Posted: September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Emmanuella, pictured left, being prayed for by the Heartline ladies, came to our program with her aunt.  She is 15, but looks about 11 or 12 years old, so it was hard for us to grapple with the fact that this little country looking girl, with a goofy poof bun on her head was going to have a baby.  She barely spoke and shut down when we tried to reach her.  The story revealed itself in stages, like the peeling of an onion, as we often say around here.  We still don’t have all the pieces but what we do have is heart wrenching.

 Emmanuella’s mother died when Emmanuella was 12.  She lives with her dad and aunt but the aunt doesn’t really want them.  I asked to meet with dad and sure enough, this quiet, man took time off work and showed up at our door.  “I was going to beat her for getting pregnant,” he told us, “until I realized she was forced.”  “Who forced her,” I asked?  A neighborhood 18 year old who has since fled.  The dad used what power he had and tried to make a legal report of what had happened.  The paperwork got lost.  Like it never happened.  But we saw the swelling belly each week and knew it indeed did happen.

As her belly rose so did her blood pressure – to dangerous highs.  We knew we might have to risk her out but where could she go?  What hospital would follow up on a teen who didn’t show for appointments?  Who would give her public transport money?  Who would scold her to drink more water, eat more food?

We put her on meds and she would often not take them or would lose them.  Neither scolding nor love seemed to reach the wounded heart of this child, soon to be a mom.  We would pray with her, tears streaming down our faces while she would stare straight ahead as if we weren’t there.

The crack in her soul seemed to happen in labor.  Her aunt called that labor had started so Emmanuella came in.  In her pain something cracked and light poured in just a bit and she started reaching out to us.  Just a little.  Pain meds helped some but still she cried out from her depths.  Most gut wrenching of all was when she cried out for her mom.   Joanna, Dr Jen and I spent the day and night laboring with this mother-to-be-child and eventually came to the decision that a cesarean section was needed.  In layman’s terms this teenager’s pelvis was not finished growing and couldn’t fit even an under 5 pound baby through it.

Winni, our wonderful Haitian nurse and liaison went with her to the hospital.  They agreed with our findings and gave her a c/section.    Two days later Tara took our ambulance to pick mother and baby boy up and bring them back to the maternity center.  On inspection they had released a two day old baby with a 102 fever.  So now we have a teen mom and a sick baby.  Mom, barely recovered from surgery had to get back in our ambulance and return to the hospital.  The hospital said they were full and would not take the baby back.  A second hospital was also full but had connections and forced hospital number one to take back the baby.  They are there now.  Mom, sore and not yet recovered, is allowed to see the baby for breast feeding and at no other time.  She has no bed to sleep in and no where to go between feedings.  We are not welcome so we can’t check on either of them.

While Tara was dropping the pair off at the hospital a man, in all his righteous fury, starting yelling and berating Emmanuella for having a baby at her age!   No wonder this kid shuts down!

Emmanuella happened into our program.  We are her advocates.  We will fight for her and her baby and get them the care they need.  We will look after her once they are discharged and make sure they are okay.  We will work with her to get breastfeeding established and make sure she heals well.  That’s what we do.  God brings us ladies and we look after them.  We have connections, we have a voice, we have some power.

The poor, the Emmanuellas and her family, have none of these things.  The system here fails the people over and over and over.  Women die, babies die, people lose hope.   Mothers with sick babies are turned away.  Free hospitals are never really free.   Lines are too long, beds are too scarce, medicines too expensive and people are made to feel humiliated.  The victim is blamed.

Left at home to birth Emmanuella would have labored and labored until the baby died since her pelvis was too small.  At a free hospital she might or might not have gotten her c/section in time.  At a free hospital the baby might have been taken care of or it might have been lost in the sea of other sick babies.  A 15 year old does not know how to ask for help or even know she needs it.

That’s why we are here.   God brought us Emmanuella and we need to stand for her and get her the help she needs.  It is not easy in this corrupt, inept system.  We will need God’s wisdom in the days ahead as we make decisions with Emmanuella for her future.  We need to help her be a successful mom and healthy person.  Pray with us, the issues are complex and there are no easy answers.  But our God is able and He cares for the poor and helpless.

Proverbs 14:31

“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.”

Beth McHoul

Emmanuella’s New Born Son

  1. Joanna says:

    Beautifully written! I am so humbled by the work that each and everyone of you at Heartline ministries does. What a gift. Thanks for continuing to love, especially when it is not easy! Miss you guys! ~J

  2. Katherine says:

    How is the baby doing? Fever down?

  3. lise says:

    Love you guys and your advocacy for the people of Haiti!

  4. hrarnold says:

    John ,we will be praying for this young lady and every one in your ministry

  5. Pam Nees says:

    Thanks for all you are doing in Haiti. And thanks for glimpses into the hard work, the pain, the sadness, the joy, the frustration, the laughter. I know God uses it all.

  6. robin says:

    You guys are awesome! 🙂

  7. Sarah says:

    Thinking about these two today. Wondering if he made it to his third birthday?

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