Monday, November 19, 2012

Supporting Runners

My friend, midwife Beth McHoul, is a long-distance runner. She also runs Heartline Ministries’Women’s Program in Port au Prince, Haiti, which gives care and education to poor and vulnerable pregnant women, but she has run 8 marathons, and is still running. I had the joy of hanging out with her for a labor and birth at the Maternity Center, my last night of this trip. I had the honor of catching the baby, but I really felt like I was just like the supportive friends that jump in and run a few miles with the serious marathon runners, to keep them going and give encouragement on a very tough journey.

We had a sweet 17-year old Haitian girl in labor, whose "baby daddy" is gone to the Dominican Republic and whose parents are dead. She lives in Port au Prince with a few relatives. Cenline somehow managed to find Heartline's Maternity program pretty early in her pregnancy, so things went extremely well for her. She was treated for STD's early, and received nutritious lunches, vitamins, prenatal care and education. So in spite of a long and exhausting labor ( about a full 24 hours), she was healthy. She walked and walked around the Birth Center garden all day; drank Gatorade, and did her share of Haitian vocalizing. After dark, a relative showed up and rubbed her back while she labored. Some shots were heard not far off in the darkness of the city, and the 2 big mastiff guard dogs got a little worked up, but we were safe in a nice compound with an armed guard. So just before midnight, Cenline gave birth to a lovely, full-term baby boy with no complications. He's about 7.5 pounds, definitely not early, and was starting to nurse when I left.

This birth was such a treat: a final sweet dessert before leaving Haiti. After years, another out-of-hospital birth! Hardly any paper-work and no electronic monitors! Hours of midwife hangout chat with wonderful colleagues and friends- Beth McHoul, Melissa Curtice, and Jessica Shinneman. It didn't feel like I work; it was just fun. . Beth and the Heartline crew live here and midwife and mother these women for about a year, and they do it day after day and night after long night.

I have never run a marathon—I can barely do 3 10-minute miles on my best day. I have ultimate respect for runners who even think about more. And on this 8-day trip, I just worked a few days, caught one nice normal baby in Port au Prince….did some teaching, some visiting, some administration of the Midwives for Haitian program. I go twice a year and do all the good I can do in those days. Support means a lot, and I do this with emotional, spiritual, and fiancial support of many wonderful people. We all do this together. In this work, we get to be the friend that runs a bit beside the ones on the toughest journey. ..those who give their all to helping this beautiful country, so full of possibility, faith and heartbreak. I hope it was some encouragement and support for my friends and midwives in Haiti. Thank you all, readers and friends, for doing this lap along with me. It was great.

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