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, 10 June 2012

Rebecca - Not 'Forgotten'

It seems that something about my shock startled Rebecca's mother out of her cold indifference. Minutes after I announced that Rebecca didn't need her mothers milk, not if her feelings about the baby were so intensely negative, not if our continuing to press for milk was increasing her sense of hostility, the teenage mother sighed and began expressing. She continued to provide milk over the days that followed.

Rebecca, who was born significantly premature and malnourished. Rebecca, who was struggling with a severe viral infection. Rebecca, who had difficulty digesting her feeds. Rebecca, who was so highly stressed that she was producing excess stomach acid and vomiting streaks of fresh blood. Rebecca, who had been delivered in a latrine bucket. Rebecca, the child of a broken mother, with a calloused heart. This Rebecca. with so many odds stacked against her, began to heal and to thrive. 

Rebecca now weighs 2lb 9.5 oz. I have struggled with this tiny, fragile infant. Twice, I weaned her from her CPAP, only for her to become ill with bronchilolitis, then a simple cold, and need more CPAP support than ever before. On the third attempt, I was finally able to get Rebecca off of CPAP and onto a nasal cannula. A constant flow of compressed air and daily caffeine ensure that she continues to breath. 

When I worked in Scotland, it was exceptional for a newborn with bronchiolitis not to need mechanical ventilation. During the long course of Rebecca's recovery, I have learnt a lot about the potential of bubble CPAP, and about it's capacity to save the lives of tiny infants, born in Haiti and in other countries that don't have the personnel or the resources to place them on mechanical ventilators. I sincerely hope that more Doctors and nurses working in hospitals and clinics in the developing world will catch on to the bubble CPAP principle.

Of course, Rebecca is the child that God has placed in front of us, so please continue to pray for her and for her Mother. Pray for continued healing in Rebecca's body, and for her mother's wounded heart. I really believe that all women are called by God to a mothering role; to love sacrificially and to nurture his children. I think that Rebecca's mother denied this part of her nature because she was badly hurt, and overwhelmed - afraid that tenderness would drain her, open her up, and increase her vulnerability. She is now showing concern for her baby and for our other NICU infants. This softening of her heart tells us that our prayers have been heard and that God's hand is on both of his children, the mother and the daughter. He is with them and in them, whether or not they know it, and because of that, Rebecca's mother can not 'forget' her.

'Can a mother' forget the baby at her breast
  and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
 I will not forget you!' Isaiah 49:15

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