Friday, April 29, 2011

A Little Link Lovin' and some Photos

{Adoption Garage Sale} 
If you live in our home town, our friends are hosting a giant garage sale to raise money to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine.  Adoption and garage sales.  Two things very near and dear to my heart!  Please stop by their house tomorrow morning and shop!  Here's a link to all the info. 

If you live in or near CS, could you spread the word to your garage sale lovin' friends?

{Prenatal Pics} 

Tara posted some cool pictures of prenatals yesterday.

I feel like I've finally turned a tiny, small corner in midwifery related "things."  I nailed several fundal heights yesterday, declared the right positions for the babies in the bellies I palpated*, and then found their heartbeats using a fetascope.  That all may sound like a foreign language to you.  It did to me not that long ago.  In the beginning I felt like I would never, no...not ever...figure out how to measure a belly correctly or determine the position of the baby.  There were lots of high fives yesterday as both Tara and I seem to be getting the hang of this.  Beth is so very patient with us!  *palpate is a sick word.  Will I ever get used to dropping words like palpate and vagina?  Not sure.  Nope.  Not sure at all.  


Our family was written about in an online magazine this week, The Christian CenturyI love how Aaron is called a "Southern Baptist Minister" and the article is about his wife who writes about naked butts in Haiti.  Story of our life, I guess.  The article was a nice encouragement to keep on keepin' it real.

{Double Date} 

We went on a funtastic double date with Tara and Troy to celebrate Aaron's birthday (and also just for the heck of it, cause double dates or any date for that matter is a rare, dreamy treat). It's hard to explain how refreshing it was to sit with friends we love, eat, laugh, talk, and never once get up to attend to a child.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed (like on laundry day) I close my eyes and go back to that restaurant with Troy, Tara, and Aaron.  Happy place.  That's my new location.  You can read about our date here.  Of course it was not your typical date.  Haiti would never allow for such a thing.

{Rainy Season Has Arrived} 

Yesterday I drove home from Heartline in a hard rain.  It was my first time to drive in the rain.  It would not hurt my feelings if it was the last time I do that.  There is nothing wimpy about rain in Haiti.  Either it's not raining, or the heavens have broke open and this island is slammed.  The rain does not fall.  It feels like you're in that weird whack-a-mole game.  The rain pounds, and everyone runs for cover.  It took me an hour and forty five minutes to get home yesterday.  7 miles.  One hour and forty five minutes to drive 7 miles.  I arrived home a beast.  While I was busy slamming my head into the steering wheel, the boys were home have a good-ol' time in the rain.  I love these pictures Aaron took of the merriment.

"Do I like this?  I'm not sure I do.  I can't tell.  I just can't tell...."

"Oh wait.  I do like this.  I do.  I do.  I do."

This is EXACTLY what Hudson's face looks like when he takes a cold shower.  This picture is priceless to me.  That cold shower face.  It should be documented.

And this face should be documented too, because it's so cute...and I need to look at it on days when Hudson pours the coffee grounds out of the french press all over the kitchen floor...and then plays in the mess.  Yes.  I need this picture for those days.

While the rain is fun for four little boys, I'm still sad every time I think about how many people are not living in proper homes in Haiti.  The water runs down the street like a river.  As the rainy season gets up and going, can we remember to pray for the Haitian people?  Many of our moms in our prenatal program and our child development program live in tents.  I can hardly bear to think of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Postpartum Wing Update

Yesterday I laid our heart out there about wanting to be able to serve our ladies at Heartline in a more intimate, safe way during their first 7-10 days after they birth their babies.  I totally forgot to include a way to give financially in the post.  I laugh at how "not good" I am at this kind of stuff.

Good thing God does not need professionals to do His work, or I would be in a heap of trouble.

Instead...even after not offering a way to actually give money, I got two significant emails today.  One wanting to give $10,000 to the postpartum wing.  One wanting to give $5,000.  Does that blow your mind?  It does mine.

So...I think we already have the extra $15,000 we need for the postpartum wing.  Isn't that incredible?

There is a link up on the sidebar with a way to give to the postpartum wing.  However, I think the money has been raised.  So for now, hold off on contributing.  Those of you who have already given some money (there's 300 something dollars in the chip-in meter right now) we will designate those funds to go towards supplies needed during the time the women stay with us after delivery.

Instead of asking you to give today...I'm inviting you to sit here in awe with me.

Every week I am overwhelmed by how much God loves the ladies we serve.  These are His ladies.  These are His babies.  He goes before each of them.  He hears their cries.  He hears.  He knows.

He speaks to people far away from this place and says, "Look.  Hurt.  Give."  He turns hearts toward Haiti.

In awe.  I stand here in complete awe.

It's Thursday, so I'm headed out the door to Heartline where we girls will squeal and marvel and cry over what God has done for the ladies we love.

Thank you...for giving...for praying...for being a part of what happens here in Haiti each and every week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If They Could Only Stay....

Weekly education, prenatal vitamins, and prenatal care.
Safe birth by midwives who love and respect women.
That's what we offer the women in our program at Heartline.

After delivery the mother rests, is fed, she and her baby are monitored closely, and if there are no further complications, the mother is discharged to go home.  In America we lament the fact that hospitals only keep moms a mere 48 hours after their babies are born.  It's normal for one of our moms to go home 8 hours after delivery.  Not because we want them to leave.  The truth is, we simply don't have a place to keep them.

Thankfully, most of our moms come back to the clinic every day or every other day until we're sure breastfeeding is going well and there are no other medical issues to worry about for mom or baby.  Then those new moms enter our child development program that meets every Tuesday.

Those of you who have had babies....can you imagine?

Every day.  Right after your baby is born, getting out and about with your newborn?  I can't.  I imagine my life in the US during my baby delivering comfortable home, a house full of family to help, and my nice, reliable, air-conditioned vehicle.  I still can't imagine what it would have been like, under those sets of circumstances, to leave the house every day right after my child was born and be gone most of the day seeking help.  I could barely get dressed or string a sentence together.

These women come from hot tents to our clinic on a tap tap...public transportation in Haiti...a small pick-up truck jammed full of passengers.  Hot Haiti sun.  Bumpy, terrible roads.  It's an all-day ordeal for these mothers.  When I put myself in their position (or let's get real...when I try and fail to imagine this life) I am overwhelmed with respect for these new mothers.  They love their babies, and they come back to our clinic every day if need be to make sure their babies are fine.  Sore bottoms from a recent birth, very little money to pay for their ride to Heartline, tired beyond belief...they come.

We teach and we teach...we teach until we think we can't teach any more about breastfeeding and how important it is for their babies.  And then our moms leave our care after they deliver their babies, take day-old newborns back to their homes...they are tired and spent after giving birth...weak...emotional...and their well-meaning family members who are not educated about breastmilk and colostrum take over and some of our moms make bad decisions.  The pressure from strong Aunts or know-it-all, this-is-how-it's-always-been mothers is oftentimes too much and all that our ladies have learned every week in prenatal classes seems to be sabotaged.  This is not the story for all of our moms.  Not even hardly.  A lot of our women come to class, learn, and then stand their ground.  Change is happening in their lives.  Their babies thrive and do extremely well.  But there are some...a constant, steady drip and trickle of women in our program whose babies end up on the brink of death after just a few days because they went home and everything quickly went downhill.

The result for some of these babies is tragic.  Within days of discharging a healthy, thriving baby, that same baby is brought back to our clinic very, very sick.  Breastfeeding has not taken off like it should.  Mom is confused and telling us what her Auntie suggested, or that her sister gave the baby beans and rice.  Or worse..."The baby was sleepy, he would not I didn't feed him."  We teach on these things, try to be proactive, go on and on and on and on about what to expect before the baby arrives...and yet we often times end up with underfed babies and confused moms sitting in our clinic a few days after their babies are born.  

Newborns are fragile, no matter what country you live in.  Haiti offers a lot more opportunities for a fragile baby to quickly get sick especially if breastfeeding has not gotten off to a good start.

We've had a string of these babies over the last month or two.  We've written about this disappointment.  The heartbreak.  The sadness we see.  How difficult it is, after a baby presents to us deathly ill, to try and get quality care for them in this country.  We buy our way into hospitals with formula.  We advocate for our ladies.  It's hard, stressful work that can also end up being expensive, depending on what hospital can take our mom and baby.

Yesterday two of our moms ended up at Medishare with their newborns.

Joanne, the mother pictured in the top photo with her baby at Medishare

Joanne's baby is septic and very ill.  If he were not at this particular hospital, which happened to have an opening for him, we're pretty sure he would not be alive right now.  He is still not out of the woods.  He needs our prayers.

Many of you are familiar with Dalonne and her son, Job.  A few days after her baby was born, she brought him to us.  He was extremely sick.  Probably the sickest baby I've seen in our program.  We were convinced she had not really fed him at all since birth.  Dalonne is a hard one to get through unlike the other ladies in our program.  Thankfully Lori, out at Real Hope for Haiti took this mother and baby in and treated the baby for 10 days while trying to work with this mother and get her on-board with caring for her baby.  Lori discharged a thriving, 8 pound little boy from Real Hope for Haiti.

10 days later he's back in our clinic extremely sick.  Dehydrated.  Weight loss.  Covered in a weird rash.  Lethargic.  Heartbreaking.  Medishare had an opening again (praise God) and so he's there being treated as well.

Recently, the New York Times wrote an article called, "Without His Mother's Milk, A Haitian Boy is Lost."  It is a good account of what we're up against in Haiti as we try to keep babies alive by educating the women in our program about breastfeeding. 

"On further questioning we learned that his mother had stopped nursing shortly after he was born because her “milk was bad,” and had been bottle-feeding him with watered-down 7Up soda." 
--New York Time's article

The bottom line:  we need our postpartum wing up and running.  Our dream is to be able to keep mothers for 7-10 days (or heck, as long as we need to keep them) to make sure breastfeeding gets off to a good start and to be able to monitor mom/baby closely before sending them home.  We believe having this intimate one-on-one time with our new mothers will help us strengthen our relationship with them and build trust.  We would be able to give hands-on instruction and constant care and encouragement to our new moms if we were able to keep them for longer.  We would feel confident that after 7-10 days we were sending home a healthy baby and a mom who feels empowered in her new role as a mother.

Five thousand dollars has been raised for the postpartum wing.  We need $15,000 more to make this a reality. In the trenches, none of us have the time to fund raise right now for this new wing.  But maybe God has gripped your hearts and you hurt for these moms and babies.  Maybe you have been sitting in America wondering, "What can I do?  I want to help, but I don't know what to do."  Maybe God will bring ideas to your mind.  Maybe He wants you to raise some money so that this postpartum wing is able to happen soon.  We need this thing...not just soon....but like six months ago!

For the mothers who go home and do everything right...we still would like this postpartum wing.  We'd love for them to stay with us, to rest, to get hands-on training and encouragement while they are with us.  We want to continue to build a relationship with them and serve these ladies during this vulnerable time in their life.  We hate that they have to leave and then come back to us multiple times, crossing this city in a tap-tap with their babies, or walking great distances after recently giving birth.

For the mothers who go home and so many things fall apart...their babies get sick...the pressure from their families is simply too great...breastfeeding stalls out...this postpartum wing is vital if their babies are going to live.  We're tired of trying to find quality care (which oftentimes seems impossible) for extremely sick babies that we know would not be sick if they had stayed with us for a longer time after they were born.

This postpartum wing would prevent so many babies from ever getting to the point where their condition is life-threatening and critical.  We truly believe that after 7-10 days in our care, after 7-10 days of love, training, encouragement, and hands-on education we'd be sending each child home with a fighting chance to live.  Especially since these same moms would stay with us for 7-10 days and then we'd see them weekly in our Tuesday child development classes until their babies are six months old.

Would you pray for our babies that are in the hospital?  Will you pray that God makes a way for the remaining 15 thousand dollars to be raised so we can get our postpartum wing up and running?  Will you ask God if this is possibly supposed to include you in some give...or organize a fundraiser, or use your voice and creativity to make this postpartum wing something that happens sooner rather than later?  Will you spread the word?  15 thousand dollars sounds like a lot of money, but if a lot of people each gave or raised a little, this suddenly seems doable.

If you would like to give financially or would like to ask others to consider giving, there is a chip-in meter on the sidebar of this blog.  Heartline is a registered nonprofit, and tax receipts will be given to you or your organization.

photo credits:  pics 1, 2, 5:  Joanna Howard; pics 3,4: Tara Livesay: pics 6,7,8,9: Beth McHoul

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Our boys have always been critter catchers.  Lizards.  Snakes.  Frogs.  I will forever remember our guys running towards all sorts of varieties of wildlife that I think sane people should run away from.

Our kids have chased lizards all over this campus where we live.  It's an everyday, after school activity.  Nine months of hunting and they never tire from the adventure.  I'm pretty sure they have caught and released every small and medium sized lizard that lives within our walls.  But they were not satisfied.  Oh no.  How could they be satisfied when GIANT lizards roam this place?  Fast, giant lizards.

To catch one they would need a net.  The problem:  they don't have one, and I have no idea where to get them one.

This long, Easter weekend was the perfect time for our Daddy to do that thing that Daddys do.  Make a net and make some magic for little boys.

We didn't have a real net, but we did have holey mosquito nets (worthless) and a holey bed tent for Hudson (also worthless).  Aaron got to work.

Watch out lizards!!

Perhaps this is really a skink.  I don't know.  I have never studied up on reptiles.  I hate them.
These giant, make-my-skin-crawl, what-ever-they're-calleds did not know what hit them.
The boys caught four in one day.
The Hendrick boys are self-proclaimed "Wildlife Warriors" so these critters were released two days later.

Although these things sick me out...that moment...when a boy runs around the corner of a house holding their catch...that creature they have hunted and dominated...that is a moment of pure joy.  Their eyes...wide.  Hearts racing.  Pride and excitement painted all over their faces.  I hate lizards, but I love a boy and his newly-caught beast.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter in Photos

Making a play-dough mountain with the Livesay lards.

Watching the Jesus Storybook Bible min-movie about the cross.

Then we had the sweetest Good Friday service.  Beautiful.

After church we painted our mountains.  Big. Fat. Mess.

Aint nobody gonna steal the Hendrick boy's Jesus.  Uh-uh.  No way.

Saturday we dyed our hands some eggs.

And there are my granny hands.  You're welcome.

Yes.  Another big fat mess.  We went to church today with dyed hands.

I love this boy.

Sunday Morning.  Before the kids woke up I rolled the tomb away.
I also threw our pipe cleaner Jesus in the trash.
It always feels weird to trash Jesus.
I discard him while whispering, "Sorry.  Sorry."

Sunday sunrise service.
Three out of the six of us attended.
Three of us think getting up before the sun gets up is normal.
Three of us think getting up before the sun is crazy talk.


Aw.  Yes.  Church at a normal time of day.

This morning I took the tag off this dress to wear to church.  The tag said $99.  Kirby bought it for $2 at a garage sale.  Just needed to mention that because I heart garage sales.  During church Tara leaned up and whispered in my ear..."You look like June Cleaver."  I'm still her friend, but only because it's Easter.

 After church we headed to Beth's for an Easter feast.  That Beth.  She's the best for lots of reasons but man oh man can she make a meal...and make little kid's faces light up.  Candy, candy, and more candy.

 So much candy.  Delirious.  They were downright delirious.

Beth and some of the Livesay girls before they went into a sugar coma.

Such a beautiful Easter weekend.  So many moments I was overwhelmed by how unworthy I am to have this life, to mother these boys, to be married to this man, to have such deep down friends, mentors, family, forgiveness, grace, mercy, hope, salvation, the cross, and heaven.

Not because I'm good enough, or try hard enough, or pray enough or read my Bible enough or behave enough, or believe enough, or trust God enough.  Grace.  It's the only thing in which I can boast.

This wretch is incredibly thankful.