in whose job it is to clean up the mess. After the ob and mw are done with the mom and baby part, she cleans up, wipes the mom’s legs, and fixes the bed back to normal.

Usually a pediatricians also comes in along with the midwife to observe the birth of the baby. She (He?) checks the baby soon after birth. Some do this just glancing over the baby and not taking baby from the mom. Others take the baby to the exam table for a while to do all this.

Sometimes what I suppose are students are also present. Student midwives, student pediatricians, etc. I’ve seen up to about 7 people come into the room for the birth.

So these are the main personnel involved in birth in a Ukrainian birth house, from my observations.


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Andre’s birth was the hardest of my three kids’ births. My first two births were pain with comfort. I enjoyed remembering them, even romanticized the experience.

But this one, Andre’s, 9 months past now, well, it was long (that was not new), it was a lot of very powerful Acroppedcontractions for a long time, and it was different because nothing helped ease the pain. Not the bathtub or shower, not music, positions, words of comfort. Nothing. It just hurt incredibly with no comfort . . . (but at least no one was adding to my discomfort either).

At one point, I had this thought, “I never want to see another woman in labor ever again!” And then my sensible brain whispered that maybe I shouldn’t make this life-altering decision at this particular moment.

When it was over, I didn’t want to think about it, remember it, write about it or watch the videos or pictures . . . not for a very long time.

I will say that I have probably grown the most from Andre’s birth. The power of my uterus is just . . . wow. That my womb worked for that long and with such force is amazing to me to remember. (And it was my first labor not stimulated by any type of herbs, nothing. It just worked all by itself.)

I enjoyed the after part, too. The oxytocin high that carries on for weeks and weeks.

I’ve told my friends here how hard it was. And the experience of Andre’s birth has helped me as a doula to understand birthing women more.

I was at a birth not long ago, and the beautiful mom was in the last agony of transition/pushing, and I was leaning over moaning, groaning, and slightly yelling right along with her. It hurts!!!!!

And I said into her ear, “я знаю,” and a tremendous sense of conviction whelmed up within me. I know. I know birth pains where you just want to die. Where you want to strangle someone to end it. Where there is no immediate comfort. It. just. hurts.

And I said into her ear, “I know. . . . . I know.”

And we yelled on in low voices together.

(*And in case you’re wondering, yes, the physical, emotional crying happy joy of accomplishment rolled right out after the baby 😀 )

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I spent a few weeks reading and re-reading the book of John, and I’ve been mulling over how to implement the teachings, ideas, themes, etc. into life. And one way I see this is in the matter of conscience and parenting, or our consciences and any topic.

It’s hard to deal with areas of conscience and others who differ because our consciences can make things as serious as sin for us, you know?

Like one person’s conscience let’s them drink a little alcohol, another person’s conscience says it’s wrong to do that.

And there are almost endless issues like this in life.

Enter Jesus’ prayer as He was facing death for our sakes. . .

And we have to love each other as Christ loved us, and live in unity as God the Father and God the Son are unified.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one— as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. John 17:20-23

You know, when it comes to some areas of parenting, I have my conscience and my opinions and ways. When asked, I will share. When writing on my blog, I will blog my thoughts. And yet, I am more convinced that I need to be terrible in guarding the unity of the church. I will not make my ways about childbirth, health, parenting, etc., issues that divide.

I have said out loud, that I do not want for there to be one “right” way in our church. Search the Bible, ask the Spirit to teach you, get advice, and these are issues you need to decide for yourself and your family between you and God.

(Caveat: This is not referring to clear sin issues nor areas where child abuse is happening.)

I love my group of mommy friends. You know, some missionaries on the same field have terrible relationships because of these peripheral issues. But I love my mommy group because we are so very different from each other in many, many ways, in many of these controversial issues, but I think we love each other, we are vulnerable to each other, and we don’t judge each other. I love our “oneness” and I hope we keep growing in it 😀

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The question of asking-of-people for our needs, is, I think, incidental.

The Bible focuses us on giving, on asking of God (as our expression of trust), of not worrying, of putting Kingdom priorities first.

I think asking-of-people is incidental.

I live in a family, and we ask things of each other every day. It’s an inherent part of the relationship. My kids ask to eat, I ask them to get my glasses so I can see, etc. And we don’t give it tons of thought. Maybe I should pray about it, asking God to give us hearts of love, willingness to serve each other, to see each other’s needs as just as important as our own, and other Biblical instructions.

Maybe I should pray the same about fundraising.

So, I will simply focus myself on the major issues God has made plain in the Bible (giving, generosity, asking of God, stewardship, gratitude, not worrying), the asking-of-people part will be prioritized under that, and God will direct where, when, how, etc.

My mother has a very simple philosophy of asking. It came about, I believe, when she saw a sign advertising electronic dancing chickens for $3.99. And she thought, If I can save someone from buying a dancing chicken, and put that money towards Christian schools in Togo (their place of service), I’ve done a good thing. … So she’s willing to rescue your money and mine—and a wonderful ministry they have, too, reaching hundreds of kids a year with long-term education and Bible teaching. We’ve supported them for years.

And you see, I just incidentally asked you for money  😉


I crack myself up.


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The last few days and weeks, I have had some personal guidance about what God wants us to do about our finances. Right now, He wants me to live intentionally with the less.

That word intentional has been glued to my brain.

I made up another budget where I cut out a bunch of stuff and skinned down on what we might spend, though trying to leave reasonable margin. And I want to concentrate on living intentionally with less, not accidentally or unwillingly. If I am honest with myself, we have been making intentional choices about this all along. We have intentionally chosen not to return to the States indefinitely in order to raise support; we have intentionally chosen to return to the ministries we have going on here, to serve here with less.

So now I want to do it even more intentionally, and at the same time, be able to give with more intention.

I’ve started Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice, and I was struck with something he said in the introduction (bolding mine):

As a pastor whose church is filled with young adults, I have seen this concern for social justice, but I also see many who do not let their social concern affect their personal lives. It does not influence how they spend money on themselves, how they conduct their careers, the way they choose and live in their neighborhoods, or whom they seek as friends. Also, many lose enthusiasm for volunteering over time. From their youth culture they have imbibed not only an emotional resonance for social justice but also a consumerism that undermines self-denial and delayed gratification. Popular youth culture in Western countries cannot bring about the broad change of life in us that is required if we are to make a difference for the poor and marginalized. While many young adults have a Christian faith, and also a desire to help people in need, these two things are not actually connected to each other in their lives. They have not thought out the implications of Jesus’s gospel for doing justice in all aspects of life.

So one of my first conclusions on this searching out of fundraising is that I want to start living sacrificially intentionally.

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I am coming to the conclusion that the Bible doesn’t directly address the topic of asking-of-people. So I need to come at it obliquely–from the side, from another angle.

So I’ve been pondering places about provision, receiving, and giving. Because God’s Kingdom is a give/receive economy.

I have come, so far, to two conclusions:

  1. I want to be a faithful and wise receiver. I want to receive well what God gives me by being a good steward, by being intentional with how I spend and give money. I have thought a lot about this the last few weeks, looking at budgets, counting what we spend, what we don’t spend, what we save and don’t save for. Being deliberate. I may say more later; I need to go to bed right now.
  2. I want to be a more generous giver. We give and I want to value that we do this, and I want to commit to give more. I know what I’m going to do first: Vitaliy wants $3000 for the roof of the new rehab building. We put $400 towards it from our extra income this month. And now I’m thinking that I have $100 in the closet that was going to go for a trip to Hungary that we canceled–money earned from teaching English Saturdays. Also, I will donate my next doula client payment to this.

So, that is my first conclusion, when I think about asking-of-people, to look at and evaluate what we are doing right now with what we have.

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Christmas on Jan 7

Our church in Kiev has a special service on Jan7Christmas. We try to invite a lot of unsaved people,  and we plan special things for them. We make gift bags for the kids, have Christmas music and other special music, and . . . well, let’s look at the pictures:

Christmas songs:


This is our elder pastor; he led the service today since Vitaliy was at the rehab center.
Our musicians made a special group called “Wings,” and they played for us today.

Our children’s Sunday school participated.

christmas4The elder pastor’s wife shared the Christmas story with the kids.

christmas5This group of professional carolers visited us for 15 minutes, singing the lovely Ukrainian carols. One lady (in the middle, white bangs), her son is an active church member.


Dana sings beautifully.


Our food from God’s Word.

Distributing presents to the children and praying for them.
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Tea and cookies and lots of fellowship afterwards. christmas11 christmas12 christmas13

Immanuel: God is with us.


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