Friday, May 8, 2009

Guatemala Thoughts as a Mama

Moving abroad always makes one think about issues they might not normally consider under every day circumstances. Sometimes even ordinary things take on a whole new outlook. One of the blessings of moving to another country is that everything is different. One of the difficulties of moving to another country is that everything is different. As a father, Ben thinks of things differently than I do and is more concerned with different issues. As a mother, here are a few of the things that I consider:

Water: In Guatemala, water that is in any way consumed usually comes in one of these containers:
No problem there, except for Talia's tendency to put things in her mouth at bath time. Tub water, to my knowledge isn't purified/filtered. I'd like to find out if this is ever an issue and if so, how to resolve it.

Household cleaning products: This is not just an issue for Guatemala, but in the U.S. as well. Kids just have a bad habit of putting things in their mouth. Even if it has fallen on the floor. Because of this, I hesitate to use harsh chemicals in places that I know Talia might come in contact with... which is most of the places in our home! What's worse, though; harmful chemicals, or the germs they would clean? A nice balance to this equation that I've discovered is Thieves Oil. This has its own little history:

"As the bubonic plague decimated Europe in the year 1413, four thieves were captured and charged with robbing the dead and dying victims. When the thieves were tried, the magistrate offered leniency if they would reveal how they resisted contracting the infection as they performed their gruesome acts. They explained that they were perfumers and spice traders and told of a special concoction of aromatic herbs, including cloves and rosemary, that they rubbed on their hands, ears, and temples. " While the story is entertaining, this study holds more weight:

"Research conducted at Weber State University in cooperation with D. Gary Young, as well as other documented research, indicates that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many essential oils, especially those high in phenols, carcacrol, thymol, and terpenes. This, perhaps, offers a modern explanation why the Old Testament prophet Moses used aromatic substances to protect the Israelites from the plagues that decimated ancient Egypt. It may also help us understand why a notorious group of thieves, reputed to be spice traders and perfumers, was protected from the Black Plague as they robbed the bodies of the dead during the 15th century." (Essential Oils Desk Reference, 4th Edition, p6)

Besides this, it smells good and is available in Latin America!

Vitamins: This is another concern that doesn't necessarily change with ones country. I want to make sure Miss Priss gets enough of all of the ones she needs. Period.

Scrapbooking/Pictures: When one has a major change take place in his/her life, it's usually a good idea to visually document it. Especially if there is family wanting to see what's taking place! The issue is lugging around all of the stuff to have physical evidence of this record. A good way to do this that I've discovered is through I really enjoy their wide range of free digital scrap material and the easy-to-use software! (Just ask my husband. He introduced me to it, so he can't complain too much...) But what I think will come in really handy is the feature to print these blogs and then they'll ship them wherever you want... like to Grandma's and Grandpa's and other family members in the U.S. :D

Guatemalan Wares: Guatemalan's make some beautiful fabrics. This is demonstrated in their skirts, table clothes, and place mats just to name a few. Something I think about when I think of moving to Guatemala is a way to help hardworking people sale quality wares. Let me get this straight, I do not, in any way, consider myself a sales person. At all. But, if someone has something that is beautiful, useful and a good price, I'm definitely going to tell other people about it. Or at least give it as a gift. Or at least make it available on my website. Or something.

Orphanage involvement: Something I've always felt a burden for is adoption. Since as Christians we are very familiar with God's grace in the form of adoption of the gentiles, this makes this concept even more relevant and precious. Maybe it also has something to do with our visit to the Tupelo Children's Mansion when we were kids and sponsoring a girl from there with our own hard-earned money. In truth, I think God places a desire like this in your heart. All that to say that we'd eventually like to adopt a child or pair of children. Even if that never happens, I'd like to be involved with this work in Guatemala and give Talia the experience of sacrifice to help someone else and the life lesson of compassion.

Midwife/OBGYN: While I know that women all over the world give birth every day and with a lot less knowledge and advanced technology, I'm still scared. Not enough to only have one child though... I've always thought that was a little bit selfish. My brother and sister have enriched my life in so many ways that I can't imagine myself with out them and would never want to deprive my children of that experience. And I want to have other babies. It's just that birth can be scary. In another country, that just adds one more aspect to the mix of things to think about. Chel and Megan, you need to get certified so I can fly you down!

Baby wearing: In Guatemala, we walked. A lot. So much that Miss Priss couldn't always keep up and had to be carried much of the time. This can be painful on one's back if not adequately supported. I was SO thankful to have a sleepywrap! The Guatemalan woman use their own version of this, but it doesn't seem to support as well for me and it's a lot harder to learn how to use. I'm very grateful to my friend Megan for letting me borrow hers, and even more grateful to now have my own! Talia should fit it for another year or so.

Diapers: I don't know if I'm normally a paranoid person, but I do have fears. One of them is that the economy in whatever country we're in is going to fail and I'm not going to be able to buy diapers and I'll have to survive on what I've got. Weird fear, I know, OK... maybe fear is too strong of a word. But something that I've found that helps solve this are all-in-one diapers. There are several brands of these; BumGenius, FuzziBunz, um- I can't remember the other ones. The ones I have are FuzziBunz. It's a cloth diaper with a waterproof outside, a super absorbant soaker in the middle and a water-wicking liner. Washing machine friendly. Or, for that matter, I could wash it in the bath tub and hang it up to dry if I had to. Either way, it's pretty good at stopping leaks like no other cloth diaper I'd have to use would. (Since we're potty training, this may not be an issue anyhow.) They're just sort of expensive and I only have two... but those two work all day since she's only using diapers for naptime and bedtime at the moment.

I know that it doesn't matter where I am in the world, I am going to encounter challenges of some sort in my life. These are just things that, before I get there, I consider of high priority. I know when we get there, many of these things will shift and I'll see just how irrational I was. But if that happens, I'd like to see just how far I've come. So here's this post.


  1. Adina, I don't think you have anything to be worried about. I think you'll find all of the things you're talking about are widely available locally and part of the local economy, not dependent upon foreign trade.

    Adoptions here are tricky now, but not impossible. Plan for a very long, frustrating experience if you go that route.

    The total cost for a normal vaginal delivery with an MD in a private hospital will be about $600. I suspect a midwife would be less.

  2. Hi Adina,

    Our son was born in a modern, first-class hospital in Canada: very good care overall.

    Eight years later, our daughter was born at home with the help of a mid-wife: there's simply no comparison, and except for medical complications, we would definitely recommend going with a midwife. Make sure you get to know her, and like her.

    Vitamins: make sure you eat lots of the readily-available fruits and vegetables, as they will probably have more nutritional value in Guate than the fruit sold in the US or Canada.

    Regarding Thieves Oil, can you tell me where you can get it in Latin America?


  3. Tom,
    I really appreciate your insight into birth with a midwife. I am anxious to find one that I like in our new home. Do you have a more in depth post about this experience somewhere?

    I agree with your assessment of the vitamins in fruit and vegetables in Guatemala. This is something I look forward to!

    Above is the website for Mexico, where they are starting a new market. My logic was that it'd be easier to ship to Guatemala from Mexico than from the US. Another reason I said it was available, though I don't know if there is a market in Guatemala itself, was that even if it does have to be shipped from the U.S. or Mexico, it's in a bottle that lasts a long time because it is diluted to a specific concentration for whichever job is required. It is cheaper to purchase if you go through someone who sales with this company. If you are interested, I have the email address of an associate that might benefit you.

    Again, thanks for the input.

  4. Hi Adina;

    I enjoyed reading your post. How exciting to be moving to a foreign place. How good it is to remember that God is God over Guatemala and He is able to lead and guide your every step while you are there.

    Ask Him whatever it is that you want to know and He will direct your path.

    I have a friend in can find her from my friends list on my blog. (Expat Mom). I am sure that Genesis could be a big help to you with some of the 'newness' of Guatemala.

    bless you and may God watch over you!

    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted

  5. Hi, I`m the Expat Mom that Kimmie mentioned and I can definitely set some of your fears to rest. ;)

    First of all, my boys did the same thing in the tub and nothing ever happened to them. I think the soap probably kills a lot of stuff off. Most children here have showers as soon as they can stand on their own, so getting water in their mouths isn`t a biggie, but mine still love baths.

    You can use natural products to clean, such as vinegar. There are also some natural products available through catalogs here which would be fine for you to use. Kimmie actually has some great recipes for making your own cleaners, too.

    Vitamins are readily available here in any pharmacy and you have a wide selection, from syrups to Flintstones and everything in between. There is a health store in HiperPais in the capital where you can purchase just about any kind of vitamins and minerals.

    When you get here, I`ll introduce you to a friend of mine who buys local clothing, fixes it up and sells it to people in the US . . . she makes enough to sponsor several children to go to school.

    There are plenty of orphanages here. You can volunteer at one, or sponsor a child. is a good place to look.

    As for having babies, I had both mine in the public hospital and while it was a lousy experience, I survived just fine and so did they. That being said, if you want a midwife, there are several options including a natural birthing center with German midwives in the capital. I also had a really wonderful midwife here who had to go in for surgery right before Dante was born (he was two weeks late and she couldn`t wait).

    For diapers, cloth diapers of the most basic kind are available down here. But if you sew, you could easily make your own. I`m sure you can get the fabric up there before you come, even if you don`t have time to sew them while in the States. The flannel and cotton is available here, but the waterproof outer lining might be best to bring down.

    Hope that helps, feel free to email me with any other questions.

  6. Hi Adina and Ben!
    I am moving to Guatemala soon too, and am going through the same questions. My big concern too is, organics and green stuff. It seems that Gautemala is sooo behind in the times on that one. I'll tell you guys what I find out and am looking forward to hearing all you have found out too!