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, 26 January 2012

Little Did I Know.......

Last night, my heart was aching for the baby girl I had lost. I was reflecting. Knowing that the signs of protein-energy malnutrition were so subtle in this infant that no-one, picked up on them, no-one, I still wished I'd listened to my gut. I remembered thinking Wideline's cheeks were full, the day I'd met her. They didn't look puffy, and as the days passed, she seemed to fill out. Looking back, I think her little body was slowly, very slowly filling up with fluid. We all thought she looked better. She seemed to be doing better too. There were subtle signs in her blood work, though  that might have alerted me to the fact that Wideline had an intestinal infection  she wasn't recovering from. This is hindsight, of course, because I didn't know the signs, or what they pointed to, but that doesn't hold back the wave of regret.

Regret is only productive, if it is felt by someone with a capacity to learn, and I am a learner. I think that is why my heart longed for another baby - not one to fill the hole Wideline had left. No, I was waiting for another baby, who might benefit from the things I wish I had known last week. Little did I know, that baby was already with me...........

Malozie is a month and a half old. She arrived yesterday amidst the chaos that surrounded Wideline's final hours. I only had a chance to glance at her.

The NICU was quiet. this morning. My attention was on our new baby. 'She's a little bit pale,' I commented. 'Scrawny too.'
'Her Mother has mental health problems, Susan. And her father is deaf. She didn't get very good care. She has been spoon fed porridge.....She is awful demanding,' Mme Bernard, told me, raising her eyes just slightly. 'I don't think she has been mothered. I think that's what she needs, to be mothered.' As she said this, the head Haitian nurse took the baby's tiny hand in hers. It was a gesture of loving affection. I was able to appreciate it only for a moment.

'No!' I exclaimed.
Mme Bernard registered the problem, the instant I did.'She's a little puffy.'
'No! I can't to this again!' I knew the chances of a 6 week old baby beating protein-energy malnutrition were slim. Too slim.
Mme, Bernard nodded patiently. 'Susan, you don't have a choice.'

Malozie's hands and arms look pudgy in this shot, but notice her legs are shiny,  as result of a fluid build-up under her  skin. She is not a chubby healthy baby. She is suffering from Protein-energy malnutrition. This is a life-threatening condition and a nutritional emergency.
There are a few things I wish I had known to do for Wideline. Now I am doing them for Malozie. She is getting the right medications and the right vitamins and minerals. The right tests and investigations are being performed. The right observations are being made.

On the grand scale of things, her chances of survival are extremely poor. Based on our recent experience though,  there is reason to be hopeful. Maozi is the 4th very young infant (3 months old and younger) that we have admitted to GLA in the past year with protein-energy malnutrition. Two of the babies before her survived. One died. It is my prayer, that I will be able to count sweet Malozie among the babies that lived.

This tiny girl is very uncomfortable today from the  pressure of the fluid that has built up under her skin. I have spent lots of time holding her and rocking her. This is the only thing that soothes Malozie. I was glad to be able to cradle her in my arms. As glad as I am to have her under my gaze and under my wing.

 Malozie is my reason to press on.

1 comment:

Katie said...

He won't waste Wideline's suffering. I promise He won't waste it. I know God is merciful, and that His timing is perfect. Without pretending I have any idea about God's workings...He won't waste what Wideline went through. He won't waste your broken heart. That sinking feeling. The urge to fight harder still.

Snuggle sweet Malouzi for me. Put her head on your chest and let her try to put your heart back together. I believe in a big God. You are incredible.