By: Beth McHoul
She's sad. Her name is Nadia and she has been coming to our prenatal program since the earthquake. She is striking because of her tiny form, barely one hundred pounds and her skin is swirly shades of light and dark. Zebra like almost. At first glance I wondered if she had been burned, then I thought a fungus, then I realized it was neither and I have no idea what this is. When I questioned her about it she said her dad cursed her mom with a voodoo curse when the mom was pregnant with Nadia and she has borne the consequences with her stripped skin. Being an albino, handicapped, or different looking is indeed a curse in Haiti as folks can be unkind. Haitian folks often state the obvious. "You're fat" they may state to an obese American. Like we don't have mirrors and needed the reminder. People are often brutal to the broken, the different, the lame. Now we have thousands more due to the earthquake.
Nadia had been coming weekly for her check ups. After her last check up she hung around the door refusing to leave. She said she was waiting for a friend to finish up - the friend finished and left. Nadia was still standing there - waiting. Nadia was needy, lost, young, and hurting. At 21 she is a single mom going it alone. Seems very alone.
I got a middle of the night call the other night from Jonna. Nadia and two men were at the women's center gate with a baby and placenta wrapped in a dirty blanket. Mom had delivered in the street on her way to us. The men, neighbors, were very helpful, dropped them off to us and left. Jonna wrapped baby up nicely and started on postpartum care. I arrived as quickly as possible and joined in on her care. Nadia is extremely anemic, was dehydrated and needed an IV. She panicked and refused so vehemently that it made the drip impossible. I wondered what had caused such fear. Such irrational fear even when I explained how much she needed it and it would only poke for a second. No go.
After 12 hours of care and no guests a Tap Tap arrived to take her home. I was finishing up vitals as the horn kept beeping causing her to speed out the door. The driver didn't seem patient about a new mom trying to get down a flight of stairs with a newborn. So, where's home I ask. She lives in a field under a tent made of sheets. She has another child with her and another in an orphanage somewhere.
Baby seemed fine, mom seemed okay so off they went in the dirty Tap Tap to a squatters field. That night I woke up with a start to the sound of pouring rain. Not just a little rain but a soaking, muddy, fill the streets with huge puddles kind of rain. I thought of Nadia with that unnamed newborn in a tent made of sheets. I felt sick.
Jonna and I had given such good care, wrapped him in new clothes, new blankets and now he must be soaked.
Sure enough Nadia showed up for her first postpartum visit. She looked tired. Silly me asked if she got any rest and she said no, she stayed awake all night protecting the baby. From the rain I asked? No, she said, from the werewolves. Oh. We gave her a tent donated from one of our visiting nurses. Waterproof I pray. We gave her money and sent her off again as baby and mom seemed sad and weary but okay.
Back again she comes for her second postpartum visit. This time she is sick, complaining, crying and has a fever. Over to our hospital she goes to the tender care of Jen and Barbie. This time we have gained enough trust that she submits to an IV although not without much drama and wailing. Djenie and Kenny are her roommates. They are back, not because they need to be - because they want to be. Djenie loves having roommates to snitch on if they are not breast feeding enough or breaking some other rule. Often ones she breaks herself but when busted for that she just giggles. Nadia melts into her cot, goes to sleep and maybe finds some rest from her waking nightmare called life.
Our hospital is made up of this odd mix of wounded and sick people. We watch them morph into members of a community socializing, being silly and enjoying themselves. They drink in the nightly church services the Haitian pastor brings. The kids do puzzles, tease the nurses, and beg to listen to I Pods. Hopefully this will happen as Nadia's body heals so will her soul. A fever might have been the best thing that could happen to her because it brought her to our hospital. I pray as her body heals her spirit will open and she will find healing at our hospital, our place of refuge. Jesus always touched the Nadia's - the beaten down and lost is His specialty. Darkness to light. Brokenness to healing. From terror to safety. God does all those things - I pray we will see them in Nadia.