We’re excited to share this year’s Mother’s Day story from a new perspective! Our author this year is local Port-au-Prince journalist Aljany Narcius. You’ll be familiar with her writing if you’re a member of Fanmi Ansanm or if you’ve read some of her blogs with us before.
Youseline is a nurse midwife at Heartline and the youngest of four children. She and her siblings grew up in the countryside, in Cerca-Carvajal, far to Haiti’s east, near the border with the Dominican Republic. She tells us that despite the financial difficulties that weighed on her family, her parents built a loving home environment – encouraging her to pursue her passions.
After graduating from high school, Youseline planned to become a doctor. But her parents, a seamstress and a security guard, could not afford tuition at a private medical school. Youseline, undeterred, traveled all the way to Port-au-Prince to take a highly competitive exam for a place in the Medical School at the State University of Haiti (UEH). She wasn’t successful, but she was more motivated than ever.
Youseline returned to the countryside, following her dream of medical work to the School of Nursing and Midwifery for Haiti. We didn’t know it yet, but this was a beautiful turn of events for Heartline. She graduated with a “Graduate Diploma in Clinical Nursing, Midwifery” in 2019. (You can support other Haitian students in their dreams of higher education here).
Today, Youseline has become an independent and confident woman – and a successful medical professional. She dreams of seeing more young women from rural areas like her realize their passions and potential.
After graduating, Youseline worked at a hospital until the Heartline Maternity Center found her; the MC team hired her as a midwife, where she worked in the birthing room, provided postpartum care, and gave prenatal consultations. At Heartline, Youseline could provide compassionate, high-quality care to pregnant women and new mothers; even more impactful, she was giving mothers continuity of care throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth (as well as postnatal care for 6 weeks), a precious rarity in Haiti.
For Youseline, this approach (and her personal philosophy) centers on the idea that birth is a privileged moment in a mother and father’s life, and so she does everything possible to make sure the future parents are informed decision-makers, the main characters and leaders of their birth journey.
“It is a fabulous human adventure to do this job…with time and availability and the opportunity to know and understand the experiences of each pregnant woman we follow.”
A difficult pregnancy
Youseline recalls her own pregnancy in 2021 as an extremely difficult time in her life. Living away from her husband, she was admitted to Heartline Maternity Center on October 10th, at 41 weeks. Her cervix was only 4 cm dilated.
An hour later, her baby’s heartbeat had become weak. Youseline was feeling ill and struggling to breathe. The Heartline team quickly transported her to a hospital where she could receive the intensive care she needed. There, doctors decided to perform a C-section. Following the surgery, there was a power outage – something that happens all too often in operating rooms in Haiti – while she was still bleeding.
After more than two hours in the operating room, Youseline was finally stabilized.
The next day, she was experiencing severe pain and came back to Heartline for help. After a couple days of care, she seemed to be doing better, and in a truly character-revealing fashion, got out of bed to go help the overworked midwives in the maternity ward. Suddenly, Youseline felt a stream of fluid coming down her legs: blood. She had developed a severe hemorrhage following her delivery. The nurses who were at the Maternity Center that day all ran to give her first aid before ultimately transferring her to a maternity hospital in Pétion-Ville.
At the hospital, tests revealed that Youseline’s blood loss was catastrophic – but the six Heartline nurses who’d accompanied her agreed to donate blood. It saved her life.
“If it wasn’t for the grace of God and the intervention of my colleagues, I would have died a long time ago,” explains Youseline, with tears in her eyes. “I thank my colleagues for their solidarity and also Heartline’s partners. It is thanks to them that I received the care I needed. Not a dollar came out of my pocket. Heartline paid for everything. I can’t thank you enough.”
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