Wednesday, January 28, 2015


When I write about other people, I always feel hesitant. 

I am hesitant to share about Benita. 

Bentia was risked out of the Heartline prenatal program.  

"Risked out" can mean a lot of things, but in Benita's case it means this: superstition blocks us from making real progress and wisdom says we cannot take that sort of chance.

In 2011, 29 year old Benita lost a baby at childbirth around the 7th month. The date is her estimation, it is possible she was further along.  In 2013, 31 year old Benita lost a baby at birth around the same time as the previous loss.  

In 2014, she joined Heartline's Prenatal Program, pregnant for a third time at age 33.

She shared the story of how the past labors started, how they progressed, how they ended.  We explained (after many consultations and an ultrasound) that there appeared to be an abnormality with her placenta with her third child and we speculated that perhaps the abnormality we noted with child number three was what caused the early delivery and demise of her first two babies.  

She listened as we explained that we wanted her to do everything she could do to find out what the issue was with her placenta in time to possibly prevent a third loss.  We asked her to go out to a rural hospital (PIH) that we frequently refer ladies to for a higher level ultrasound and hopefully higher level follow-up care.

She nodded and said she would do that.  I asked, "Why do you think you lost your first two babies?" (Because what a person believes is true is almost as important as what is actually true.)  

Benita said, "I live in a bad area."  Further conversation and some cultural knowledge applied and we understood that she was telling us she had been cursed and that is why her babies had died. 

Upon each follow up with Benita, we learned that she did not end up fully going through with her appointments at the rural hospital. She gave us reasons, some seemed possible and reasonable, others not so much.  

Finally we said, "There is no choice here. You must visit that hospital if you hope to have the help you need with this baby." We put a sufficient amount of money in her hand and asked her to use it to get the appointment and try to set up a plan right away.  She agreed she would go.

A few weeks later, after Benita had not shown up since we had asked her to go for the higher level ultrasound to determine what exactly was going on with her placenta, she was called and asked to come in so that we could follow up with her.

After conversation and calling in a few people to be sure that there was nothing getting lost in the translation, it was determined that Benita had decided not to go to the hospital. Instead she had passed right by the hospital and headed to an area where her family was and used the money to go have the curse removed. 

Benita believes her babies were lost due to a curse. We believe she has some sort of placenta abnormality that causes the placentas to partially or fully abrupt at around 7 to 8 months, therefore she delivers babies that are no longer living.  

Because Benita believes she handled the situation now, (even though clearly the placenta is still abnormal on ultrasound) she will not be going for higher level medical care as she needs.  

If it has not already happened, it is quite likely she will deliver this baby in a similar manner and fashion to the first two.  The outcome could easily be the exact same. 

I grew up hearing from my Dad that my "dominant thought will prevail" - meaning, whatever I believe is true, will end up being true. He meant, negative attitudes produce negative results.  It was far less consequential when it was about me believing I would fail a math test.  

Benita believes a curse took her first two babies, therefore she is now believing that the curse reversed will save this baby.  

Superstition and curses are a very difficult thing to explain and understand.  We admit that we have seen curses that seemed real and even powerful at times. 

Early in our time in Haiti a curse was placed on Troy after he fired an employee that was stealing. Within one week of the curse Troy had Dengue Fever (and subsequently Tara and Brittany got it).  Of course mosquitoes gave us Dengue, but the person that placed the curse got the credit with some folks in the village. 

We can not force someone to follow recommendations, we can not undo cultural superstition. We cannot work with non-compliant clients. There is not a lot we can do to change Bentia's plan.  In situations like these we feel the frustration over what cannot be done and try to focus on what can be done.  

We are praying for Benita. Will you join us?