Archive for December, 2011

new life. . .

at this time of year there is much talk about birth,
the birth of a saviour.
the birth of Jesus Christ,
who came to the world as a baby.
he left heaven,
and all its glory to come here to earth,
to save us from the sinful world we created.
i am extremely blessed to be around birth on a very regular basis.  i have to admit that at times it can become commonplace for me.  a baby was born.  okay, great.  but sometimes i lose the awe, other times i am completely overcome by emotion as a new life, many times against all odds is born.
i have been privileged to be a part of some wonderful births recently. . .
i went back to the united states for about a month in november to be able to be around when my sister-in-law delivered.  i made it to arkansas the right weekend that she went into labor and was able to be there through a pretty tough and complicated delivery.  i couldn’t have been more proud of them as a couple and the strength they found in each other.  i was so happy to welcome my new little nephew jon elliot micheal curtice into the world. (new life!)

truly, being part of that birth made me realize that the emotion and investment i put into the time with my sister-in-law, of course it is a bit different being with family, but really it is the same pro-active, advocacy approach i take for all my patients, here in haiti and in the states.  what a blessing and gift that i have to have been created in this way and for this kind of work.  i feel blessed to be able serve in both countries that i call home.
here at heartline i have been able to be part of some wonderful births recently.  i am in a teacher role here and have a great privilege of helping one of the full time staff continue to learn and develop her midwifery skills.  each one of the births we have had recently has had some different challenging complication that has brought great learning opportunities, but also shown the significance of the need for skilled birth attendants in places like haiti.
one of the first deliveries when i got here, (and i mean right when i got here because it was a couple hours after i got off the plane,) went really well except for some tears that were seriously bleeding and needing some stitching.  mom and baby did great and went home the next day. (new life!)

we had a mom (i have previously written about her on my blog) who delivered at home and i know would have gotten horribly infected without our intervention.  i still am worried about her because she never got blood for her dangerously low hemoglobin and truly i am worried that she is damaging her heart due to her anemia.  one thing that struck me about this mom was that when we took her home, she had a small garden outside her house.  there were plants and flowers in all kinds of buckets.  right outside her one room, concrete block house she was creating beauty, fostering new life.


another recent delivery went almost as beautiful as possible, the new baby at first was a bit purplish, just because mom delivered so quickly, but with stimulation began to pink up and very quickly began to breastfeed, nourishment and new life began.  the mom on the other hand continued and continued to bleed.  we were able to intervene and stop her bleeding, but not without some serious effort.


heartline won a grant recently through an organization called giving of life.  what a true statement beth mchoul made when told that we won.  she said, “we are given the opportunity to make a difference!”  we are given an opportunity to participate in new life, in new life coming into this world and helping to ensure that mothers are alive and healthy to care for these precious new lives.
i am so grateful to the Lord’s leading for me being here at heartline and being part of making a difference in the lives of a small group of women.  i am grateful to be an active participant in a program that strengthens and educates women and helps them to learn to be strong participants in their own health care and lives.  i am hoping that through helping others here learn midwifery, that this strong model will only be replicated and more and more women will be given the opportunity to have healthy lives as they prepare for new babies.
this next year i am planning to spend more time in haiti.  i feel peace with that decision and feel that at this time, it is important for the program here at heartline, for the women in the program and for those learning midwifery as i serve as their preceptor.  this means i will have less time to work in the states to cover my living expenses.  i am trusting the Lord to raise up people who want to partner with me financially in this endeavor.  if you are someone who wants to partner with me in this area, please e-mail and i can send you further information.  thanks for your willingness to make a difference and through that partnership new life is born, over and over and over.
hopefully through this partnership, some of reality of this broken world and the hardships of it are also broken and the compassion and love the Lord has for these women is shown.  that is why Christ came, to make a difference in a broken, hurting world.
for unto us, new life come into this world,
in the form of a baby,
in the life of a saviour,
to change the world forever.
i hope you are enjoying some of the peace and joy that only comes through knowing the true giver of life.

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it is kinda hard to get into the christmas spirit in 80 degree weather and sun dresses.

but today i tried none the less.

the white chocolate i tried to melt for covering was pretzels was a huge failure.

the sugar cookies with french butter are a huge success!!

merry christmas!

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construction. . .

we are remodeling an area here at heartline to serve as a postpartum recovery room and kitchen.

some of the main issues that effect maternal mortality in countries like haiti are postpartum hemorrhage and infection.  if our moms stay for a bit in our post-partum room, they will hopefully not suffer from these problems and we can help make a dent in maternal mortality.

there is a drink here named limeonade.  it is a bit of a mix between lemonade and a limeade.  it is pretty tasty and comes in a light green bottle.

the bottle is the inspiration for the color of our postpartum kitchen.

heartline is the recipient of a $50,000 grant through a program called “Giving of Life”  it is pretty exciting, but what i love if you watch this video on the link below is what Beth McHoul says in the end of the video.  she says, “we are given the chance to make a difference!”  so true and so well said.


so in light of such good news as being recipients of that grant, i say bring on the bright colors of our postpartum room, one of the guys painting said, “what better colors to symbolize new life!”

i completely agree, healthy, new life.  that is what we are all about!

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fun curtains. . .

no sewing machine,

no real anything except fabric,

and i really like my new curtains!

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light. . .

early this morning our security guard called me to say that the inverter was not working and there were no lights. in a place like haiti, there are no street lights, no other lights on houses and when the power is out it is DARK! i noticed through my bathroom window that although we had no lights in our yard, streaming in from next door were very bright lights. there were white christmas lights strung across their yard and in the surrounding darkness, they stood out so brightly.
this season, this christmas season, that is what it is really all about.
it is about the light that came into this world.
the light that came to shine in the darkness.
this is one of my favorite passages of scripture at this time of year –
“because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.” luke 1:79
this morning i read,
“God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5b
last night (or early this morning) i thought about this season as i looked at those christmas lights that were so extremely bright. my neighbors still had power (probably stronger batteries or something), but they were lighting up the neighborhood with their lights. that is what this season is about,
the Lord coming into dark places and shining light,
coming into places where we sit in the shadow of death and shining light,
coming into broken places in our lives and not allowing any darkness,
coming into the world and bringing peace,
coming into the world and bringing love,
coming into the world and bringing joy.
joy to the world,
the LORD has come,
the light has come!

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light, color, beauty

sometimes i just need to have beautiful things around me.

here are a few creations, light, color, beauty.

important to my heart.

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injustice. . .

i realize that this world is FULL of things that are not FAIR.  plain and simple, i know that reality.  i realized that when i was very young and my mother would say, “well, honey life just isn’t always fair!”  but, i am talking about really serious things here, not about the fact that perhaps your sibling got a bigger cookie.  i am talking about life and death things that are not FAIR.

yesterday and today i was thrown completely into the middle of situations that just are not fair.

roselene, the mom i wrote about in the last post came in yesterday because she was having a hard time breathing.  of course she was having a hard time breathing, she has half her circulating blood volume needed because she delivered at home.  after her delivery we were able to go get her, stitch up her tears and a day or so after that we sent her to a local hospital because her hemoglobin was so low that she really needed blood.

she didn’t get blood.  the story of why she couldn’t get blood was that she didn’t have enough people to come and be tested that could donate.

she went home.  with basically half her circulating blood volume she went home to care for a newborn.

she came back in yesterday, short of breath, swollen, not doing well.  of course she isn’t doing well.  she needs blood.  after making some arrangements and some calls, we were ready to load her in the ambulance and take her to yet another hospital in hopes that they would be able to give her blood.  i went to tell her and her husband to get ready and she said “he won’t let me take blood.” she was looking at her husband.  wow, did i see red!!!!!  i have to say that a man making a decision for a woman like that, he isn’t the one who is struggling to breath, he isn’t the one who is barely able to move around, he isn’t the one who delivered at home. . . i tried to contain my response in a way to understand why they didn’t want her to get blood.

they had some experience where a cousin had gotten blood and then ever since has been sick.  of course i can’t argue with that, i don’t even know any of the details.  as i sat there telling her that the blood would be tested, that it was really the only thing that could make her better, i realized i didn’t 100% believe what i was saying, there is no way to guarantee her that the testing at that hospital will be up to par.  i don’t really know.  i told her that i thought they were making the wrong decision, but i understood and wouldn’t judge her because it is not without risk.

instead of taking her to a hospital to get better, we took her home.


this morning another friend and i went to visit someone.  she lives a bit away from here, maybe only a short distance in miles, but a long way due to haiti traffic.

when we got to her house, she said “oh, i had a mom deliver in my backyard yesterday.”  the midwife in me of course has red flags, a mom just delivered in your back yard??  i went to check on mom and baby.  mom wasn’t breastfeeding too much because she said that her milk wasn’t in and baby wasn’t getting anything.  EDUCATION matters here.  women here are told so many things that are just completely not true.  we talked about breastfeeding, she seemed to understand.  score!

then i asked her if she tore. she said she thought she did.  i got a pair of gloves and looked and sure enough, from a delivery that was over 24 hours old, she had a pretty significant tear.  we were of course willing to bring her back here and take care of her.  when we went to get her and leave there was another family member there talking about how she didn’t need to really come with us, she just needed to use hot water on her tear and she would get better.  aaaahhhhh, talk about frustrating.  this was an older woman family member and she seemed so resistant to me helping or us taking the mom with us.  then they started talking about traffic and how they couldn’t get back and it was a bit obvious she didn’t want to come.

in both of these situations, my spirit in me just screams. . . this is NOT FAIR.

i don’t really know the solutions to these issues.

i do know that if women were not poor,

if they were able to have an income,

if they could make their own choices,

if they were able to eat well,

sleep well,

have access to transportation,

these issues would go away.

poverty is a horrible reality and it is NOT FAIR.

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