Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Franshwa Meets Heartline

I loaded up Franshwa and the babies and took them to the best place I could think to take them...

To Heartline with me for the day.

When I met Franshwa she was sitting near her home...a crude frame wrapped with tarps.  I found her "home" behind a red gate.  So typical of Haiti.  It seems all the gates are red.  Behind the gate we found a little plot of land where a big, nice house should stand.  Instead the lot is empty, except for the few families who have constructed make-shift houses and are trying their hardest to get by with very little food and no access to clean water.

Franshwa's babies were asleep in the tent.  She was sitting outside.  We asked to see her babies.  I took one look at the tiny creatures and thought we had arrived to watch them breathe their last breaths.

When I first moved here I would have seen a situation like this one and started to cry.  Instead, I stood in that moment and thought about how frustrating it is to see sad story after sad story and not have any idea what to do to make the sad story stop or go away. When does a new story begin?  One that is happy and everything works out in the end?  I stood there thinking, "Great.  Just great.  Another situation that is horrific, and here I stand...having no idea what to do.  Waiting for the calvary to ride in with all the answers and and a rolodex of resources.  Oh wait.  What's that I hear?  Nothing.  No one is coming.  No sound of horse hooves.  No rumble that means rescue.  No sounds of a rolodex flipping.  It's just us.  Her. Dying babies.  The heat.  The smells.  The sadness.  Haiti.  No answers.  The sound of babies barely breathing."

There were several mothers living behind the red gate.  Several pregnant.  A few with toddlers.  How many were breastfeeding?  None of them, except for Franshwa. 
What a joy it was to take this mother and her tiny, weak sons on the long drive to Heartline with me today.  When we arrived she was greeted by Beth, Joanna, and Cookie...women who will love and respect her.  I pray Franshwa felt encouraged and supported by us.  But mostly, as Franshwa sat in a room filled with Haitian mothers and their fat babies, I could literally see Franshwa's spirit lift.


This is where the magic happened.  Franshwa, looking around the room, watching baby after fat baby placed on a scale and weighed.  Watching Cooking and I squeal as we noted how much weight each of "our babies" gained this week.  I say "our babies" because that's what they are.  You know how moms are ridiculous and semi-psychotic about their own children?  How we look at other babies that are not ours and think, "What a brat," or "Look how tacky that kid is dressed" or "too bad you're ugly and my kid is so cute?"  You know how we do that?  It's probably wrong and a little sick.  Well we admit..we love the babies in our program in that crazy, possessive, borderline sinful kind of way.    Everyone who has ever been a part of this program probably feels this way about these infants.  Don't judge us, okay?  We're a little insane about our babies...all thirty of them.

Franshwa got to see a room filled with "our babies" and "our moms"...women who are exclusively breastfeeding.  She saw happy, chubby babies. 
She saw happy moms.  She watched babies cry and mom's respond to their babies by offering them their breast.  Franshwa heard truth.  She was loved.  She was encouraged.  We told her we're proud of her for nursing her babies, that we want to help her sons grow big and strong by helping their mother make more milk.  We reminded her of God's perfect design.  Her body has exactly what these babies need to grow.   She met many women with similar stories.  "My baby weighed four pounds.  Now look at him.  He's huge!"  I was so proud of the Haitian moms who noticed the small babies and immediately came to share their stories of success with Franshwa.  Beauty.  It was turned up nice and loud today at Heartline.

Teaching women to love God, to love their babies, and love each other.  That's what Heartline is all about.

6 weeks.  3 pounds.
sigh.


Big brother, weighing in at a mere 5 pounds.



I pulled out the handy, dandy supplementer system that I used when I nursed Hudson.  Did you know you can nurse adopted kids?  Franshwa was able to nurse her babies all afternoon.  They got breastmilk and formula, without ever having to use a bottle.  Praise God for some smart person who invented this wonderful contraption, right?  It's totally going to save these baby's lives.

Please continue to pray for this mom and her babies.  We have a long road ahead of us.  It will take many of us here on the ground...the women (and John Ackerman) at Heartline, the American sponsor, plus the people at Child Hope to come alongside this mother and under-gird her during this time.  Not to mention God's grace, mercy, and healing.  The end result?  We're praying for a healthy family that's been restored.  Some times restoring a family is a lot harder than taking babies away from their mothers.  It makes things a lot more complex and tricky.  We will walk a fine line as we try to increase this mom's milk supply and keep the babies alive while we do so.  It will take time to educate her, get to know her, and understand the best way to support and encourage her family.  I'm thankful to be surrounded by people who value family like God values family.  So thankful.

Sitting at HL today holding a three pound baby in a room full of fat, healthy babies I was reminded once again how valuable Heartline's work is in Haiti.  "Our babies" will never ever be six weeks old and weigh three pounds.  Never.  Our moms are educated about breastfeeding, and they know we are there for them the moment there is the slightest bump in the road.  

Heartline is saving the lives of babies.  It's saving the lives of mothers.  Heartline is strengthening families.  Heartline is strengthening Haiti.  God is using this program to do incredible work in this country.

A few weeks ago the Houston News let us brag about the work that Heartline is doing: 


I wish every baby in Haiti could be a Heartline baby.

23 comments:

We Are Family said...

AWESOME!
Praise Jesus!

puremotherhood said...

Just wanted to let you know that I look forward to reading your posts. I'm so glad you share so much. It helps me to understand (and act like) there's a much larger (needy) world outside the US. This blog has changed my life. (Oh, and I linked to your blog on my blog today.)

The Currie Family said...

Praying for Franshwa and her babies. I will think of her when I nurse my own sweet baby....can't imagine the heartache.

As Americans we take the choice of breastfeeding or formula feeding for granted, thanks for sharing!

You might think the calvary isn't coming but YOU are it Heather! You are this woman's knight in shining armor that God has sent to pick her and her babies up and take them to the help they so desperately need! You are faithful and God is GOOD.

MelissaSpiller said...

First, thank you for all you are doing! The website mentioned in the video and also on your blog (haitiancreations.com) says all purses are sold out...can you tell me where I can purchase some of the cereal box jewelry? That would make a wonderful Christmas gift. Melissa

Amanda said...

I am going to include Heartline in our Christmas giving this year because of everything you've said about it. I'm so excited to support them. Thank you for getting the word out.

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing. Amazing work. Amazing women. Amazing God!!!

mamamargie said...

How wonderful for Franshwa and her babies! And what a neat contraption for breastfeeding!!!

Melda said...

YIPEE!!!!!!
Love that supplemental nursing system - and Isaac was a FAT baby to prove it!
Do you need more of them?
I am sure I could order some online and ship them to you.......
let me know!
I can't wait to see the 3 lbs turn to 6....and the 6 to 12!
Praise God for truth and knowledge and his grace that gives us second chances.
Father God, thank you for these sweet baby boys. Strengthen their bodies and their mother too. Let them feel your love in a real way each week at Heartline. AMEN

kuliejellogg said...

No, there is no "cavalry,' but there is ALWAYS calvary! As you say, only God can meet these needs.

jessie said...

Amazing!
Im interested in what you said about being able to breastfeed adopted babies. My sister in law asked me if I was planning on doing this. I didnt think it was possible. I would totally be open to it, if I knew how. We are adopting from Ethiopia. any advice?
thanks!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work you're doing. So glad to read these reports of hope . I could personally do w/o the public display of boobs, though. I know it's real life, but I find it inappropriate to show so much skin online.

Hendrick Family said...

Melissa...

The apparent project's jewelry will soon be online (hopefully really soon for Christmas gifts).

Jessie....

There's lots of information online about nursing an adopted child. Some moms end up making milk. Some moms do it just to bond with their baby. Either way, I highly recommend it.

Anonymous...

We'll have to agree to disagree. Yes. This is real life, and unfortunately breastfeeding is a life or death issue in this country. People in first world countries might be the only people on earth who get a choice to be offended by a woman feeding her baby. For the rest of the world...it's as normal a part of life as posting a picture on the internet of a mom changing her baby's diaper.

Heather

Stephanie said...

Praising the Lord here in Pennsylvania for the BEAUTIFUL work you are doing in Haiti through Heartline. Thanks so much sharing little bits of it with us through your blog. Please know you are prayed for as you minister His love and grace to these precious people.

Stephanie said...

P.S. Post as many boobs as you must: show the world this is about survival, not preference!!

emily Burrows said...

I tried to click on the video but it only links to another picture of a baby? I would love to see the news clip though! Thanks for being obedient to the Lord to care for these families.

the herzogs said...

this is beautiful. just beautiful. thanks for sharing so we can see God's work and also know how to pray!

Anonymous said...

Heather, I know you have referenced the "Rolodex" of help, but I want you to know that I think you are the person in that "Rolodex" I would of called. God sent you because this is your passion and he knew you were what Heartline would need and use for breastfeeding education and help. Thank you for answering the call to serve and especially for posting about your experiences in POP. I love reading your post and knowing what I can pray for and how I can help.
May God bless you and your family abundantly. - RobinaC.

mbs said...

Heather, so cool to see you on TV in action, after just reading your blog and "imagining" what you're like-LOL.

Keep up the amazing work! I am so impressed with the work that Heartline is doing. Changing a nation from the ground up. Thank you Jesus!

Anonymous said...

Heather - This is the post where I thought uh oh. She's in. You may leave Haiti at the end of the year or stay a lifetime but it is part of the fiber of you now. It's amazing how these people have become your people and how God's plan of putting you smack dab in the middle of a third world country keeps making more and more sense every day. -Jeanie

Anonymous said...

Here is the link for the video:

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/national_world&id=7794809

Anonymous said...

Read this post due to a link on the Meadth's blog. I'm currently nursing an 8 month old very chubby baby girl. Reading this post not only made my milk let down but had me bawling. To think a child has a better chance of living just because a mom chooses to breastfeed - it boggles the mind. And I look at my chubby thriving little girls - we really truly have no idea just how blessed we are in the US. Thank you for sharing and I will most certainly keep Franshwa in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

so happy to have found your blog. How is the Mom with the twin boys??

Hendrick Family said...

She is doing great. She is a part of the women's program. She's making friends...and the babies are growing! I will post an update on them soon.

Heather