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.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

It's a Girl!

Although GLA has a long list of families, anxiously waiting to be matched with a baby girl, it is quite rare for a healthy newborn girl, the kind that so many parents dream of, to be admitted to our orphanage.

Today, a precious newborn girl arrived at GLA and my initial bedside exam and tests suggest that she is 'practically perfect'!

Sarafina is an 8 day old baby girl, who was relinquished for adoption this morning, by her mother. Sarafina's Mother was thourally counselled by our head Haitian nurse. Yes, this lady loves her daughter very much, she told us, and yes, she agrees that the baby is beautiful, but no, her circumstances are unlikely to change and she is struggling as it is, to raise her three year old son.

Sarafina was born to a malnourished and stressed mother. As a result, Sarafina's weight gain was compromised in the womb. The skin on her body is loose and dry and Sarafina wears an anxious, and very vigilant expression that signifies that she too, has been stressed by her early life experiences. She will need to be fed on schedule, around the clock to make sure that she doesn't develop low blood sugar. She will also need to be watched carefully for signs of infection.

I feel hopeful that this baby will thrive here. Her head circumference is normal for a newborn, which is a good sign that her brain has been and will continue to develop normally. Her length is also at the low end of the normal range, for a newborn and this means that she was probably not lacking good nutrition for too long in-utero.

With loving care, and excellent nutrition, there is every reason to believe that Sarafina will make a full recovery from her malnutrition, that she will grow and develop, and form the attachments with our staff that she will need to bond with her adoptive family, further down the line.

I was very aware this afternoon, that some of the tests I needed to run would be painful, and I was very careful to make sure that this baby's pain was relieved.

Thankfully, the simplest measures are very helpful to newborns who are in pain. Sarafina was swaddled, given sugar water and a pacifier and she was soothed by holding and rocking until she was calm and settled again.

As I finished feeding our newest arrival her 3pm bottle this afternoon and felt her tense body relax into the crook of my arm, I was glad that the simple things are the things that will probably matter the most to Sarafina, and I was glad that we could provide these simple things.

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