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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Unsung Heros

Today let us honor the unsung heroes of the NICU: the moms. I don't think I'd look as peaceful as Felister above if I was on my 52nd day of sleeping in a hospital ward, well, not sleeping much, because these moms get up every two hours and come into the nursery to feed their babies. Maxwell is almost ready for discharge. It has been a long push, and sometimes the last few days are the hardest! This is little Mark-Paul, who is only 3 pounds even though he was born at term. He was severely growth retarded. So his mom had to go through a FULL LENGTH pregnancy and delivery, and NOW has to stay as long as most preemie moms caring for him in the nursery. Brielle's mom is all smiles because her preemie has been a star--she's sacked out skin to skin after a feeding. This is one of the few couples where the young dad comes regularly too. I'm rooting for this little family. This baby's mom laid down her life, almost literally, to bring her into the world. Here she's being held by a nursing student, because her mom is in the ICU. This mom had such severe bleeding post-delivery that Scott got called in the middle of a not-on-call-night to help her, and he called in a general surgeon, and they called upon 15 people to emergently donate blood between about 2 and 5 am., including multiple nurses, students, security guards, one of the doctor's wives from home, and about 3 or 4 RVA staff. After two surgeries she was pulling through, but pray for Esther who is not out of the woods yet. She is a mother of four, including the cutie above. Her baby is a favorite in nursery as we don't usually have healthy term newborns whom we don't have to share with a mother, to cuddle and feed and love. Hannah Wangari is another miracle baby. This is the little girl born with gastroschisis, all of her intestines and stomach hanging out of a hole in her abdomen at birth. She is, so far, the only survivor of this condition at Kijabe and perhaps only the second or third in Kenya. Here her mom is attempting her first breast feeding after more than two weeks of tentative intravenous and slow tube feeding post-operation. Hannah's course has not been entirely smooth, and her mom seems depressed. Please pray for them. We are hopeful. This baby's mom was transferred urgently in labor to Kijabe when it was noted that he was lying sideways (not head down) in her womb, and she was in active labor a bit more than a month early. Scott did an emergency C-section that was pretty complicated, and Mardi resuscitated him back to life. Here he is in the blue glow of lights designed to bring down his levels of jaundice. His mom also had a hard time establishing feeding (not so unusual post-op). Her relief when his jaundice improved the next morning was a great joy to see. John is another cute little preemie with a bit of jaundice. His mom is reaching into his incubator to change his diaper and just touch him.George is pictured without his mom . . .because she was feeding his twin brother when I walked around snapping photos with my phone. George was the second, smaller twin, and he's had a hard week with a dangerous bowel infection. But he is greatly improved now, and his mom will have her hands full with two premature boys.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by coming up with three meals a day for four healthy kids who feed themselves at the table. Or unable to focus on questions about how to factor an equation or wither Iodine exists as a two-atom compound or what would be a good paper outline for the second battle of Bull Run. I am humbled to watch these women tirelessly caring for their babies around the clock, never sleeping more than an hour and a half, no privacy, wearing hospital gowns and eating from a trolley of institutional food, sharing a bathing area with 80-some patients on the ward, and with only a moderate hope that their baby can survive. Few families can afford to visit very often. These women form community amongst themselves in their shared suffering. And rejoice with each other, too.

Every morning I pray with them, that they will meet Jesus in this unlikely place.

So much of parenthood teeters on the grief of loss. This morning I read the beginning of Joseph's story in Genesis. This time Jacob jumped out at the end of chapter 37. "Thus his father wept for him." At that moment, with the torn and bloody robe in his hands, Jacob could only see tragedy and the end of his dreams. There was absolutely no evidence in this story to suggest that God would redeem Joseph's taunting pride and his father's favoritism and his brother's jealous violence and his culture's unjust slave trade to bring about the dramatic rescue of a civilization facing famine and a tribe facing extinction. Jacob had nothing to suggest any emotion other than despair. But his son was destined for greatness. I hope some of these moms have that sort of faith. And I hope I will have it too, next time my own children's paths look like they are dropping into a pit.

Here's to our nursery moms, and the painful joy of parenting.

1 comment:

deborah said...

This post really touched my heart. Hooray for the unsung heroes!