Through a series of fortunate events, I met this mother yesterday. Her name is Franshwa. She has twin boys. Five weeks old. On the brink of death.
I walked into her tent yesterday, took one look at the babies and thought, "We're too late. They are about to die."
My gut reaction: take the babies. She had tried to give her babies away the day before.
After talking to the mother, she wants her sons. She wants them to live. She just doesn't have enough milk to feed them. Tragically, she would have given her babies away to save their lives.
Franshwa doesn't have enough milk to sustain her babies for several reasons. This mother doesn't get to eat every day. I found her in a tent with her two sons who look like tiny, lethargic, skeletons. The mother doesn't have access to clean water and with the cholera scare Haitians are not taking any chances with dirty water. Franshwa also doesn't have any knowledge about breastfeeding. No one has ever taught her that babies need to eat every two-three hours. No one has ever taught her that she has to feed her babies, even if they are tired and weak and don't wake up to cry. No one has ever told her how long a feeding should last. No one told her that if she doesn't eat food or drink a lot of liquid, she isn't going to make enough milk to feed her children. As a matter of fact, very few poor Haitian moms know these simple truths and as a result...babies suffer, starve, and die. Needlessly, these babies die.
Ellizay, who looked a little better than his brother
Elli. This baby broke my heart. Shattered it.
I have never held living skeletons. These babies are extremely weak and skinny. There were several times yesterday as I held Elli that he would close his little eyes, and I would gently shake him because I thought he died.
My heart hurt for this mother. She wants to parent her children. She lost her eight year old son a year ago. "What happened to him?," we asked. "He got sick and he quickly died." That was her answer.
These babies are this mother's only living children. She's married. She doesn't have a job and neither does her husband. They love Jesus. Her husband preaches some times at the church in the ravine.
How do we increase this mother's milk supply when she doesn't have water or any food to eat? How do we help her keep her babies where they belong...with her. How do we keep these babies alive until Franshwa is making enough milk to sustain her babies?
Thankfully the Lord immediately provided a sponsor for this mother. She's been adopted, if you will. For three months this mom will come to Child Hope, a children's home nearby and eat two large meals a day. She'll get a prenatal vitamin and enough water to take home every day to keep her thoroughly hydrated. We'll weigh her babies and make sure they are growing. Her babies will be supplemented, after two feedings with formula that is prepared and served at Child Hope. We can't send formula home with mom. She has no way to keep bottles clean, and she must make milk. We will never give her formula for her babies, because formula will not sustain these children in the long run. Either this mom's milk supply increases or these babies will die, or she'll have to surrender them to an orphanage. Until she's making more milk, the babies will get a little formula after two feedings every day.
We took this mother to Child Hope yesterday. She was fed. She nursed her babies. They did really well. A nurse looked the babies over. I did a one-on-one breastfeeding class with this mother. Such simple things, and yet you could feel the darkness slipping away, and the light creeping in. After a couple hours with this mom and these babies the lady we returned to her home was smiling. Her babies were awake. Wide eyed. I'd go so far as to even say this mom was...excited. Hope looks beautiful on a woman. Beautiful.
I asked her if she had been praying that God would help her babies. She replied with a forceful, "wi." What a sweet moment to look my sister in Christ in the eyes and tell her through teary eyes that God has heard her prayers. He listens. He is watching. He has provided for her. Not me. Not the American in the States. GOD has provided today. He sent me here. He told the American to give. He put Child Hope in just the right neighborhood. God has heard her cry for help.
Moms, as you nurse your babies will you pray for Franshwa, Elli, and Elliswa? We have three months. Three months to turn these babies around. Three months to seek the Lord for a way to help this family generate income in their home. Three months to see God heal this mother and restore these babies and this family.
I've never helped a mom try to increase her milk supply as her babies are near death. Will you pray for me? As with almost everything here in Haiti, this is yet another moment when I've had to admit that I am not equipped for the task at hand.
There is a recurring scene that happens in this country. Me. Hearing a tragic story. Shaking my head. Admitting I have no clue what to do. Getting a little frustrated that God has put me in this position. Life or death situations. I feel incredibly inept. Like a disrespectful butt-head, I snap at God..."why didn't you send someone down here who actually knows something? I thought you were a genius. This doesn't feel very smart." That scene played yesterday as I sat with this mother and her babies.