Personal Tags: Haiti, new mother, White Ribbon Alliance, UNFPA
Denise - HaitiMother Health International"I got a knock on the door at night that a woman was in labor. When we get to the woman's house, we find her alone in the light of the lantern. I gently cradle her body and smile warmly, so that she knows she is safe.
"Her name is Denise and she is 17 years old. She was abandoned at birth and raised by a family, who put her into indentured service. She has nothing to call her own, yet she is polite and quiet. I check her dilation and find that she is in the early stages of labor. Reggie and I decide to stay with Denise throughout the night and provide her with our support.
"Denise progresses slowly. Her groans are getting longer and louder. We keep holding her in a space of love and safety, as she cries out into the night. This mother-to-be has seen a life of no love, and has experienced insecurity and long, hard hours of work. She is small, yet strong.
"As the morning dawns, Denise is still struggling to give birth to her baby. However, we can see, as the hours pass by, that her demeanor is changing. She is now telling us what to do. 'Rub my back', she tells us. 'It hurts and you are not rubbing it enough.'
"Through this long, hard labor, we find that Denise has been kicked out of her home for being pregnant. We cannot give this mother a different past. We could not give her a new beginning to end her poverty and sorrow. What we could give her was the love and care to help her bring her baby into this world.
"We keep vigil through another night of labor. On this night, the veils of fear lift, for Denise is finally ready to move into motherhood. She pushes out a beautiful, chunky baby boy. She is full of life and happiness, as she grabs her baby's wet body and holds him close.
"Denise will forever remember the early morning she brought her baby into this world, for today this young slave has become a powerful woman."
Story narrated by Kelly C. Dunn, a volunteer
Stories of Mothers SavedThis story is one of many collected in an initiative organized jointly by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood ® (WRA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). WRA members from around the world shared these individual stories of women who have lived to tell their stories - who did not die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth - due to a key action taken by her, her family, the community, a health worker, a political leader or others.