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, 8 April 2010

Beauty For Ashes

Abigaelle arrived yesterday, in a moment off chaos, just before the exterminators began spraying the main house for cockroaches.
At 3lb 6oz, she is tiny in every sense of the word. I remember my first glimpse of a desperately thin and pale infant, dressed only in a white bonnet, orange vest, and pink socks. All we knew of her was that she had been given up for adoption, by her recently widowed father.

As I unwrapped the baby, who was cold to the touch, she screeched, and looked around with a frightened expression. I took note of what appeared to be an overgrowth of scar tissue on Abigaelle's neck, and a scab on her right wrist. Taking off the bonnet - a tuft of black, silky curls tumbled out. Her scalp was covered in stubble, and there was a long, thick scab, about a centimetre above her right ear. It looked as though this baby had been hospitalized and on an IV, at least until a few weeks ago - the scars on her wrist and scalp are probably from burns, caused by irritant drugs that leaked out of the veins and into the tissues underneath her skin.

Abigaelle had a difficult time feeding at first. She has a strong extrusion reflex (her tongue thrusts the nipple out of her mouth when she sucks). Mme Bernard and I have been working with her to overcome this. Abigaelle is on a milk formula that was developed for low birth-weight and premature babies. She is managing to suck very good volumes of milk. She is a very hungry baby and it is Abigaelle, and not her nurses who set the feeding schedule - a good omen for rapid weight gain.

She had a fever and a cough yesterday, and our Director, who is also a registered nurse, found a pocket of what appears to be pus, just under the surface of the scar tissue on Abigaelle's neck. We do not take any chances with our malnourished babies. They are very frail, and can quickly succumb to infection. Abigaelle was started on an antibiotic right away.

Yesterday, based on her alertness and physical maturity, Madame Bernard and I estimated her age at 6 weeks. Today, we learned that Abigaelle was born on the 14th of February. Her mother had been unable to find a safe place in which to deliver the infant, and Abigaelle was born on the roadside.
How wonderful to be able to dress her in pretty clothes, cover her with a cozy blanket, and feed her those bottles of sweet, warm milk that she likes so much. How special to hold her close, and sing softly, and feel her tense body relax. This is beauty for ashes.


Cathy said...

I lvoe this sweet story.Thank you for sharing and your ministry.

Brittany said...

Just found your blog, and was brought back to those first days after the haitian earth quake. How easy it is to forget about their people when they are not in the headlines.

Know you and the Haitian peopl are in our prayers today.. :)


My heart to this little girl..she was born on the same day as my little girl and under so much different and tragic circumstances...I hope and heart felt pray that she becomes as healthy and robust as my Girl. Please keep us posted on this Lovely baby...Give her a little kiss from me. smiles Michelle xo and one for you too Susan xo