01 September 2012

Politics - and Helen!

Whilst living in Mt Eden, Susan and I had been influenced - 'converted' is almost the word - by a variety of what might be called right-wing views.  This came about in part through the Calvinist connexions we had made.  We were keen followers of Gary North, of his father-in-law R. J. Rushdoony, and the whole family of Christian reconstructionists.  Their writings led us to others on the political right, including several writers of the John Birch Society (we subscribed to two of their magazines for most of the time we lived in Yap), and of Howard Ruff.  In particular, Howard Ruff persuaded us of the wisdom of stockpiling food (Mormon-style - he is himself a Mormon) against possible disaster.

We had shipped in a huge quantity of food packed in tins in a nitrogen atmosphere, supposed to be good for ten years.  We used a fair bit of it - but a lot of it we eventually shipped to Pukekohe - and only this year threw it out - no doubt just in time for the Great Famine of 2013.  We did, however, as a result of all this become convinced of the value of extra Vitamin C in our diet.  We continue taking extra Vitamin C today.

One thing, however, we did make use of, in the way of specialised food: wheat.

Wheat may not sound specialised, but at the time, bread was a rarity in Yap.  In Mt Eden, Susan had made our own bread, kneading it by hand.  This was laborious!  Her father sent her a heavy-duty mixer that did the kneading for her.  When we got to Yap, we found that flour was not the easiest thing to get hold of.

So we purchased a small wheat grinder, and imported, regularly, un-ground wheat (and honey!) from ... well, somewhere in the US; I have forgotten where.  Susan not only made our bread from it, she started a baking business.  She sold bread, and other baked goods, to local ex-patriates.

When, late in 1976, we discovered that Susan was pregnant, there was a concern raised by Dr Haight, who was one of the two doctors at the hospital - and our neighbour and, with his wife Ellie, our friend.  Susan's first child, Johnny, had been delivered by Caeserean section.  Would this be necessary this time?

Naturally, no one knew.  Today in New Zealand, I suspect it would have been a foregone conclusion; it was not so in Yap, and nor did she want that.  Nevertheless, said Dr Haight, he was concerned.  There was no qualified surgeon at the Yap hospital.  Both he and ... well, I have forgotten the other doctor's name, but both were generalists.  Dr Haight told Susan that he had once performed a Caeserean on a sow.  The litter had survived, but the sow died.  If it were to come to a question of saving Susan's life, he would do the same for her - but he rather wanted to avoid the necessity.

Dr Haight arranged things.  Susan's case was labelled a medical emergency.  At Trust Territory expense, she was flown to Palau, where there was a qualified obstetrician, a Palauan woman, Dr Otobed (whose name is not pronounced the way you think, unless you know Palauan, so don't try!), who, as it happened, had trained under Dr Conyngham, who delivered Johnny.

She stayed at the Protestant Mission house there for the two weeks or so until she went into labour.  Susan's labour was long - all her births have been that way.  Oh, and pain relief?  This is Micronesia!  We don't do that sort of thing!  Sue remembers one Yapese girl, perhaps when Sue was in hospital for Eddie, telling her that she wouldn't dare cry out from labour pains; her mother would beat her!

Helen was born naturally on 1 June, 1977.  Sue was home in a week or so.

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