A Miracle

Friday, May 30, 2014

This happened today. Marvens went home with his sweet dedicated momma. He has been seizure free for one week! Thank you all for praying! He's an amazing little miracle and I am in awe. 

A Call to Prayer

Monday, May 26, 2014

The past two weeks we've had constant flow of Chikungunya victims arriving at our door with high fevers, severe bone-breaking pain, dehydration, and tachycardia (higher than normal heart rate).  It's a vicious mosquito-borne virus and I detest it. It's debilitating and no respecter of persons.

A week and a half ago we had three babies born in eighteen hours at the MC. I think we broke our record for most babies in the shortest amount of time.  The days following broke a few more records we didn't know about. Two of the babies born in that eighteen hour time period exhibited symptoms of Chikungunya within 48-52 hours after birth.  Though Chikungunya has a very short incubation period after being bitten by an infected mosquito, 48-52 hours was too quick. Considering both mothers of these babies presented with signs of Chikungunya during or shortly after labor, we believe their babies contracted Chikungunya via vertical transmission.

One of the babies who contracted Chikungunya, via vertical transmission, is Marven. I'm quite inadequate to tell his story.  It has so many more factors than just his battle with Chikungunya. To give you a better picture of his story, it begins with his momma, Christella. She has three other children and the heartache she experienced with them during her pregnancy was more than I want to tell you about here. Christella bonded beautifully with her new little boy in the days following his birth. When he started showing signs of Chikungunya, she held him, talked to him, and cared for him around the clock. It might not seem like a big deal...every mother would do that, right?  It's different here.  That's most often not the case. Holding babies close and soothing them isn't really a thing.  We have to do endless education to get the skin-to-skin and a baby needs its' mom idea across. For Christella, that was just instinctual.  I never had to prompt her to feed her baby, never had to encourage her to hold him rather than set him on the opposite side of the bed. She was the first one to notice his strange body movements 36 hours after his Chikungunya symptoms started.

After watching a few "episodes", I was fairly sure he was having seizures. Scary. Watching a little baby seize is enough to break my heart into a million pieces. The care this little guy needed is so beyond my knowledge and skill level, but there really weren't any other options of places to care for him. Hospitals are full and turning away Chikungunya patients.

This is the part where I could write a book on how deeply grateful I am for our Dokte Jen, her heart for Haiti, her wealth of knowledge, and her ability to remember every medicine we have. I could do some serious technology product promoting as well. Thanks to Jen and technology we spent the next 24 hours trying to get his seizures to stop. Marvens has been seizure free since Friday night!

Yesterday was a heavy, scary day of unknowns. As we waited for the sedative effects of phenobarbital to wear off, we didn't know if Marvens' hypotonia (lack of muscle tone) and lethargy were due to the effects of medicine or damage from seizures and encephalopathy (disorder of the brain). As 24 hours without phenobarbital came and went and the hypotonia and lethargy remained, there were a lot of unanswered questions and crashing hope. Christella became increasingly discouraged and asked that we quit giving Marvens all medication because she was scared of how it was effecting his body. She understands we can't promise anything, that we can only try our best and that seizures can do damage. The possibility of having a mentally disabled, epileptic child here is completely overwhelming. It's hard to get medical care for the basics sometimes, let alone something as complicated as this.

Christella agreed to let us give Marvens another 24 hours of seizure medications. This morning I was so relieved with the improvement he had overnight. He is moving, breastfeeding, and awake and alert for periods of time. Tonight we are 72 hours seizure free, which means it's time to come head to head with more unknowns. Will he have a life-long seizure disorder? Will the effects of encephalopathy be life-long? We will be taking Marvens off seizure medicine tonight to see how he does.

The unknown is scary.  We've seen God answer our prayers over the past few days as medicines have stopped seizures, lethargy has faded, and he has started breastfeeding again. Will you pray with us tonight? Pray he will have no more seizures and that in the coming months, as we watch his development, we'll see normal developmental progress.

"When all else is unclear, the heart of trust says, as Jesus did on the cross, 'Into your hands I commit my spirit.'"- Brennan Manning
So I'm committing this night  into His hands and asking Him to help me trust.

I've thought about these words much over the past week.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our mothers, regardless of how we may feel about them, play a large role in our lives.  We may be people who have been loved and nurtured in wonderful and profound ways by our mothers or we may be people who wish that were true.  Regardless of what our relationship has been or is with our mothers, we know it is significant.  

For those of us who have been nurtured, cared for and loved by our mothers, we see the difference it likely made in our lives.  Occasionally we get glimpses of what our life could have looked like without the loving care of our mothers and we are endlessly grateful for the part they’ve played in who we have become.

For many of us, our lives have been impacted by loving, caring, and nurturing women regardless of their mother status. Some of these women have been mothers, friends, aunts, grandmothers, and sisters.  We’ve been encouraged, inspired, loved, treasured, and pushed to deeper places by these women.  

This Mother’s Day we want to honor the women who have graced our lives with love and joy by giving you the opportunity to provide life-saving care to women who will impact the lives of their children and others around them.

Mother's Day is right around the corner, if you are anything like us, time has gotten away from you. We are excited to offer you a beautiful way to honor those you love. This is the perfect honorary gift for future moms, friends, adoptive moms, sisters, foster moms, stepmoms, single-dads, or those that are longing to be a mom.
With a donation in honor of your favorite Momma, we will send her a personalized card letting her know you are thinking of her this year.

A donation of $15, $25, $50, $100, and $2300 will do the following:

$15 - Provides the basic medications needed at a birth for mom and baby

$25 - Provides for a day of postpartum care for one woman

$50 - Provides for the supplies (and upkeep of equipment) for one labor and delivery

$100 - Provides for one month of early childhood development classes and support

$2,300- Provides for one woman entering the program in the first trimester, lab-work, necessary monitoring, medicine, prenatal care, educational classes weekly during the entire pregnancy, labor and delivery at Heartline (with a reliable transport option if an emergency dictates transport), 48 to 72 ++ hours round the clock postpartum care, six months of weekly classes and scheduled post-partum monitoring of mother and baby

With your donation of $15 or more, we will send the woman you wish to honor a personalized card (similar to the example above) via email.

To donate in honor of your favorite woman, please go to this page:


You may donate by PayPal or Credit Card.

After you have donated, you will immediately receive an email confirmation of your donation.

Complete the following steps:
1.                    Make a donation at the link above
2.                   When you receive your email receipt forward it to tara.livesay@heartlineministries.org
3.                   Include:  The name of the woman you want to honor (My sister, Tina got the example card above) - The email address you would like us to send the card to.  (We will blind copy you when we send it.) All cards will be sent on May 10 or 11, if you have a preference please note when you would like the email to be sent. Please also include the name of the donor/gift giver if you wish to disclose that information.  The subject line will say, "Sarah wanted to honor you this Mother's Day" if you share your name, please share it as you want it used in the subject line.
Your donation makes a difference in the life of Haitian mothers.  Your donation honors the work and sacrifice of the woman you want to recognize.

~           ~           ~
To meet and/or pray for some of the women in the program, you can go here.
Heartline Maternity Center and our programs are unique. Yes, we offer a 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 that are living in a country with thehighest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere, where 2 out of 3 of their friends deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant. Because of that, we meet women in a country where the risk of dying during child-bearing years is unusually high and the chances of losing the baby are just as daunting. 

We are able to spend 7 to 9 months of a woman's pregnancy getting to know her story, her needs, her unique situation. Prenatal care is rare for Haitian women, we are thankful to offer the same quality prenatal care in Haiti that our friends and relatives in North America are receiving. 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 oftentimes 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 to 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 teach about child-spacing and safe and effective methods of birth-control, in order to empower each woman to take the lead in their own health and future.

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 and love and grace to a woman that is coming to us from a life of difficulties we will never fully understand. 

We are so grateful 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 --- and that is the reason you want to consider supporting Heartline Maternity Center when you give in honor of someone you love this Mother's Day.
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