Marie Jacqueline was doing everything right. The 35 year old, pregnant with her 2nd child, was diligently following her pregnancy at a small clinic on the outside of Port-au-Prince. In the dusty outpost of Croix-de-Bouquets, she showed up promptly for every appointment and implemented each recommendation her doctor gave her. And then it happened.
“I couldn’t really understand it at first,” Marie reflects. Dressed in a pink flowing dress and tightly braided hair, her eyes widen expressively as she recounts the passed events. “The doctor and the nurse at the clinic, they were using all these words that I didn’t know, and I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I kept looking at my husband, but he didn’t understand either. But then they looked at both of us, and they told me my health, and the baby’s health, was….“ Her voice trails off. “They told me it was extremely dangerous-they told me myself and the baby were in danger.”
She pauses, gathering the details. “I was told I needed to have surgery-I was told that they needed to cut me open. They told me how much I would have to pay, and I remember, my husband and I looked at each other, and we were so scared. We knew we didn’t have it. I begged my doctor to transfer me to another hospital, anywhere where they could do the surgery for free. Finally, he sent me here.”
Marie arrived at St. Damien’s alone-her husband unable to leave work in fear of losing his job and the meager income for supporting his family. “I was so scared!” Marie laughs. “But then, all these nurses and doctors came to me, and I swear to God, it was fantastic. I kept asking myself if I was dreaming-everyone was so supportive-asking me how I was feeling, if I was comfortable. I knew at once that I was in real good hands-the hands of blessing-if you will allow me to call them that.”
The maternity team scheduled her ceserean section immediately. Wheeled down into surgery, Marie recalls the bright white walls, the flooded colors of the earthquake memorial that all mothers pass on their way to maternity. “They told me it was the names of those who died in the earthquake. And here I was on my way to bring in new life.”
Once in the operation room, the birth went forward with no complications. Today Marie sits in the recovery room, her tiny daughter encapsulated in her arms. “I’m leaving to go home today.” She smiles. “My husband needs to see our daughter and we need to give her a name. I am so, so, eternally grateful. I love you all, and wish for blessings for everyone who passed through here.”