Little, perfect lines and wrinkles fall across the top of her fingers. And she folds these fingers into the tiniest of fists and shoves these fists into her little, chubby cheeks. And there she rests, with her perfect lips and chubby cheeks and baby fists with little wrinkled fingers.
I sit there and stare, wondering how in the world did my body actually make a real human. An incredibly adorable human, for that matter. And my heart melts and my soul shakes and the reality of being a mama frightens me all over again.
I rock her to sleep and wipe her milk-drunk spit away. My house is quiet and I close my eyes as I listen to the sounds of the waves outside my bedroom window.
We’ve come home to Haiti and I don’t want to get up from this rocking chair. I want to stay here in my quiet house where it’s safe. Where the dark, harsh truths of home don’t get to come inside my gate.
When I traveled to the States in September there were five women just as pregnant as myself and I promised to cover them in prayer while I waited to deliver my own.
A few weeks into my stay I got news that one of the women’s baby didn’t make it. I met Marie Maude when she was seven months pregnant with her third child at the age of twenty-two. She was homeless and had yet to see a doctor when I first met her. We were able to put her in our rescue house, reunite her with her two older daughters and get her to a doctor. I left her for the States and couldn’t wait for my baby to meet hers. In my perfect world, we would snap pictures of our babies and us together and I would watch this little family prosper and grow.
Marie Maude would go into labor mid-September and was rushed to a hospital by our Tytoo team and hospital #1 would turn her away. She was rushed to a second hospital and it was there that the baby lost his life. She was then rushed to a third hospital for an emergency C-section and it was there that she almost lost her own life. Mom is okay today, but we lost a baby boy.
I would deliver Rubie Jo a couple weeks after hearing the news of Marie Maude and her face would come to mind as I pushed for my own to come. When my water broke at 3 a.m. we didn’t have to worry about being turned away at a hospital; we knew right where to go. A lovely lady checked us into the hospital and within an hour I had a delivery suite all to my sweet self. I had heart monitors wrapped around me: one for me and one for baby. A blood pressure cuff would go off automatically every few minutes as I was hooked up to monitors and screens. Doctors, surgeons and specialists were all at the tip of our fingers if something were to go wrong.
I missed Marie Maude. I wish we could have switched places. I wish she could have had access to real medical treatment when she went into labor a few weeks prior. I will never know if there were more issues going on with her baby boy, but chances are he was healthy and we lost him because life in Haiti sucks and hospitals aren’t equipped to take care of their own.
I know there are a million reasons to complain about healthcare in America (I just saw the total of my hospital bill and it’s basically an entire college education) but, at least we have healthcare. Women in labor get to have entire teams of nurses and doctors to help them deliver their babies; people with cancer get to be cured; people don’t die of preventable diseases and illnesses and how this list could go on forever…
Our smallest aches and pains are taken care of by our healthcare system, while people in Haiti live and suffer their entire lives due to a lack of healthcare. I recently heard a story of a woman having a SEVEN POUND mass removed from her breast. She only carried this mass around for sixteen years. Seriously.
All this to say, I’m so grateful for the care I received in America, but there was a sense of guilt I carried as I pushed for Rubie to come. It didn’t seem right or okay that I could provide all of this to Rubie, but Marie Maude couldn’t for her children. I think it’s easy to read the statistics of how many impoverished women and children die in childbirth because of lack of healthcare, but when you know their names and faces and want to see their children grow it hurts. It hurts in the deepest parts of the soul.
I brought Rubie Jo to meet Marie Maude the other day and I felt an emptiness, like something was missing…and that’s because something was.
If only we could have done better for Marie Maude…
I’m want to do better for her.
Haiti is different now that I’m back with a newborn.
A total of eleven women have come to ask me for help in the short ten days I’ve been back. One of these women gave birth to a baby boy, Peterson, on September 23. She explained to me how he is suffering in her care because she doesn’t have anyone to help take care of him and she has no work.
I go back to my little one with her perfect wrinkled fingers and tiny fists and chubby cheeks. And I think how I’m doing everything in my being to make sure she can go as long as possible to not know pain or suffering.
And now this mama – a woman just like me, trying to do all she can for her little – is tearing up as she tells me how much he suffers.
And what am I suppose to do. I can barely handle my own hormones these days. This. This is just too much.
But, this. This is also my purpose and as much as I want to run away – run fast away, run back to the safety and comfort I so enjoyed in the States – I can’t. Because, I’ve seen the dark and harsh truths of the world and I won’t run away from them. I know we can do better…for the sake of these mamas and babies. For the sake of our own babies.
To be continued…