In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

....and I am in love!

At 12lb, our newest baby boy was petite for a 6 month old. With wide eyes, long lashes and a perfectly round baby face he was also extraordinarily beautiful.

Whenever a new baby arrives, the nannies bathe them right away. They lotion them up, they apply baby powder to their neck, underarm and groin areas, and then they dress them in clean clothes. Many Haitian Mothers simply sponge their babies down rather than immersing them in a bath tub. Our hygiene rituals must seem quite strange to the new arrivals. This little boy, like most, voiced his protest quite loudly!The baby was clean, fresh smelling and distinctly unimpressed when the nanny passed him to me to be weighed and fed.

New admissions arrive in the high care room regularly and it is always special to give them that first bath, and that first bottle of warm milk.

Our new boy, though, spat the teat out. 'He doesn't know how to suck', one of the nannies observed. No-one was surprised. When Mothers die or abandon their infants in this country, their families are rarely able to afford bottles or formula. They feed the babies whatever they have in the house; usually broth or porridge. With this in mind, we offered our new little friend some milky cereal, which he ate with great enthusiasm. It is possible that he had been spoon fed all his life.

It took several weeks and a lot of patience to get him to accept liquids, even from a spoon. Initially, we gave him milky cereal and gradually made it thinner and thinner as the days passed. Although the baby is able to drink from a bottle now, he still prefers to eat.

But you see, the little man in question is blessed with many beguiling ways, and so this intensive work was no burden at all. From the very first day, when those liquid eyes fixed on me, and those tiny arms reached up, I knew I would do anything for him.

And when I lifted him up, and pinched his cheeks (I couldn't help it, and of course, that's not my fault) he squealed with delight and threw his arm up over my shoulder. I knew then that I would do anything for him a thousand times over. Then, when he fell asleep with his head on my chest, breathing softly on my neck...

...Oh my goodness, I though, I am in love!

And I absolutely maintain that it is his fault, not mine.


Big Al, the gal said...

You are SUCH an enormous blessing to those babies!!!

Jaime said...

Looks like he loves you, too. Look at him reaching for you as you take the pic. Enjoy the cuddles! How wonderful to know he is receiving so much love (and milk!!)

Rebekah Hubley said...

I LOVE your blog!!!! You are an amazing writer... Keep the posts coming... I can't get enough... :-)

Carla Burlando said...

What a sweetie! He's lucky to have a mama like you to pinch his cheeks and love him up.