On April 18th, less than two weeks before Pam’s due date, we found out that our overseeing physician had to leave Haiti to attend urgent family business in the States—meaning we would not be able to count on him to back-up our midwife in the case of a medical emergency.
This news came on the shoulders of events only ten days earlier where people blocked roads and burned tires throughout the country protesting the high cost of living. This particular manifestation occurred in the street not very far from our house:
All along we had known that no missionaries living in or around our town had children born in Haiti—all the MKs were born in the US. This meant there was no clear protocol for our situation. Haiti has a 7% infant mortality rate—15 times higher than the United States, and a 1% maternal mortality rate—100 times higher than the United States. Because of the less-than-ideal healthcare and proximity to the States, most missionaries have simply chosen to have their babies in the States.
Early in Pam’s pregnancy we were introduced to Cheron Hardy, a missionary and midwife in Haiti. Cheron, with Dr. Steve James present, delivered the son of some of our friends in Haiti. After meeting Cheron, we were confident with this option. But, like most options in Haiti, there was a twist: Cheron and Dr. James live in a city that we needed to travel by plane to get to! As our plans began to unravel at the last minute there was no uncertainty regarding what needed to be done—April 22nd we were in Florida.
The day after we were thrown this curveball, Pam shared the news at a women’s Bible study in our town. Right there, Connie Curilla offered her car for us to use, and Jennifer Campbell e-mailed some friends in Miami who often host missionaries and have a good arrangement for doing so.
Wes & Leah Norton provided us with car seats and a portable crib, and they helped greatly with the logistics of getting us from Haiti to Miami at the last minute. Wes piloted the MFI plane that we took from Haiti to Florida. Also, it just so happened that there was a team of doctors, surgeons, and nurses leaving Haiti on that particular flight—just in case!
Though everything happened uncomfortably fast, God orchestrated the details in such a way that even before we left Haiti all of our needs had been provided for.
When we informed our family about the change in plans, Pam’s sister and mom told us they were interested in coming to Florida to be with us. The day before they were to return to California, after having been with us for a week, Luke still had not come. That morning we had an appointment at the Miami Maternity Center. Pam was seen by Carol Williams (the midwife who also delivered Silas) and though Luke was in position, nothing was actively happening. Carol said if we wanted to encourage labor, castor oil is an excellent additive to get the lower GI system moving—which can trigger active labor—if the body is ready.
That afternoon, Pam drank 2 oz. of castor oil—and waited. I, Matt, was invited to play basketball with a bunch of guys at a nearby court. We started at 5:00pm and got home around 8:00pm. When I got home, Pam said she thought things were beginning to happen. I asked if I should take a shower. Pam said only if I could take Silas with me. When Silas and I got out, Pam said, “We need to go.” The only problem was that the castor oil was doing what it is meant to do—system flush. So, just as we needed to leave for the maternity center, Pam also needed to sit in the bathroom. At 10:00pm we finally left the house, and at 10:30pm we arrived at the maternity center. Sixty-seven minutes later, Luke was born.
Luke Matthias - May 1st, 2008 - 7 lbs. 11oz. - 22 in.
One week later, everyone is doing well. We will return to Haiti as soon as we have a birth certificate and passport for Luke.