I first discovered the Livesays online. I read their blog and was taken, right away. They tell the story of helping bring beautiful children into this world, of living in Haiti, of unanswered questions, of living faith. Then, in Haiti, I rode in the back of a rugged van, bouncing along roads with gaping holes and ruts deep enough to lay down in and take a nap. That van took me and a group of bloggers right to the Livesays’ front porch, where mothers held precious babies in their laps. Today, Tara Livesay tells us the story of Heartline, in her own words:
I have often wondered what it would be like to go back in time 24 years to my senior year of high school and the unplanned pregnancy I went through that year. What if I were forced to redo it alone and without medical care? Could I have survived a delivery alone? Could I have parented my daughter without the love and encouragement I received from family and friends?
I assume most women enter into the birth of their first child with some amount of fear or uncertainty. I just wonder how much greater the fear is when women are forced to give birth at home, without a skilled attendant, without emotional support or fanfare.
This sounds so distant to those of us who grew up in the developed world and gave birth to our children with a midwife, obstetrician or nurse at our side. For the women of Haiti, this is reality. Two out of three women give birth at home (imagine no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no easy access to water) without the help of a trained medical professional.
When I gave birth to my first daughter 24 years ago, I could not imagine that, one day, I would be privileged and honored to help other women deliver their children safely into this world. What a joy it is to be with a woman on this most important day in their lives. Serving Haitian women and walking with them through pregnancy and childbirth has been an absolute gift. I am grateful.
Heartline Maternity Center and our programs are unique. We offer incredibly needed and valuable (life-saving) services. More than that though, we offer love, relationship, friendship and time.
We meet women early in their pregnancies. We meet women living in a country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere. Because of that, we meet women in a country where the risk of dying during childbearing years is unusually high, and the chances of losing the baby are just as daunting.
We are able to spend seven to nine months of a woman’s pregnancy getting to know her story, her needs and her unique situation. Prenatal care is rare for Haitian women, so we are thankful to offer the same quality prenatal care in Haiti that our friends and relatives in North America receive. By the time a woman delivers her baby with us, we know the details of her biggest challenges in life, and we know how to support her in a personal way as she delivers a new life into what often amounts to hardship and chaos.
During labor and delivery, a woman is able to do the miraculous work of bringing her baby into the world in a calm environment where people offer nurture, gentleness, kindness and love. If you have visited a Haitian hospital or walked through a crowded neighborhood in Port au Prince, you understand the vast difference our birth-center environment offers a woman.
After delivery, we are able to walk with her as she does the work of bonding. In cultures of poverty, this doesn’t come as naturally as it does for those of us living with material blessings galore. We love, encourage and stand with the new mother while she begins to nurse her baby and bond with him or her in the process. We encourage mothers that God has given them the skills and heart they need to love, serve, and raise their children.
We offer education and ongoing support for the first six months of her baby’s life.
We are human and we make mistakes, we are not perfect, but we try hard to get it right when we’re walking along side our Haitian friends. We work diligently to withhold any judgment and simply offer a place of safety, love, and grace to a woman who comes to us from a life of difficulties we will never fully understand.
The word “midwife” means “with woman” and that is what we do. We walk with them.
Working with the women, we quickly learn that one healthy pregnancy carried to term, one victorious labor and delivery, one healthy single baby born to one mother who overcame immeasurable obstacles is what truly matters.
It’s awesome and we are so grateful to God to have never lost a mother in our delivery room. But, we are even more proud to share that the women that enter our doors feel valued and honored and loved.
We invite you to pray for the women who are due to deliver soon. Their faces and names can be found here.
This year, (in)courage has partnered with the Livesays and Heartline. Join the (in)courage community as we cheer for the Livesays and for Heartline; let’s pray for them, let’s encourage them, let’s support them. Pure Charity has set up a campaign, specifically for Heartline. You can partner by clicking here.