Barlow Family - Haiti

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The WHOLE crew

 

Ted & Rebecca

(Haiti)

Tania Grace

(Texas)

Ana & Oliver

(Germany)

Tynan

(California)

Emma

(California)

Olivia

(Texas)

Syndie

(Haiti)

 

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In Prayer, For...
  • the orphans in Haiti
    a smooth moving process
    calm during the transition
  • our kids -
  • Tynan & Tania in college
  • Ana working in Germany
  • Twins' homeschooling
  • the future "additions"
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Thursday
Jul312014

Writing our names in the land...?

This post is a heartfelt response that came bursting forth as I read this recent post by our friend Elizabeth Trotter, who lives & ministers in Phnom Phen, Cambodia. If we had been given more than 3 weeks together and didn't have SO much to process during our shared experience at Missions Training International on cross cultural preparation for life overseas, we may have been destined to be bosom friends....so much in our hearts is similar.

SO, before going forward review her post HERE at "A Life Overseas":

How do you write your name in the land?

So what sustains you in your host country? How do you plant yourself in the place God has called you to serve? When the earth under your feet seems to crack, when your life is dry and scorched, what do you hold on to? When the soil starts to disintegrate and your well dries up, where do you go?

When no rain falls, when the crops wither away, and there’s no harvest, what do you do? What is your anchor, and where are your roots? Where have you put your signature?

How do you write your name in the land?

Being a fellow homeschool mom, I remember us reading & studying Sarah Plain & Tall AND Skylark and watching the movies when my kids were little.

It's SO true...and something I would have NEVER thought I would ever have applied that story to in the future. Back then I could never have dreamed that we'd be living in a 4th world country, in HAITI...where life is HARSH and complex.

I've just spent the past 5-6 weeks working with moms & babies in a more remote area here. The hardship & DANGER of childbirth for these women has broken my heart afresh...and yet they hurl themselves forward into motherhood just the same, sometimes by choice, quite often even against their own desires. But they are BRAVE and STRONG in the midst.

I've been helping train the FIRST ever postnatal nurses at this hospital to provide follow up care, catch lethal infections, identify breastfeeding issues that could lead to malnutrition, water borne diseases in newborns & death. We've discussed postnatal treatment for the rampant hypertension here...and it's already working. Babies have been referred to higher care that would have been unidentified & gone home & died.

So while what often DOES sustain me IS the beauty of this land...YES, I am a palm tree lover too and the SKIES, the mountains, the sunsets...nature has always FED my soul.

My answer is found though in the eyes of a mom looking down at her new babe...and praying to God for safety. In feeling the arms of a malnourished child grasping my neck as if holding on to life itself, as I sing to her. In the soft touch I must give to a family member who has just lost their loved one. 

THIS is where & HOW - despite being completely overwhelmed at times by the raw & unforgivable sides of this country - I DO find myself writing my name in the land...

And then of course, Haiti has indelibly marked our lives as well:



Monday
Jul282014

it's official...back to school this fall!

I'm finishing up my last week with Midwives for Haiti for now...Illa & Juslene are just doing a fabulous job with the new postnatal care program!...& our last midwife/volunteer for the near future leaves this weekend too. It's been an amazing experience and I'm grateful for the way that MFH welcomed me into their community and let me walk alongside them and use my skills in helping the Haitian nurses provide much needed maternity care here in Haiti.
I look forward to see what comes of our relationship next!!
My time here has ALSO been a fabulous precursor...
                  to a pretty exciting email that arrived a few days ago from:
Dear Rebecca,
Welcome to Frontier Nursing University!  I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Class 130. ...We look forward to having you join us on this exciting journey. 
SO, I am now officially enrolled in the MSN+DNP Midwifery program!!! 

BIG,

exciting,

looooong awaited,

little bit scary.

super fantastic

NEXT STEP!

I want to also publicly thank LakePointe Church in Rockwall, TX for their support in getting me started on this personal & spiritual calling, especially in relationship to Haiti...and all that God will use it for in the future!

I'll be applying for further scholarships through the school & several maternity care organizations, but if you are interested in joining me on this journey through prayer, financial or physical needs support, see this ministry page for MORE details.

It may be a GOD thing...but one of our volunteers last week is going to be one of my future instructors @ FNU! She and the other midwife here currently, have both been such an encouragement as I look forward to the somewhat daunting task of moving into this new role.

Seeing the ENORMOUS need for even the most basic women's/maternity & newborn care here in Haiti & knowing that it is only one of many such countries...is the other factor that URGES me forward on this new adventure. I'll be posting several related needs in the coming months...from volunteers, to stateside clinical midwifery preceptor sites, to medical supplies and reusable diaper/peripad donations.

  

 Feel free to contact me (rebecca@tenmilliontoes.org) if you're interested in partnering to help provide safer births for ALL Haitian moms & babies.

Orphan Care Prevention!!

Monday
Jul212014

a GRAND opening in Hinche...

Today was the first day of the new Midwives for Haiti Post-Natal out patient follow up clinic on the grounds of Hopital Ste Therese. Illa did follow up visits and Jusline did mom/baby assessments hospital discharges.

After intensive discharge teaching all week, especially about "early milk" and encouraging moms to breastfeed fequently, drink plenty of water and eat a variety of healthy foods....drummroll...

ALL of the babies had LESS than 10% wt loss and MOST of them were already ABOVE their birth weight!

The mom's were all recovering well too.

Juslene also shared that over the weekend she had an inpatient mom that she saw before discharge and upon her postnatal assessment found the baby had a fever. Rather than just walking out the door 6 hours after delivery...never to be seen again, a possible infection was identified & her baby was referred to the Pediatric unit for early treatment.

HIGHLIGHT:

Two of our opening day patients are nurse graduates of Midwives for Haiti's Skilled Birth Attendant program. They not only had colleagues deliver their babies in the hospital, but now they're receving postnatal care follow up from former classmates & new co-workers as well.

It made for a lively FIRST day!

Gotta love any work day that includes a moment like this...!

Pauline's Beautiful Baby GIRL

Ivanese's GORGEOUS Baby Boy

Goal met: the 3 H's

Happy Healthy Haitian Mom's & Babies!!

Friday
Jul182014

Life @ Midwives for Haiti

Just a few months ago this video was completed by Every Mother Counts, who partners with Midwives for Haiti to aid in providing maternity care here, especially in the remote areas of Haiti.

The main student featured is Juslene, who graduated in the last class & is one of the TWO midwives that we have just finished training specifically and are guiding through the first few weeks of postpartum and follow-up care. She and Illa, are heading up the new Post-Natal care program.

We've just finished our first full week of postnatal examinations & discharge teaching for moms & newborns at Hopital Ste Therese. Juslene saw EIGHT moms today on her own!

Another VERY EXCITING thing happened today....

Part of the discharge teaching is a list of "warning signs" to return to the hospital for.  Some mom's can't read, so Illa & Juslene review the points and have the moms say each one back to them.

This morning we had a mom come find us...knowing that we were the Post-Natal team. She had been discharged yesterday after a normal delivery (typically sent home after 6 hours) and came back today because her baby had a fever. (POINT #1 on the baby warning sign list!) We took a temp to confirm and it was 38C (100.4F) axillary. She was referred immediately to the pediatric emergency unit for further evaluation. 

It worked!!! 

She returned based on their care...

                                 you should have seen Juslene's smile!

Tuesday
Jul152014

Broken.

So much of life feels chaotic lately, but sometimes I think it's just me.

Now that we’re living apart for these weeks of work up in Hinche, and both working full time during the week, Ted & I are having to grapple with everything over brief cell phone calls or facebook messaging. With 6 kids, 2 ministries, a Haitian business and household to run you can imagine how difficult it must be to communicate even a fraction of the necessities and even less of our emotions or needs lately. I think we’re doing pretty well & yet often it just isn’t enough!

This morning’s chat we had time for some depth & at one point I wrote:

I feel broken in so many ways & yet hard as stone in others…

I wonder how we will ever process everything here when we're done...years from now...or will we not? instead just tuck it away into our past that we don't talk about much...and find distance from things we can't really understand or don't want to feel?

This is one of the places where our hearts often live here, dwelling amidst the poverty. EVEN when God is faithful and generally we are doing fine.

Being in Hinche with Midwives for Haiti has been a joy in some ways, but a stressor in many others. I have to admit I’ve been sharing more stress than joy about life here with my hubby lately, knowing that he would understand. He’s heard about:

- how hard it is to raise a child in a work/school/living space setting

- worries about Syndies recent tantrums (a new thing)

- how I really miss my kids overseas that are all spread out

- concern about how we will pay for our homestudy

- being unable to follow up on Kervensly while I am here

- unable to complete dossier paperwork while here

- missing my own bed

- increased loneliness & isolation at times

- feeling his difficulty of managing things in PAP alone

The ability to finally use my personal skills in a purposeful way, the gorgeous countryside, and the more evident needs everywhere here are my personal perks to the work at hand.

Yesterday was our first day onsite with the two nurses we’ve been training to provide post-natal care at the local government hospital. I want to explain that these nurses salaries are being paid by outside donors to provide this much needed care.

Up until now a mom would come in to deliver, if everything was normal she would go home 6 hours later - NO after delivery follow up appointments, NO head-to-toe assessment of her baby, NO discharge teaching...you get the idea, she’d be on her own to figure it out (without even books or the internet). THIS is another reason that many moms & babies die...not during childbirth, but in the days & weeks just after...to childbirth related or newborn complications.

As we worked our way through the moms being discharged yesterday morning, I had a hard time reconciling the medical care & resources available there to what I am used to in the states. There are 2 MFH trained nurses & 2 charge midwives for all of maternity (L&D, post-natal, ante-natal & post-surgical (c-section) wards. The wards are open - approximately 10-12 beds, no privacy & no toilets (they use buckets that go under the bed). NOT the beautiful private birthing suites & postpartum rooms that most of the hospitals I’ve worked in have.

This project is the FIRST time (in this hospital) that there will be a full newborn exam perfomed on each baby....even now, they have no chart, no vitals taken, no one checking on them in particular… Illa & Juslene will provide this care now, along with care for the moms. The hope is that the nurses will catch complications early & prevent fatal outcomes.

There was a mom yesterday who was laying ALL morning (over 6 hours) in blood & fluids... she had a c/s that morning & her baby was laying by her legs for hours with family nearby. I NEVER saw it eat. She was sleeping through the pain. Finally I saw that she was awake & that baby was awake & our nurses were finishing up their documentation...so I snuck over & asked if I could help...took her breast & put the baby on it for it's first feeding ever.  I showed grandma how to help.  Finally a midwife had a free minute to check on her...to see why she was bleeding...come to find out, I moved the foley & it started draining, then it pooled & splashed out the drain, which wasn't closed....hence the saturated sheets she was laying on...that her family would have to take home & wash. Still the first smile I saw on this mom’s face was when her baby latched on & started feeding as she lay there...it’s universal..

moms just want their babies to be OK!

THAT smile was enough reward for the day.

AS we wrapped up our clinical for the day we reviewed how it went with the Illa & Juslene. They were happy and felt good. They talked about feeling slow in their interviews & assessment. We encouraged them that it would come with time & become routine.

It was quite frankly a very hard day for me physically & emotionally, but I was SO PROUD of how well they cared for these moms and of how much they have invested in providing this care for them too.

As we arrived back at the MFH compound & walked in for a late lunch, Juslene came up beside me & slipped a cellophane wrapped card into my hands with a kiss on my cheek before rushing off.

When I picked it up to open in the privacy of my room a few hours later…

a huge crack in my easy-going but strong outer shell erupted.

I don’t really like doing what I do for any thanks, In fact it often makes me uncomfortable to be acknowledged. Just knowing something was the right thing to do, helping others and pleasing God is truly enough in my book. I typically feel reward in the moment by the peace that it brings.

Knowing the expense spent on this card was for ME and the beautiful words are so touching, but what stopped me in my tracks was one fact:

This is the FIRST and only thank you card I have ever received from a Haitian!

So sweet that it came from a fellow maternity nurse & sister in Christ too.

What might be lost in the cultural context is the fact that Haitians see giving KNOWLEDGE and skills to another as the greatest of gifts and sacrifice. These are providing her with a job too.

This simple gesture sledge-hammered “my world” and the fact that I’ve been focusing SO MUCH on my own stress lately, that I almost missed the JOY in serving here.

Picking up the pieces now...with a fresh heart & perspective.