Wislande received prenatal care at the Strong Start Maternity Center. She came to the center in labor at 33 weeks, and it was clear that her baby would be born prematurely and would likely need special care. We quickly transported Wislande to the hospital in our transfer vehicle. Baby Chrissy was born in the Sacre Coeur hospital in Northern Haiti in mid-May, and she was healthy but small. Strong Start midwives called and visited Wislande and Chrissy throughout their stay at the hospital. When they were discharged less than a week later, Chrissy weighing just 2.87 pounds, we anticipated the the pair would need some extra support.
Unfortunately, Second Mile staff has worked with many underweight premature babies and their caregivers. Fortunately, over 98% of those babies have overcome malnutrition at Second Mile Malnutrition Treatment Center without relapsing. Chrissy’s case was unique in that she was able to gain strength exclusively through breastfeeding, and because she was treated in both the Strong Start Maternity Center and Second Mile’s Malnutrition Treatment Center.
During their first week at the Treatment Center, Baby Chrissy was busy sleeping and breastfeeding, while Wislande attended her first group education class and met the members of her newest support system. Wislande learned how to perform “Kangaroo Care” with her newborn, which is a method of caring for a premature infant that emphasizes skin to skin contact for as much time as possible throughout the day. After quality time snuggling up to mom between breastfeeding sessions, Chrissy passed the 3 pound mark.
At the end of their first week at Second Mile's Malnutrition Treatment Center, instead of going home for the weekend like most families, the two headed down the road to Second Mile’s Strong Start Maternity Center for some additional support over the weekend. For the next five weeks, Christy and Wislande continued to split their time between the Nutrition Center during the week, where Wislande was able to attend classes and spend time with other moms and caregivers, and the Maternity Center in the evenings and weekends, where they welcomed long visits from family members and endless breastfeeding support from the midwives.
Wislande was amazed. “I can’t believe it - every day she changes,” she remarked.
At that point, Chrissy had reached 5.6 lbs, a weight typically used to classify small babies at birth. In this case, her progress was nothing short of a miracle. Wislande was beaming with confidence in her ability to provide everything that Chrissy needs to survive and thrive. With that, they headed home, knowing that there is a brighter future ahead.