Saturday, May 21, 2016
I get an email from Haiti. The young woman who was found homeless and pregnant has had her baby by caesarean section and they need formula. She was HIV positive. Why a c-section? Why formula?
I write back that HIV mothers are still suppose to breastfeed. I feel a desperation that melts into depression. There is nothing I can do. I am here and they are far away. I lie in the warm grass filled with wildflowers and try to let the earth hold me. I let myself sink into her arms but when I stand up, it is still there.
I send emails to anyone who might be able to place them in an orphanage. She is a teenager with no family or home to go to. I clean and clean; trying to wipe away the images of babies dying in Haiti. We are preparing for a new baby in our family. I hike up into the forest and find branches for the baby shower decorations. I put roses in glass jars and put them all over the house. My yard is overflowing with roses. When it rains, the paths and walkways are strewn with their blossoms.
But I am in Haiti. I call for a ride to the hospital and walk towards the room where the mother and baby are resting. The translator says to me, "But this is how they do it." I sigh and say, "But the baby will die." She says, "The baby had HIV anyway." I argue. "Just because the mother had HIV, does not mean the baby will."
But I am not there. There is no moto ride,nor a conversation with the translator or staff or mother. I am far away.
I live near the confluence of two great rivers. It is a wondrous ecosystem that was exploited and wounded. it exists as a colony of Portland. There are 16 superfund sites at the bottom my hill. Like HIV, you cannot see it but it is there. I tell myself that it is enough to care about this place. I make a free clinic in a car shop. I try to root myself but my spirit leaves my body and flies to Haiti. I try to return to my body but I can not. I try to say that this is the world I was born into.
I see that the children on the hillsides in Cabestore's hair has turned red from malnutrition. I tell myself I will try to find funds for a feeding program for the "poor school" but I cannot get through to anyone. I tell myself I will, at least,make sure the 90 year old grandparents have a solar pump so they can grow food for their grandchildren who are living with them and often have no food. I make lists.
I buy slippers to keep in basket by the door so that less dirt is brought from the garden into the house. I try to take my mind off the mother and baby and the children of Haiti.
I am a midwife and I can see that I am fighting for this baby's life thousands of miles away. Every protective nerve ending in my body comes alive. I am midwife, working thousands of miles away.
I tell myself to stay calm and answer emails and trust that the orphanage and the mother and baby will find each other in time. I am blessed to have met so many wonderful people who I can contact. People who answer my emails quickly and with the same urgency I feel. I work on trust and wait.