Love, Loss and Ismael

Written by: Tara Livesay, CPM and Director – Heartline Maternity Center 

In every culture, the loss of a pregnancy or newborn child or the inability to have a desired pregnancy can be indescribably painful.

If you’ve followed stories in Haiti for long, you know that far too many Haitian families have experienced great loss. Loss is more common in cultures that lack resources and medical infrastructure. 

Your continued compassion toward the women we care for and walk with at the Heartline Maternity Center has meant so much to us over the last twelve years.

Compassion is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.

In mid 2016, Celia came to the Heartline Maternity Center for care. She was early in her second pregnancy. In her initial interview, Celia shared that her first baby was born at home and had struggled to breastfeed. That precious baby girl died in the first week of her life.  

Understanding how painful loss is, we wanted Celia to have the very best chance at a healthy pregnancy.  She began attending our prenatal program and class every week.  

In December of 2016, she went into preterm labor at just 29 weeks. Sadly, just before Christmas, Celia’s baby boy died at the hospital and she and her husband, Robert, again experienced the loss of a beloved child.

Then, one breezy Friday late in 2018, Celia came to see us. “I think I’m pregnant again,” she whispered with a hopeful smile.

When a woman who has lost two babies gets pregnant, the entire Maternity Center staff tends to hold our collective breath until the riskiest time for a miscarriage has passed. In Celica’s case, we held our breath until she was well into her third trimester.

On July 8, 2019, Celia and Robert welcomed their son into the world!

Celia carried her pregnancy to term. Baby Ismael did not immediately do well with breastfeeding, but the round-the-clock staff of midwives at the Maternity Center kept encouraging, helping, guiding, and praying. Celia and Ismael stayed in postpartum for six days, working on bonding and breastfeeding. 

When we got into the ambulance to take them home, I said, “The last time we were in this ambulance all together we were picking you up from the hospital after your second child passed away. I am so grateful that today we are in the ambulance with a baby in your arms.”

In our work we recognize that we cannot control every outcome. We hope, we pray, and we provide the very best care we possibly can – but we know the rest is not ours to control. We suffer setbacks and losses. Our focus in the middle of the ups and downs is on building relationships. We believe, as Pema Chödrön so beautifully stated, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.”

As we celebrate this family’s momentous homecoming, we are incredibly grateful for your compassion and support.

At Heartline, we’re committed to a vision of healthy, thriving Haitian families. This work is simply not possible without the generosity and prayers of people like you. Please consider giving today to ensure that families like Celia’s have access to the excellent care and holistic support they deserve. 


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