I first discovered the Livesays online. I read their blog and was taken, right away. They tell the story of helping bring beautiful children into this world, of living in Haiti, of unanswered questions, of living faith. Then, in Haiti, I rode in the back of a rugged van, bouncing along roads with gaping holes and ruts deep enough to lay down in and take a nap. That van took me and a group of bloggers right to the Livesays’ front porch, where mothers held precious babies in their laps. Today, Tara Livesay tells us the story of Heartline, in her own words:
I have often wondered what it would be like to go back in time 24 years to my senior year of high school and the unplanned pregnancy I went through that year. What if I were forced to redo it alone and without medical care? Could I have survived a delivery alone? Could I have parented my daughter without the love and encouragement I received from family and friends?
I assume most women enter into the birth of their first child with some amount of fear or uncertainty. I just wonder how much greater the fear is when women are forced to give birth at home, without a skilled attendant, without emotional support or fanfare.
This sounds so distant to those of us who grew up in the developed world and gave birth to our children with a midwife, obstetrician or nurse at our side. For the women of Haiti, this is reality. Two out of three women give birth at home (imagine no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no easy access to water) without the help of a trained medical professional.
When I gave birth to my first daughter 24 years ago, I could not imagine that, one day, I would be privileged and honored to help other women deliver their children safely into this world. What a joy it is to be with a woman on this most important day in their lives. Serving Haitian women and walking with them through pregnancy and childbirth has been an absolute gift. I am grateful.
Heartline Maternity Center and our programs are unique. We offer 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 living in a country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere. Because of that, we meet women in a country where the risk of dying during childbearing years is unusually high, and the chances of losing the baby are just as daunting.
We are able to spend seven to nine months of a woman’s pregnancy getting to know her story, her needs and her unique situation. Prenatal care is rare for Haitian women, so we are thankful to offer the same quality prenatal care in Haiti that our friends and relatives in North America receive. 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 often 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 with 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 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, love, and grace to a woman who comes to us from a life of difficulties we will never fully understand.
The word “midwife” means “with woman” and that is what we do. We walk with them.
Working with the women, we quickly learn that one healthy pregnancy carried to term, one victorious labor and delivery, one healthy single baby born to one mother who overcame immeasurable obstacles is what truly matters.
It’s awesome and we are so grateful to God 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.
We invite you to pray for the women who are due to deliver soon. Their faces and names can be found here.
To read more about Heartline Ministries, visit the Heartline website and the Livesays’ blog. You can also connect with Tara and Heartline on Facebook.
This year, (in)courage has partnered with the Livesays and Heartline. Join the (in)courage community as we cheer for the Livesays and for Heartline; let’s pray for them, let’s encourage them, let’s support them. Pure Charity has set up a campaign, specifically for Heartline. You can partner by clicking here.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
My daughter has served as a missionary in Haiti and speaks of many of the same things that your post does today. Becoming a mother is a difficult enough transition in a developed country let alone in a country as poor as Haiti. I will be sure to check out the Heartline website. Thanks for having a heart for these mothers in need of love and grace!
I am so delighted to read this because I have been a long time follower of the Livesay’s and Heartline. After the devastating 2010 earthquake there, I was listening to and watching all the coverage and through it all, Troy Livesay became a clear, compelling, accurate voice reporting the conditions & needs of Haiti in crisis. I then found their blog and Heartline. I have prayed for many of their ladies by name! Tara is incredible in writing about her journey, not only as a midwife & missionary, but as a mother, wife and woman. She is very. very. real. Thank you to (in)courage for linking up with them!
Jen Sandbulte says
As much as I’ve heard about Haiti from my ViBella friends, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about this process. What a delight to know loving people are reaching out and loving these women! Thanks for all you do!
Lisha Epperson says
Hi Tara! I was honored to attend a few births as a trainee at the Brooklyn Birhting Center in NYC. In my short time in the program I’ve come to recognize it as sacred, holy work. I imagine the care and loving support you provide the women you serve is similar yet profound in a way I can only imagine. Every woman remembers her birth story. And the women who hold her hand…remember it too. Here’s to more sweet memories.
What an awesome blessing you are providing for these young ladies. The love and support that they would probably never know God is using this ministry to reach so many people.
Love the Livesay’s blog and Haiti! Can’t wait to have my feet on that soil again! Maybe we’ll end up on the same flight with HON!!
Thank you so much for sharing their story with us. I will say a prayer for all mothers there.
Lori Harris says
More thoughts than I can process here-
Thank you for giving me a fresh look at poverty and mothering and the roles we should play- to just be with.
Susan Shipe says
What an incredible ministry.
Beth WIlliams says
Thank you for opening our eyes to more good being done by dedicated Christians. God bless you all for the hard work you put in and for a great and interesting story.
It truly is hard to imagine poverty like that. Not even able to have a doctor, hospital, nurse, etc. when delivering your baby. It seems like worlds away and yet it is so close.
I will pray for Livesay and their work. May God greatly empower you all in the work you do!