I never expected my heart to be broken this weekend. I never expected to sit in a training workshop and sob.
But, then, God never does the expected in my life.
As of Saturday evening, I am now a trained DONA doula (much more on this in the coming weeks and months). For years, I have wanted to become a “servant” to women during their pregnancies, labors and deliveries, and postpartum weeks. For years, I have wanted to bring beautiful to the hospital rooms and living rooms and hearts of expecting families. For years, I have wanted to hold a laboring woman and let some of her pain become my own, as we witness perhaps one of the greatest miracles of all time – the birth of new life.
But, then, infertility happened, and I was too crippled by my own pain to shoulder the weight of others.
Now, nine weeks after Abby’s birth I attended a DONA training workshop this weekend with Abby in a stroller and have now emerged with new passion and with new purpose. I don’t just want to help couples stateside through pregnancy and birth, but rather I am now aware of a global need for mother/baby care “servants” in the remotest parts of the world. And, anyone can make a difference. We don’t need medical degrees (although those are extremely helpful). We don’t need years of experience. What we need are hearts full of compassion and boldness to raise awareness of the atrocities being committed worldwide.
Let me back up and explain…
Tammy Ryan CD/BDT (DONA), CCE, was my DONA workshop trainer this weekend. She is not just a lead member in the international doula organization, but also a founder of Joule Birth, Inc., which according to their website is a non-profit organization that exists “today with a vision that women in every country will have access to healthcare by midwives or staff, provide needed equipment, educate healthcare providers on evidence base childbirth practices, to find solutions to stabilize power sources, to eliminate kerosene in homes and introduce a safe alternative energy source that mothers can use to take care of their babies and midwives have a light source for night and emergency procedures in birth” (www.joulebirth.com).
According to the Joule Birth website, the State of the World’s Mother’s 2013 documented that 1 million babies die the very day they are born and 3 million newborns die within the first month of life. Up to 75% of newborn deaths are preventable with basic, cost-effective care. In The Democratic Republic of the Congo (where Tammy has been working in the midst of rebel warfare), 9 out of 10 mothers are likely to lose a child under the age of 5. The stats are heartbreaking. The stories even more so.
During lunch breaks and after training hours, Tammy recounted stories of women dying because the primitive operating room was not usable due to rolling power outages. She recounted stories of stillborn babies piled in corners of the single delivery room with masking tape covering each individual bundle with the mother’s family name written on it. She recounted stories of women being beaten because they dared to cry in childbirth or cry at the sight of a dead baby. She recounted stories of women laboring on their own because there simply are not enough midwives and doctors to go around. She recounted stories of rape and kidnapping and death.
She recounted stories that we can change. Stories of families like ours that could be forever altered by yours and mine. Through simple things like solar energy panels. Fetal heart dopplers. Doula care. Education.
And, all of the sudden, I see a convergence of passions that God has been stirring in my heart since I was a missionary kid in the orphanages of Mexico. A passion for international justice and mission work. A passion for rape victims. A passion for supported birth.
I’m going to embark upon my stateside doula services this year with a heart to eventually be able to make differences in countries like the Congo where way too many women and babies are dying. I would ask you to partner with me.
First of all, considering donating to Joule Birth through their website or raising awareness of the international needs that are present. If you have connections in the medical field, basic supplies like gloves and dopplers are desperately needed.
Second, please share my name and contact information with expecting mothers in your lives (Lauren Hasz at firstname.lastname@example.org). In order to finish my certification and gain more experience, I am offering my doula services in the Denver area for a greatly reduced fee for the first families that contact me in exchange for the necessary one-page reviews I need to complete my certification. I am excited to work with families through the last months of pregnancy to develop birth plans, work through fears, and plan for the postpartum period. Even more so, I am thrilled to use emotional and physical pain relieving techniques to create safe spaces for mothers to labor and deliver whether the birth takes place at a hospital, birth center, or home. I will not interfere between partners, but rather support the laboring woman’s chosen partner on the baby’s birth day.
Finally, I ask that you open your heart and eyes with me. I am asking God to break my heart once again for what breaks His. I am asking Him to use my hands and resources. There is literally a dying world that is too precious for us to sit back and do nothing.