'You do know Susan, that now you've done all of this, God will send you a baby?'
'Of course I do,' I replied, in an even, matter-of-fact-tone 'He will send a baby very soon, just one, though. Not twins this time, and I need to be ready.'
The next morning, our director came upstairs with news. A 3 lb baby had arrived at a clinic in Cazale. I nodded. The baby had a twin brother who had already died. Yes, oh my, so that was why I would not be receiving twins. The surviving infant was not doing well Did I want to go and collect her?
'Yes', I did.
A nurse shook her head and smiled. 'I've been told God doesn't speak to people.'
'He does.' After all, the day before, he had whispered to me about a baby, and now, I was going to find my baby.
Wideline was born 5 weeks ago, approximately 6 weeks early, to a mother with a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Unable to produce breast milk, the young mother had fed Wideline and her brother watered down porridges, along with other family foods. The babies lost weight and became sick. When Wideline arrived in Cazale, she had watery diarrhoea and was severely dehydrated and anaemic. A visiting paediatrician gave some fluid through a needle that she placed in the baby's bone, and then managed to start an IV in her scalp.
Wideline's Mother, bloated, sick and exhausted had been counselled that further pregnancies would probably kill her. Wideline was alert, but her temperature was low, and that was a worrying sign. The mother was not well enough to stay at GLA, but her father asked to be allowed to ride in the back of our truck. He had to see where we were taking his daughter. She was his only child.
I placed Wideline on my chest, under my scrub-top. She warmed up, began crying and sucking on her fists. She drank an ounce of formula milk. Although she settled after that, her breathing became very laboured during the last 30 minutes of the ride up the mountain to GLA.
Bedside tests at the orphanage showed that the baby had very high acid levels in her blood. This, together with her anaemia were life-threatening. The baby was showing early signs of heart failure.
As the first of three drug infusions was in progress, there was some good news: although the blood bank in Port-au-Prince was closed, Wideline had the same blood type that I did, and my blood had recently been screened for infections.
She received a mini transfusion within the hour. It got her through the night.
Using an IV pump that we received just a few weeks ago, we were able able to give Wideline two further transfusions of my blood the next day. It was wonderful to see the baby, who was at that point so pale that our Haitian staff said she was white, not Haitian, take on a lovely rosy glow. She was started on very small feeds, just two millilitres every three hours, but her gut was so fragile that she was not able to tolerate even these tiny volumes of formula milk.
|Wideline receiving her second transfusion of Blood in GLA's NICU|
Nutrition is absolutely critical to stabilising the tiniest victims of malnutrition. I stood by Wideline's incubator for hours, watching her breathing, observing her movements, and charting trends in her heart rate, temperature and blood sugar levels. I wanted to know how much urine she produced. How often her bowels moved........
Although her anaemia was severe, her malnutrition could not be classified as severe, since her weight was almost normal for her length. This poor baby though, had been undernourished both inside and then outside the womb, at a time when her tiny organs were underdeveloped. Now her body was embattled. I hoped Wideline had arrived in time. A very experienced nurse once told me that all the training that a well resourced NICU in the developed world might provide, could never prepare a medical professional to care for a baby like Wideline. It was true. Babies like Wideline did not exist in North America or in Europe. I had tried, several times, to tap into whatever expertise existed, in the care of very young babies, with life-threatening malnutrition. It seemed that if such expertise existed, no-on was sharing it.
Wideline did stabalize. Today she is hungry, That means that she is moving out of the stabilisation phase and into the recovery phase of her treatment.
Please pray for continued improvements in Wideline's health, and pray with confidence, knowing that God already has an interest in her survival. If he didn't, he wouldn't have spoken to me about her.