Friday, April 26, 2013

Do Good

Before every surgery, before every birth, I always speak the same words to Glen... “Do good.” It is not a grammatical error of the intention “do well,” but rather very intentionally, DO GOOD. Do good with yourself, your skill...go and do your best...but also, do good for that person and by that person. It never gets old, it never gets repetitive or irrelevant.

We went to Haiti to do good.

In the 3 weeks we spent in Haiti, we worked our asses off, were thrusted beyond the uppermost thresholds we had ever reached, pushed from our comfort zones- physically, emotionally, mentally, and professionally (and probably in just about every other capacity). We taught, but we also- more than anything- learned. Oh, did we learn.

We were so eagerly welcomed by the Haitian people- the midwives, the students, the mothers and their families. These people so very much wanted our help, wanted us to be a part of their care. They were so thankful, so appreciative. I am grateful to have been not only been allowed but welcomed into the lives and births of these women.

There were times that I felt hesitant, even inadequate in many situations. But then, with the realization that what I had to give was better than the alternative- nothing- I trudged forward. The situations I was in and the stories I will now forever have as my experience are endless- I was a teacher, a preceptor, an obstetrician, a pediatrician, and a NICU nurse. But more than anything- I was a MIDWIFE.

To be a midwife and practice midwifery is a beautiful thing. It is to be with a woman. To support her and guide her when needed, to not intervene unless needed, but to also recognize when things are abnormal and then have the skills to handle the situation appropriately. I laughed with mothers, experienced what it is to be with a woman even through language barriers, I welcomed new life into my hands and I also had a baby die under my hands. The emotional spectrum I felt and continue to feel toward Haiti is a vast abyss. It just cannot even be expressed.

Here at home we struggle on a daily basis in the battle to decrease unnecessary interventions, lower the cesarean section rate, and bring birth back to the hands in which it belongs- women. It is not about the doctor, it is not about the midwife, it is not about a committee, or a lawyer, or someone with ulterior motives. It is about practicing evidence-based, providing evidence-based information to the woman, and supporting that woman in birthing her baby safely, but also in how she has informly chosen.

It's an interesting thing that here at home we are struggling with decreasing interventions while we drown in a sea of gadgets and machines and various interventions at our disposal, and in Haiti we hope and pray for access to these same interventions. Here in America, the war wages for midwifery to survive and continue, the battle of recognition and legality and CNM versus CPM continues on. But yet in Haiti, women and babies are DYING- dying EVERY DAY- because they NEED midwives. Is this not a terrible, sick predicament of this world? What a contradiction of situations.

And so we are back...back from Haiti, back to our “everyday life.” We have returned to our work- our comfortable office, finalizing plans for our beautiful new office and birth center, and back to our healthy moms. Even in just the two days that we have been back, the memories of Haiti are beginning o fade in our busy, occupied minds.

But let's not forget. Oh Tara, I tell myself, do not forget. Haiti seems to be a world away. But it is not. It is so, so close. And regardless of language and cultural differences, women and babies are dying, and that is just not acceptable. Not when there is something I can do about it. Not when there is something we can do about it...

A typical sight in Labor & Delivery

A premature baby girl dies.

The safe delivery of healthy twins, breastfeeding soon after birth.

A placental abruption, neonatal resuscitation, and likely long term complications.


A happy, healthy delivery and new life.

I will end this blog entry with my 3 very favorite quotations, which are entirely independent of each other and seemingly unrelated, yet cumulatively, they sum up my feelings of my experiences of Haiti and really, my life in general...

"...I feel that same intricate delicacy for the life within me. Everything in life and the outcomes that transpire are ever so fragile. We, like a developing life, are hanging on by a thread. Will it work out? What will tomorrow bring? We don't know. The thread is delicate and can break at any given moment, sending us down another path, or taking it all away..."

"You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: 'We did it ourselves!'
~ from The Tao Te Ching
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."
~Rabindranath Tagore

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, please visit
And... Do good.


  1. Oh, dear Tara and Glen.
    Thank you for making that journey. It was our privilege to be colleagues there with you and witness your service (and how cute you were passed out on your bed together in the mornings with the kittens crawling on you!).
    Go back to Haiti, sometime, so that you can see---it takes time, but we are Doing Good.
    God Bless.
    Wendy & Greg

  2. Hi Tara!
    What a beautiful blog!! I am so excited I found you through the Every Mother Counts website linking me to the Midwives for Haiti! God bless you for your amazing work there. I am excited to sit and read all of your entries as I have UGLY-CRIED :) thru a few of them and loved reading of you DOING GOOD! I am amazed at the kindness in the world and know there are so many who want to help the discrepancy of the birthing world here v. other struggling countries.
    I am a certified-birth doula (DONA) and would love to help. I am wondering what your feeling is about how much help I would be in the births you assisted while there. I dream of midwifery when my 4 children (teen down to 7) are not here at home, but am passionate about the birthing women I have helped and love how well you put it in your first blog entry: we are surrounded by TOO MANY INTERVENTIONS and lawsuits and OB's-who-think-they-are-GODs (ok, i said that! :) in the Us of A yet in Haiti they are crying out for just SOME of those interventions. That is SO wrong. I am looking forward to the rest of your insight.
    Would you email me your thoughts on doula-assisted births there? You are young (and so pretty!) and might not have delievered many babies with doulas, so maybe you don't have much experience with them in the US. (OB's sure dont in our area!!!) thank you so much
    Keri Bryant
    ps - almost forgot - I am fluent in french and hope this will help! I REALLY am thinking this volunteer opportunity will be my niche. My heart is beating out of my chest thinking about time there and I am excited. Have a great day and DO GOOD!

  3. Dear Tara and Glen, I have read all your blogs with tears in my eyes. Tears of joy and sadness. You have totally inspired me to become a midwife and help others. I would love one day to go to Haiti and help them. I think natural childbirth is beautiful. You have hit so many good points, today in the world we depend on so much and take it for granted but on the flipside some of those things determine whether a mother or child will live. Thank you for inspiring me. You two truly are amazing people. I would love to learn more about some local schools for becoming a midwife. I would like to meet you and talk to you if at all possible. My email is


  4. WOW, I am heading to MamaBaby Haiti in October for 6 weeks. Would you have some time to talk with me? I too blog at on birth and Christian principles. I love being a midwife! GOd bless you for your work there.