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Helping Babies Survive

UPS rang the doorbell and I ran to get the package. I brought it inside and opened it on the spot, with Winnie, Piper, and Boston at each corner.


“What is it?” Winnie asked. The kids were eyeing it suspiciously.


“It’s a fake baby.” I said.


“Bebe.” Boston pointed.


“But this is for me to use while teaching, not like the baby dolls you play with.” I said, slightly edging them out with my elbows, feeling protective.


I was thankful to have received it in time. My class was in two days. I also realized the flip charts, booklets, resuscitation materials, and deflated baby doll were too tempting for the kids and I needed to put it out of reach.

Introducing Neo Natalie

Last year, immediately after returning from the Democratic Republic of Congo I got a text from a girlfriend asking if I’d ever heard of a course that teaches medical providers resuscitation in an international, low resource setting. I said no, but the thought intrigued me. Jetlagged and processing what I’d just seen in DRC I lay in bed and googled. I came across a course put on by the American Academy of Pediatrics, using standards set in place by the World Health Organization, called “Helping Babies Survive”. It piqued my interest.


Less than 24 hours later my friend Anna texted me from Spain. Have you ever taken the Helping Babies Survive training? I’m taking it right now and I think you’d love it.

This set in motion more research and a pretty quick resolution that I needed to take this course. It combined everything I love: women’s health, babies, working in places that don’t have much, creative problem solving, teaching.


But the problem was, there were only three trainings that year and they were across the country. The thought of another big trip away from my girls, while I was still breastfeeding my 4-month-old son, and when we had just returned from Congo just seemed, hard. But more than that, each time I would consider signing up, I got a very strong sense to just wait.


So I waited.


Periodically I’d check the AAP website, and see a new class pop up. Philadelphia. Chicago. Boise. I did not sign up because the Holy Spirit was still impressing on me to hold off. This lasted one year.


Next up was a week-long interview process for Mike and I to become missionaries in East Africa with an organization called Serge. Immediately after we said our big yes (more on that later), I visited the AAP website because I knew I wanted the Helping Babies Survive training before moving to Uganda. I was willing to make a cross country trip but saw that a new training had just recently opened up 10 minutes from my house in San Diego!


Over a year of feeling like God had pushed the pause button, and now within days we had a set of new job offers, and the training I had been wanting to go to just miles from my home.

I emailed the Serge team in Uganda and asked if this was a need where we would be moving, the head pediatrician, Marc, emailed me back saying, yes. He was seeing many babies in clinic who had oxygen deprivation around the time of delivery. There is a huge need for education and continued training of the maternity nurses, doctors, and midwives, and Helping Babies Survive is incredibly effective. It’s even shown to decrease newborn death by 47%.


But mostly, he said, the bigger vision would be to teach providers how to teach the course- so they could run the trainings with staff in their community who are delivering babies at local clinics and homes.


Our team leader in Uganda, Dr. Myhre, in all her wisdom of living, working and raising 4 (now adult) children in Bundibugyo, sent an email also to leverage these big dreams. She agreed the need was there and it would be a huge undertaking while also taking care of 3 young children. It would take some time to adjust to the rhythms of life as a mother in Africa, and to be gracious with myself.


After waiting for over a year, I could finally distinguish, with both passion and realism, where God was pointing me next. My kids could tell the box in the mail, with everything I had been dreaming about, was special to me. And when the first day of the training came I waved goodbye to my little family and left to gain new knowledge and skills.


Geeking out on Women's Health here, aka My Happy Place

P.S. I completed the "Helping Babies Breathe" and "Essential Care for Every Newborn" Master training last week, and it was AMAZING. Those two courses are the "Helping Babies Survive"course and I am so excited about seeing how this all unfolds in-country. Click here if you would like to see a real-life video of what I will be teaching. It is in a birthing room, so expect to see a brief glimpse of what that entails, like, maybe don't watch this at work unless you're employed at a maternity hospital like me :).



Dr. Shaun Berger, facilitator of the training, also teaching how to hand express colostrum

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