Pregnant women come waddling into the maternity center.
They are weighed.
Some of our ladies struggle to gain weight. It's hard to look them in the face, with worry in our eyes, and say..."We know it's hard, but if there is any way you can eat more...please...you must."
We take their temperature and blood pressure.
Pulses are high. Lots of our women are poorly hydrated. Dehydration causes many issues in pregnancy. We beg them to drink every chance they get. I always think about how hard it must be to be pregnant in this country. The heat. Lack of water. Lack of food. No comfortable place to lay your head. Tons of walking. We beg them to drink water, knowing many of our ladies don't have access to clean water or the money to buy it. The more they drink, the more they have to use the bathroom. It wouldn't surprise me if none of our ladies have toilets in their homes. I'm reminded every week that nothing is easy here. Nothing.
For the pregnant women who are due for exams, Tara
plays with their pee does lab work.
All of our ladies are anemic. Most are severely anemic.
Protein is expensive. We see poverty's effects in the lab each week.
It shows up in blood work and urine analysis.
The ladies eat a high protein meal together.
They drink high calorie/protein shakes and get their prenatal vitamins for the week.
We have girls that are young...who should be giggling with their sisters at home or braiding each other's hair. Instead...they are alone and pregnant. High risk pregnancies. Too young with bodies that are not ready to birth a baby.
We see older women. Lucille Pierre is 52. This is her twelfth pregnancy. And yet she's happy she is about to have a new baby. She loves her husband and family. She's one of the sweetest parts of our program. Pure joy. She's my favorite. Shh. Don't tell anyone. Can you imagine being pregnant at 52? I'm trying. No. Nope. I can't.
The women come to class where they learn about a variety of topics. Fetal development. Nutrition. Breastfeeding. The importance of drinking water and taking vitamins. Sex education.
And sometimes Beth gets up there and shares with them through passionate tears that God desires to use them...these ladies...to change Haiti. He wants to use them to raise Godly children who will one day change their country. She reminds them that they are important. They can influence others. They can share knowledge. God can use them to change their communities. "You are not powerless. You are not a victim. You are important. You...You...YOU can bring about change in your country." I'm usually a snotty mess when Beth finishes.
We see 15 year old girls who are about to be mothers.Enisse recently moved into the Harbor House. She'll need a lot of prayer as she transitions into this new home and makes new friends. You can follow along with what is going on at the Harbor House at Tara's blog.
The ladies who are due for exams are seen by talented midwives who love, respect, and care for them.
When they are due for an appointment on Thursdays each woman gets individual attention.
We are given glimpses into these women's stories. "My dad made me marry this guy. He made me. Then the man got me pregnant and left me." The heartbreak never ends.
We pray. We ask God to do the impossible. Sometimes we flat out beg Him.
Women helping and loving other women...it's an intimate, complex, personal thing we do at Heartline. No men are allowed. Every week I marvel at this maternity center. This building filled with vulnerable women...all of us...the Haitian women and the "blans." Insecure. Unsure. Trying to learn how to be women and take care of each other and ourselves. Striving to be honest. Wanting to respect one another. To learn from each other. To be a friend. To love. To help lighten the load. To never judge. To be slow to speak. Quick to listen. To extend grace. To pour out truth. To encourage. To be firm. To stand firm. To laugh. Weep. Pray.
Every week I am honored to serve with one of the most beautiful groups of women. When we're all in one room talking, laughing, or bawling our mascara off, I still find myself wondering why God has been so gracious to include me in what He is doing through Heartline. I find myself whispering to the Lord..."How did I get here?" I really don't know, and I will never understand it, but I could not be more grateful for this undeserved gift.