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At the airport

I’m at the airport with a bording pass, which has been no small feat given recent weather events. I will arrive in Tanzania a day later than expected, but the delay gave me a wonderful night with an old friend and a much needed chace to sleep and destress.

I don’t think I realized how crazy my schedule had been over the past few weeks, or how exhausted I was. Starting the journey yesterday would have been a disaster, and honestly I dreaded the trip so much more than I desired it.

Truth is, I shouldn’t be a good traveler. I get car sick. I get migraine headaches when my schedule is a mess. My ankles are always a little swollen anyway, so you can imagine how big they are after a 16 hour flight. But with few exceptions, my travel has been uneventful. How fortunate that when it didn’t go as planned it gave me such an opportunity to be ready for a healthy (physically and emotionally) trip.

You are probably wondering if I am still dreading the trip. I would be lying if I said no. I know what lies ahead of me. I know that it is emotionally draining. I know this will be hard. But I also know I cannot fully understand what it means to care for women in different settings if I don’t experience those settings. This will be different from my other experiences, and I need to understand the differences.

It will still be hard, but I feel as if my ability to handle the difficulty has increased. The idea of the trip is no longer overwhelming. And most importantly, I can have frustration that this type if trip needs to happen (that pregnancy and birth are still so unsafe in some places) without feeling overwhelmed about experiencing it.

So yes, I do dread seeing my first stillbirth, having to a mother her baby didn’t make it for the first time. But I no longer dread the whole trip. And t

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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