Friday, May 26, 2017

Geeking Out with the Statistics Geeks



I am fairly sure 54% of all statistics are made up 75% of the time.  
Even so, I bring you a few recent Heartline Maternity Center stats. These stats are not made up, but I don't expect you to blindly take my word for it.  Photos hopefully help provide proof.  Here are some free of charge statistics.

As of the beginning of this week we had 72 pregnant women in our Prenatal program.  Since Monday five have delivered.   

Sophia started the week off with a baby girl on Monday.
On Tuesday we had our Post-Partum Moms and Babies class.
On Wednesday something changed in the atmosphere and the uteruses started warming up.
On Thursday morning we had one early morning transport. Then we had PreNatal Class and Prenatal Consults.


In the last 24 hours - 4 baby boys were born in this program.  

Of the last four births, C/S rate was 25%. 
(One C/S after a transport due to position of baby and three deliveries at Hearline M.C.)

Of the four baby boys, three of them were the first baby born to their Mommas.  One was the 8th child to a 40 year old Mom. 

One of the four Mothers came at 37 weeks with severe pre-eclampsia with all the necessary management required.  She'll be monitored non-stop for 24 hours or more.  She arrived yesterday with a slightly elevated BP, before long she was very very sick and an induction began. She was the second delivery of the four babies.

Timeline Thursday early Morning to Friday early Morning:
Marie Elda -Transport at 4am - C/S at 12:30pm
Junette - Induction at 4pm - Baby at 11:30pm
Nerlande - Baby at 5am Friday
Sarah S - Baby at 5:25am Friday

This is the first time we have ever had four babies in the same 24 hour period.  Three was the previous record. 

Names of babies in order of birth: Angelina, still unnamed, David, still unnamed, Kervenson

Total number of babies that have died this month or year - 0
Total number of moms that have died this month or year - 0 

Grateful for the prayers and support you all give --- and thanking God for these stats and His protection over this place and these women.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PreCheck & Rollout of Special Snowflake Program

I would guess this phenomenon is true, no matter where you live or who you you are. That to say, don't hear me accusing others without also accusing myself.

Wherever you live, whatever your environment and culture, we all become accustomed to our norm and therefore become inured to the aspects of our lives that are not so palatable. 

For example, when someone that has never been to Port au Prince visits us, they point things out that I really do not see any longer.  I have been sitting in this traffic and driving these roads for so long, some of what goes on around me is simply white noise. It takes fresh eyes to be reminded of what I used to notice. 

Oh, a live giant pig strapped willy-nilly across the back of a moto is odd?  Okay, if you say so.

On the flip side, this happens to me every time we go to the USA.  I see things that I think are ridiculous and I find myself wanting to note it and ask around - "Hey, friends, is this totally ridiculous or am *I* the weird one?"  

I'm not talking about the "Is it normal now to pay $14 for a plate of air at a restaurant" variety of question. Feel free as birds (you're eating like them anyway) to go to those important restaurants without food if that's your jam. I have come to understand that being hungry and paying a lot for it is cool in your land. In Haiti, it's not cool to be hungry and folks can be hungry without spending the fourteen bucks. I promise, I am not talking about that again. Today I am on to other things.  

Right now the thing that seems super odd to me about America is the desperate need, scratch that, the consistent demand to never have to wait for anything.  Waiting is not okay for a lot of people. I observed it with my own two eyes. 

Because honesty matters, as a disclaimer it must be noted we are basically white-lab-rats being used in a world-wide study to prove that patience can be learned.  

If you subject a rat named Tara to enough waiting and sitting and waiting and delays and lines and "not this week" and "maybe next month" responses, the rat eventually accepts that everything is always going to be BS and nothing will ever get done quickly. 

It is to the point in the lab experiment that I am participating in that if on some amazing day I wait less than 90 minutes in a line or business office, I think I just kicked all the ass and dominated at existing. 

Perhaps, I am too conditioned to wait patiently to be the one speaking to America about America and the apparent refusal to ever have to wait for anything. However, that won't stop me from forcing you to endure my obloquy today.

While at the Baltimore airport we learned that there are many ways to get to your gate. 

Not only can you stand in regular TSA line, as a regular line person, you can also be luckier than those fools and be a person with TSA Pre-Check status for a shorter, faster line. That's good I suppose, for the frequent-travelers that spend their lives in those lines. Maybe we can even agree it is nice that they have an option to be pre-screened and deemed safe. Over time that TSA PreCheck line has grown longer of course, as people seek to be approved to skip the regular TSA line.

Far be it from me to understand what an acceptable wait time is, I claim ignorance! 

Now, if the TSA PreCheck line is too slow you can also pay a $179 per year to go into a line that is faster than TSA Pre-Check. It is true. The lady at the BWI airport attempted to lure us into a 30 day trial. Troy and I stood there frozen for a moment. It was like a little red devil-guy was standing on our shoulder whispering, "You can be better, you can have the knowledge now if you just skip this line." 

The new line is called "Clear". Get it? You are clear of being a person that will wait. Basically, if you have money to toss around, you never ever have to wait because you are too dang important to wait. 

You are a special, special being. Because of your specialness, and your wallet, you will not stand still in a line.   

My question is, WHERE DOES THIS END?

I guess once everyone pays the fee and has Clear status, there will be a new program called SUPER DUPER CLEAR for $329 a year for those that don't have time to deal with the growing popularity of Clear.  

Once SUPER DUPER CLEAR is popular, there will be an option called Special Snowflake. In the SS program you will be able to enter the back side of the airport and come into the gate area for $729 per  year. Once that fails, I have no idea how we will all feel important and not have to wait. We know the goal is to forever and ever and ever keep from waiting in a line like a mere commoner.  

- OR - maybe at that point the normal TSA line will be super short again and we can all head back to that line. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am being a jerk. Of course I prefer not to wait. I rather love walking up to a counter with no waiting line. I'm just generally curious if other people see this change happening in America.  

It was not like this 10 Or even 5 years ago, it is a new demand.

I wrote this post while waiting on a baby with expectant Momma, MarieElda.  

I guarantee you the baby is not coming anytime soon.  

I'll wait.  


Monday, May 22, 2017

On Change, Shrimp, Asparagus and Amazing Skin

It was nearly a fortnight and a score ago, but I still recall it well.

Troy said to our two young daughters, "Well, girls, Mom will be traveling a lot for work and that is going to be new for us.  Change is really difficult. I don't like it."  

Paige, about 5 years old at the time, responded with, "Yeah, I hate change...I like dollars."

The more things change the more they stay the same change.

We just traveled and traveling always reminds us that we do not understand our world or the changes.

We're with 5 year old Paige. We hate change.

Our very quick trip to the US of A was a tiny bit disconcerting. While we were connecting flights at JFK we went into a place where there were hundreds of ipads everywhere.  Zero humans greeted us so we wandered in to stand awkwardly looking for a person to interact with - eventually we chose our table and tried to see each other over the iPads.

WHAT tha, we wondered?




After our bewilderment at seating ourselves and ordering our food from an iPad, we were shocked when a robot approached the table to place the food in front of us.  



Just kidding. It was a guy. He just had the personality of a robot.

The interview with Stefanie, the way overqualified teacher, went very well.  We both kept Eye-fiving during the lunch because we both knew if she wants the job, she is the one we need.

After lunch she gave us a little walking tour of her town.  As we were walking around I suddenly had the worst headache.  I grabbed Troy and said, "We gotta go."  We said goodbye to Stefanie and hailed a ride back to the apartment.

Once there, the fullness of illness set in. I curled up on the bed and hated myself.  I then broke out in alternating hot and cold spells followed by tingly hands and lips, followed by much toilet usage of all varieties.  

I last had a similar illness in September when I went on a date night with Troy and came home violently ill.  That time, I assumed I had food poisoning from bad shrimp.  At the lunch with Stefanie, I ordered shrimp again for the first time since September.

Can a person be so unlucky as to get food poisoning twice in a row from shrimp in two countries eight months apart?

I was thinking yes, I can easily be that unlucky.

My friend KJ who is a very smart young person said: "That sounds like a shellfish allergy."  A quick search of the Google confirms that adults get new allergies to shellfish after having no allergy in the past.  Seems true to me. I will never ever test this theory because it would require so much vomiting to prove it.  I am done with this experiment ka menm (no matter what).

Stefanie is thinking over the job offer and the massive pay cut she has to take in order to say yes, and we await her final answer.  We are so totally chill about it. Not worried. No stress.At.All.

That's a lie and I desperately hope she takes it because she is exactly what we all need going into the high school years with the big kids.

At the conclusion of ShrimpaloozaVomiFest it was Sunday and we had 24 hours to walk around and be married people that communicate well and do the talking and the listening and then also try for some va-va-voom moments too.

Haiti stress, sadness, sweat, and bugs really do cut back on the va-va-voom of life.

We took those 24 hours seriously.  The only non marriage enrichment thing we did was write thank-you notes but we were doing them together at the same table so it probably counts too.

For dinner we walked to a place that was recommended to us and immediately wanted to put the brakes on and rewind our way out of the booth we were conspicuously seated in with three servers staring at us.  I so wish I just would've said to the tiny-little-hipster-bearded waiter with the 28"waist - "You know what?  I apologize for sitting in your booth with my normalish size butt. The thing is, I need to leave. I cannot pay these prices for these things that don't sound like food."

Instead we glanced at the prices and said, "We are just here for an appetizer."

Sadly, the artisanal appetizers were created for baby bunnies, gerbils, mice, or pygmy marmosets.

Because asparagus is not a veggie we can easily have in Haiti and we both love it, we went with that.

When it arrived it was hard to see any asparagus and it led us to move things around and count the actual asparagus stalks on the $14 plate.  We are not millennials so maybe we don't see well or comprehend well or something but we know for sure it was not a lot of asparagus, because the normal weird urine smell after eating asparagus did not even happen. That has to be part of the test to determine if you've had a sufficient amount of asparagus.  Yes?

On top of the 8 pieces of asparagus, we were served an farm-fresh-egg filled with liquid gold, or at least priced as if it were.  It tasted just like the old non-farm eggs we normally eat.
I.am.so.full.stop.with.these.huge.servings.



After sufficient mockery and scoffing, we paid our waiter and left the faux restaurant to head to a place that serves food for 150 pound + people.  It was delicious and $29 total.  I may have wept with joy and gratitude for the sufficient calories at a fair price.

Once we were properly nourished, we walked back to our place.

At some point during the date yesterday, Troy made a profoundly troubling statement, probably meant as a sexy compliment ...
#fail

That would be so wonderfully special to hear, if I was not currently sitting and waiting to get onto an airplane to return to Haiti, where I apparently no longer have skin that will feel amazing. 

So, as we fly off to the land of no asparagus or amazing skin, we pray for Stefanie and the big decisions she has to make and we look forward to hearing from Isaac about his week at Veterinary Medicine Boot Camp. He got home after we left for the interview.

Our friend KJ told us she made a chicken while she was with the kids and when Lydie saw it she said,
"What?! That's really what a chicken looks like? Its legs sticking out and everything. I thought that was only real in Amelia Bedlia books!" (Obviously our whole family is far from realizing or even recognizing farm to table utopia)

Stefanie has a lot to teach these kids. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Secret Babies


When I think of a secret, I tend to think of something a friend might have told me to keep to myself for a short time, or maybe a fun little plan Troy and I have made to surprise one of our kids.  

Secrets are not easy for me, even when they are super light and easy. Whenever I am carrying a big secret, I am half insane and I walk around feeling dishonest for knowing something other people don't know.  I actually need a counselor to talk to if I am going to be holding big insane off-the-wall secrets.  

I was not made for that stuff. 

Truthfully, I would rather you never tell me something that I am supposed to hold by myself and not speak to anyone else about.  

I'm bad at it. 

You don't want to have to spend all your time making your plans to end my breathing in and out for the breaking your confidence, so just don't tell me anything unless I am allowed to at least tell Troy-Boy. 

Secrets are a thing in Haitian culture.  
It causes me to hyper-ventilate thinking about the secrets people carry here.

Right now, the precious 14 year old Sarah I have written about, the Momma of chunky Sophia has a cray-cray secret. Sarah's Dad has no idea she had a baby in January.   

Last June she was living with her Dad for a time and going to school near his house. She saw him daily during the week.  Her Mom would see her on the weekends.  When she was raped and became pregnant as a result of the rape, she stopped visiting her Dad. Once she started to show and her belly grew round her Mom just changed up the plan and she stopped living with her Dad.

When I asked, Sarah said, "No, he's not suspicious." They talk on the phone almost daily.   

Since June of 2016 Sarah has not seen her Dad and her Dad has no idea that she grew another entire life in her womb and gave birth to it on January 14 of this year.  He has no idea she was assaulted.  I keep asking, "So does he know yet about Sophia?"   I get the same response every time.  The literal translation of what she says is,  "No. He does not yet know." 

Last month Jenny had a baby.  While she was in postpartum care her Dad flew into Haiti from wherever he was in the USA.  She got all nervy and strange and distant. The Midwives couldn't understand what her deal was.  Apparently she needed to be picking him up from the airport and visiting him while ALSO hiding her four day old baby and she was stressing out about it all.

I asked Sarah, "So why can't your Dad know?" 

She said, "He will be angry."

I said, "But you were raped and you are not to blame. You are the brave one."

Sarah said, "He won't think that." 

I always find this a fascinating thing.  What is the end game? Can a human being remain a secret their entire life?  What good does hiding a baby do now if you hope to always have that baby/person in your life?

These are the questions I ask, sometimes until it is entirely unclear who is the most frustrated, me or the person I am asking.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Three Baby Day

Because my brain is random fried, I typed that title and thought, "HUH - It's kind of like Three Dog Night" --  but also not like that.

Annnnd, I am not even old enough to know about Three Dog Night.

Please disregard.

New Post at Heartline Blog - Read it here. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear

The need for light and fun and laughter is apparent to me. Today I would like Jim Gaffigan to come to my house and make me laugh. I would. Oh, that's right, his wife had emergency brain surgery last week. Even comedians are getting their butts handed to them right now. 

If you're sick of life and down in the dumps, go read the post meant for laughing that was posted here Sunday. And then don't continue with today's post. I am serious about this.  If you are sad, stop here. 




Sad Dog.




Okay. You didn't stop. I don't know why.  Are you not sad?  Know this, I am only implementing the noise abatement procedure for your own good.  Last warning.  There are happy things on the Internet if you need a lift.  


The rest of this post is not one of the happy things. 



*           *



“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. 
I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” 
― C.S. LewisA Grief Observed

I don't suppose it is necessarily any worse than any other time, maybe it is just the I'm-older-age-now-fatigue making it seem worse. 


It is true that your mid 40s are nothing like your mid 30s, I'm here as a witness to that fact. Stay 35 if you can.


Right now I am sick and tired of sadness and broken spirits and broken bodies. I question if my SSRI is working because I just feel sad and tired --  or sometimes tired and sad. 



*           *


One Mom we know has HIV and fights against taking her medicines daily because she feels so sick after taking them.  We push her and beg her and sometimes force her to take them. The HIV program she is in is supposedly the best in the country, but they seem unwilling or unable to do a good job. (Never assume conspiracy when incompetence explains everything.)  They see her once a month and hand her several packets of pills haphazardly wrapped up in paper, poorly labeled without proper instruction, education or explanation, and they send her away.  We work to communicate with them and serve the client with excellence and coordination. They are clearly not into that sort of thing. 


Because they wouldn't give it to us in advance, on the day her baby is born, a Midwife drives to get the very important medicine the baby needs. They act like giving the newborn baby medicine on a Saturday is some sort of impossible feat. They make it difficult and unpleasant. They exist to help the country with HIV. They are "the best" but showing up there and watching them work breaks you of any fancy ideas about what being "the best" means here.


This Mom has not been loved and valued. Her life is full of loss, neglect, and abuse. She is struggling to take care of things and make good decisions for her son, and we ask ourselves - 'WELL, why wouldn't she struggle?' The whole situation is painful and beyond easy answers. Next week we'll visit an orphanage with her to see if placement for adoption is something she wants to consider.  We work hard to keep Moms and babies together.  Until sometimes in horrible situations, we don't. 



*          * 


Another Mom is back in our prenatal program a second time.  Her 2014 birth was with us. We don't typically take the same woman twice; because the more women that have a chance at the education piece of the program, the better. 


However, a woman who lost newborn twins in 2007 and then in 2016 lost her 10 year old son and a 12 year old niece to kidnapping  -  WELL - she gets to be in the prenatal program twice or two million times. 


Her church raised ransom money to get the kidnapped kids back. They had over 5K raised. They showed up at the arranged meeting point to pay the fee, but the kidnappers did not come. It is believed her son and her niece were stolen and trafficked, to this day they have never been found - dead or alive.  They have been gone since February 2016.


Now seventeen weeks pregnant, she comes each Thursday for Prenatal program. Her eyes are hollow, like a person might look while walking around dead.


*            * 


We went for a staff retreat day.  We planned team building exercises.  The first activity was to share some important dates in life on a time line. We hoped to get to know each other even better. We anticipated birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.  Perhaps, some of the joyful things.  However, every single staff member instead shared trauma and loss on the time line. The day as a teenager that their parent died. Their unfaithful husband. Their divorce. Their abuse. Their abandonment.  Their rape. The team building exercise turned into a chance to lay bare the wounds and losses each nurse and midwife on staff has experienced. 


*           *


Thieves came over the cement walls and into our house in the night Sunday.  Smart guys, they took down the motion lights first, used the rain noise as cover and once in the window they found and used our keys to open the back door for a quick exit later. They came within inches of our precious sleeping teenage daughter. They went under our bed to get the safe where we keep passports and important documents as we slept. They looked in drawers and bags and found what they wanted to take. This happens to most middle class people that live here very long. We're not necessarily being singled out, we just got lucky it took so many years before it happened to us.  We slept. We slept. We slept.  And that saved us from God knows what.  Thank you, Lord.



*            *


Sarah, the 13 year old that was raped and had her baby girl (Sophia) with us in January is a great Mom - like, A REALLY great Mom. It's stunningly beautiful how well she is doing.  However, her own mother is always making things harder. A month ago she came to lie to to us about being kicked out of their house. The story was long and meant to put us in the position of offering them money or maybe a place to live with us. Once we realized it  wasn't true - and that their home was not being taken away, she (the mom of the teenager) just stopped interacting with us. 


This month she is picking at Sarah and being critical and feeding the baby things that the baby should not eat. She is arguing with her daughter that the baby needs more than breast milk.  (Have you seen how fat that baby is?!?!? She needs nothing else.) Sarah sneaks things she doesn't want her Mom to give to Sophie out of the house and into my hands for safekeeping. 


*             *


When I am tired like this, I think, "What exactly is the point?  Nothing gets better. This is shit. It will probably always be shit."  


C.S. Lewis says things about grief that sound so right to me.  He says, "grief gives life a permanently provisional feeling."  


He says,  “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.” 


I guess grief takes the path it takes and the time it wants and maybe it will be a really long time before a deeper lasting hope is born again.  Maybe not though.  Maybe very soon I will wake up done with feeling dread -- and ready to believe things can be good - or at least they can be better.  


We will see, I suppose. 


Tara 


Sunday, May 07, 2017

If you give a mouse a cookie, Livesay style

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. 


Short explanation of plot of this story for those of you that have been dead since 1988 -

A boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair in the mirror), and a broom (to sweep up his hair trimmings). Next he wants to take a nap, have a story read to him, draw a picture, and hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it.




Saturday, May 6, 
If You Give Your Son a Haircut .... 


If you give your son a haircut, you're going to have to get the clippers all oiled and taken apart and put back together and working well.  If the clippers are all oiled and working well, you're going to decide it is a good day to give the dog a haircut too. If you give the dog a haircut, you're going to find a worm in his butt.  If you find a worm in his butt you're going to get itchy and feel like gagging.  While you're itchy and feel like gagging, your kids are going to be more motivated and keep helping you give the dog a haircut.  If your kids keep helping you give the dog a haircut the dog might get a tiny bit of his ear clipped with a scissor on accident.  If the dog gets clipped on accident the kids are going to cry and the dog is going to bleed.  If the dog is bleeding a little bit you're going to have to calm your kids and tell your Veterinarian.  When you tell your Vet she is going to say, "I'll come take a look at it."  When she comes to take a look at it she is going to say, "Let's put a stitch in that."  If she says, "Let's put a stitch in that" she is going to decide the dog needs to be sedated. Once she sedates the dog she is going to ask if she can just take off his nuts since he's already asleep anyway. If she asks if she can just take off his nuts you're going to say, "Sure, why not." If she takes his nuts off and fixes up his ear you're going to need to be right there watching and learning. While you're watching and learning she says, "You are going to need to burn your trash tonight. These nuts will stink tomorrow." 

Keep this in mind next time you decide to give your son a haircut.







Saturday, May 06, 2017

For the love of God and humanity

People that live off of the support (donations) of kind and generous donors, really cannot (should not ??) say what they think about politics or hot button issues.  

With or without knowing it, they are constantly at risk of losing the support that feeds and educates their children and allows them to be working and loving/serving abroad.  

Truthfully, if someone disagrees with our position on birth control or baptism or health care or immigration, it is not uncommon to lose support. That's a weird reality to live in.  

It's almost as if you have to choose whether you stay out of the fray in order to keep a low profile and keep your support coming, (which is just kind of dirty) OR,  risk offending any number of people that might love your work in Haiti but decide they don't at all like you and your politics or opinions and might therefore stop supporting the work. (also kind of dirty - right?) 

Haiti has changed us. We are not the same people that left Zimmerman, MN in late 2005. Poverty and daily face to face interaction with it MUST change you --- or you are doing it wrong.  

We know that we've lost the right to say anything about what is happening in the USA after 11 years in Haiti, but even so, we grieve and feel concerned.   

Thad is a good friend of ours that said it well, we share his words below...

Thad Norvell

I've never advocated for the ACA, which I find deeply flawed, so: not the point. And I'm a pastor, not a politician, so I can't and won't argue policy details. Not my territory. But this is: I am eager to hear the plan Christian lawmakers and their advocates have for leading the way in personally caring for people who (literally) become "the least of these" as a result of new legislation. I don't presume it's the government's job to care for everyone in need; I do presume Jesus meant it when he said the people who love and serve him are the ones who love and serve those in need. 
As always, I'm less concerned with how a Christian votes than I am with whether or not the obvious priority of any Christian is love of God and love of neighbor over self (including self's money). So I don't identify political conservatism as a sin. I am, in fact, still pretty conservative on a number of fronts. But I am deeply troubled by self-described Christians of any party prioritizing partisan agendas and victories without demonstrating a conspicuous concern for and personal commitment to caring for those made more vulnerable by those agendas and victories. So are lots of people looking on, forming opinions about what actually matters to Christians. Counterfeit gospels aren't only created by familiar heresies or by prosperity preachers. They are spun by anyone claiming Jesus whose loyalty to another cause or message eclipses or contradicts the cross-shaped proclamation of good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners and oppressed, recovery of sight for the blind, and favor from God and his people.
I'm not accusing every conservative or Republican of this error, of course. And liberals are just as capable of it. And both labels are mostly meaningless and useless to me these days. But I do think it's hard to locate much identifiable sincere interest in outcomes for the least among those hell-bent on "anything but Obama's plan" at the moment; and so it has been for much of the last several months. And it shouldn't be so hard. Frankly, it shouldn't be hard at all to hear that from Christians, even as they pursue more fiscally conservative policies. What should be hard to locate among professing Christians is apparent indifference to those who inevitably suffer as a result of even the most well-intentioned of our political efforts.
I can't summon an adequate vocabulary of ambivalence to express just how disinterested I am in whether Christians are politically liberal or conservative. I don't care whether we get more of us voting Democrat or Republican. I'm not looking for ACA to defeat AHCA or vice versa. But for the love of God and humanity, the love of God and humanity has to assume its rightful place as our greatest commandment - and therefore our unmistakable greatest articulated and lived commitment, no matter our choice of policies - or the world will have to find Jesus somewhere other than among so many people calling themselves Christians. Cue the singing rocks.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Motherhood in Haiti

This Mother’s Day, Heartline celebrates mothers in Haiti and around the world who lovingly rise to the challenge of raising healthy children and providing opportunities for children to grow into their God-given potential. 
Motherhood means many things. If we were to interview ten moms in ten different countries, asking them to list the first things that come to mind when asked “What is motherhood?” we would likely find some crossover and similarity in their replies, but also some stark differences.
It seems reasonable that many women, across all social and economic lines might say motherhood is: Joy – Responsibility – Rewarding – Difficult.
I was born in Omaha, NE and raised middle class. I became a mother at age 17. At the age of 35, I had our seventh and last child.
I have experienced being a young mother in crisis and being a more “mature” mother (these things are relative I suppose) in a stable and happy marriage. I know that my life circumstances and level of emotional stability in my first pregnancies directly affected how I mothered during those early years. I know firsthand how crisis can lead to struggle in parenting.
To read the rest of the post visit Heartline's Blog HERE. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A New Prognosis for Daphnee

Each year that passes working in Haiti, I learn more and more about what Haitian women are up against.  

Truthfully, I would like there to be no more new things to learn. That is not the case, however. 

It takes time (years) to hear the more complex things, I only get to learn what they choose to share with me.  

When they choose to share, I am grateful.





One of the things we do each week is meet with women that are newly pregnant and in search of a place to receive parental care.  On the day we meet with them we check their blood pressure, take their Obstetric history and offer them an ultrasound to confirm dating of the pregnancy.   Whether they can get into the program or not, those things happen each week. Most weeks we interview about 20 women.

Last Friday an adorable 22 year old named Daphnee sat on the ultrasound table waiting for me to begin her ultrasound.  She had answered all the questions and we knew she should be around 8 weeks pregnant according to the dates she had given us.

I placed the Ultrasound probe on her tummy.  I said, "I think maybe your baby is further along that you think."

Her reply was odd.  Instead of asking me how old the baby was, she said, "Is the baby inside my uterus?"

I said, "Yes, this is a about a 12 week old baby inside your uterus", as I turned and showed her the screen.

She got teary and said, "Are you sure?"

I said, "Yes, I am very sure."   I called another Midwife, KJ, to confirm to her that it was a healthy looking baby in her uterus.

Daphnee went on to explain that she had been to a Doctor about 2 weeks prior, and that doctor did an ultrasound and told her that she had an extrauterine pregnancy and that she was in danger and needed to end the pregnancy immediately.  He offered to do that for her - for a fee. She pulled the ultrasound photo out of her purse to show me. In the photo was a obvious normal uterine pregnancy.  

I cannot know what that Doctor is up to. I cannot know why he encouraged her to end her pregnancy.  It is all very confusing.  Worst case scenario, he is making money and can charge her for the abortion.  Best case, he is very poorly trained and does not know how to identify a uterine pregnancy, in which case he is very very dangerous, but perhaps not corrupt.

This is what women are up against in Haiti.  Time after time we hear about poor options for care and mistreatment and corruption.  Many women do not seek care due to these terrible experiences.  The reasons the maternal and infant mortality rates are high are pretty clear when you hear story after story of poor quality care, or total lack of available care.

Tomorrow is Thursday - Prenatal Day at Heartline.  Among the 70 women that will come for class and a meal and community will be Daphnee. She was crying with joy last Friday when she learned that her baby is normal and she does not need to terminate her pregnancy.  

We are excited to see her tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Late April Newsy Update

Yesterday on an airplane, I had the distinct privilege of helping two English speaking people talk to one another.  

Wow. 

What fun!!

<eye roll emoji>

In the aisle chair was an elderly gentleman, apparently a little hard of hearing.  

In the center chair was a little girl with a very plugged up nose and head her name was (still is) Lydia.  

In the window seat, sat the hearing specialist of our row, me.

Lydie said to the gentleman, "Is that a Delta pen?"  

The gentleman said to me, "I didn't hear her."

I said,  "She asked if the pen you are using is a Delta pen because she sees that it is not working well for you."

The gentleman said to Lydia, "No, this is my own pen."

She looked at me confused, having not understood his reply.  

"That is his pen", I said.

Lydie said to him, "Do you want to use my pencil?"

He said to me, "I didn't hear her."

I said, "She is offering to let you use her pencil for your immigration paperwork."

He said to her, "Yes, thank you." 

She placed her pencil in his hand.

He looked at the cover of the book she is reading and said, "Do you like horses?"

She said to me, "I didn't hear him."

I said, "He's asking if you like horses because he noticed your book."

She said, "Yes I like horses, I ride them."

He said to me, "I didn't hear that."

I said, "She loves horses she said, she gets to ride them in Haiti."

He said to her, "Do you have a horse?"

She said, "I didn't hear him."

I said, "He asked if you have a horse. But you cannot hear him and he cannot hear you. NOT SURE IF YOU NOTICED THAT YET?!?!"

To him I said, "She does not have a horse of her own, she rides horses owned by the riding club."

He said, "Okay then. That's nice."

I said to her, "Please stop having a conversation with him, you guys are failing at this." 



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We barely have time to update anything here, it is seeming pretty safe to declare this a dead blog - or at least a dying blog.   

I'm here now though. So I may as well quickly recap the last seven weeks.

Paige, Graham, and Abner spent 35 glorious days living with us in March and April. I have no idea who liked it most- but it was me.  

What a joy to see Graham first thing every morning.  What a gift to have held fat little Abner while he fell asleep.  Isaac and Hope and Lydie took one day each per week to stay home and play with Graham so Paige could come to work with me on the three program days.  That was so much fun for me and the other staff who all really love having Paige around.  

Troy is good at baby stuff and it was glorious to watch him in his Grandpa (he goes by "Tito") role.  

There are three very sexy things.  I will name them in order of sexiness.  

1.  Troy playing guitar and singing
2.  Troy holding his grandsons
3.  Troy getting mad at injustice or bs and yelling at someone causing injustice or bs

April was good because I got to see all three things.

The last time I wrote (besides the job posting for teachers) was March eight.  Since then the Maternity Center has welcomed another 13 babies.  We had a very high C/S rate for March and April but all Mothers and Babies are alive and that's goal number one.  

We have had some really wonky situations come up.  Things that are so loco it is hard to type it out because you'll sit in your chair saying, "WHAAAA?  No way."  

The shortest Hemingway style update of the last month at the MC is below.


Poverty can cause desperation. Desperation can cause lying.  Lying can cause decisions to be made that are not based in fact.  Decisions being made that are not based in fact can cause danger at worst or frustration at best.  
The ladies we are working with are generally materially poor.  
We are generally frustrated with lying. 

For those that follow my Instagram feed and prayed for "D" - please keep praying.  She delivered and has a son.  She has never been loved the way she deserved to be loved so it is quite a challenge for her to offer her little boy love.  Please just keep praying.

For those that knew Sarah (14 year old Mom of fat baby Sophia) was maybe losing her housing, that turned out to be untrue.  She is still with her Mom, in her house, still four houses down from us. She and Sophia are doing well.

The last time I wrote I said I was worried we would not find teachers for the kids.  As of this moment we have not officially found a teacher. We do have one stellar applicant though.  I went to Indianapolis and Atlanta to meet with candidates but one couple needs to work out a foster care  (possible adoption) situation and one couple was not as serious about working with us as I assumed they were.  You know what they say about assuming. 



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You might recall that we (the Maternity Center specifically) are working on creating a manual to help others copy our model  (sharing ten years of learning and hopefully saving others from some mistakes) and hopefully some day little BirthCenter/Maternity Programs will pop up all over the place and women and babies will be saved far beyond our imagination or dreams.  

The work and writing and compiling of information is happening and we're excited that our lead technical writer and project director and coordinator and boss person is Sarah Bessey. Sarah has been a friend of mine in real life since 2013 but on the Internet for a while before that.  She is Canadian, which makes her immediately likable. She is smart and doesn't put up with nonsense. I love her dearly. She is one of my FAVOURITE Jesus loving feminist. See what I did there? 



 **         **          **


Three hours before labor started we had a little prayer and prep pow-wow


So.  We had ANOTHER grand-baby join our family. That makes three. I over-posted times a million so I doubt you missed it.  

Gideon T. Bernard was born shortly before 9am on April 6, 2017.   Lydia and Paige and I were all in the room and it was beautiful, holy work done by Britt, Chris, God, and some midwives.   

Britt went into labor aware that Paige is a freak of nature and not really expecting to have as fast of a labor as Paige. However, she did have a pretty quick labor for a first time Mom.  

After the photo above was taken, I said goodnight to Chris and Britt and left to go to my little place I was staying around 8pm. Chris came knocking (because the phone did not ring loud enough to wake me) a little after midnight to tell me big things had changed and to please come over. 

When I got to their house, I agreed, big things were happening. We left for the Birth Center around 2am.  

In total she had steady and painful contractions for about 12 hours. She started pushing around 7:40am and pushed a little over an hour.  She rocked the house. There is nothing quite like sibling rivalry, right? The first born and the second born are both bad-ass birth givers. They are grateful and know that it is a gift and not something that happens for all women. The Dallas Birth Center was very vibey (a word that Merriam-Webster does not yet recognize) and fun, I enjoyed looking around at how they do things. I liked that they had a way to control the temperature of the room. Our Haiti Birth Center is jealous.   

 I was so grateful to have been in the room to welcome Gideon and see my miraculous oldest child give birth.  




At this juncture I think we might (??) take a little pause from producing family members and it appears that we could hold at three grandsons for a couple years or more.  I don't control any wombs at all, but as the grandma (Mojo) I feel like a less intense emotional up down up down would be good for us all. 


April 17, 2017 


Besides witnessing Gideon T making his way out to meet his cool parents, we also had time to see several friends of Heartline and our personal friends  - who I guess are maybe friends of Heartline by default?

We (or at least I did if Lydie was otherwise engaged, she did not go with me) got to see:  Kay Bruner, Hillary Owen, My Parents (for a very weird Easter dinner at a TX Steak House), Josh and Lindsay Carney, Sarah Ritter, Keight Dukes, Jen Halverson, Dieula Previlon and Sharifa S.  

Three planned meetings got wrecked so Kelly, Roxanne, and Gillian all missed on on watching me cry uncontrollably over all the things.  

Paige and Michael and the boys have been stationed in El Paso, TX and Michael will be working at a hospital there. They moved last Thursday.  Today they found their house and started moving into it. The Army owns them for the next three plus years and waaaaay west is home now. I have known they would move for a long time, I did not expect the grief of it all.  El Paso is very far and expensive to get to and saying goodbye to so many great Waco friends AND THEM and wondering if we will all still be friends felt sad. Watching Britt and Paige say goodbye, then watching Lydia sob after Paige and the boys left for their flight, all of it was MUCH.  

I wondered a few times if my grief was out of proportion when I felt so sad in Texas.  Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, I just know I long for a day of no more goodbyes with people I really love.  Probably totally unrealistic thing to long for, but a girl can dream.

I am SO grateful Lydia decided to join me for this trip and that Britt invited her to the birth.  Lydie was light and joy to me and helped me so much just by being herself and being with me.

Hot Great-Grany, RIGHT?  My Dad scored big back in 1967.

Abner was dedicated in a beautiful little family and friends ceremony the day after Easter.

Dieula preached her face off on Sunday  - we got to be there!