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.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Jackson and Judeson: A Prayer for Motherless Children

They arrived last Saturday night, in the arms of an Aunt and Uncle, who each rocked one of their newly born nephews. With glazed eyes, the infants' relatives shared the boys tragic story: they had set off from their remote mountain village that morning with the twins. The labour had progressed without event, but immediately following the birth of the second twin, the mother, a healthy 32 year old woman, took a deep breath. It would be her last. The mother was dead. They family could not explain it.

Jackson and Judeson weighed 4lb 8.5oz and 5lb 1oz on arrival to the nursery. They hadn't been fed since birth. Both were slightly cool. Judeson's blood sugar was dropping, and Jackson, the smaller twin, had a very. very low blood sugar. We warmed the boys and gave them sugar water, followed by a bottle of warm milk. Jackson was too sleepy to suck and was having mild breathing problems, so he received a feed through a tube, and was placed on a modified bubble CPAP system for a day.

It is obvious looking at them, that these boys are identical. The only way to tell them apart is the difference in size and skin colour -  each boy goes through different shades of yellow, as they overcome jaundice. It is special to have identical twins in the nursery. This is the first set of identical twins we have had at GLA in several years. Since they shared not just a womb, but an amniotic sack, the boys are bed-sharing for now. Everyone agreed that was appropriate. For the Haitian staff, their sense of wonder about these beautiful babies has increased  due to an anomaly that, being identical, they share. Each boy has 12 fingers, instead of 10.

Did that mean that they had a triplet?

'Why, yes, Susan! You're so smart!' one nanny exclaimed. Haitians believe that polydactaly (having extra fingers) is a sign that a pregnancy started as a twin pregnancy (in this case it was a triplet pregnancy, so they believe.) The babies engage in a fight in utero, that ends with one twin consuming the other. As a sign to the parents and family members or this battle and it's outcome, the victorious twin gains extra fingers from the vanquished twin.

In a country in which infant mortality is very high, these extra fingers provide reassurance to the family. The child in their arms is strong. He or she has already proven that. The family experiences a feeling of pride, and increased confidence that their tiny baby might survive.

Despite this reassurance, the Haitian staff were very concerned when they started work on Friday morning. The were severely dehydrated. The nursing notes read that they had fed well. There was no mention of diarrhoea or vomiting, but we soon learned that diarrhoea and vomiting is just what they had. Judeson, the largest twin was the sickest. His weight was down 12% from the previous day. His brother had lost 10% of his body weight. I had to start IV's on both of them.

As I re-sited one of those lines this morning, I felt a twinge of sadness. The boys mother had been healthy. She had safely delivered two infants into the world, despite the odds. Despite poverty and lack of prenatal care and despite not having a skilled birth attendant present during her labour. If she had survived, she would have nursed the boys, but she was not given the chance to do that. Now she was dead and the boys were orphans. They were also very sick.

I know, of course, that God can redeem the loss for Jackson and Judeson, and of course, I am going to ask you to pray for them, and all my sick, motherless children on this Haitian Mothers Day. The twins mother made the ultimate sacrifice for her sons last week. It was a sacrifice that cost her her life. I have to believe that her legacy of love will live on in them.


Lane and Sheri Elliott said...

God will redeem this situation. He is good and good will come of this. Their mother paid the ultimate price for her boys and now the woman who is going to raise them and be their mom is already praying for them! Pray with us that Jackson and Judeson will come home to be with us, their adoptive family as soon as possible. We are waiting for you boys! Your loving Canadian family.

Anonymous said...

God is good and He will redeem this situation. Jackson and Judeson's mom paid the ultimate price in bringing them into the world. We their adoptive family are going to honor her by raising these boys to know and love the Lord. The boys' new mom is already praying for them and their dad and brother and sisters are waiting for them to come home! Pray that our boys will come to be with us ASAP. We are waiting for your boys! Your loving Canadian family.