Later more tears, quiet ones, not the dramatic "help me right now" wail from the first case, but the seeping of tears from a broken heart. This time we were trying to understand why the 3 month old baby in front of us was so malnourished (breastfed infants tend to thrive the first few months). The woman I took to be her mother was, it turns out, her 35-year-old grandmother. The 14-year-old mother of the baby had died last week, after a 2 month hospitalization elsewhere. The story does not hang together very well, but we were told that the 14-year-old mom had an "intestinal problem" a month after delivery, required surgery, and that her surgical wound became infected. Tragic in every way. More tragic as her mother, sitting with the malnourished grandchild, related that the dead daughter was her only child. This is what our motherless-baby program is all about: helping this grandmother save this baby.
Meanwhile the 785-gram preemie doubled in the last month to reach 1.5 kg (!). A child whose desperate parents had taken him out to a "witch- doctor" when he did not immediately improve and then come back when he became even worse, whom we prayed over in Jesus' name with only a grain of faith on Monday . . went home, cured. Three children in three consecutive beds each had 5 units of blood last week: one with sickle cell and two with unexplained hemolytic anemias. After losing two children with similar symptoms the week before, we rejoiced to reach Friday with all alive and improving. The women whose stories I told a few days ago are hanging in there, no dramatic resolutions, but at least stabilizing. Caught another mom playing a singing a game with her baby who has begun to round out on UNICEF milk.
The week ends, with some tears, and some signs of tears redeemed, of effort and prayer and struggle resulting in healing.