March 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Births

My heart is all tied up in Congo.  It's under my skin and in my dreams.  The women I met there are so gloriously beautiful and resilient.  The land in the capital city is the most bizarre mixture of the garden of Eden and a garbage dump.  The children are just like children anywhere- they want to play and grin and show their dimples and sit on their mom's lap.  It's both the best and the worst of humanity (can't that be said for most places?)  But my heart is there.  Part of me always wonders about what it would be like to live there, to learn from the people there and minister is some small way with the burden God has given me for the Congo's children.  If I was a braver person and more obedient, I would already be there.  Sometimes I think about what I would want to do there and the image in my mind always go back to doing exactly what the people at Heartline Ministries are doing in Haiti. 
 photo credit: Troy Livesay
In my perfect world, that would be me, equipping women in Congo to take care of their children.  Giving them safety and love and truth and knowledge in an area and at a time that just doesn't make sense.  I think back to when I was pregnant with my first two children.  I had a top notch hospital 15 minutes from my house.  I had every pregnancy book known to man and the support of my husband and a whole slew of friends and family.  I was a broke 20 something, but I had access to nutritious food and pre-natal care.  Yet, I was still scared to death.  I can't image if you'd taken away all my safety nets, how I would have felt.  But women all over the world are having babies every single day without a single one of those nets.  Their chances of dying in childbirth are exponentially higher than they are in America.  Their children's chances of living til their fifth birthday are not nearly as assured as ours are.  That's scary.
And that's why I love Heartline so much.  I love that they take care of women with such love and dignity.  I love that they didn't go into Haiti with their American ideals and pretend like they knew what was best for the people there.  They work with the people they serve.  They build relationships.  The women bring their children back to visit years after they've left the program.  For years, I have been following the pregnancy and birth stories of the women at the Heartline Maternity Center. Every single time I see a safe delivery and a chubby little brown baby snuggled up to his mother's breast I can't help but see God. Since the inception of the Millions of Miles vacation raffle, Heartline has been one of the recipients of your donations. (Get tickets and info HERE)  I wanted to share with you a blog post by Tara Livesay (who lives in Haiti and works hand in hand with pregnant moms at the maternity center) so that you can see the impact that your donations are making in Haiti.  Doesn't it just make you excited about all the promise and potential that each of these little babies holds?   

a tale of two labors & two baby girls

by Tara Livesay 

Adonea's sister and mom laboring with her
baby Victoria

Surrounded by family support, Adonea delivered a healthy baby girl Tuesday night at 8pm.

Meet Victoria, she is all kinds of delicious and perfect.

Adonea's friend Edline told her about the program and advocated hard-core-pushy style for her to be accepted. She joined the program later in her pregnancy than most ladies do. Adonea came each Thursday without fail and seemed to enjoy the classes, the camaraderie, and the prenatal consultations.

~ ~ ~
Today, shortly before noon Fabienne arrived in obvious pain. Her contractions were coming quickly.

Fabienne is very young (14) and learned that she was carrying a baby girl when Lori, of Real Hope for Haiti told her last year. Lori referred her to Heartline's prenatal program.

Fabienne lives in an area called Martissant, it is not close to Heartline. She couldn't technically afford to come each Thursday so we worked that out and she's been faithful to attend every Thursday ever since she started mid way through the pregnancy. Fabienne walks perfectly even though she doesn't have toes. She carries herself with confidence even though she is missing most of her fingers. Once comfortable with the program and the ladies in the program, Fabienne ended up being a bit of a jokester.
She is a funny teenager with quick and ornery wit.

By 3:15 this afternoon Fabienne bravely pushed her daughter Lougmine into the world. The room took a collective breath wondering how the young mother would receive her new little one. 
meet Lougmine, 5lbs 10 ounces of more perfection

triumphant after delivering her daughter today

Admittedly, Fabienne's situation feels heavy and difficult. Adonea's feels joyful and light. These two women are separated by more than their ten year age difference. Fabienne owns only a few pieces of clothing and struggles with the basics, like food, water, and shelter. Adonea has a blackberry and asked me to email her the photos from her birth. She will be driven home in her family's vehicle.

While their economic situations are very different, they are also the same in some important ways. They both long for love, friendship, and happiness. They both want the very best for their baby girls. We pray the world is kind to them all. We pray these baby girls will grow up knowing love.

It is an honor to serve both of these women and to come along side them during one of the most important days of their lives. Thank you for the part you play in loving, encouraging, and giving.

(Last week I gave a tour to an American woman, her teenage daughter and son. After the tour the teenage boy asked if Fabienne was doing well, and wondered if she had delivered. I was touched and taken aback that he knew her name and knew she was due soon. Your care and concern for the ladies lifts our spirits and theirs. Thank-you again!)

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