Saturday, September 25, 2010

When a Baby Has a Baby


She's fifteen years old.  Her baby weighs four pounds.

His little legs are deformed.

A teen mom in Haiti.  I wonder if there's any harder demographic to be a part of in this world.

I went to Heartline this morning and worked with this young mother to get her baby to nurse well.  Breastfeeding is vital in this country.  Heartline works hard to teach the women of Haiti about breastfeeding and to encourage them...cheer them on...as they learn how to feed their babies.  Heartline is saving the lives of mothers and children in Haiti.  Crucial.  Their ministry here is crucial.  If you want to invest in Haiti...in something sustainable, in something that is effective, put your money on Heartline.

Every time I am at Heartline it's emotional.  It's not very often that you get to be a part of something so obviously good, vital, and redemptive.  It's like pure beauty, right in your face.  You have to sort of sit there, stare at it, and soak it in awhile. 

***

I have helped many new mothers learn to breastfeed over the past 10 years. What a sweet joy that is.  To get to be a part of something so real and honest is a huge privilege.  Birthing a baby has a way of stripping away all the falsehood.  The phony parts of us fall apart.  What we're left with is raw and frightfully human. 

A new mom calls.  She's crying.  She wants so badly to nurse her baby, but her nipples are killing her. Nothing is working right.

I think there are three times in life when you realize what's on the movies isn't real.

The first time you have sex

In the delivery room and

Nursing your new baby.

Did everyone just nod and say, "Amen?"

It's always hard to watch a new mom doubt herself.  She's delirious from lack of sleep.  She wants to cuss or kick her husband in the man parts every time she goes to latch her baby onto her breast.  During one of the most vulnerable moments of a woman's life, I'm invited into her home.  She hates her post-baby body.  She looks like hell.  Sitz baths and pads the size of a twin mattress are sitting in the bathroom.

And yet...because she loves that tiny little life so much and would do anything to give her baby the best gift ever, she sits there, tears running down her face, body exposed, begging for help.  Teaching a woman to breastfeed is more than simply teaching technique.  It's about loving a woman right where she is.  She's tired.  She's scared.  She's in pain.  She needs love and encouragement.  She needs to be reminded that God is there...right there.  She is loved.  She can do this.  God is inviting her to be a part of a miracle.

After you share this experience with a woman, you are automatically bound for life, in some unwritten covenant of friendship.  The women I have loved and served this way are forever mine, and I'm forever theirs.  What a blessing to share this special connection with them.  No matter if we see each other often, or hardly at all, we hug and some times tear up.  We squeeze each other, look one another in the eyes, smile, recognizing that some things in life have no words, no words that work or say the right things. I hope in those moments these women know how thankful I am to have been a part of something so beautiful, intimate, and personal.  I hope they also know that I'd never tell anyone what their abs looked like, or how messy their kitchen was, or repeat any of the things they said to me as they sobbed and sobbed.  Those are forever our secrets.  Ours and only ours.

There are some things you wake up and find yourself a part of that you know, without a doubt, you were not worthy enough or smart enough to sign up for on your own.  That's how I feel about teaching women to breastfeed.  It's a sweet part of my story that God wrote into my life.  He chose this goodness for me, and I'm incredibly grateful.

It was moving for me today to get to use this gift in Haiti.

Lots of things were the same, but I have never taught someone to nurse their baby in Creole.

That part was totally frustrating.  I get so irritated with the language barrier some times I want to take a bat to it.  Beat the crap out of it.

It was wonderful to help this new mom.  I loved every second of it.

But today, by golly, I'm learning the Creole words and phrases for

nipple

squeeze

ram it in

open the baby's mouth...huge

supply and demand

do your nipples hurt...if they hurt, we can fix it...I promise...nursing your baby is not supposed to hurt

your boobs won't always be giant freaks of nature (unless they were giant freaks of nature before you had a baby, then I can't help you, but you should really, really invest in a good bra)

You can do this, God made you to do this, no one can love your baby like you can love your baby.

I'm here.  I'll help you.  You're not alone.

For pictures of Adema, and to hear more about what's going on with her little boy's legs you can visit the Livesay's blog.  Go check it out.

15 comments:

Michelle roberts said...

My heart goes out to you and this little girl! Yes, she is a little girl, one that shouldn't be going through this at her age! Sad to say, it happens here as well as in the states! Teen pregnacy is a problem no matter where you are,we just have to pray, pray,pray and let God use us in a way that is glorify to Him. I can't imagine what this girl is going through, but I do know that I will pray for her daily, and that God will use every person around her to share His love. No matter what the circumstance is, we, made in God's image, we made to love and share his love to everyone! She is very lucky to have you Heather, as I and my family are!!! Maybe this is why you are here, if her soul is saved because you were there to teach her how to breastfeed her baby, your mission is done! Don't ever doubt your ability to serve in Haiti and what God has for you here! This is your gift, to reach these women in their most vunerable time, and show them God's great love! You are amazing and I'm glad to call you my sister in Christ!!!

Meme said...

Oh Heather, how I needed to read this post today. I am at the crying cursing kicking point of nursing and neded a reality check. I wrote a post on my blog about your post and linked it.. hope you dont mind:-). Praying for you and Adema and her baby tonight. Most likely every two-three hours:-).

Kirby said...

This post made me cry thinking about what a gift you are to the precious women at Heartline...because you were such a gift to me in this realm.

And...you were totally describing me the first time you came to help me nurse Asher at my little rent house, weren't you?

Hendrick Family said...

That day is forever our secret.

Forever and ever.

Anonymous said...

Heather,
I am glad that I am one of those women who are forever yours and you are forever mine....one of those you don't see often but when you do you always give a great big hug to. I am so grateful for you! Thank you for all you do. :)
Mary Sanders

Anonymous said...

I remember having to call you for help in this department with all three of my boys! Especially with my first David. I was new to the game and totally freaked out with the blood and the pain. All it took was one phone call and you came to my rescue! You blessed me so very very much. I will never forget how you dropped everything and drove 20 minutes out to my moms. You stayed with me until I felt comfortable enough for you to leave. Using all the techniques you showed me it was just a few short days until I was pain free! I tell that story every time I help one of my friends with nursing. What seemed impossible and so hard to do became so easy and amazing after your help. What a blessing it is to have women like you around Heather! I love you. I hope you see how much God is using you! Every woman you help nurse probably goes on to help someone else and so on and so on.....so you are helping more than you could ever imagine! I love ya lots girl!

Nache'

Hendrick Family said...

Mary and Nache...

I love you two ladies. Since I can't hug you both, I think it's only right that you hug each other at church this weekend.

Heather

Mommy, M.D. said...

So precious. I love those times as well. Working with scared moms is the thing I miss most about medicine.

God spoke to me through this poem when I came across it today, and I thought of you as well. It's by Amy Carmichael:

Make Me Thy Fuel

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from the winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

Hendrick Family said...

Beautiful, Brandi. So beautiful.

Jenny said...

Heather

Wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog, love it so much I gave it an award, you can check it out at my blog if you want (it's really just a shout out to tell others about great blogs).

http://achosenchild.blogspot.com/2010/09/ballots-have-been-counted.html

Sara said...

Heather this is beautiful. God surely is using you to touch lives. I hope you will help me learn some day...even if I have to fly to Haiti to get to you....wow sleep deprivation with a new born on a flight to haiti...that sounds like a fun time!

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

I just found you via Jenny at A Chosen Child. This journey you're on is inspiring me already. And I you tell a mean story. I'll be back -back - back!

Anonymous said...

I just cried when I read this post.... as I sit here holding my (FINALLY sleeping) little one who just got her 2 month old vaccinations today and has been uncontrollably (and so, so pathetically) crying for the past few hours. My arm is completely asleep... but what a blessing that she has been able to spend an hour (yes, an hour... geez, God give me patience!) at each feeding today just because it gives her some comfort while she is so miserable.

I know you weren't able to be there to help me through the early (painful, tearful, grimacing) days of my breastfeeding directly, I learned so much about motherhood from you and I overheard many conversations you had with other mothers in our church, you might as well have been. Because God gave you a passion for this aspect of motherhood, I was able to go into it determined and resolved to make it work.

And now I, in turn, truly love breastfeeding.

It is such an amazing thing that God has made our bodies to do.

God has put it on my heart to consider what becoming a lactation consultant in the future would look like and using that to minister to women in our church and community. But that's another e-mail for another time, and still in its early infancy...

Anyways, thanks for sharing this. It really spoke to my heart today, and was some serious encouragement on a day when I really needed it in the mama department.

You are in my thoughts and prayers often.
Lindsey Yaklin Marks

Katherine said...

You don't know how much I needed to read this tonight. I am sitting in bed on day 5 of my little girl's life with a baby who can't latch, a flat nipple, a breast infection, engorged breasts, a husband sleeping on the couch with a stomach flu (which I had the day before I gave birth), and total frustration over breastfeeding!

What a precious gift you have. I am totally committed to breastfeeding but man it is hard! I am glad to have that sweet Haitian girl on my heart to pray for when I sit with my baby in my arms, tears in my eyes, and struggle to make it work.

Thanks for sharing.

-Katherine

Cheryl said...

Hi Heather, it was so good to meet you that Saturday morning at the guest house. I am glad you were able to help A and her baby. She was so quiet, I often wondered what was going through her mind.

Thanks for telling her story and yours as well so that others may know what to pray for--the people of Haiti and the people that are Christ's hands and feet to them.