I am home now, but still have many stories to tell--and I know that I need to get them out there before they are gone.
The last days of being in Haiti were intense. Another baby died in a similar way as the one that came transverse and I have been deeply impacted by that birth as well--still processing all that happened and didn't happen, and what my part is/was in all of that. I emailed with a midwife today, about a baby that she just lost in Haiti and have been thinking about how to respond to her. I am proud of her for being in Haiti and for her courage to bear witness to all that she does and will. It seems to me that in going to these places we have to be humble in so many different ways (maybe even more than our minds have previously defined) and I think that I am still figuring out how that all looks. Here is what I decided to write to the other midwife...I think these words that just flowed out of me have also been said to me by many of you. Thanks to all of you for your love and support...
"I also had this thought after reading your email--mom's and babies in
Haiti are so much more fragile than we are in the US. Not because
they are less strong, courageous etc, but because of the resources.
On the one hand, because the babies are malnourished, weaker etc,
maybe we should be quicker to act and send them for a c/s. But, I
think, if you do that, then you are putting the mother at risk, for
she is also less resilient--malnourished, at greater risk for
infection and a long recovery. There is no easy answer, as I am sure
that you know, but acting faster isn't necessarily the best thing for
the mom, and maybe in some cases not the best thing for the baby. I
think in Haiti, the picture is much larger than life and death, than
saving babies and creating beautiful births. I think that we have to
truly rely on the faith that the people have. And I just want to
remind you, that while you could have done things differently, while
we are human and we do make mistakes (I am saying this more to myself
than to you, as I am still thinking about that last birth), we are
also not God, Goddess, Universe. Babies die, and I think more there
than anywhere else that belief, that if the baby was meant to make it,
it would have, is important. We can't play God, not in an ego lead
way that makes us think we know better than anyone else what a
particular situation needs, and we can't play God and save babies that
for whatever reason, are not meant to be saved. Protecting birth
space, I think, in Haiti, means more than protecting a life, it also
means protecting the space of death. Protecting the space where a
spirit can choose to come down and touch us if only for a moment."
While I was in Haiti for two weeks, we had six or seven babies that didn't make it--all for varied reasons--infection, malnutrition, stillbirth, delayed cesareans, and the list goes on. Six babies. And for some reason, I cannot recall how many live births I attended or we attended. There were a lot of babies that came. Statistically I have heard that the percentage of deaths per live birth is around 20%, at about the same rate as the World average...
Reflecting on Haiti all week has been hard, I have been exhausted and numb. So much happened and I feel like I integrated very little of it, probably because once one thing was accomplished, once one person was treated, we were running to the next thing. Being there was a lot like being on a hamster wheel--round and round and round--and only in the last couple of days have I felt like I could process all that I ran past. I hope to do more of that processing here, so stay tuned....