The Estrada Family

A Nica-Canadian family, living in Nicaragua and starting a family!

dreams

Just a note before I start writing what I actually WANT to write about: 
If you ask me how I'm doing, the answer most likely is "I don't know". 
Literally my day is filled with such a roller coaster of emotions, I 
don't think I can sum it up in a quick response. In Nicaragua, when 
you ask someone, "¿Cómo estás? ("How are you?), you sometimes get the 
response "Aqui". Which literally translates to "here". I guess that is 
a good way to describe how I'm doing. I'm here. In the middle of it all.
Yesterday was probably one of the most physically painful days of my life. 
I didn't fully realize that by opting to let things happen "naturally" it
meant that I would be signing up for a pain that is a slightly scaled down 
version of labour and delivery. Complete with about 5 hours of escalating 
contractions that quickly progress to being right on top of each other, 
and whole bunch of stuff that you don't want to read about on a family blog.
I don't really know if the physical pain was just adding insult to injury 
(i.e. I already lost my child, now I have to feel like I'm delivering 
it too?) Or if helped to have a physical pain to go with what I was feeling 
emotionally. But either way, today is a slightly better day. My physical 
symptoms of the miscarriage are starting to diminish. And, though 
emotionally I still have a ways to go, I fell like the physical healing 
will help me get back to a somewhat "normal" life. Whatever that is.

Alright, now on to what I came here to say…

dreams

I don’t dream very often. Actually, I probably do, but I don’t remember my dreams very often. But sometimes, not very often, I have very vivid, almost real dreams.

I believe that God speaks to people through dreams. There are so many examples in the bible of God speaking to people through dreams that it would take to too long to list them all here. But I don’t believe that its just something from biblical times; I believe God speaks to people through dreams today.

When I was only 8 weeks pregnant with Bethany (and we still hadn’t told anyone yet), a woman from our church told me that she had a dream where she saw me standing in church holding a baby. She believed that God was telling her to tell me that soon we would be parents. It was such a relief to hear her say that. And I am so thankful that God gave her that message for us.

I had two dreams last week that were so vivid that those few minutes while I was waking up I truly thought they were real. And now, in retrospect, I think God gave me those dreams to help me with closure.

The first dream, about 5 days before the bleeding started, was beautiful. I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She was perfect. I saw her clearly. Her skin was a little bit lighter than Bethany’s was when she was born. And her eyes were a light, honey brown colour. She didn’t have a a head of thick black hair like Bethany did, but wisps of  light brown hair. In the dream we were sitting on our couch, talking to some people over Skype (who had apparently helped with the delivery…via Skype – that was the only bizarre part of the dream!) and I was nursing my new baby daughter. The part that stands out to me the most was the name. We named her Amberly. I don’t know anyone with that name, I don’t think I have even heard that name before. But it was so vivid. Amberly.

When I woke up I was so hopeful! By that point I already knew about the possibility of a blighted ovum, and I was concerned that we didn’t hear a heartbeat the week before.  I felt like this dream was hope that everything would be ok.

But the next dream, two nights later, was the opposite. I was lying in the ultrasound room in the hospital, and my doctor was checking for a heart beat, David was standing behind her. Then she turned the screen towards me and explained that there was no baby, that the sac was empty, that I was having a miscarriage. In the dream I left the room and just screamed and cried uncontrollably. I woke up feeling out of breath, and extremely confused.

The crazy thing is, that second dream was an exact depiction of what actually happened on Wednesday morning. When we got into the car after leaving the hospital I told David. “I dreamed this. Exactly how it happened.”

Except for the crying. I mean, I cried, I cried hard, but at the same time, as Dra. Aragon told me that the sac was empty and that there was no baby, it was like I had already been prepared for the news.

I don’t know exactly why I had that second dream, but I do think it helped with the impact of the news. It reminds me that God is in control of everything, that he has our days planned out before we are born.

And the first dream? I think God was giving me a few precious minutes with my beautiful little girl. The image of her is forever etched in my memory, and I know I will recognize her one day when I get to heaven. She’s lucky. She got to skip this sometimes crappy, sometimes painful earthly existence and go straight to eternity with Jesus. If it can’t be me holding her in my arms (or my womb) at least I know its Him. Its comforting to know that she is having fun in heaven playing with her cousins.

And of course I looked up the name Amberly yesterday. It comes from the name Amber, and means “beautiful jewel” or a warm honey colour. Having never heard the name before, it fits her pretty perfectly.

I am so thankful that God let me see my baby girl at least once. And, although I am still struggling to get through this and come to terms with why this all happened, it is so nice to be reminded that my God loves me and is carrying me through it all.

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Blighted Ovum, definition:

“A blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop into an embryo. It is also referred to as an anembryonic pregnancy and is a leading cause of early pregnancy failure or miscarriage.”

I.e., your body is tricked into thinking its carrying a baby, when in reality there is just an empty sac in there. Same syptoms: nausea, hunger, fatigue, etc, but no baby.

This Friday I would have been 10 weeks.

At 6 weeks I went in to see my doctor because I had some abdominal pain and spotting. An ultrasound showed a tiny sac, just the right size, in the right place. Nothing to worry about. “Come back in two weeks and we’ll check for a heart beat to make sure that everything is ok”.

At 8 weeks I was back. Another ultrasound. The sac was bigger, I was feeling all the right symptoms, but she couldn’t get a heartbeat from a regular abdominal ultrasound. “Thats ok. Some times its hard at just 8 weeks. Come back next week and we will double check.”

I decided to wait an extra week. If the baby needed time to grow, I wanted to give it all the time it needed.

We had out ultrasound scheduled for Thursday. But last night (Tuesday) I started bleeding.

My doctor told me to come in today. She didn’t make me pay for an appointment with her, and she didn’t even make me pay for the ultrasound (because two weeks ago was inconclusive, she didn’t report it to the hospital, and said I could come back with the same receipt).

And there was the sac. Not round like it use to look, but more like a deflating balloon. The edges were no longer defined, they were blurred. And the sac was empty.

My doctor suggested a D&C, but I opted to let everything happen naturally. As long as I don’t run a fever, and the bleeding eventually subsides (in the next week or so) I should be fine. I do have to go back in a few weeks for another ultrasound to make sure nothing got left behind that could potentially cause an infection.

And just like that…it’s over.

I don’t know what else to write. I feel like I’m in a daze, like my head is full of fog. I feel like a huge chunk of my heart was ripped out  today, leaving a big, dark, empty pit in the middle of my chest.

I feel empty.

 

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Nica-Facts: Quakin’ and Shakin’

I thought it was time to bring Nica-facts back from the dead, and what better topic then earthquakes! The ground’s been shakin’ around here for the last few days, so I thought a history lesson might be necessary.

41 years and 5 months ago, on December 23rd 1972, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake destroyed Managua, approximately 5000 people were killed, 20,000 were injured, and 250,000 were left homeless. It was probably the most influential natural disaster in Nicaraguan, if not Central American history, sparking a revolution and a civil war…but that’s for another day.

41 years before THAT, on March 31st, 1931, approximately 2,000 people were killed in an earthquake that destroyed Managua.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

It doesn’t stop there! There have been major Managua-destroying earthquakes recorded at 40-45 year intervals for the last 200 years!

So ever since 2012– 40 years after the “big one”– everyone has been on their toes. Every quake or tremor reminds us that the next “big one” is overdue. We were on borrowed time.

Until Thursday April 10th.

Since Thursday, Nicaragua has experience magnitude 6.1, 5.1 and 6.6 earthquakes, plus hundreds of aftershocks and tremors. But non of those actually originated in Managua.

And that was all I was planning to write, but then a friend of mine posted this on their facebook. The shallow fault line that runs through Managua, that is responsible for the devastation of 1972 has become active for the first time in 41 years. The government is asking the citizens of Managua to take “extreme measures of caution” including sleeping outside, or with doors open.

Even as I type this, we are watching the news about a magnitude 4.9 earthquake that just happened about 20 minutes ago in Managua.

Alright guys, if you haven’t started praying for Nicaragua…now’s the time to start!

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Nica-Facts: safety

Alright, this has to a quick one. Every other Nica-Fact post was written days in advance, but it’s 6:30 am on Monday, and we are leaving in 30 min to set up clinic.

Phew, I just made it.

So, did you know that despite the fact that Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, it is also one of the safest? Those two things don’t normally go together.

I wish I could tell you more, but I have to run, so I’ll leave you with this article that a friend of mine shared on Facebook which gives a few theories as to why Nicaragua doesn’t have the same problems with large Latino gangs as countries like Honduras and El Salvador do.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2013/05/130531_nicaragua_muro_anti_maras_jcps.shtml

It’s in Spanish, sorry. But google translate is a wonderful resource!

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Nica-Facts: RAAN and RAAS

So, like I said last week, Nicaragua is divided into 15 departments, and 2 Autonomous regions.

The two autonomous regions are commonly know as the RAAS  and RAAN.

They are the two largest regions in the country, and they have the lowest population density. They were actually part of the same Department, Zelaya, up until 1987, when the Charter of Autonomy was established in the new constitution. 

Since I’ve never been there myself, I had to rely on the internet, and what I’ve heard from other people, for all my information. I hope I’ll be able to visit at least the capitals of both regions in the future! 

RAAN

RAAN stands for Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte (North Atlantic Autonomous Region), according to a 2005 census, the populations is 249 700. It is the biggest region in the country. The capital of the RAAN is Puerto Cabezas. 

The RAAN is divided into 8 municipalities, and some have really funny names: Bonanza, Prinzapolka, Waslala and Mulukuku are a few examples.

A large portion of the RAAN is jungle and rain forest. There are some areas that you cannot get to by car, you have to go by plane or boat. I have heard that there are mosquito as big as birds.

RAAS

RAAS stands for Región Aunónoma del Atlántico Sur (South Atlantic Autonomous Region). According to a 2005 census the population is 382 100. The capital of the RAAS is Bluefields. If you want to travel from Managua to Bluefields you have to fly, or take a bus and then a boat down the Rio Escondido (the hidden River) from El Rama to Bluefields.

The Corn Islands are also part of the RAAS. It has been my dream for years to go on vacation there. We are saving up to celebrate our 5th anniversary there. Beautiful:

Travelling to the RAAS or the RAAN you will encounter many people who don’t speak Spanish or English. Creole-English is common on the coast, and Miskito is spoken in many areas of both regions.

The culture on the East coast is completely different then that of the western part of Nicaragua, even the houses and typical foods are very distinct.

75% of the population of the Caribbean coast live in poverty and extreme poverty (source). The illiteracy rate is  43%, and as high as 55% in rural areas  (compared to Nicaragua’s overall illiteracy rate: 24%).

Come back next Monday for more Nica-Facts!

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Nica-Facts: The basics.

Let start with some basic facts about Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America.  As a comparison, its total area is slightly smaller then the size of New York State. To the south you’ll find Costa Rica, and Honduras to the North. The pacific ocean is to the west, and the Atlantic to the east.

Nicaragua has 15 departments (think: provinces or states) and 2 autonomous regions (like territories).

The population of Nicaragua is 5.7 million (source).

There are 19 active and/or dormant volcanoes in Nicaragua (source), including Central America’s youngest volcano, Cerro Negro, which was “born” in 1850.

Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America, 2nd poorest in the western hemisphere behind Haiti. 48% of the country live under the poverty line.

[Note: I thought “poverty line was kind of an ambiguous term, since it changes for every country, so after a lot of searching I found this (here):
“[Nicaragua's] official poverty line is US$350 in income per year. Of the nation’s poor, 17 percent live in extreme poverty, earning less than US$185 per year.”
Can you imagine living on $350 A YEAR. Or how about the 17% of the country that lives on just $185 a year. Wow. Just, wow.]

Nicaragua’s oldest city, Granada (founded in 1524), is actually the oldest colonial settlement in mainland America (source).

Managua is the capital of Nicaragua. It’s population is 1.85 million (source). Managua is the centre of all activity in the country. The city has been destroyed twice by major earthquakes in the last 100 years. Once in 1931, and again in 1972.

The average daily temperature depends on what part of the country you are in. Up in the mountain around Jinotega, its usually a comfortable 25°C (77°F). Just 170km south, in Managua, the temperature is around 35°C (95°F) daily. And in Leon and Chinandega, the temperature is almost always above 35°C, and sometimes over 40°C (104°F).

Well, thanks for coming by and learning a bit about Nicaragua. Look for another Nica-facts post next Monday!

Do you have any specific questions
that I can answer in a future Nica-Facts post?
Leave them in the comments and I
will do my best to answer them!
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Nicaragua

Well, since I vowed to blog more this year, I thought I would try to commit to writing a series of posts about Nicaragua. I can’t guarantee long posts every week, I might just tell you a quick fact or two, but every Monday I will try to post a little something about the country that I love!

I will always remember that just a few months before I moved here, a friend of mine was talking about Nicaragua as if it was in Africa.

I guess that can be my first fact: Nicaragua is NOT in Africa. It’s part of Central America, which is technically part of the Continent of  North America.

map nicaragua1

There, see? short and sweet. And maybe someone out there just learned something new!

Join me back here next Monday for more Nica-facts!

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3rd World

Fun fact about me: I hate the expression “3rd World Country”

I cringe when I here someone say it.

Have you ever looked up the definition? The original meaning come from the cold war era, and it’s way outdated. Today, “3rd world” refers to a “poor” country and “1st world” refers to a “rich” country. I bet if you asked someone what classifies a country as 3rd World, they would have a hard time answering.

For me the problem is, that the phrase comes with a feeling of condescension. No one from a so-called “3rd world” country would ever use that term to describe their own country. Who uses it? People from “1st world” countries. Its a ranking system.

1st World =Best world.
2nd World = (No one actually uses this term anymore)
3rd World = less then the best.

Its doesn’t leave any room for movement. The term “3rd World” is stagnant. So when someone from a developed (“1st world”) country uses  “3rd world” to describe a poorer country, its as if they are saying “We are 1st, you are 3rd. We are rich, you are poor. We will give a bit of our excess, maybe some used clothes, send a bit of money, to try to help you live within your 3rd world classification, and you will take it and you be eternally grateful. We are worth more then you.”

It also give the impression that “3rd world” countries need outside help; they can’t improve on their own. They are dependent on the 1st world. There is an implied sense of helplessness.

So, what term do I use to describe countries like Nicaragua?

“Developing”

“3rd world” sounds negative, but “developing” is positive. it gives hope. Its not a stagnant word, it implies movement. Yes, Nicaragua has been plagued by corrupt governments, natural disasters and hunger. But by calling it a “developing” country, you are saying that there is a movement towards something better. Yes, Haiti was basically destroyed by an earthquake 5 years ago, but since then they have been constantly rebuilding, and trying to get back on their feet and better themselves. There is movement. There is progress. Haiti is developing.

As I was looking online for information about the term “developing country” I can across this on wikipedia, which I think is interesting. Apparently “developing country” is also a controversial term. It says:

“There is some criticism of the use of the term ‘developing country’. The term implies inferiority of a ‘developing country’ or ‘undeveloped country’ compared to a developed country, which many countries dislike.”

Doesn’t that seem so backwards? It does to me. The article also says this:

“The term ‘developing’ implies mobility and does not acknowledge that development may be in decline or static in some countries, particularly in southern African states worst affected by HIV/AIDS.”

A wise friend and mentor once told me that she tried to make a point of never calling her children (or foster children) liars. Because if you are constantly telling a child that they are a liar, they are going to grow up believing it, and thus, they will lie more. Instead, say “you are lying” because it gives them a chance to change.

When we classify a country 3rd world, it doesn’t give any opportunity for change. The people have been damned to a life of poverty and corruption, and there is nothing they can do about it. “1st world” people come down and try to band-aid things, but it wont fix the big problems. But a simple change in vocabulary can give so much hope. Saying that a country is developing means its a work in progress (even if progress is so slow it’s hard to see). It puts the power back in the people’s hands.

Living in Nicaragua, I have seen that what appears to be static from the outside might actually be progressing when you take a closer look. I cringe when I hear people label Nicaragua as 3rd world because I see progress here.  Nicaraguans are hopeful, hardworking and tenacious people. They are proud to live in such a beautiful country. I think they would be offended if they knew that people from developed countries labelled Nicaragua as 3rd world because they do not think they are inferior, and I think that’s true for any developing country.  I want to speak hope over Nicaragua, and the rest of the developing world, so I took “3rd world” out of my vocabulary.

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The Bears

Bethany's favourite toys

Bethany’s favourite toys

*Sigh* The bears.

Bethany LOVES these bears. The first two were given to her from teams that have come down. She paid so little attention to them that they wound up in the “give-away” box just before Christmas, but suddenly she spotted them and they became her favourites. Then her Mimi got a hold of two more…and now they are a family of four.

After swimming with her two favourite bears.

After swimming with her two favourite bears.

At least one winds up in the wash every day. She bathes with them. She takes them swimming, she pushes them around in her little stroller.

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She was showing the bear all the birds that were flying around.

She was showing the bear all the birds that were flying around.

She sleeps with them, and eats with them (and shares her food with them!) At church, she sits them all on one chair beside us. She carries them around like babies, and put them to sleep on our bed.

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More than once she has farted and blamed in on the bears…

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Who knows how long the bear phase will last. It sure is cute!

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2014 – Goals

Along with talking about what goals we accomplished in 2013, David and I also talked about what goals we would like to accomplish this year.

So, here we go.

Spanish School

In the last four months of 2013, David`s Spanish classes have picked up. He already has 2 intensive courses (4 hours a day/ 5 days a week) booked for 2014, and other students that are continuing with their 3 class/week schedule. We are also thinking about the idea of doing online classes via Skype. Our goal is to have 8 consistent clients, and teach an intensive class at least every other month.

Translating

I love translating, I really do. I really enjoy working with teams and meeting new people, seeing old friends, and travelling to parts of Nicaragua that I would never see otherwise to help people. But leaving home for a week at a time is hard on me and Bethany, and especially David, who has to play Mr. Mom while I’m gone. I would like to have more written translation jobs that I can do from home. I worked on a huge project in Nov/early Dec of 2013, and I should have another one in Feb/March. But I’m also going to be away translating for groups for about 6 weeks from mid-Jan to the end of February. It would be hard for me to give it up altogether, but I would love to at least limit the amount of time I spend away from home.

Marriage

David and I have a goal to go away for a weekend together. Maybe Ometepe? maybe El Cañon de Somoto? We also plan on working through the devotional “The Love Dare” together.

Oh, and we are planning on going to Corn Island for our 5th wedding anniversary (Feb 2015) so we need to start saving money now…

The House

We are bursting at the seams here. We haven’t built anything onto our house since we moved in at the end of 2010, other then the front porch, and we are ready to expand! The small addition we have planned would allow us to actually have a sink in our kitchen and give Bethany her own room.

Potty Training

This mama is so ready for Bethany to use the potty. Bethany – not so much. She is afraid of it. I think we actually just need to buy a different potty – the one we have is a hand-me-down from a cousin, and its weirdly tipsy. I’m not going to force her onto the potty…I’m going to wait until she is ready. But, seriously, I don’t want to be packing a diaper bag a year from now.

“The Project”

Like I said before, there is a whole other blog post on its way devoted to this, but God has given us some big plans for our community of Los Cedros. We are hoping to start an Alpha course, through our church (VAM- Vida Abundante Managua) with some of the youth that live around us, and we would like to start reaching out to our community more.

Saving

We are going to open a bank account. Ok, that sounds crazy even as I write it, but we don’t have one! Back when David worked in Managua he was paid directly into a bank account, but when we moved to Los Cedros, and he was getting paid in cash, it was just a hassle to have an account that we didn’t ever use. We’ve been a 100% cash family for the last 4 years. That means anytime we needed to save for something we had a bunch of cash tucked away in my underwear drawer (or maybe another secret location!). But, this year we plan on saving money, so David is going to open up an USD account and our goal is to put away at least 10% of all the money we make this year.

There you go! Goals for 2014.

What about you, do you have any goals/resolutions for this year?
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