Today is my birthday!
What a big difference from last year--last year I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with…had a good day, by myself…made the best of it…today, the students insist on coming over to sing to me…after we work at the hospital this morning…I made some cookies and sweet cornbread last night to share…I think it will be sweet…
The rainy season has begun…just about every day it starts raining sometime in the afternoon…sometimes it rains really hard, sometimes it rains slowly and for a long time…it makes everything more beautiful…the trees are greener…there is less dust on the road…it’s cooler…the insects sing more…(I still never hear birds sing…sad…there should be lots of birds here…)
I never got news about the lady with the severe abscess, who we transported to Cange. I think she’s probably at home and OK, however I don’t know if she continued BF her 1 month old baby…
Yesterday though, I did see the other lady we had transported that day…the 24-week pregnant lady with the strangulated hernia…she is OK….coming in every 3rd day for dressing changes on her bandage…so her life was saved, but her life sounds impossibly hard…she was talking to me yesterday, hoping that I could help her with some money…it’s so hard because SO many people have lives that are this hard and need the same help, and you can’t help everyone…I’m here to train midwives, and to provide healthcare…that’s all I can really do…but sometimes I do give people money when I see that that is the only way they’ll make it…anyway, here is her situation: she is staying in Hinche with one daughter, at someone else’s house. The husband of the friend letting her stay there is starting to be outraged at her presence. She’s from really far away in the country and she has 4 other kids out there, with no one taking care of them. They’re on their own. One of them Is 3 years old. Her husband is in the DR working and they have no communication and she doesn’t know when he’s coming back. She has no money, not even for paying to get on a truck to go home. She still needs to come in every 3 days for dressing changes and needs her stitches removed in 2 weeks. So she has to stay in Hinche for atleast that time.
Peoples’ lives are so impossibly hard here. You hear stories like this all the time. And most of them, they’re not exaggerated. That’s the real truth.
I had a really really happy, joyous, fun birthday. It was wonderful. Apparently the students and Marthonie had been planning a surprise party for me since last week. They came and made a party! They were so much fun. This group of women is really special. They are heartfelt, caring, sincere, loving, and FUN. There is one girl in our class who is HILARIOUS. She is one of those people who is always joking, always laughing, always making people laugh. She had me laughing throughout the whole party…some of the students danced together, and she was dancing too, but kind of in a joking way…I wish I had a video of it. I’ll never forget it. The most wonderful thing was that they all came together to show me their love and appreciation for me. It was so real, so unpretentious. One of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. It really is the happiest of them all because now, I’m not missing true love anymore. Blada and I are together, closer every day. So, because of that, I feel like my life is on track, even though sometimes I can barely stand living in Haiti and with the American volunteers.
The past few weeks with volunteers have been really good though. Really great folks who have come through, helped a lot, given us personal space, just been overall really easygoing. That’s been so nice. Now, we have 1 week with no volunteers. Such a blessing to have a little break. We should have a break regularly--it’s not normal to never have a break from people.
We had a really great birth yesterday…this poor lady had been being induced for a couple of days (for pre-eclampsia) and was exhausted…1st baby--finally was close to having her baby…pushing on a 3cm cervix, flailing around, screaming…it was almost time for us to leave…I stayed by her, and got her grandmother to come in too…just stayed there and massaged her and tried to slowly quietly soothe her fears and help her to calm down…well, during this time, of course there were other people standing around, watching, doing nothing to help, even laughing at her as she struggled…(these people are students in an auxilliare school--it’s like nurse’s aid school, 2 years long)…anyway, I usually talk to them about stuff and try to give them advice about how to treat people, but in this l=moment I just ignored them. Well, after awhile of struggling, this woman gave in and relaxed into her labor and let it happen…pretty soon she was complete…pushed her bb out fast, in hands and knees…had a really beautiful birth…I think she tore her cervix, because she was spurting blood at first (not from a vaginal tear), but then it stopped…so we let it be…I had thought that her bb was going to die right after birth, because of being so premature, but, the baby was more weeks than we had thought…maybe 32 or 33...was breathing on his own, and rooting…he looked like he was going to make it when I left…if he nurses a lot and stays warm…if not, he will not make it. So, hopefully.
The above baby DID make it! His mom was rally connected to him and breastfeeding him. I was so happy to hear this a few days ago!
Things here are better than they’ve ever been. Our living situation: the house: it is so much better because we have these new housemates, who we knew were coming and have been waiting for for months. Their names are Kirsty and Mackenzy. She is a Canadian MW and he is her Haitian fiance. They’re really down to earth, relaxed, cool, fun, nice, etc. they’re really into gardening and have already started gardens here. I feel like we can learn a lot from them. Having someone else here to help hold the space & who understands the realities here feels so good. They’re only been here for a week and we already feel so at home together. I feel like a layer of stress has been lifted off of me, because I don’t have to carry the house alone anymore, and interact with the visiting MW’s alone anymore. Thank god. The past few months here, until about a month ago, were really stressful. Getting the house going, starting a new class, having CONSTANT volunteers coming, each week, never ever having a break for ourselves.
There are things that are hard to address with people, such as people walking in here and taking pictures of everyone all the time. It’s a total underlying attitude…what do you say to them about that? Even if you ask someone’s permission to take their picture, and they say yes, that doesn’t mean that they’re really consenting to it…no matter what you do, there is a power differential when you come to a place like this and you have a camera and you are white…people don’t usually know how to say no. to me, it’s voyeuristic and exploitative to come to a place for a week and feel entitled to take all these pictures of people,,,in town, in the hospital…would you walk into a hospital in the US and take peoples’ pictures that you don’t know? I don’t think so. What makes you think that’s ok to do here? Because you paid your money and volunteered? Things like this that fucking drive me crazy sometimes…and I’m the one who’s here each day, seeing people come and go, seeing people repeat the same patterns…asking myself how the people here feel about having their pictures taken by all these white people who they’ll never see again…this is an example of why I’m glad Kirsty is here. To help hold things down and explain things to people so that hopefully they’ll think about it in a real way.
Anyway, like I said, everything has taken a turn for the better since about a month ago. The volunteers have been great, things have flowed more easily, and the house has been less stressful. The place you live shouldn’t be a source of stress in your life. It should be a place to relax and unwind from your work and outside life.
Even though the past month has been really great, I see that I am still processing the undue amount of stress that has been here in our house for the 1st several months of the new class (january-april).
Nothing too crazy at the hospital recently…let’s see…there was a lady who had had eclamptic seizures and was still there and I guess was in a coma the night before…well, she was the most agitated post-eclamptic person I’ve ever seen…she was talking NONSTOP, like a crazy person…going on and on about all kinds of crazy things…total drama about her aunt trying to kill her and just crazy stuff.
Then there was a woman who had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized ovum had embedded in the fallopian tube, which eventually burst, and then she was bleeding internally)---I didn’t see her myself but apparently, she was admitted the day before for abdominal pain,,,the OB did a sono and couldn’t see anything…only fluid…(it was blood)--well the next day apparently she was in more pain, and he did another sono, and still didn’t see anything…so what he did was insert a needle into her abdomen and withdrew to see if there was blood…yes, there was bright red blood…he rushed into the OR with her and operated on her ruptured ectopic pregnancy…she got a blood transfusion…after which her hemoglobin was 5...she really could have died…and would have if he hadn’t done surgery on her when he did…she had already lost a lot of blood…
Anyway…so, yes, things are good here…not too crazy, just moving along. The students are doing great. I taught NNR (neonatal resusitation) to them the other day, and we practiced a lot…they did great…I felt really good about the information I delivered to them…simple, complete, all the essentials.
Blada is great…I love all you guys…