Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Long Days, Short Story

Now We're in Hinche.
Shortest possible version of a long story....

Port au Prince to Hinche in the Jeep:
What an amazing sunset over the mountains! With a full moon rising.

Sunday: We attended graduation , a celebration of 23 new midwives, with 160 guests dressed up and packed tightly with lots of sweat, into folding chairs. Songs, dances, prayers, speeches, balloons, champagne toasts, food passed around the auditorium, and a recessional with a Celine Dion recording. The sponsor of this class is the "Every Mother Counts" organization. It was founded by supermodel Christy Turlington, and works to prevent maternal mortality around the world. Christy and many of her staff attended this graduation ceremony, and it was a pleasure to meet them and talk about the growth of little old Midwives for Haiti. She and I made a little 2 minute video for my website!

So here we have life and loveliness, along with death and the not so pretty stuff. I am so proud of my Loudoun colleagues for keeping it together on the harsh introduction. Monday morning we got the flip side of the Haitian experience. We arrived at the hospital after a very busy night. We found moms and babies lying on messy sheets on the cold tile floors outside labor and delivery--there were no beds open for them. All of the tables were filled with laboring women. I found one of our new graduates examining a young mom with the portable ultrasound: she was 9 months pregnant and we were confirming a stillborn baby. I listened for luck. On ultrasound, no cardiac motion. The last time she felt this baby move was 3 days ago. As we walked through this hospital, one woman fainted on the floor, and another broke into hysterical screams; we think a family member had just passed away. Life and death are here in our hands, but we have a truly strong team to help us all cope. By the end of the morning, Alicia had started IVs, assisted my student and me with delivery of a nice healthy baby boy, and taught an extensive lesson on pre-eclampsia management. Jenn had helped the mom on the floor breastfeed for the first time since she delivered 24 hours ago, washed her up and helped her into a clean bed, and made sure our students learned, too.
Life goes on, hand in hand with death. It hurts. It is beautiful. We are being here, now, and doing the best we can. And life goes on.

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