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.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Bondye Kapab!

Today, baby Jonathon celebrated a great achievement. Against seemingly impossible odds, he has survived 28 days in this world.

Jonathon's was born around 10 weeks early. He too weak to suck and too small to keep himself warm. Unfortunately, dehydration and hypothermia were not his only problems ; as is often the case with premature babies, his brain was so immature that it could not regulate his breathing or his heart rate. Jonathan kept forgetting to breath and that was getting him into trouble.

To help out with this, we started him on caffeine a week ago. Caffeine (the very same caffeine that is in your morning cup off tea or coffee) is used in Neonatal Intensive are units all over the world. It stimulates babies brains to keep them breathing. Our little man quickly stabilized after we started receiving this medicine. His heart rate no longer drops and he has not had an apnoea for several days.

Jonathon weighs 3lb 3 oz and he came off of his oxygen yesterday. He is taking an ounce of Mum's milk or high calorie formula every three hours and he is sucking most of his feeds. Not only that but he actually wakes 2 hours and 55 minutes after his last feed, crying and flailing his arms and demanding a bottle! For a boy that isn't supposed to have been born for 6 weeks, that is really some thing!

His poor Mummy thought she had lost him when she saw us resucitating him last week. When we called later that afternoon with the happy news that we needed breast milk for her hungry boy, she told us we were trying to trick her. She 'knew' he was gone, she said. He wasn't breathing and he was very, very dark when she had seen him him. An exasperated Mme Bernard replied that Jonathon was very much alive and that he was crying for milk!

Two days later, it was obvious to the nurses and nannies that 'Mama Bebe' was distant from her infant son. Who could blame her? She had lost his twin and she had almost lost Jonathon twice. We had a very frank conversation with this lady. I acknowledged that she was frightened, but I told her that her that to have the best chance of growing strong and healthy, this tiny baby needed his Mummy's touch, to smell her scent and hear her voice.

Today, Mama Bebe loves holding Jonathon 'skin-to skin' on her chest. This is good way of promoting bonding between Mums and babies and it helps preemies regulate their vital signs and makes them feel secure. We undress Jonathon and place him under Mum's shirt. He is naked except for a nappy and a little cap. We cover Mum's chest with a blanket to make sure he stays warm. Jonathon is always contented when he is skin-to-skin with Mum and there is nothing sweeter than seeing them together this way.

Mum looked up at me anxiously when she was holding him today. 'Is he getting better?'
'Oh, yes, I told her. He gets a little better everyday.'
She smiled and shook her head. 'He was gone, that day.'
'I thought so too,' I confided.
She laughed. 'Bondye Kapab!' (with God, anything is possible).


Jaime said...

I was just wondering last night before bed how Jonathan was doing. Sounds like he is wonderful. Praise be to God!

BSC said...

What a beautiful image of a loving mother with her precious baby boy... skin to skin. I'm glad he's getting stronger.


miracles said...

I worked with cleft palate babies in a hospital in Antigua Guatemala for 4 months.
It is lovely to read the devotion with which you care for these babies hanging on so precariously to life. Blessings on you all.
Miranda Pope