Joenaara at Three

January 29, 2011

Joegodson and Paul

Joenaara is three days old.  Her little cousin, Lucie, lives nearby. Lucie is four years old. She is fascinated and comes to see her new cousin each morning and stays all day. On Thursday morning, she asked if Joenaara was ready to go to school. Joegodson told her that they thought they might let Joenaara grow a little first. This morning, she said that she was soon going to have a baby too so that Joenaara could have a friend.

This quick posting is meant to correct all of the misinformation that Paul put in the last post, One More Haitian, that announced Joenaara to the world. Some of the inaccuracies were based on Paul’s assumptions (like: where Joegodson was calling from) and some from the fact that the morning of the birth was pretty confusing, the line was bad, and there was a lot of noise in the background. Instead of rewriting it correctly, which we could do, we decided to let the semi-correct one stand and post this to add some correctives. Since things have settled down, both Antonia and Joegodson have been able to describe the night of Joenaara’s birth in more detail.

Antonia gave birth in the car in front of the Imperial Cinema at about ten minutes to two o’clock in the morning. With Joegodson and Antonia in the car were her mother, sister and brother-in-law, the driver, and a neighbour of Frederique who had experience in assisting in childbirth and who accepted Frederique’s request for help. (Correction #1: Frederique had found someone to help with the childbirth, not a driver.) When the time actually came to deliver Joenaara, the man turned out to be not so experienced after all. But Joegodson and Antonia thank him all the same for offering whatever help he could. It turned out that Antonia and Joenaara were pretty much left to themselves to negotiate the event.

They had just left the Medicins san frontiers clinic. Antonia had been screaming with labour pains, as one might imagine, while Joegodson asked the staff to accept her. They saw her condition; she was right in front of them. They continued to refuse entry since they admit only cases of broken bones. Now, there could be a number of explanations for this that we don’t yet have. For instance, the staff were all Haitians. The clinic is staffed by foreign medical personnel during the day. Joegodson assumes that the foreigners were in their hotels; at least, none was in evidence. Perhaps if they had been on hand at the clinic, they might have accepted Antonia. We can’t know. It was enomormously frustrating to be turned away as Antonia was in such pain and clearly so close to giving birth, which she did in the car several minutes later. For Joegodson, the analysis comes down to something that ties together most experiences: there is everywhere a lack of respect for human life. Imagine a medical clinic not accepting a woman in the process of giving birth. Dwell upon that for a moment. Just let it sit with you as a problem looking for an explanation. And then for a remedy. Here, in the remedies, is where we think the gravest errors are made. People without courage will always put the bandage over the symptom. (But that analysis is for another day.)

In the other direction from the moment of birth, the car carried on to the hospital in lower Delmas. A doctor came to the door to sever the umbilical cord. Antonia and Joenaara were taken into the hospital. Antonia needed many stitches. This was a little after two o’clock in the morning. The medical staff told her that they had no stitches and that she would have to wait until they found supplies. Meanwhile, she was losing blood. Joenaara lay with her, after the staff had bathed both mother and daughter. Not until eleven o’clock in the morning did the doctor find the wherewithal to stitch the trauma that resulted from the birth. That delay, apparently, was the result of having no thread in the hospital. And so, only in the afternoon did Antonia and Joenaara return with Joegodson to Delmas 33. Antonia is still in bed waiting for the wounds to heal over.

Antonia and Joegodson are happy and, at the same time, overwhelmed with concerns: in debt as a result of Deland’s funeral and facing so much uncertainty. But we have some pretty clear ideas and a lot of work behind us. Much more in front.


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