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Live from Haiti

Story by Clare Loprinzi

Haitian women move with strength and grace as they continue to work hard for dignity and empowerment. Last Friday we had a full day of prenatals here at the Jacmel, Haiti clinic. Ludnabert, a strong young woman came to the clinic in early labor. She walked and rested outside the yurt close to the outdoor prenatal area during the day with her beautiful mother staying close to her side. While I worked with woman after woman checking their babies and giving them the vitamins, I would go over and give her water and smile and check in with her. She was graceful in her movements and breathe. I was to find out later that she was a professional soccer player for Haiti. Toward the late afternoon we finished with all the women we were seeing, we being Marzia (a Sicilian midwife), Emily (CPM from Idaho), Melinda (CPM and full on volunteer midwife) and myself. Marzia and I decided to stay up to help Ludnabert birth.

As the night progressed I showed Ludnabert how to hang on the metal bars that support the dome. She and I would go into a full squat position and move back and forth. We moved together throughout the night, dancing and sitting back to back moving and breathing. The clinic uses a lot of dance movement as one of the Haitian assistant midwives, Marie Antoniette loves to dance (so do I ) with birth. Marie has created some lovely dance movements that we use.  In the center of the dome we have a nice counter that surrounds the supply area and we have made it a place where they can lean on to help with their dance movements. The night moved forward with lovely movement and smiles. Around ten pm. Ludnabert decided to lay down, contractions slowed down just a little but were strong. She was in control and moving her baby through her body. I checked how far she was progressing by palpating and massaging the muscles that connect to the uterine wall on the side. Feeling the baby’s shoulders and head ever so low down I knew she was close to full dilation. This is often a lovely time that the mom and baby rest between contractions before the baby births.  I decided to go and lay down on one of the beds to stretch my back and adjust my hips. Little did I know that within minutes I would fall asleep. Marzia was sitting by her side. I awoke to Marzia calling,” Clara, Clara” and realized that I had fallen asleep. I jumped up and went to Ludnabert but I could see that she was still resting between longer spaced contractions. I then went to the next birthing area and saw Marzia sitting there with another older woman. Marzia told me that she had just come, I must of fallen asleep for about 20 minutes (twenty rejuvenating minutes).

Eloufene, a 50 yr olf woman guesses her age from what was happening in history comes from a long line of Haitians. Eloufene was born at home in Jacmel, had all her babies at home, this birth was her 11th baby, some of her births she had done by herself. I could tell from the worried look on her face that she had some real concerns and hard life. I knew that we needed to know what was on her mind so with my creole being basic I asked an translator to come in. She told us that she was scared because of loosing three of her babies and that she was also concerned that this baby was a month early. I told her that I understood that she must be scarred but that this was her baby’s birthday. I put my hand on her belly and talked to the baby who responded to me. I then looked at her and with my eyes and then words told her that her baby had chosen to have this day as her birthday. I told her that her baby felt big and strong enough. I told her that my second child was a month early and was born at home and now he is a big strong doctor. I told her that although I could not promise her anything that I felt with all my heart that her baby was all good. She smiled a little at me and I asked her if we could all, her daughter, Marzia, her and I breathe some good breaths into this room full of love and if she would open up her legs and let her baby come. I talked to the baby and said the same and told her that when she was born that we would bring her right up to nurse from her mom and that she was safe with us.  Eloufeine said yes with a nod. We all breathed love into this area and she let this sweet baby girl be born in the sac of waters into the world. The baby was small and strong and went right up to her moms’ breast where she started after a few minutes to vigorously suck. Marzia stayed with Elofeine checked her hard uterus and smiled with her. I went back to be with Ludabert. I opened the sheet between the two of them and Ludnabert could see Eloufeine nursing her baby. They both smiled at each other.

Within a few hours Ludabert’s baby was ready to come into the world. Eloufeine and her sweet baby girl were nursing and resting. The baby had not yet made any noise other than the ferocious nursing she was doing. Ludabert was moaning and the baby was coming. As her sweet baby’s head came out we heard Eloufeine/’s baby make two sounds; veeni,veeni, so close to the ceole word come come. We all were filled with the amazing power of birth and love as Ludnabert’s baby girl entered the world.

As the early morning was coming and Marzia and I had finished cleaning up the clinic and were ready to come down to the house to sleep a little, we peeked in at the two moms with babies at breasts and smiled. We went back a few hours later to check on the women. Both were doing well. It was asked of Eloufeine, “Why did you travel two hours to come here to birth She said that she had heard of this clinic from other women in the country side. She said that it was told to her that we give good care to the women. She was so happy with her care. She said that we love the women here and we treat them with respect. She smiled. That late morning her family came to help her home. She walked proud out of the grounds of MHI. Two weeks later, she came back to a postnatal. You can the see the photos of the two women and their baby girls living side by side. She handed me a bag, it had two papayas and a jackfruit that she had carried the long distance. My heart was again filled with love. for this work that I am honored to do and for the resilience and strength of the Haitian women.

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    Response: longchamp
    For this article. I think the authors write very well. Content lively and interesting. Details are as follows:longchamp

Reader Comments (9)

thank you for this beautiful text...i am feeling high with this! :-)

Mon, October 25, 2010 at 9:41AM | Unregistered CommenterEmmanuellepook

oh so beautiful . thank you!

Mon, October 25, 2010 at 4:35PM | Unregistered Commenterdarby

Bellissima Clare. Love Sunny

Mon, October 25, 2010 at 8:54PM | Unregistered CommenterSunny

Oh, that story touched me deeply... Thank you, Thank you, Clare!!!

Mon, October 25, 2010 at 11:33PM | Registered CommenterMiglena Delcheva, Bulgaria (Sofia)

Clare, you are an inspiration! You bless every path that you cross! I know this because you have blessed mine! My biggest blessing who you helped into the world 12 years ago is now taller than me! Aloha Nui!

Tue, October 26, 2010 at 2:32AM | Unregistered CommenterSweet Alyssum

beautiful. so roots, i love it. Mahalo nui

Wed, October 27, 2010 at 9:24PM | Registered CommenterCami Kanoa-Wong, USA (HI)

sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo beautiful!!!!!!!!!!

Thu, October 28, 2010 at 8:25AM | Registered CommenterBeth Kilmore, USA (PA)

many memories and how my emotions "Soru"
thanks always to all

Thu, October 28, 2010 at 8:27PM | Unregistered Commentermarzia

very beautiful story, thank you, Clare, for posting it!

Mon, November 1, 2010 at 8:23AM | Registered CommenterGergana Ermenkova, Bulgaria (Sofia)

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