When I joined Twitter the first celebrity (okay, maybe the only celebrity) who followed me was Christy Turlington. Ms. Turlington is also the first celebrity (okay, maybe the only celebrity) to retweet me. When it happened I was so excited that I called my friend, Anne Parris, to tell her about it.
It probably isn’t obvious at first glance what in the world Christy Turlington and I could possibly have in common. But what we share is a passion for maternal-child health. Christy, a maternal health advocate through her organization, Every Mother Counts and me, a labor and delivery RN, both want to see a global decrease in maternal mortality rates.
Every two minutes a woman dies from a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. The causes of these deaths varies from country to country, and culture to culture, but experts agree that 90% of these deaths are preventable.
Ever since I became aware of Every Mother Counts I have been asking myself what more I can do. Again and again, I visited Christy’s website and looked at the volunteer opportunities listed there. Again and again, Midwives for Haiti called to me. And each time I answered the call by saying to myself, “Someday.”
What is Midwives for Haiti?
Midwives for Haiti collaborates with the Ministry of Health of Haiti to teach Haitian men and women the midwifery skills that make them skilled birth attendants.
This last May, I was invited to be on a podcast panel with Christy, and several other bloggers, to discuss Every Mother Counts’ Mother’s Day and the Pinterest project, Know Mother’s Day. I wrote about that experience here.
During that podcast, I asked Christy what more I could do as a Registered Nurse with 20+ years of experience in maternal-child health. Christy suggested Midwives for Haiti.
Since that podcast the call to Haiti has grown louder and louder. But I had many great excuses to keep saying, “Someday.”
Would going to Haiti be something I could do? I’ve never been to Haiti. I’ve never even wanted to go to Haiti. I’d have to take time off from work. It would cost money that I’d rather spend elsewhere.
Then, early last week someone in my life offered to help pay my way. My husband encouraged me to take the money and go ahead and go. It would seem all of my excuses were suddenly gone. So I went to the Midwives for Haiti website and filled out the application. Three days later I had a phone interview, and just like that, I’m going to Haiti in October.
What Will I be Doing in Haiti?
I will be going to serve as a Registered Nurse. My jobs might include going out with the mobile prenatal clinic, working in the hospital maternity unit alongside Haitian care-providers, and/or teaching midwives in the classroom.
I’m nervous/excited/scared/thrilled/terrified/curious. The number one cause of death of pregnant Haitian women is eclampsia. If any of you watch Downton Abbey you remember that’s what killed Sybil. I’ve never experienced the death of a mother under my care. The website says that babies die primarily from prematurity because there are no NICUs there. The pre-trip information informs me that, on average, 2-6 babies die a week at the hospital I’ll be working at. I’ve seen babies die, but it’s a rare experience, not a daily one.
But most of all I’m in awe at how God will work in our lives when we step away from all of our excuses, and all our fears, and step out in faith to do the work we’re called to do in this life. I feel truly called to go and do this.
At the bottom of this post you’ll find the podcast with Christy. If you go to 19:35 you’ll hear me ask Christy what I can do to help, and her answer that has changed my life.