Our Program is for Mirlande

(Photo Oct 17, 2009)
Mirlande is a beautiful 33 year old woman from Croix des Bouquets. She incredibly soft-spoken and calm and rarely draws attention to herself. You are most likely to remember her by the shy way she tips her head down when she speaks.

We first met Mirlande in March 2008 when our prenatal program was just one year old. She came to us the mother of just one child, she had her first son in January 2002. She joined the Prenatal program about 14 weeks into her second pregnancy.

In 2008 we were not yet set up to offer the ladies a place to deliver their babies. We were offering weekly classes, prenatal vitamins, and monthly check-ups but we were still fairly new at it. At that time we would talk to the ladies late in their pregnancies about their plans for delivering. Many would attempt to get into area hospitals, just as many would choose to deliver at home.

Mirlande delivered her baby in late Sept 2008. We're uncertain of the details surrounding that birth because she chose to go to the village to deliver with family. Just five weeks later on Novebmer 3, 2008 Mirlande came to us to tell us her son had passed away. She told us he had been vomiting and had a fever. Other than that she did not know exactly what had gone wrong or what he might have been suffering from. Those of us that were there the day she came to tell us remember it well. As you can imagine, she was profoundly sad and experiencing great grief over her loss.

Photo Oct 22, 2008 - less than two weeks before she lost her baby.
We were surprised earlier this year, in June 2009, when Mirlande came back to tell us she thought she might be pregnant again. We did a test and confirmed for her that she had another baby due in the fall. Mirlande seemed surprised and happy to be pregnant again.

There are so many challenges for the women of Haiti. One more serious than the next it seems. Mirlande suffers from an incurable liver disease, Hepatitis B. With both of her pregnancies we sent her for routine lab work and were aware that we needed to pay special attention to her situation. We researched and learned that infected mothers can pass the disease to their babies during childbirth but that giving the first dose of the vaccine within 12 hours of birth will greatly reduce (90%) the chances.

In Haiti, solving these sorts of problems can be complicated. We hoped and prayed that by the time her baby was born we would be able to deliver her baby and in-turn assure that the baby would be vaccinated in time. If she were forced to deliver at home or at a hospital the chances of the vaccine getting to baby in time were very slim. The programs we attempted to work with on the Hep B issue all failed at offering answers or giving Mirlande an option for delivery or a vaccine.

As the pregnancy went on we searched for the vaccine and found a Doctor to write us a prescription for it. We found it, bought it, and put in in the fridge and told Mirlande the midwives were ready whenever she was. We could deliver her baby!

On October 17th, with her mother helping her, Mirlande started looking for transportation to the Women's Center around 4pm. Her labor had just begun. She needed to get from Croix des Bouquets to Tabarre, about a 30 minute drive. There were no tap-taps available and she started walking while looking for a ride. She did not find a tap-tap. Shortly after 6pm she gave birth on the side of the road. A truck/tap-tap arrived soon after and she came immediately to the Birthing Center.

Mirlande and her Mother showed up at the gate of the Women's Center at 6:50pm. It was already dark when there was pounding on the gate. Mirlande held her baby in her arms but the cord had not yet been cut and the placenta was not yet delivered.

Joanna and Stephanie, both certified midwives, were there and both of them worked hard to clamp and cut the cord and deliver the placenta. They then got Mirlande inside and comfortable and began to clean the dirt off of the baby. Beth arrived and helped with Baby Woodmier's newborn exam.

Photos taken on birthday,
Oct 17, 2009
6lbs 4 ounces
20 inches

It is difficult for us to put ourselves in Mirlande's shoes. When we had our babies we had vehicles, hospitals, great roads, and supportive spouses. Not one of us left on foot while in labor to try to flag down a ride. We were allowed dignity and privacy for our deliveries. We were surrounded by people who could help us.

We desire the same thing for every woman in our program.

Finding transportation is a major obstacle for the ladies in our program. Unfortunately, it is just one of many. Those of us living here often swap, share, trade, borrow and beg for use of an operational vehicle to make sure everything gets done.

The need for a vehicle that is dedicated for use in the Women's Program is so important. While we know that we cannot remove every last challenge from the lives of these ladies, we are excited to offer them a better option when they are in labor. If a tap tap is not available, our ladies should not deliver in the street.

We want to give them dignity and love ... sometimes that will come in the form of a ride.

Photos October 22, 2009
In January we will run for Mirlande and many more like her. Will you sponsor us?

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