"Embargo": possibly Latin for "Tear your Hair Out"!
I was on call for 5 of the 7 days before I left for Haiti. Full moon, lots of labors and births. I knew the schedule, and that this was coming, so I packed carefully in advance-- my friend Brett even came over, gave us dinner, and helped do the final pack. We had SO many generous donations of all sorts, but were sure I had all in order. Except-- the day before my departure, I learned from Sharon, my travel-partner midwife from Ohio, that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the airline has an embargo on any luggage over 75 lbs, and NO third bag allowed....hence, "Tear your Hair out!!"
I attended 3 births on Wednesday, then between deliveries on Thursday, I raced home, said hi to Greg who had not seen me for a day or so, and frantically re-arranged, ruthlessly and rapidly prioritized the "Must Go Now Stuff" in 2 Bags vs. the "Stuff to Go in March". This time, medical supplies, meds, cell phones and laptop, scrubs for the students, some baby and kids' clothing, books, portable food. A lot of the baby stuff, diapers, and some kids clothes will go in March when I go back for trip #3.
When my plane took off from Dulles on Friday at 6 am, I had 2 bags that were exactly 75 lbs; (after I re-arranged them at the baggage counter again with the whole world looking on..!) It's all ok--only a reminder and a taste of third-world life that I'm headed for. In places like Haiti, plans are made, but every day is generally a series of emergencies, small, medium, or large, that folks navigate as best they can. So my crises in packing are exhausting but oh, so small.
On the map, Florida sticks its nose out into the Atlantic and Caribbean, and Miami sits on the tip of the nose. I write this in the Miami airport, with the sensation of bouncing on the end of the diving board, the jumping-off point of the USA and into the third world. We land in Port-au-Prince, and nothing is quite so simple after that; not internet, power, water. Not even birth is safe.
But Midwives for Haiti has a mission that is inching forward, trying to help. This trip, I will look at a house that the Board may consider renting, so that we have a "home" in Hinche and not just random rooms and closets in several different buildings. I'll meet with teachers, students, our Haiti friends and advisers, and help organize a new mobile clinic. I'll talk about a Durango SUV that is being donated to the cause from the US, and how to get it to Hinche (that should be interesting for sure: we can't even send a package UPS, let's see how we get a truck there!) And my son Stephen will arrive on Tuesday and work on filming for future PR projects.
I don't need to ask for prayers or good wishes. Gifts, notes, hugs, help, donations, and phone calls have convinced me many times over that I only do this with the love and support of a very large tribe. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being part of it with me. OK.... jump off the diving board!!!