Barlow Family - Haiti



The WHOLE crew


Ted & Rebecca


Tania Grace


Ana & Oliver











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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Entries in Hinche (3)


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!



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 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 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 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 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’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.


a visit to Midwives for Haiti

Tuesday afternoon Ted, I & Hugo packed it up to get out of the city for a couple of days. We picked up Jenna Schmitz, the education coordinator for Midwives for Haiti & three of her friends, Sam, Jordan & Mary who are global health fellows working in a remote medical center in Thomasique, Haiti, who were all returning from a long hike through the mountains from Furcy to Jacmel. We had a pleasant 3 hour drive through the plush farmland up north to the homebase of MFH in Hinche.

It was fun & new to be with a vibrant group of young people all working in the medical field here & sharing dinner with the resident staff of MFH. Part of the plan was just to learn more about the organization first hand, to get to finally meet face to face with Nadene Brunck the founder and also to tour the local facilities where they teach their skilled birth attendants kind compassionate, quality, hands on care. I also hope to return & provide preceptorship for the new class of midwives late this spring & wanted an idea of what it would be like beforehand.

photo: MFH

We had great conversation & I was intrigued by a firsthand look at the rural Haitian hospital setting and the scope of care. There is a group from Ohio State, currently working alongside the pediatric nursing staff, to develop better neonatal care for preemies & high risk infants. We enjoyed visiting the bedside of day old preemie twins as the American RN modeled and explained necessary care of the little ones for her Haitian nurse counterpart.

photo: MFH

The disparity of care here in Haiti vs the US, where I’ve recently practiced, struck me solidly. We helped examine the mother of the twins, who had a vertical abdominal incision as well as a small unrepaired episiotomy from the birth of her babies. I watched as her mother changed the saturated rags that took the place of the nicely wrapped fresh white disposable peripads that I handed out to my patients these past few months. Patients or their families bring all of their own care items, including food. I could actually see that working in the US where my family would bring all of the best for me & yet we have each necessity included. Here in impoverished rural Haiti, there wasn’t much to choose from for families to provide.

photo: MFH

On Thursday morning Ted & I took a small hike on the land behind the MFH compound and went up to the top of the local hills. We shared our personal thoughts & ideas while pondering further where God was taking us next. The view that we had up there struck me as very SYMBOLIC of our current place in life & ministry right now…there were roads leading in EVERY direction around that hillside!

SO MANY roads...which one should we travel? where will it lead us? That prompted us to spend some time in prayer then & there and afterwards we built a small monument of local rocks (a tradition I follow whenever I meet with God in nature) to commemorate our time with Him there.

We drove back to the beauty of the central plateau, soaking up our thoughts & experiences. I’m looking forward to spending this International Women's Day, this Saturday (3/8) further immersed in maternity care at a forum on birthing center development that MFH is hosting in Petionville.