We are obviously entering into new territory, as Melissa put in our last blog. Yesterday, I had my first tense moment when I learned what happened to Melissa, especially because she is pregnant. Maybe this happens to many others during pregnancy… I have no idea.
One of the workers found Melissa on the hallway floor at the guest house. She picked Melissa up and carried her to a bed. She had passed out. Melissa said she was heading to the bathroom, feeling like she was going to throw up, but then didn’t remember anything after that.
Our workers were so wonderful, immediately bringing her water to drink, propping her head up on a pillow, and wiping her face with a cold wash cloth.
When I got to Melissa, I said we should call someone. Melissa said that the ladies at the maternity center were in the middle of program, so we shouldn’t bother them. I decided to just call to see if they could give us some advice – I really didn’t know who else to call. Beth was so gracious and said to bring her over.
I brought her over to the maternity center and they ended up putting a 2-liter IV in her to replenish her fluids. Beth, Dr. Jen, and others were there and able to check up on her. It sounds like she was really dehydrated. She had been sick with Haitian happiness (as we like to call it) for the last day. Thankfully, she is doing better now.
The first-hand experience made me appreciative of Beth and all the ladies in a new way. We have always loved what they are doing. When things are difficult at the guest house, I often think about how it is helping support this program.
I wanted to share a segment of a blog Beth wrote the other day.
I drove John to the airport Monday morning, returned home, jumped on the treadmill and not three steps later my cell phone rang. A new lady in our program was at the maternity center bleeding. I jumped off the treadmill and into the car. Sure enough this sweet and very poor lady was miscarrying. Her husband was with her, they were newly married and really wanted a baby. Sad stuff the day after Mother’s Day.
Just as I was finishing up with her another of our ladies came in walking bent over with premature contractions. Doubled over she seemed near ready to deliver. I quickly called our nurse Wini to come help me. After all our checks we realized she was not really in labor at all but was definitely having contractions due to dehydration. We put her on some fluids and had her rest a few hours in our birth bed that wouldn’t be used for birth today. She wasn’t eating or drinking. Why not? She lost the water bottle that we gave her and a clean water source is neither free nor convenient. Eating – well, she hasn’t felt much like eating. Her body rebelled and put her into premature labor demanding food and water. Marie France has a hard life and things like enough food and water just aren’t guaranteed. We offer both those things daily but getting to us is a chore. She used to have a job to feed herself and her children but her employer raped her and here she is pregnant with her former employer’s child and no job and no money. Drinking water is the least of her problems.
Tuesday morning and I leave for the maternity center. The road is blocked so I go the back way. A giant pile of rocks meets me half way so I twist and turn through our neighborhood and somehow come out a mile or two away. I finally find a road I know and eventually make it to program. I walk in expecting a normal program day. One of our soon to be graduates is telling Agathe a story and she has tears dripping down her sweet face. Come to find out her house and neighbors were robbed and her husband was shot in the chest and in the back as he tried to run. He is now at Doctors Without Borders Hospital. This husband and dad who worked each day to care for his little family is now fighting for his life. His wife has good reason to cry. Our shoulders slump and we cry with her.
As the child development program starts one of our pregnant moms arrives with a worried look. She hasn’t felt her baby move since yesterday and she is concerned. I grab the Doppler and quickly pray I will hear a reassuring baby heartbeat. I do. Loud and strong! Crisis averted – we smile, I complete her prenatal and send her on her way. As program ends she is back, this time her skirt is soaking wet. Her bag of waters has broken. This is not good news for a mom who is only 31 weeks along and measuring really small. Not good news at all.
This is beyond our skill level and we start to look for back up. The first hospital states if she doesn’t have high blood pressure along with the broken waters they won’t take her. For the first time in my midwifery career I am hoping for a high blood pressure. Nope, perfect. We crank up our ambulance and prepare for hospital number two. While waiting for family to arrive and all the wheels to be set in motion dear little Guernise lays on our birth bed weeping. For the second time today our bed is used but not for its intended purpose. At one point I enter the room and there is Cherline, our loving housekeeper (and so much more) holding Guernise in her arms praying and crying. Women with women. Praying for one another in those grief filled and frightening times of life.
The second hospital takes her and we are relieved.
I saw a lot of sadness packed into the last two days. I also saw women who know how to pray for each other, women who know how to comfort each other and women who love each other. Our maternity center sees a lot of joy, we have a lot of fun and witness the miracle of birth over and over. Sometimes it is required of us to dip our cups into a well of sorrow and grieve with people in loss. And this we willingly do because the word midwife means to be “with women” and Christian means to be “like Christ”.
Fear can keep you up all night, but faith makes one fine pillow. ? Philip Gulley