On Friday we flew back into Kovol ready to stay for Christmas, get all packed up, say goodbye and fly out on Dec 31. In the end, we flew out on Monday because we panicked. We only spent 2 days in the bush!
We were starting to settle in when Gerdine started to feel cramping every 7 minutes. It wasn’t intense, but the regularity of it was concerning. Gerdine got her phone out and started timing it: cramps every 5 minutes. Concerning, even more concerning was when they didn’t go away. They continued for the next day and a half, always at a level where she could ignore them if she was doing something, but consistent bursts of cramps 5 minutes apart. She pulled her phone out at 3 am in the night to time them again and it was every 5 minutes.
We called our mission doctor on Sunday morning feeling pretty concerned, and he was also concerned, suggesting that if it didn’t settle down soon we needed to get out for an ultrasound to see what was going on. Gerdine went onto strict bed rest.
The fear grew, the cramps stayed and we had no idea if this was normal, or the beginning of preterm labour. We cried, we wrestled with fear and on Sunday night Gerdine was coming to terms with the fact that we might have lost one or both of our twins.
We had a little time to say goodbye to the Kovol people before we left them for several months. “It’s OK” they said, “It’s life; it’s really important. You need to get out and find out if something is wrong.”
We couldn’t stay with the unknown, so far from medical help. The helicopter schedule worked best to get us out on Monday and so we arranged that.
I spent Sunday packing up our house for our return to the UK while Gerdine rested, cramming 2 week’s worth of transition and goodbye into a frantic day of bustling.
The weather turned against us on Monday, but after some trying the helicopter managed to get in through the clouds and get us out to Goroka where we landed directly on the soccer field of our support centre and went immediately to the clinic.
What a relief it was to hear that there were still two heartbeats, that both babies were doing OK, still growing, and that there were no signs of anything going wrong. We cried; we’re so grateful and relieved.
We live with the knowledge that living in such a remote location we don’t have quick access to health care in an emergency. It’s a weight we always carry while in Kovol but which we don’t feel most of the time. Occasionally we’ll think of it after a near-miss with a knife, when we look at the thick bank of clouds around us and realise there’s no way a helicopter can get in if we needed one and we need to trust the Lord through those fears.
What an immense challenge it was to work through the fear of thinking we might be losing our twins. We only found out a week and a half ago we were having two.
The plan now is to stay out in Goroka until it’s time to return to the UK in 3 weeks; we’re all done in Kovol for the moment. Gerdine is going to be taking it easy in the hopes that the pains and cramps will settle down. I’ll be looking to help out at our support centre in between spending lots of time with Oscar. We feel sad to pull him out of Kovol so quickly, becsuse he was really happy to be back and it’s clear he feels like it’s home. He finds lots of things to enjoy out here, but we can tell he’s unsettled. That also leaves Philip and Natalie on their own in the bush for the next few months, they’re going to need lots of prayers!