Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What are the ODDS?

Haiti, and midwifery, are full of  surprising (or just depends) experiences, but Monday morning was yet another one.  Just what are the odds this could happen--? On a once-a-month visit to Dos Palis,  the Mobile Prenatal Clinic arrives in the village, we set up tables and supplies in the empty concrete church, the benches fill with pregnant ladies,...then one of them walks in, to the head of the line, gives a loud shriek, and starts pushing her baby out?   She was moved to the "GYN corner" table, Magdala Jude (trained in Midwives for Haiti Class 2) gloved and performed a very straightforward delivery, and I received the newborn baby, a healthy 6-lb girl who came out yelling like her mom.  In this case, I really think the clinic may have saved the lady's life, since soon after the birth she had a big blood loss that required more than the usual medicines.  We had all the necessary stuff, however, including oxytocin and misoprostol, though how the midwives find them in those dusty suitcases is beyond me.   The new mom was quickly stable, then rested for most of the morning on a clean sheet.  Mostly she rested on the table, but a few times, we needed to examine someone on it,  at which time she sat on a nearby bench, nursing her baby.  I bought her a bottle of juice, and someone brought her clean clothes. So, what are the odds of giving birth at the clinic that comes in a Jeep one morning a month?  Did she labor all night, waiting for us?  Did she walk to the clinic that morning, stopping along the dusty path for contractions?  How far did she come?  The village "matwon" (traditional birth attendant), who attends the local births, said "not far", but it's far enough ....By the end of the morning, she walked out to the road with a little help, and got a motorcycle taxi to take her home, baby wrapped in her arms and a couple clean blankets.   I truly do think think it could have saved her life.  As we're fond of saying at my midwifery practice at home: You Could Not Make this Stuff Up!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spider-Man and the Cabinet-Makers

Spider-Man and the CabinetMakers

It's not easy to be married to a midwife, and even harder to last decades.  The reasons are obvious- the crazy hours, dinners or shopping or laundry abandoned, daytime sleeping (if you don't have little kids) and  childcare chaos ( if you do.)  The many times that the spouse gets the bottom of the barrel, emotionally, after draining labors and all the other stressors of this life.  Not only has my dear husband Greg hung in there with me, but in recent years, I've been able to convince him to come to Haiti, too!

Thus this trip has a couple Surviving Hero Mid-Husbands:  2 life- long, 30+ year partners, mine, and Jessica Jordan's husband, David.  Both experienced carpenters and re-modelers, Greg and David may have one of their most unique re-hab projects ever, as they are re-building and painting the broken, torn-up cabinets at St Therese Labor and Delivery Rooms.  Before today, I think neither of them had to measure space and evaluate wood structure literally 2-3 feet away from a laboring woman- much less one VERY vocal and with an urgent need to throw her dress off.   The guys were entirely unruffled...tape measures clicking.  That is what 30 years of having labor and birth conversations can do. I did stand by the lady and rub her belly and her back, mostly in order to keep her from kicking the guys or grabbing their arm as they walked by. 

Now the CabinetMakers are deep into their piles of tools and supplies, figuring out how to get those doors off, painted, the structure repaired, and then the doors back on, with new hardware, this week.  Clean, organized medical supplies- - a lofty goal, and also must be done while birth goes on!  They sure do deserve the cold beers at the end of the day that will also be supplied to them. 

My husband won the Hero award early, however-- he killed a huge Spider this morning that we'd been warned about last night.  I'm talking a 6 centimeter spider that moved fast, lurking in the corner of the ceiling.   Greg nailed it wth a towel, threw it on the floor and stomped it dead.  Herosim is not dead, this week in Haiti. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Interview Day

The young woman wore dressy sandals on her feet with smudges of mud and dust on her ankles, but her top half was wearing a very cute green and orange flowered dress.  In the middle was a little round tummy smeared with ultrasound gel.  She is seventeen years old and far along, she has no idea.  When I put my hands on her belly, I had a pretty good idea that it was about 18 weeks along.  The ultrasound came up with 17.  She lives with her aunt and doesn't know where her mom or dad are, or if they are even alive.

It's "Interview" day at Heartline Ministries Maternity Center in Port au Prince, Haiti,  a day when pregnant applicants verify their pregnancy with a urine test, and hope to get into this program that will give them weekly pregnancy care and health services including their birth, all the way to 6 months postpartum.  There are only 50 slots in the program.   Today, 25+ showed up and sat for hours for a chance to be in this lucky club.  They waited a long time, as it was busy; this morning, the 6th mom of the week delivered at this little birth center.   6 new moms, none have gone home, and Heartline has beds for 2, officially.  The rest are cared for in office space and the birth room.  2 mamas nearly ready to go home both dressed and moved over to share one bed as a couch, where they ate breakfast and nursed their babies.  The new delivery got the clean, vacated bed and settled in with a sigh.  It's so nice when a birth is OVER, both for the mom and the midwives!

The midwives and staff didn't get a lot of time to sigh, however...Besides Interview day,  each Friday is also Family Planning day, and the covered porch was full.very full, of women who came for a  3 months of birth control.  We gave nearly 80 Depo injections and I inserted 2 IUD's that will give 5-10 years of contraception.  I also stitched the post-partum mom, took blood pressures, and examined the newborn who is a healthy 7-pound boy named "Reggie", but this was minor extra work.   Meanwhile the real Heartline staff midwives and doctor did ultrasounds, prenatal visits, treated a mama's high blood pressure, and conducted the interviews.  I really missed my nurse-"peeps" from home who came with me on a recent trip, (Jen and Alicia,) due to to the aforementioned hypertensive lady and a new mom with big breastfeeding difficulties!  

At the end of the day, two of the mothers were ready to go home.  I piled in along in the ambulance/SUV with the moms and their babies and their bags of donated baby supplies.   Midwife Tara almost ran over a pig deep in the muddy rut of one of the roads...yes, this is urban Port au Prince.  We escorted each mom to her house- both tiny affairs with concrete floors and corrugated metal walls and tarps for shade just outside.  One old Granny really lit up as her new great- grandbaby was brought home to her safe and clean and healthy. We prayed with the moms and babies, for their health,safety, protection.  That's not the afterthought-- it is the heartbeat of this amazing work in Port au Prince, that is so small, but so true, so poignant, thereby so powerful, and nourishes not only these Haitian women, but this American one, too.    Bon nuit from Heartline, Port au Prince, Haiti.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

This is Why

Greg and I leave early this morning on Trip Eleven to Haiti....and this is why we do it!
From the Blog of Nadene Brunk , founder of  Midwives for Haiti..."Ten Things I Learned in Haiti"

It will be great to see Haiti friends on this trip...I no ask for a lot of things for donation, as there is a whole part of my house full of donated items.  Also,thanks to sister-projects such as Christy Turlington-Burns' "Every Mother Counts",  MFH has have more resources to help this work. ( Money still needed.  Oh yes.)   Yet, today there was an urgent email from Haiti with a list of items needed...then I went to Costco for ink cartridges, batteries, and Trail Mix!  My wonderful hospital administrators came through with syringes and alcohol pads.  My husband, Greg, is exhausted from remodeling our house, and now he comes with me to Hinche, to fix up the supply cabinets in Labor & Delivery at St. Therese Hospital.  I thank anyone who cares to come along on this-- it keeps on going and I do love to work in Haiti.  Nadene's Blog tells why....see you soon, in Haiti.!