Little Rays of Sunshine- Midwives of Haiti

2:18:00 PM

For the next few weeks I am really really REALLY (do you get the idea!) excited to talk about my darling friend Jessica! Jess is an adopted Aunt to my children. She is one of my closest and dearest friends and her heart...lets just say it OVERFLOWS with love! She is amazing! I don't think she even realizes this about herself! She is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital where I have delivered all of my kiddos! In fact...2 years ago while in the hospital having one squishy Mushy...her and I hit it off like bandits! Friends for life ever since! In her spare time (which I might add is NEVER!) she has an etsy shop called Stitchin' Daisies! Currently her shop is empty and you will know why in just a second I promise!

Jessica has had a dream since becoming a nurse. She wanted to head out on a mission trip to Haiti and teach midwives the proper, more safe techniques in delivering babies into this world. You see...the death rate for women in Haiti that deliver babies is 65% and higher! Can you imagine? Basically you are LUCKY if you survive childbirth there! This year Jess decided it was her time. She signed on with Midwives for Haiti. I have learned SO much from her about Haiti! Stuff I am completely flabbergasted about (is that even a word?!)

Here are facts about Haiti:

  • 70% of Haitians do NOT have access to electricity. 90% do NOT have access to running water. Imagine a day without running water and electricity! The hospital she is at has these utilities but they are shut off multiple times a day without warning.
  • Haiti is the 3rd hungriest country in the world. In fact, 65% of Haitians are undernourished. While in Haiti she is working with Azil Feeding Center to provide meals to children.
  • There are only 8 doctors and 10 nurses per 100,000 Haitians. Compare this to America where there are 285 doctors and 850 nurses per 100,000 Americans. She is working to increase these numbers by training Haitians to be skilled health care professionals.
  • 80 out of every 1000 children never see their first birthday.
    Training midwives to educate these new mothers will help reduce these deaths by giving them the knowledge and resources to care for their children.
  • 77% of Haitians are living in poverty, they provide for their families on less than $2 a day. 50% live on less than $1 a day. Imagine trying to provide food, clean water, shelter, clothing and health care for your family on just $30 a month!
Do these facts not completely blow your mind?! Jess will be telling you her story with an in depth look at her trip WHILE she is there! We are working via Internet and I am sharing her pictures and her story to you! Hopefully it will be able to inspire you and maybe this is something you yourself are interested in doing! Without further ado...here is Jess.


bonjou de Ayiti... Hello from Haiti

As you can see I have been working on my Creole!  Last night a boy named Kenel came and gave us a 1 hour Creole lesson. He is 21 years old and just graduated from high school. Most kids do not go to school let alone graduate, but if they do they are usually older. He hopes to come to the states and study to become a doctor. He was an excellent teacher. Creole is a beautiful language, and I hope to pick up more while I'm here.

Yesterday was full of excitement and adventure. We started the day at the church. It was a protestant service that lasted over 2.5 hours!! The chorus was beautiful, and throughout the service they would break out in hymens. The pastor was very passionate in his sermon. I couldn't understand a single word but I could tell he was very about excited it. However, he was a very long winded man and people throughout the church begin to fall asleep, luckily the bishops were there to prod sleepers with a stick and remind them to pay attention. It cracked me up to see them jump to attention. All the Haitian people where dressed in their best and they look wonderful. Little children would peak over the pews to stare at us, probably wondering what these white girls were doing in their church. After an hour or so of being stared at by one little girl I finally got a smile out of her, after that she would look at me smile and laugh and then turn away.

After church was lunch and then an adventure to the waterfall. And let me tell you I have never been on such an adventure. The roads to the waterfall were just plain horrible. There were multiple times when I thought that there was no way the jeep could make it up such steep embankments. But Ronel assured us that the jeep goes on roads much worse than this to get to the villages for the mobile clinic. The water fall was amazing! There were children all around eager to assist us to the top (for a tip of course... Are you starting to see the theme). They were so cute I couldn't say no. They were excellent guides, they even grabbed my hands and helped me over the more challenging areas. Haiti is so beautiful. The views all around the waterfall took my breath away. I knew that the fun was going to end soon and today it did.

Today was very very hard! I thought I was prepared for what I would experience but I was not! I don't even know how to go about describing my experience in the hospital today. The hospital is a big old building that has electricity and water most of the time (unlike most of the homes in Haiti). Like all the water and electricity in Haiti it can be turned off and on without warning. There are no fans or AC in any room that I have seen so far. There is no plumbing or toilets for patients. The family of the patient brings a pot and is in charge of emptying waste into the field behind the hospital. There is a hose in the back of the building that is used for bathing, laundry and cleaning dishes. When a patient comes to the hospital, a large portion of the family comes to take care of them. The hospital does NOT provide linens, food or drinks for the patient. If a patient needs medications or an IV they are given a prescription and must have someone pick it up from the pharmacy which is a closet sized room on the grounds. The problem is that the pharmacy is frequently out of meds. Labor and delivery is an exception to this, they have some meds and supplies on their unit because they have been donated. The hospital is a government hospital and is free of charge. The hospital is run by government hired nurses, doctors and midwives. There is never enough staff to go around. There is also a nurse school on site and well as the Midwives for Haiti students. Today the students out numbered the preceptors and staff members 5 to 1. 

When you walk up to the hospital you are greeted by beggars and families trying to sell food, both to foreigners and families of the sick. Behind you is a very rough road and then a field without a fence scattered with cows, horses, pigs and mostly goats grazing freely. Some are tied, some are not, some are branded some are not, but somehow families know which animal is theirs. Garbage is littered everywhere but there are big piles of garbage throughout the field. On the hospital site there is a prenatal clinic, a HIV and cholera clinic and a couple other clinics. There was a long line for each clinic long before they opened. Around the corner is the maternity wing. The hospital is made up of about 8-10 rooms. There is room for ICU, Peds, the ER and general medical. Maternity has 3 rooms. One for antepartum, which is where you go before you have the baby. They take care of patients with preterm labor, high blood pressure and other problems. There is a postpartum room which is where you go after you have had your baby. Both of these rooms have about 12 beds, with about 2 feet of space between each bed. There are no curtains or privacy at all.

I started my day in the antepartum room, taking care of and checking on patients. The scent of human waste was almost sickening when I came through the door. There were a mix of patients in the beds, some very early in their pregnancy, some who had already had their babies and one in labor. I went from bed to bed checking on the patients. Luckily on this day everyone was healthy and babies all sounded good. Most of them had IV's which were dry, whatever meds they needed they were not getting. Beds are old and dirty and those who had been there for longer than a few days were on very dirty very sweaty sheets. Accuweather said that today it is 78 but feels like 90. In these rooms it must have been close to 100 degrees I was sweating like a pig!

I then headed over to the labor and delivery room. There are 5 labor beds and shower curtains to separate the beds (this gives women little real privacy). The beds aren't really beds (I promise I will get a picture). Ladies in the states know these beds well. They are the beds used in medical offices for pap smears. There are short and have stirrups at the end. They are in no way comfortable or made to deliver babies on, but in Haiti we use what we have! There are 3 woman in labor this morning. One HIV positive mom who is pregnant with her first baby and is 7cm (you have to get to 10cm before you have a baby). A woman who is having her 5th baby and is 8cm. And a woman who is 3 cm. The labor rooms are really only for checking the women's cervix, hear how the baby is, and then delivery. If you are not going to deliver soon you are sent off to walk around the hospital. The HIV women delivered with ease. She had been to the HIV clinic and has a plan for milk for her baby. There is a good chance her baby will not get HIV with these precautions. The woman from the antepartum room came in and almost delivered on the floor. I think she was having an allergy to the latex catheter because her genitals were very very swollen. With the delivery she ended up with a tear that needed an extensive repair, it took the midwives and students longer than an hour. All the while the baby is dressed wrapped up and left on the scale. I watched that baby like a hawk. No one even glanced at him, no vitals were checked. I wanted nothing more than to strip that baby down and stick him skin to skin with his momma. When they took the mom to postpartum they forgot baby. I had to remind them that the baby was still on the scale. Skin to skin will be one of the seeds I try to plant while I am here.

The woman who was 8cm should have delivered very quickly and easily, however in the 6 hours I was there she made no change. The midwives and students tried multiple things to get her delivered but nothing helped. Some of their tactics haven't been used in the states since the 80's and have actually been proven to be harmful. I didn't know this until after I got home and looked up the med they were using. I will be talking to the instructors about this and will work on getting these meds taken out of stock. Watching a woman scream and cry in agony for 6 hours really took a toll on me. There was something dysfunctional about her labor, and i wonder if the baby will fit vaginally. There is a doctor who preforms c-sections, but it sounds like he is not available when really needed (like today). On top of everything else the Haitian culture makes it hard for us to get them in better laboring positions, they really believe its best to lie flat on their back and this is the worst position. Today I felt. I know that the baby was stressed (even though I couldn't determine variability with the Doppler- labor friends). And the interventions that the midwives had available did not seem to be working. My shift was over before she delivered and I hope that tomorrow night when I go back I see a healthy mom and baby but I don't know if that will be the case.

I left the hospital in tears today. Wanting so bad to help, but feeling helpless at the same time. There were over 10 students in the very small labor and delivery unit and that was part of the problem (too many hands in the pot). In addition hospital condition and lack of supply make everything even harder. Tomorrow night it will be me and Becky (a midwife from Minnesota) and a student midwife. I know its going to be hard and I know that I can't change everything, but I hope tomorrow that I make even a little difference. Change is hard no matter where you are or what you are doing. Many things have changed here in this Haitian hospital and maternal and fetal mortality are better, but they could be even better. A midwife shared this with me and it brought me peace.

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a l
ong view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church's mission. No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

So I am here today to water the seeds that have been planted by those before me and maybe plant a couple more. 

Renmen ou, dòmi byen- Love you all and sleep well, Jesse

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  1. what an incredible friend + story! we have some dear friends from high school that are now MAF missionaries in Haiti... we love hearing their updates and seeing the life change moments they experience there; sounds like you are feeling that as well.

    God is so intentional with us, when we let Him. i love that we are just seed planters that require more of Him to fulfill this needs.

    by the way, we're looking for some adoptive aunts/uncles for our sweet kids if you know of anyone looking! :) :)