I think, subconsciously, I have resisted writing this update. (There are a lot of big feels about it all…) But it is time. So here we go:

On June 13th, the three of us boarded a flight and returned here to the United States, for what we are calling a ‘forced furlough.’ A handful of things transpired between our last post and that departure date that made it apparent that we could better serve Nicaragua, and all those we love there, from here in the States. As you can imagine, it was not an easy decision. We LOVE Nicaragua. It is where we want to be. Where our daughter was born. Where our home is. But we were feeling the effects of the situation going on around us very acutely, and with our daughter being as young as she was, we felt as though we needed to leave for a while. At some point, maybe, we will have time and space (and not a super active 9 1/2 month old) to sit and write out some of the stories. But for now, we felt like it was better to give an update on our family.

We are currently back in the Eugene area, staying with family, who has been so gracious to let us stay ‘as long as you need.’ Which also means we get to be back attending church services at our awesome church, Westside Faith Center. Can I just say how WONDERFUL it is to walk into a place where the whole of the place is for you and praying for you and loves you? Like seriously. Our church family is so beautiful, and we are honestly loving getting to spend so much time with them all. AND, added bonus, a TON of our close friends all had babies around the same time we had Scout, so we get to see all the littles in their precious first years of life. Seriously, such a treat.

We are planning on being here in Oregon at least through the end of the year. Whether it was our own brains/hearts, or the Lord whispering to us, we had a feeling (when we had that super difficult conversation about leaving) that we would be back in Nicaragua in January or February. We will continue to watch things there closely, but we are hoping to return after the first of the year. And we have had the question of, “what if it nothing is better by then?” And honestly, we don’t know. What we do know is that Jesus gave some pretty clear direction about the future, and worrying about it, when he gave the sermon on the mount. (Matthew 6:25-34) Specifically He said:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

And honestly, that is what we are leaning on. That this whole beautiful mess we are walking out is way bigger than just us, and He knows.

In the meantime, I (Jamie) am getting to flex my big nerdy muscles behind the MRI scanner. Which is something I missed, and am very grateful to be able to do again. (It is also supporting us being here in the States, so that all the support we receive in this interim time can be used for our ministry in Nicaragua. Which is amazing!) And Landon is getting the incredible opportunity to be taking care of Scout, full time. Which is such an answer to prayer, and we are so grateful that it is working out.

We ended up purchasing a car, for this interim time. We felt like it was the best option for us, and we plan to resell it when we go back to Nicaragua. (So if you’re in the market for a great used car, let us know. 😉 ) The purchase of it was such an answer to prayer, as well. We had been searching, searching, searching and kept having things being sold right as we were going to look at them. Finally, I gave up. Ha! Landon is more patient, so he kept with it, and found something that looked promising. Then the sellers were so kind and helpful, and it was just so good. So if you see us driving around in a VW, you know why.

We continue to appreciate each and every prayer that is offered on our behalf, and look forward to sharing some very exciting ways our friends here in the States can love and support Nicaragua, in the coming weeks. 

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9 1/2 months with this amazing tiny human!

 

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We have tried to put words to what is going on here for the past couple of weeks. In our life, our ministry, and the country. Trying to find the correct words to explain this situation, one I don’t know we ever could have imagined. And today, as we spoke with some friends about it all, an analogy was made that finally did it. 

What was said is that this time in Nicaragua, with the political unrest of the past 40+ days, is like being in the waiting room of the ER, waiting to hear how your friend is doing. There seems to be a lot going on, but no one is quite sure what the whole story is, and it could be over relatively soon, or it could drag on into the night. And all of the emotions you can imagine happening in that waiting room is what we are going through. All of the hopes, fears, what-ifs, and prayers. We are walking through and living with all of that right now. Our life feels somewhat normal, and yet there are telltale signs that it is not. We get together with friends to share a meal, and then the conversation floats to which roads are blocked off and what we would do if x-situation happened. We go to the grocery store to buy what we need for the week, and can’t help but look at the other shoppers around us, quickly assessing if what they have in their carts seems like the normal amount, or if they are stock piling certain goods that we haven’t already thought of. We went to the beach with friends yesterday, but made sure we left by four o’clock so that we wouldn’t be driving back on the road after dark. We also drove out together, in case there happened to be a road block or other barrier to getting where we needed to go. Our life feels normal, and yet, it is very much not.

This year, we as a team at Ruby Ranch were focusing a lot on fundraising and getting the pieces in place to begin building out the master plan we received almost exactly a year ago. We had been gearing up to host our summer teams, excited for all the time with people we know and love from around the US, as well as many trips to Miss Ruby’s Prayer House. And then like when a jet boat is going full tilt up the river and they hit the brakes, the unrest here feels like it made us lose our momentum. Which for a while was fairly frustrating. And not that we were frustrated at the changes happening here. We feel like they are warranted and are going to help Nicaragua, long-term. But frustrated because we had ideas. And plans. And hopes, to be honest. To be real, it is sometimes hard to release things like dreams and hopes. Especially when they feel so noble, and so true. But that is where we are. 

So while we are continuing to live and serve here, we also feel our focus shifting for a time. We had a great conversation as a team this afternoon about what that can look like, moving forward, and we will be working through some of those details this coming week. We will be sure to post updates, and ways to be involved from where you are. What we all do know for sure right now is this: things like political unrest and a wavering economy hurt the most vulnerable the most. And we have hearts to alleviate that hurt, if at all possible.

If you would like to partner with us financially, you can do so by visiting this link. We are in the process of saving for an ’emergency fund,’ due to the unknowns, and would be so grateful if you feel led to give to that. Or if you have a specific way that you would like a donation used (i.e. food relief, medical supplies, etc), please feel free to specify that with us. 

Also, here is a link to our friend’s blog, for more of the whole story of what has been happening here. He also has links to news stories from the US and abroad, covering the topic.

Finally, I wanted to leave you with these few family updates:

  • Our little girl will be seven months old tomorrow! How that is possible, we have no idea. But she is growing and developing perfectly, and has recently cut her second tooth. She is enjoying trying real food, her favorites being potatoes, cooked bell pepper and roasted squash.

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  • Nicaraguan Mother’s Day was this past week so we decided to go out to lunch to celebrate. As did a lot of our friends, at the same restaurant! Not only did we get to eat delicious sushi, but we also had our friend Bella offer to read to Scout while we all waited on lunch. Win, win!

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  • We unfortunately learned the hard way that I am also allergic to mango sap. They call it leche de mango here, and last year Landon had a reaction to it. I didn’t think I needed to worry, and friends invited me over to harvest as many mangoes as I wanted. I love the fruit, so I took them up on it. Later that day, the first blisters formed, and things went downhill from there. Long story short, a few days later I ended up going to the ER, when the reaction spread to my lips and nose. After IV antihistamine and steroid meds, I finally got ahead of it. All in all, I was on some sort of antihistamine medicine for about twelve days, and I will not be eating mangoes anytime soon. (I probably could have been over it sooner, but because I am still breastfeeding Scout, I couldn’t be on an oral steroid medicine.)
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The reaction was all over my arms and legs, across the front of my neck, and on my lips and nose.

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Breastfeeding mamas do what they gotta do. (You can see the reaction on my arm. No bueno.)


As always, thank you for your continued prayers. We need those prayers now, more than ever, as we often feel unable to know what to pray. So please, please, continue for us. 

I have thought about what I would say when I finally wrote an ‘update’ after arriving back in Nicaragua nearly everyday since returning. That was a week and a half ago. And as I sit down to write this, I’m still in the same place: how do I describe this? Here’s why:

We feel safe. We live in a neighborhood with awesome guards and a community of people who genuinely look out for one another. The second night we were back we received a letter that reiterated the neighborhood ‘rules,’ even reminding people to slow down when they are driving around because there are so many kids. So we feel like our personal safety is not in jeopardy. And to get out to Ruby Ranch, we go away from the city. The Ranch is out in the countryside, and most of the protesting and clashes are happening within city limits around the country. So we feel like our life here is relatively ‘normal.’

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José and Ollie playing out at RR during last week’s camp

Nothing has changed. The government here is still saying that they want peace and for the violence to stop, and yet they also send out police forces to repress people who are peacefully protesting. And with the exception of the Social Security laws being revoked (which was the spark that started everything), no other changes have occurred. The people are calling for the President’s resignation, as well, but that hasn’t come either.

[The below photos are at a local university where students have barricaded themselves inside as an act of civil disobedience and protest. Though it looks intense and haphazard, the university students in this country are powerfully standing and demanding change. We drove by on our way to buy groceries, and ran into no problems.]

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So while we are keeping a close eye on everything, we are also moving forward with life. Currently we are excited about the teams that are planning on coming this summer, and that the rainy season has started. I’m grateful to have electricity so we can have fans (because it is still pretty hot), and for friends who have swimming pools that they let us use. 😉 We are also still in the ‘process’ of residency, though we have had our interview (they came to our house at the end of February to verify our applications), which often can take a while. So hopefully within the next month or so we will have our residency status!

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Afternoon swim with her peeps!

Please continue to pray for the nation of Nicaragua. There are ‘talks’ happening this week to try to resolve the issues here, and we are praying that an unbiased election is allowed to take place. (If you would like to read a thorough update, our friend’s blog is awesome!) Please also keep our residency process in prayer. Having that status makes a lot of things here easier for us, and it is just one more ‘unknown’ off the table. And please pray for our little girl. She is most definitely teething, and it is a rough go. 😦

I will try to continue to post updates here, but if you want more day-to-day happenings, following us on Instagram is a great option. Our shared account is @the.barons.  

For the past few weeks we have been here in the U.S. enjoying a break and some incredibly sweet times with friends and family, introducing Scout to the hosts of people who love her from afar. It has been beautiful, filled with lots of smiling faces, yummy food, and hugs from dear ones.

We were scheduled to return to Nicaragua this week, after 5+ weeks away, and were planning on having a little down time before our busy summer season starts up. We were planning on getting back into the country, unpacking and putting things away. Buying groceries to restock our cupboards, and possibly getting some small tasks around our home done. Also, reconnecting with our team, and talking through what we have coming up.

That was until this past Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, April 18th, President Ortega announced new tax reforms which effectively raised the social security taxes employees and employers had to pay, while also decreasing the benefits to current retirees. All this was announced as a way to care for a system that was reportedly going bankrupt. However, the current administration has been accused of using the INSS (Nicaragua’s social security) funds as a sort of petty cash account, misusing the money the public has deposited in good faith. The changes met opposition in the form of protests. Then those protests met opposition in the form of police intervention. And from there, things have become ugly, and violent.

So far numerous people have been reported dead, and many more have been badly injured. Government buildings have been set ablaze, and the iconic massive metal trees have been set on fire and torn down. And people have looted stores and shops, taking advantage of an already very volatile situation. There was a sense of panic over the weekend, leaving many grocery stores with empty shelves, and long lines at gas stations as people attempted to prepare.

Our good friends, the Farringtons are in-country right now and have kept an update going on their blog, if you’re interested in reading more about it. We are fervently praying for Nicaragua, and are eagerly waiting for more news about what is happening there.

Due to the unrest, the airline issued a travel waiver. Essentially, if we chose to use it, we could rebook our flights without any cost, as long as we flew out of the same cities and were in the same fare class. So this morning, we did just that. As much as we desperately want to be ‘on the ground’ helping, we felt that it was prudent of us to spend a little more time letting the dust settle, before returning with our almost six month old baby. Had we been in Nicaragua when everything happened, we likely wouldn’t have left yet, but since we were here in Oregon anyway, we have decided to stay on a little longer. We are extremely grateful for friends and family who have offered their homes and vehicles to us, saying over and over ‘you can stay as long as you want.’ The entire thing has been very interesting to deal with, emotionally, as new parents. As any parent reading this can attest to, having a kiddo changes everything. So we are trying to be wise, while also honoring what we have been entrusted to do in Nicaragua.

Moving forward, we would appreciate prayer for the following things:

  • First and foremost, continued peace for Nicaragua. There is a lot to work through in the coming days and weeks, so please pray the change comes peacefully.
  • Our hearts/minds. This is unsettling. We recognize that missionaries around the world deal with unrest on a daily basis and we are so grateful that we have had two peaceful years in Nicaragua up to now. But this is new territory for us, and while we are trusting the Lord with each and every detail of our lives and ministry, there are times when our minds get going on the what-ifs and stuff gets scary, fast.
  • Our daughter. Not only is Scout definitely feeling the effects of ‘traveling’ for the past five weeks, but it is very likely that she is in the beginning stages of teething, and has been having a hard past couple of days because of it.
  • Finances. Though we didn’t have to pay for the flight changes, this extended time in the States wasn’t expected and will come with expenses. We will also likely need to purchase some things here to take back with us that we weren’t considering until now, as we attempt to be as prepared as possible for whatever may come, moving forward. (If you would like to help us financially, you can do so here.)
  • Travel. At this point we are planning on returning to Nicaragua on May 5th. We are keeping an eye on things, in the mean time, and staying in contact with our friends and ministry partners on the ground. But please pray for smooth travel, when we do go.

As we have talked through all that is going on and all we are processing, we have continued to be very hopeful. We are so proud of our friends and neighbors who are standing up and saying enough is enough. Banding together and demanding change for themselves and their families. We are excited for what this will mean for generations to come. And we are expectant of what God is going to do (and is doing) in Nicaragua.

This past month and a half has been so good for so many reasons. Below are just a few highlights…


Just before the end of January we were able to apply and have our paperwork accepted to finally have ‘residency’ status here in Nicaragua. Up until now we have been here on tourist visas, a 90 day visa that can be extended for up to 90 days before needing to leave the country again. We had been collecting all the necessary paperwork (and praying about the financial part) for about a year, and we were waiting for Scout to be born. (By her being born here and having citizenship, we were automatically eligible for the 5 year residency card, as well as having a greater chance of being granted the residency.) It was an involved process, with each piece of documentation from the States needing to be translated and notarized. We also had to obtain various papers from the Open Hearts non-profit here, who is ‘sponsoring’ our residency. Now looking back the entire thing seems like it went fine, but in the midst of it we were stressed and slightly anxious. I want to write a separate explanation of the entire thing (because it really is a good story), but I’ll save that for later. Long story short, they accepted our applications and we are now waiting for the interview process. But we are so grateful to have that off our plates!

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Scout has been to Immigration so much in her short life, the officers now recognize her!


Last week we hosted and worked with our first team of the year, Team Hungry from Atlanta. Jeff and Mel have been coming here to Nicaragua for years, and now bring a team every February. This year’s team was made up of six adults and nine high school students, seven of which had never been outside the US. It was so fun to watch them experience Nicaragua! Because we live here we can become a little normalized to the daily happenings, but it really is refreshing to be around someone who has never seen horse carts in the middle of highway rush hour traffic, or loose cows trotting down the street, or whiptail scorpions on their walls. 😉
The team helped us with some projects at Ruby Ranch, but they also were able to sponsor the purchase of school uniforms and supplies for the kids who live out near the ranch. Right up the road is a small, two-room government primary school, and many of the students there come to the Ranch for camp. We know most of them, and their parents. So when the team said they’d like to do the uniforms again, we were so glad to get to facilitate it. Imagine if someone told you, “Hey, don’t worry about your son’s school supplies this year. We’re going to buy them. Also, his uniform.” I know it is such a blessing to the families of these kiddos. Plus, they got to ride the bus into town, AND have Little Cesar’s pizza for lunch! (Funny side note: we just got a Little Cesar’s here in Managua, and it is right across the street from the  market where we buy the uniforms. We realized we haven’t been in Nicaragua quite long enough, though, because our excitement was not nearly that of our American friends who have been here more than a decade.) 😉

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Kenny and Jose sharing a pizza

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Team Hungry and the Las Parcelas kids

Another really fun thing that was able to happen was a fun science lesson! One of the members of the team is an elementary school teacher in the States and she had a simple science experiment she wanted to share with the kids. We asked Mari (the teacher from Las Parcelas) about it, and she was very excited for the opportunity for the kids. So on Monday morning we visited the school and Michelle shared a simple experiment involving water, film canisters and alka-seltzer. It was a huge hit! When the water and alka-seltzer mixed in the closed container, it created a rocket-type effect. The kids thought it was awesome! Their teacher later told me that they loved it and were even talking about wanting to do it at home because they can buy alka-seltzer here in any little store. “They are all so curious about it,” was what she stated. I can only imagine what small moments like these will implant in these kids’ hearts for the rest of their lives. And we feel so grateful to be able to help facilitate that.

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Outside doing the science experiment


Along with this being our first team of the year, it was really our first team with Scout here, as well. We have done a few one day things since she arrived, but nothing for multiple days. And though it looks different from when it was just the two of us, she did great! All of the kids loved having her around, and she loved watching them all run around and play. She is a very relaxed little baby, and generally just went with the flow, only protesting when she was hungry or tired. We were glad to bring her along, and look forward to more adventures with her this summer.

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Nap time at RR


We are so looking forward to the coming months as we prepare for the summer and fundraise for Ruby Ranch. Please be praying for our fundraising efforts for the Ranch, for our residency to be approved, and for our whole team here as we ready ourselves for the busy season. We feel like there is a lot that is going to happen this year, and we want to be ready.

Happy New Year! We can hardly believe it is 2018, but we are so excited for this new year and all that it will hold.

December was a busy and exciting month for us for a lot of reasons, and below are just a few:

Henry’s Motorcycle
If you follow us on Instagram (which you should 😉 ) you would have seen a few posts about how we were fundraising in order to be able to purchase a new motorcycle for Henry, our Ruby Ranch foreman. Henry wears a lot of hats for us at RR. Everything from managing the other employees to making sure the horses are rotated through the different pastures. And a few months ago it became apparent that transportation was becoming an issue, as his personal motorcycle was not working and was in pretty bad shape, and the engine went out again on our former ranch vehicle. So we decided to fundraise to buy a brand new motorcycle that would last a lot longer. There is an awesome back story of how Henry sowed some of his own money into the purchase, and how we were ultimately able to give it back to him, but our friend Chachi wrote it up really well, so you can head over to their family blog if you’re interested in reading about that. Long story short, Henry received a new motorcycle at the beginning of December and it is awesome!

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Harvest House Publishers Donation Arrived

Landon worked for nearly 15 years at a Christian publishing company called Harvest House. In God’s amazing timing, right as we were saying yes to moving to Nicaragua Harvest House was going through some changes, one of which was to outsource their distribution department, meaning the entires warehouse staff would be let go. It was a hard thing for many of our friends, but Harvest House handled the transition very well and we were grateful for the ending Landon experienced.
Since living here in Nicaragua, HHP has continued to bless us in many ways. These have included hosting us for an informational meeting about RR with their entire staff, sponsoring the recent bathroom building construction, and the most recent donation of gently used tools, which just arrived last month!
Another amazing non-profit here was able to help us get the boxes down to Nicaragua in a container they had sent, asking that we only pay for the customs fees. Through a donation from Harvest House, the fees were completely covered and Ruby Ranch is the proud new owner of all pictured below. Now we just need a workshop to put it all in! 😉

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Such a blessing to receive all of this!


Scout’s First Christmas

Our little girl is growing and developing amazingly. She continues to bring so much joy to our lives, and even puts up with silly outfits for Christmas Eve.
We celebrated her first Christmas by spending Christmas Eve with the Buzbee and Ohran families. We ate an amazing meal together, visited and played a hilarious wrapping paper ball game that is a tradition of the Ohran family. Christmas morning was a slow one together, filled with hot coffee and warm cinnamon rolls, and then at midday we picked up Jamie’s sister, brother-in-law and brother at the airport for a week-long visit. It was a beautiful first Christmas.

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First family selfie

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Family Visit

Speaking of family, it was so fun to have them here. Though there was some illness that kept us from doing everything we had planned, we enjoyed the time just being together. And getting to introduce our family to places we have been talking about for years. Plus, the Scout snuggles everyone got weren’t too bad either. 🙂

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Introducing Ty and Jodi to Granada


As we look towards what 2018 will hold we are full of anticipation and excitement. Not only will we be working on the continuing development of Ruby Ranch, we will also host numerous teams, makes dozens of trips to the prayer house, and watch our daughter have many of her firsts. It is going to be a great year!


If you would like to partner with us prayerfully or financially we would love to talk with you about that. Please use the contact page here on our website and we will get back to you promptly. Also, please follow us on Instagram for more day to day ongoings.

The last month has been FULL. From our daughter entering our lives, to family visiting, to the mountain bike race and Thanksgiving, we feel like we blinked and now it is December. And we want to share about all those things. But, first, on the day our daughter is one month old, I wanted to share her birth story.

Disclaimer: this is long. I tried to ‘cut it down’ for this blog but found myself unable to for a variety of reasons, so this is the full version. 


Writing Scout’s birth story was something I had thought about throughout my pregnancy. I knew from the beginning I would want to try to capture and remember as many details as possible. I would want to try to put words to something that in and of itself is a holy and sacred thing. A thing that I believe is the closest I will come to understanding the mothering, nurturing heart of God. A thing that thins the space between Heaven and earth.

I imagined, visualized, and prayed through (as best I could) each part of the labor and delivery. How the contractions would begin slowly, but firmly, and eventually take over. How I would breathe through them, and Landon would be there, rubbing my back to help me. The car ride to the hospital, and how that might be a little uncomfortable on these bumpy Nicaraguan roads. All the walking throughout the hospital to help the labor progress. My friend and doula, Katie, instructing me and coaching me through the laboring. The transition period. The pushing. The hearing and seeing our baby emerge into the world. And into our arms. Kissing his or her little face and hands and feet. The sheer exhaustion and overwhelming joy of our first child finally being in our arms.

I thought through all of that. And prayed over every. last. detail. And I believed so deeply in my ability to birth this baby. I knew I could do it. That my body and mind and heart could do it.

My due date was October 25th. In the days leading up to that week, Landon and I found ourselves naturally ‘hunkering down,’ as Mr. Buzbee put it. Partly because driving anywhere became fairly uncomfortable for me and partly because we were preparing our hearts for the upcoming event, we spent most of our days together, resting. This is our slow season in Nicaragua, so except for a little work on our upcoming mountain bike race at Ruby Ranch, we were able to work from home the little bit we needed to. We worked on small projects around the house, ran last minute errands, walked every evening and watched a lot of Netflix. We talked about how the waiting was so hard, but so good. We didn’t want to rush our baby into the world before he or she was ready, but we also were so excited to meet the little one.

I had my last prenatal appointment with my doctor on Friday, the 27th, two days past my due date. My doctor had a previously planned trip and would be gone from the 28th to the 2nd, so in that appointment we met the back up doctor. He is much younger than my doctor, but seemed nice and willing to accommodate our desires for a drug free, vaginal childbirth. My doctor, Dr. Mendieta, checked the baby’s heart rate, measured my uterus, took my vitals, and said everything was still going well. If anything were to happen while he was gone, we should call the other doctor, otherwise, we would see him a week later when we would need to do a biophysical exam to check on the baby. By that appointment the baby would be nine days overdue, so he would want to make sure that everything was still going well. We left the appointment happy and expectant.

The following Tuesday I scheduled an appointment with the back up doctor to just check in on everything. The appointment was terrible. Though the doctor was cordial and polite, he ended up telling us that because our baby was overdue and big (which he measured from the ultrasound, which can be very unreliable) and because I wasn’t dilated at all, he would need to induce my labor with Pitocin. I was immediately defensive. This was not my understanding of how this doctor was to care for us in the absence of Dr. Mendieta. He was here to manage anything that might come up, not tell me that he needed to induce me that day or the next. There also was no reason to induce, except that the baby was ‘big.’ All the vital signs were great and the baby was still in great health. We left the appointment incredibly pissed off. I actually told Landon in the parking lot, “There is no way this baby is being born before Friday. I can guarantee my body will not go into labor if that guy is the doctor I’m supposed to see.”

That evening, probably due to my stress and ‘excitement,’ the baby in my belly was doing all the acrobatics you can imagine. And for a week overdue mama, that is not a comfortable experience. I tried to breathe. I tried to relax. I ended up resting by leaning on a yoga ball and letting my belly fall forward. Eventually the baby calmed down and I climbed back into bed.

The next two days dragged on in a way. I felt like if I could just get to Thursday evening I would be good. I don’t even remember what we did to pass the time. Probably more of the same. But instead of trying to go on walks to get things going, I found myself very unmotivated to do anything that might kickstart labor. I just wanted to hear my doctor’s voice on the other end of the phone, letting me know he was back in the country, and taking over my care again.

That phone call happened Thursday evening. We spoke briefly about the appointment time the following day for the biophysical exam (because it would involved another doctor) and I hung up the phone incredibly relieved. We got up the following morning and made our way across town to do the biophysical exam. As we drove I felt aches like period cramps, intermittently with the Braxton Hicks contractions. My back was achy, and sitting in the truck was not enjoyable. I mentioned it to Landon, and texted Katie, thinking that at last, labor was beginning.

As we waited at the doctor’s office I couldn’t sit down. It was too uncomfortable. I went outside and leaned against our truck, my head resting on my folded arms. The achy feelings were relieved if I was standing. They finally called us back and I climbed onto the table next to the ultrasound machine, my heart full of hope and excitement that the doctor would tell us the baby was fine and I was showing signs of labor progressing soon.

I don’t remember the order in which things happened after that. I remember the doctor measuring the baby’s head, measuring the abdomen, and listening to the heart rate. As we listened the rate went from 135 to 110, still within normal limits for a moment, but definitely lower than it had been. As we saw the baby’s face (the adorable squishy face) the doctor informed us that the baby was now positioned facing forward, with his/her spine towards mine. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck once, and also again around the abdomen. The baby’s head, which measured big, was not engaged in the pelvis at all, which could potentially be explained by the cord keeping the baby from moving down. When the doctor looked at blood flow in the brain, it was within normal limits, but on the low side. As we looked at the amniotic fluid there was a murkiness to it, which the doctor explained could be vernix (not a problem and very applicable to an overdue baby) or meconium (more concerning as it could indicate the baby being under prolonged stress). As the exam finished up the doctor performing the ultrasound said, in Spanish, something about not being able to labor. I looked at my doctor and he was nodding. I clarified that I had heard correctly. They said I had. I looked at Landon and took a deep breath. When the exam was finished I climbed off the table and looked directly at my doctor and asked, “So what does this mean?” His reply was overwhelming: “I cannot let you labor naturally. Your baby is healthy and safe right now. But with all of this, it could be very dangerous for you to go into labor. You need to have a cesarean to deliver this baby. And we need to do it today or tomorrow. You can decide that. I can deliver the baby this evening or tomorrow morning, but you can’t go past the weekend, and you can’t go into labor naturally. Jamie. I’m sorry.” I breathed deep again and asked a few questions about what ifs. The doctors were both patient to answer the questions, but kept coming back to the risk factors. With two or three, and a healthy, normal pregnancy like I had had, they might consider it. Not with as many as I had though. We discussed things a little more so Landon and I could fully understand, and then we walked out together. As my doctor said goodbye he said he would be waiting for my call on what I decided.

On the ride home I called Katie and explained what they had said. It was surreal to be talking through it. Was this really happening? After everything being so good and healthy and normal? Whoa. I held the emotions together until we got home, but then I couldn’t hold back anymore.

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The last ‘bump’ picture, taken a few minutes before we left for the hospital.

 

It feels like a little bit of an odd thing to say I was disappointed because of all the joy that was about to enter our life. We were about to hold our baby. We were hours away from meeting this little person who we had felt move and tumble and grow inside my uterus for the past 41 weeks and 2 days. We were about to be face to face with a little one that we had prayed about for YEARS. A little one that I told the Lord He would have to change my heart about having, because for most of our marriage I really didn’t care to be a parent. A baby who was waited for, planned for, and already immensely loved.

And yet, I simultaneously felt a deep sadness. I felt robbed of that laboring experience. I felt disappointed in the ending of this crazy, beautiful, fought for story. I also felt incredibly scared. To say that I didn’t think of my own life ending that evening would be a lie. I’ve read the stories. I’ve seen the families grieving. I know very acutely that surgery is dangerous, and unpredictable. And a pulmonary embolism can take a healthy person’s life before anyone can do anything about it.

And so I wept. I laid on our bed, with Landon hugging me, and sobbed. We sobbed. We comforted each other, and kissed each other, and cried. And we prayed. And we just were there. In that indescribable place where great sorrow and great joy coexist, and there is no explanation for it, and no need to ‘make it better.’ In those moments I  had a very real prayer utter from the depths of soul. From the part of yourself that doesn’t use the fancy or correct words. And it went something like, “Ok. Lord. If this is the day I die, take care of my baby and Landon. I’ll do this so that this baby can live.”

As we settled into the reality of what was about to happen we realized that we didn’t want to wait any longer to meet our baby. I would have the c-section that evening. I called my doctor and gave him the go ahead to book the OR room and call the other doctor’s. There would be four in the room. Himself, the pediatrician, another surgeon to assist, and the anesthesiologist. I needed to arrive at the hospital at five and the c-section would happen at six.

We began getting our things ready. The hospital bag I had packed now seemed irrelevant. Would I really need that electrolyte powder I had planned to drink during labor? Who knows. Leave it. What do you even wear or care about after a c-section? Did Landon put enough in for himself if we have to stay longer than we thought?

We eventually got the items together and then we drove over to the Farrington’s house to deliver a birthday present. Bella’s birthday was the day before, but the party was Friday evening and we had planned on attending, but with the change of plans, I told Landon I wanted to deliver it early. Plus I knew it would be good to be hugged by our dear friends. We visited for a while around their kitchen table, explaining what the doctor had said, and then they prayed for us. One of the most beautiful things we get to be a part of here is the prayer ministry at Miss Ruby’s house. But what people may not realize is that it is not just there. We pray with one another and over one another a lot. And so to have such dear friends gather around us and pray for us was incredibly sweet, and a beautiful moment to have on a day that was so full of so much emotion.

We headed to the hospital around four because traffic going across town can be bad. When we arrived and checked in, they let us know that someone would be down to get us. As the orderly went to grab the wheelchair I looked at him and simply stated, “Yo puedo caminar.” He gave me a sheepish grin, mumbled something about protocol, and escorted us up to maternity.

When we arrived in our room my nurse came in and explained that she would need me to change and shower with an antiseptic soap. I anticipated this, and was about to, when my doctor came in and said everyone was getting ready. I had showered at home before we left, so I didn’t push back too much on the extra one at the hospital. I changed into the gown, booties and a hair net, climbed onto an OR stretcher and was wheeled to the elevator. Landon followed until I entered the pre-op area, at which he waited to be escorted to the locker room to change into scrubs.

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Being wheeled from my hospital room to the operating room. 

As I waited in pre-op, I met one of the sweetest nurses I’ve ever known. It kills me that I can’t remember her name now. But her bubbly personality and gentle, kind spirit made me feel instantly better. And then I was able to meet my anesthesiologist, Dr. Padilla. He began explaining to me in Spanish what was going to happen. I listened, but realized I would need to ask him to slow down. I understand a lot, I explained, but maybe just a little slower. He chuckled, and began again, slower. He explained what his job would be during my surgery, and how he would explain each step as it happened. He then began telling me about the spinal block. He laughed and said that mine should be very easy because when people are ‘delicada’ like me, he knows right where to go because he can see the bones. But also how that isn’t the case for most of the world. How they just want to ‘always be eating but never do any exercise.’ Talking with him felt very familiar. It was like talking with the anesthesiologists I used to work with at Sacred Heart, and somehow that put me at ease.

Dr. Padilla started my IV next, and about that time Dr. Mendieta came in. He checked on how I was doing, and translated the only part of Dr. Padilla’s conversation I hadn’t understood: had I ever had any surgery before? I told him only my wisdom teeth, and then we wheeled towards the OR door. As we went by, Landon was standing in the corridor in his scrubs, hat and booties. Something about seeing him in surgical garb was actually comical to me. He looked like he felt very out of place. I said hi as we went by, and we entered the OR suite.

To say that laying on the stretcher looking up at the bright operating room lights was surreal would be an understatement. I can’t even begin to count how many surgeries I have been in on in my career, and yet this was the first time from this perspective. It wasn’t scary or daunting in that moment, but rather just odd. And yet, all the same equipment was present. The flat table. The stainless steel rolling tables with all the packets of sanitized surgical instruments. The anesthesia cart. It was all there. Plus the little warming bed for when the baby was delivered. There was even a circulating nurse and a scrub tech, busily preparing the room and instruments for the surgery to begin.

They moved me to the OR table and then helped me sit up and hunch forward so that Dr. Padilla could administer the spinal block. True to his word, he explained exactly what he was doing before he did it. I felt the cold antiseptic wash. Three different applications, using the same pattern for washing as I had learned in school. Then the pressure of his index finger along my spinous processes in order to locate the correct level. “Take a deep breath for the little pinch of the local.” The slight pinch and burn of the Lidocaine. “Now more pressure. Please hold very still.” Then the pressure of the spinal needle, and the odd sensation of the anesthetic being administered. “Your legs may feel hot and tingly.” Sure enough, they did. The right one a little ahead of the left, but then, slowly, both were warm and numb. Another breath with the needle removal and we were good. The nurse and doctor helped swing my numb legs and big belly back around to be in line with the bed, and laid me back. Oxygen tubing into my nose, a blood pressure cuff on my arm and a pulse oximeter on my finger. The nurse noticed my earrings and Dr. Padilla asked if they could be removed, as they would interfere with the cauterizing tool’s ability to ground. I asked for a small cup to put the earrings in, but at that point we could have thrown them away and I wouldn’t have cared that much. They seemed trivial in light of what was about to happen. After I removed them, the circulating nurse administered the catheter that would drain my bladder for the next 12 or so hours, and the doctors came in to gown up. I remember looking around, watching each person, hoping to not observe something that shouldn’t be done in a sterile environment. But as I watched each person do their job, they did just what I would expect. I also remember watching the doctors waiting for their gowns to be tied up and wanting to help somehow.

Dr. Mendieta explained that Landon was outside and would come in with Dr. Mora when the prep work was done and the curtain could obscure his view of them doing the cut down. I tried to relax and just kept thinking that our baby was about to be born. Within the hour, our kiddo would arrive. I also thought how strange it was to be having a surgery in my second language, a language I am far from fluent in. Again, it felt completely surreal.

Landon came in, as promised, and sat by my head. I asked him to hold my hand. That didn’t last long because it interfered with the IV working, but he was near, and I was grateful for that. Sometime during the cut down I began to feel dizzy and nauseated. I didn’t know the Spanish word for dizzy so I told the doctor I was nauseous, and turned my head to the side to be safe. I could see the monitor from there, and my heart rate did dip down a little, but he re-ran my blood pressure and it came back relatively normal. “You’re ok. It is still ok.” I tried to just relax and focus on breathing at that point.

A minute or so later I realized I was hearing a lot more suctioning than I had. I told Landon, “I think that is the amniotic fluid. Our baby is about to be born. You should watch.” About that time, Dr. Mendieta told Landon he should look over the curtain, and he did (and began recording a video for me) in time to watch our baby be lifted from my abdomen. I couldn’t see but I could feel the doctor press really hard down on the top of my uterus, trying to squeeze the baby out like a contraction would. As the little human emerged the doctor said, “And its a girl! Felicidades!” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. “Its a girl? Are you serious?!” I began laughing, and Landon was reacting the same. Then I heard him say, with tears in his eyes, “She’s so beautiful. Oh wow. She’s so beautiful.” Dr. Mendieta stated that there was the cord around her neck, and again around her abdomen. As tears began to fill my eyes and run down my cheeks I heard the suctioning of the pediatrician pulling the amniotic fluid from her mouth and her first cry followed. It was the most incredibly relieving sound I had ever heard. I also, simultaneously, felt so spent. Emotionally, physically, mentally. All the prayers we had prayed, all the conversations and discussions about the best course of action, all the tears. It all lifted and released in that moment that my ears heard that hearty cry, and I was left completely drained but in a state of complete peace.

The next thing I heard was Dr. Mora, the pediatrician, state that the cord had been able to pulse for one minute now, and they were going to cut it now. I remember saying, “Ok. Thank you,” and feeling a sense of gratefulness to him. That even despite the drastic change in plans, he still remembered and honored my desire for the delayed cord clamping. Dr. Mendieta told Landon to go with the pediatrician as they examined and wiped our daughter down. After that, I was introduced to our daughter by the pediatrician bringing her to my chest for that first skin to skin contact. I kissed her. Reached my right arm (the one with only the blood pressure cuff) over and held her the best I could. Landon kissed my forehead. She lifted her head and set it back down again, a simple gesture of belonging. Dr. Mora tried to help her latch on to breastfeed but she was very calm and uninterested at that moment. She just laid there, and took big breaths. The doctors asked if we had a name, and Landon replied Scout, but then asked me if the middle name was Caroline. We had discussed a couple middle names, and had decided to wait until we met our child to decide for sure. I couldn’t even respond. I didn’t care to. They could all wait. I was meeting my baby girl for the first time and I needed a minute. I eventually did tell Landon that I thought Caroline was the name, and he agreed. Funny enough, the doctors could not understand the name Scout (there is no Spanish equivalent) so in the OR room they called her Carolina, the Spanish equivalent for Caroline. I didn’t care to correct them.

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The moment I met our daughter.

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The most amazing surprise was that she is a girl.

After a few minutes of Scout there on my chest, the doctor picked her back up to take her to the nursery to do her exams and get her vitals. I said goodbye to Landon, as he went with her, and relaxed into the finishing of the surgery. Very sweetly, all of the people in the room congratulated me. They delivered the placenta, and told me it had weighed a pound and a half, and looked very healthy. Dr. Mendieta also said that the murkiness we had seen on the ultrasound was in fact vernix, not meconium, which made me relieved. It meant Scout wouldn’t need antibiotics. As they sutured and then stapled my incision site closed, they began peeling back the sterile field. At this point I still felt drained and tired, but luckily I didn’t feel dizzy or lightheaded anymore. After everything was closed and bandaged, they slid me back over to my stretcher to go to recovery for the next couple of hours.

The recovery room was a bit of a haze. I had been so cold in the surgery, that the first thing I asked for was more warm blankets. They gave them to me, and then the nurse even gave me an electric blanket for my two hour wait. I tried to close my eyes and just rest, but the adrenaline of what had just happened kept me from actually sleeping. The anesthesiologist came and spoke with me, as did Dr. Mendieta. They said everything went very well from their perspective, and they would be checking in on me later that evening. For now I was supposed to rest. I ended up seeing Dr. Padilla sooner than he had thought, though, because about an hour into my time in post-op I began itching. From about where my abdomen was numb, up and across my chest. I told my nurse about it, and she came to look. She said it was red, but there wasn’t a rash. She called Dr. Padilla anyway. He came and evaluated me, and prescribed some sort of allergy medicine. I was probably just reacting to something they had given me, though not severely. The medicine helped, and I rested more.

I asked my nurse at some point when I would be allowed to go back to my room. “The doctor would like you here until nine.” I looked at the clock on the wall and said ok. Every time the machine took my vitals I checked to see where I was. It was always within the normal limits for my age and situation. When it was finally nine o’clock, I asked if I could go to my room. She said yes, she was just finishing the charting. About ten minutes later the phone rang. It was the floor, asking where I was and when I would return. I found out later that Katie and Landon had been told the 9 pm mark as well, and were making sure that there wasn’t a relaxed attitude being taken when it came to reuniting Scout and myself. It took just a little while longer and the orderly came to transport me back to my room. My recovery nurse came with me, and they once again transferred me to a bed, this time the hospital bed I would spend the next couple of days recovering in.

When I got to my room I was greeted by Katie. I had told her to tell the hospital when she arrived that she was family, which gained her immediate access to our room. She had actually recorded a sweet video message and sent it to Landon, which he played for me when he got into the operating room. Just knowing she was there, waiting and praying for us all, was a comfort. She had actually been able to meet Scout by then because of saying she was family. I was glad.

A few minutes later they wheeled Scout into our room in her bassinet. Landon picked her up and handed her to me, and I don’t remember very much about the next few minutes except that I couldn’t stop staring at her, and really, seriously, couldn’t believe she was a girl. The nurse that brought her in tried to help me to get her to latch on for breastfeeding, but it ended up being a little more frustrating than helpful. I told her I was ok, and would keep trying. She left, and then Katie helped me figure it out.

The rest of the night was a haze of nurses checking on us, doctors popping in to see how we were doing, visiting with Katie and assuring Landon it was ok that he slept. He had a terrible migraine and felt nauseated for most of our time at the hospital. I felt horrible that he had had the headache. On the day of his daughter’s birth, no less. He eventually fell asleep, Katie said her goodbyes and I laid in my bed next to my sleeping daughter, unable to sleep but so exhausted. It definitely wins as being the most exhausted and joyful I have ever felt, next to the day Landon and I got married.

I found out the next day that when Landon followed Scout and Dr. Mora into the nursery he asked about skin to skin contact. The nurses said that, yes, sometimes the mothers come in to do that with their babies. He told them he would like to do that. They looked bewildered, but Dr. Mora said of course, so they let him. He sat and held Scout on his chest for an hour and half. He only got up because he had to use the bathroom, and the headache was worsening. He also advocated for Scout not needing the medicine on her eyes, as she had not exited the birth canal. So she only received her Vitamin K shot, to which she gave one small protesting cry, and then calmed back down after she was left alone.

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Scout Caroline Baron is the little girl we were both scared to have, but both definitely needed. She was born at 6:20pm on November 3rd, 2017, at Vivian Pellas Metropolitano Hospital in Managua, Nicaragua. She was delivered by Dr. Walter Mendieta, via cesarean section. She weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and measured 20 inches long.