Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Haiti - Day Seven

This morning came early – the rooster still lives, in case any of you are wondering. He’s very brave about his crowing in the middle of the night but is a coward at heart when daylight breaks. When you try to chase him down for a quick game of strangle the rooster, he makes sure to hide behind the hen and the chicks.

This morning we were back at the Sisters and today it was a very hard place to be. On Saturday, a small baby was brought in. I saw her because I thought I heard a cat mewing and went to check it out. It wasn’t a cat – it was this baby. She had been abandoned by her mother and taken in by the woman who brought her in to the clinic. This ‘surrogate’ mom had been doing her best at caring for this child for the last six months but the baby became so sick she finally brought her in to be seen by the doctor at the Sisters’ clinic. At six months, she weighed 4 pounds. She made it through the night on Saturday, but died yesterday. That was the news that greeted us upon our arrival.

I spent almost the entire morning with Valentina. She and I met our first day at the clinic. She is 8 months old and I have yet to see a parent come to visit her. She is in the first crib in the first room – the room for the sickest babies. I have made it a point to talk to her and hold her every day we’ve been there. On Saturday, she was alert and fussy. She was eating – not much – but eating, nonetheless. Today, she’s a different child. She’s lethargic and wants to do nothing but sleep. Her respiration is very quick and shallow. She has a fever. She will not eat. She is vomiting, and since she hasn’t eaten, she’s vomiting mucous and stomach bile. She can barely keep her eyes open long enough to vomit, then she’s right back to sleeping on my shoulder. I have placed cool washcloths on her head and body to try and cool her down. I have taken her and her IV bag out of the room and into the entryway where the sisters do the intake as well as the checkout for those who are going home. There is a place to sit, and more importantly, there is a breeze and the air is somewhat fresh. About 11:30 she is vomiting again, and this time there is blood. I take her to Sister Renee and she decides it is time for a feeding tube. Valentina fights it for just a moment, then seems to run out of energy completely and gives up the struggle. I am anxious about what we will find tomorrow morning upon our return.

In circumstances like this, one doesn’t really know what to hope for. You can pray and hope for healing. But then you have to ask “healing for what?” What is waiting for these kids? If they do get well, then what? For some, the answer is relatively easy. They have parents, or at least one parent, that loves them enough to come every day and stay for the visiting hours, feed them, rock them, change their diapers. They will go home with their parents, but the question again is ‘home to what?’ There is such poverty. They will drink water that is not clean, they will eat food that is not clean. Going home sometimes means another trip back to the clinic. For the others, the answers are harder. Some have been abandoned. If they recover from their illness, they will move upstairs into the orphanage and await adoption. If adopted, other issues arise. Most will be adopted out to other countries. There will be adjustment issues, abandonment issues, and the lingering health issues from such a rocky start to life. The process will be long and painstaking.

And yet, tomorrow we go back. We hold, we rock, we feed, we change diapers. And we pray.

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