Monday, March 31, 2014



Many of us have had them. I had four when I went to Bible discipleship school - Courtney, Veronica (Verny!), Noelle, and Heather. We were all very different - I think they did that on purpose to "build character." (Love you girls! ;) )

Fast forward a few years and I am again blessed with roomies! We've spent all our time together due to sheer proximity and lack of transportation. We've been each other's entertainment, and, at times, the sanctifying forces in each others' lives. (Read: Living with other human beings that you can't get away from builds character. Hello again, apprenticeship program! Maybe I can do more things right this time...obviously not everything...but...more things? You should probably all stop for a moment and pray for me. Or, pray for the poor girls who have to live with me. Yes. That last thing.)

 Alyssa and I flew over on the plane together - she's from California. Southern California (for those of you interested in stereotypes, and yes, she lives on the beach and wears flip flops year round).

Megan is a South African volunteer that was here when we got here. She wasn't sure what to think of us at first.

The first day went something like this. Karlien - whose name I FINALLY learned to spell correctly, by the way - was driving us to get groceries. Alyssa and I were operating on 30+ hours of jet lag. It may be worthy of mentioning that neither of us had EVER grocery shopped for ourselves before. EVER. Also, let me remind you again of the 30+ hours of jet lag. The conversation went something like this:

Karlien: So, what do you need to buy?
Alyssa and I: TELL US WHAT TO BUY!! WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!!! (This is paraphrased.)
Megan (snidely, from the back seat): You are hopeless. (Or helpless. Remember, it was snidely. This means quietly and sneakily. Come to think of it, everything Megan says is impossibly quiet. She must be even more snide than I thought.)

Just last week, we had a conversation that went like this.
Megan: I didn't start liking you guys until the second day. (Basically, she wasn't sure what to think of us Americans.)
Me: Well, that explains why you called us helpless...

Megan was staying upstairs in the baby home. It took about two or three days (right about the point when she started liking us, I suppose) for us to invite her downstairs to spend the night. Because she was afraid. Of everything. She still claims she saw a face in the window. One night in our room turned into the rest of the week turned into a unanimous agreement that we needed to become roommates. She was invited to volunteer until the end of January, and we were so excited! Perhaps because our entertainment was staying. ;) She left the end of January with plans to apply as an intern. February was crazy, and just a little boring downstairs without her! Alyssa and I spent an entire day like this:

Me: I'm so glad Megan is coming back!
Alyssa: Me too!

Alyssa: I'm so glad Megan is coming back!
Me: Me too!

So, she moved back into our crowded little room. Cintelle (another South African intern) was staying with us for a little while, so there were four of us in this room that is TEENY TINY. We spent a month trying to climb over each other's suitcases and encourage certain unnamed individuals of the virtues of laundry hampers. (Some of us may also be currently encouraging this habit, in ways the others do not know about yet, that may get us in trouble someday. That's all I'm saying.) Alyssa, Megan and I shared one little wardrobe. Considering that three girls had to fit their clothes into this wardrobe and SOME of us don't know how to pack light (read: everyone but me) we also "shared" the floor, the shelves, the desk, etc, etc. When we could find aforementioned floor. It had this tendency to disappear from view. Regularly.

It was also entirely normal to come down after night shift and find someone else (generally the volunteer from the night before) sleeping in YOUR bed. Poor Divine. I poked her so many times at 6 a.m. "Can you move to Alyssa's bed now? I want to sleep in my bed..."

At this point in time, we had nine people occupying three bedrooms. Newton, Vanessa, and their daughter Aya stayed in the room at the end of the house. All the intern girls (there were four of us) stayed in the room next to theirs. At the other end, the third bedroom housed Joy and Mama Linda. Newton, Vanessa and Aya moved out. Joy and Cintelle moved into their room. Then Cintelle left.

Less people! More space! Donovan messaged us and told us, "Guess what! We can now have two people to a room!"

Guess what?

No one wanted to move! Megan and I liked us all being roommates together. Alyssa did too, but mostly she just wanted to keep the big bed that I'd recently relinquished ownership of. (I hated that mattress!) As of now, we're still here and hoping someone forgets about us. Because we stick together! Poor Joy. I think she's lonely. I told her I would visit her regularly and that we really do like her too....

So, here's a little more about these girls.

Megan is tall, skinny, and quotable. (Why do you think she has her own corner on my blog?) She spends most of her time being bitten by bugs and rubbing bug repellent on herself. She trails off when she's talking and I never hear the end of her sentences. She is five years younger than me, but she mothers us when we are sick. Generally this consists of taking our shifts for us (at which point we thank her for being an angel) or trying to feed us Marmite on crackers (at which point we try to keep from puking and ask us why she's trying to poison us). She likes her phone. A lot. I may threaten to have it surgically attached to her thumbs. She loves ironing and I call her the Iron Queen. She irons her socks. She thinks that's normal. She has a "daughter" here, Princess. For complicated reasons I can't explain, she's now known as my grandmother (but she's been mistaken for my daughter, true story). She sits on my bed and we laugh about things. Alyssa is highly suspicious of our conversations and tells us to stop gossiping. Huh. I don't know what she's talking about. She (Megan) has threatened to bury us in eight feet of llamas. Megan likes taking selfies for her 14 Tumblr followers.

Alyssa is from Southern California. My dad thought she would be a stereotypical Californian, and I denied it. Ha. She is. Flip flops year round... Only, for the record she has a LOT more political sense. Actually, she likes politics a lot and has found multiple people to discuss politics with here in South Africa. She tries to tell me about politics. Poor girl. I'm more than happy to listen, but I'm afraid I can't provide much intelligent conversation in return. She is learning how to cook. Potatoes, that is. I believe we have explored just how many ways one can possibly cook potatoes. I told her and Megan they are going to have skinny husbands. But no, really. She's learning. She likes to walk to the corner store...three times a day. She likes to do pushups. And situps. And crunches. And go running. (I'm a little worried about her.) She always covers for me when I need her to (if I'm sick...or late...). She likes blue shorts. She has this weird Coke/Pepsi fixation...instead of liking one or the other, she buys one 2 liter of each (or sometimes more...I'm convinced Coke flows through that girl's veins). She likes to dance in life-threatening thunderstorms. (Don't worry, we intervened.) She may or may not have been know to ask what lamb chops were made out of. She's the one I never expected to "click" with, from the moment we got on the plane together. Truth be told, we've decided that it was sheer proximity that did it!

Ok, so it's not fair to do these descriptions without doing one of me. I'm not really tall or skinny, and I don't get bitten by bugs. I'm a Midwesterner. I think that's a different country from California, and I'm not sure I can be described as laid-back...I'm learning how to cook too, and have been known to have been the cause behind smoke pouring from the oven. I talk way too fast despite my best efforts to the contrary, and no one understands me. I get uptight about the state of our room, then come in and throw an entire load of laundry on my bed (the same load that's been hanging up for four days). I crochet in odd places (like church). I sometimes dump ice down people's backs (well, just Joy...) I interrupt people incessantly (it's a bad the talking too fast). I'm a little culturally insensitive, I think...working on that. I spend a lot of time telling people not to call me Alyssa. I'm known as the "mom" of our room. I tried not to be at first, and now I've given up...they need mothering. I'm starting to remind myself of a girl named Amy from my Bible school year, only with far less wise counsel...just the obsessive mothering instinct. And the inability to go to bed on time.

Some of us have a slightly quirky sense of humor. That results in signs like this:

And photos like this:

(Someone didn't want their photo posted on Facebook.)

We've recently started cooking together one night a week. Alyssa's cooking skills have expanded beyond potatoes as she makes us yummy Mexican food! She's promised me tamales sometime. Me, who thought tamales were something like Hot Tamales...Megan made us South African nachos. I've made zucchini bread, tacos, and pizza. We've also done baked potatoes together. It's very fun. Then afterwards, we try to make each other do the dishes.

We don't like it when someone is missing. Megan is missing this week. It feels all wrong. Even though she left us this sign:

It says, "I'll Be Back soon you guys don't have to cry yourselves to sleep for too long."

 We have lots of serious conversations too. =) I've enjoyed growing together with these ladies. We've had quite the little cultural experience just in our own room! We pray for each other and love and forgive and care for each other. Admittedly, some of our "serious" conversations go like this:

Me: Well, I guess I struggle with (insert sin of choice here) too.
Megan: Not allowed. You can't share my sin.

I've been very blessed by the girls with whom God has placed me! I probably wouldn't have picked them out for my roommates, and I'm just about positive they wouldn't have picked me out either, but He knew what he was doing. =)

No blog post about roommates would be complete without the Megan corner.

The Megan Corner

Megan: Your pillow looks like a poodle. Do you ever think it's an animal? Are you scared of it?
Megan: Sometimes I think my hair is an animal and it scares me.

Me: I'm crocheting booties.
Megan: Are those for babies or humans?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Home at long last! And some cross-cultural humor to brighten your day.

Latest news: Small is home from the hospital! He was "discharged" at 10 this morning, but we had to wait four hours for the medicine before we could leave, and another half hour or so for someone to find a car to come pick us up. I was so stir crazy today! I think it was knowing we were going to leave soon, and not being able to! But, we are home now. I kind of even felt like I could hug Grouchy Nurse (who, incidentally, wasn't there this morning. Never mind, I think I came up under the topic of "What to do with difficult mothers/caregivers" in their staff meeting at the nearby desk.  They courteously held it in ENGLISH so that I could hear at least half the stuff I presumed they were saying about me...I have to say my ears burned a little, but I can kind of see the humor in it now...and they were fairly nice the rest of the day). Now our little Cupcake is sick and in isolation in the sickroom. PLEASE pray that it doesn't develop into what Small had! I'm not even sure it's the same thing. I just don't want her to have it!

I got to hold Owlie today. She is so soft and snuggly and brand-new. I'm not allowed to share the babies' stories, but hers, like all the others, breaks my heart. ='( She was only four days old when she came to us, not six as I had thought. Incidentally, she is still living up to her nickname. I love her real name - it means "love and happiness" and is so beautiful. I will get some more pictures of her tomorrow! I may have to just go hold her for a while. She does that newborn snuggle-into-your-chest thing that melts your heart. =)

On a completely different topic, to the average American, figuring out family relationships among Africans is at best very confusing and at worst almost impossible. They stretch the term "family" to limits I've never seen before. (Yes, this IS following on the heels of my "family in Christ" post yesterday, but sometimes for practical reasons it's nice to know who's biologically related to whom.) The conversation usually goes something like this:

Joy: Don't tell my brother that I did thus-and-such. (To Natacha, referencing her husband.)
Me: So, you are related? Sisters-in-law?
Joy: No, we aren't related. We are just close. So he is my brother.
Natacha: She's my sister from another mother.
Me: *muttering under breath* ...and another father!
Upon which, they both burst out laughing.

This would be classified as one of the easy to understand conversations.

Oftentimes, the conversations go more like this.

Friend: Hi, this is my daughter. (Introduces daughter.)
American, later on in the week: So, how is your daughter? Did you see her this week?
Friend: What daughter? My children are all back in *insert name of home country.*
American: *scratches head*

Or like this:
Britt: We are taking Mama Linda's "relative" to the hospital today.
Me: Who is she? (Noticing the quote marks in the air.)
Britt: Well, no one knows how she's actually related. Or if she even is related.
Relative, later on in the car: Mama Linda is my mother's sister. So, she is my mother.
Me: she's your aunt.
Relative: No, she's my mother in our culture.
(Whether she is even biologically her aunt, is questionable...)

I do think it's pretty cool, because I don't ever have to explain that my "little sisters" Dana and Faith, or my nieces, Anna and Sarah, aren't actually related. No one gets confused or thinks I'm making things up. Sometimes it is really, really confusing though. The only relationship that isn't informally adopted is that of husband and wife. I could see how THAT could be confusing...hahaha!!! I'm imagining that conversation in my head right now!

The Megan Corner

(Yes, she has her own corner now. She's that awesome.)

Megan: They said if you don't stop talking they're going to bury you in eight feet of llamas.

This may become the threat of the century.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The hospital saga continues...happy news...a new little other oddments

Today was the fourth full day in the hospital for Small. We're really, really hoping he can come home today or tomorrow. He's off oxygen now! And he's smiling about it.

He's giving hugs too. =)

"I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck..."

So today was day four of politely fighting with the nurses about food...again. They insisted I needed to give him THEIR formula. My boss at the baby home gave me directions to under no circumstances switch his formula. They claimed they had the same kind, but it smelled different. Besides, they brought it at 9, 12, 3, and 6. As a sick preemie, he's just not on that kind of a schedule, doesn't eat massive amounts at one time, and shouldn't have to wait for me to go request that something be specially made. Especially if it's the wrong thing to begin with. They also reprimanded me for mixing 100ml instead of 95ml. For my American friends, that's about a teaspoon difference...if that much. *Sigh* I'm pretty sure I offended numerous people in my vicinity. The comments I got were something like this..."You are in the hospital now. What you are doing is wrong. You HAVE to do what they tell you. They are in charge now." 

Upon which I would smile politely (hoping God would give me patience...) and say, "I'm sorry, I *have* to do what my boss says."

"But the hospital is in charge now."

No they are not. (Sense my inner rebel coming out? I knew that stubbornness had to be good for something.)

I feel a little like the parent who is fighting the doctor on vaccination convictions...or something. I'm happy to report I finally won this battle...for now anyways. Grouchy Nurse went and talked to the dietician, and came back and reported that I could feed him what I wanted. Good, because it was going to happen regardless....

(Someone needs to pray for grace for me! Before I go in tomorrow! And maybe a good attitude too, towards the nurses. I think you can all tell I'm really having a hard time with that.)

I'm still not sure they like me. I also offended people by packing a lunch and politely turning down hospital food. It was all in TV dinner form, lest anyone think the cook slaved for hours over it for me personally...Oh well. I guess my ultimate goal isn't to be "liked." Sometimes I sure wish it was...I like being liked. Or more specifically, not being *dis*liked.

My reward for all this unpleasantness?

Lots of baby snuggles...

Hopefully tomorrow is the last day. I love being able to be there for him, because I keep thinking of my sweet niece Sarah. She was almost certainly alone in the hospital when she had her numerous surgeries while living in the orphanage known as "The Bad Place" (for good reason). I don't want any other child to have to go through a hospital stay alone. =( Nonetheless, I want him home where he belongs! I'm also running out of food to pack for lunch...

So, now that I've caught you up to date on what's been happening at the hospital, some observations on what I've been reading...I've had a lot of time for reading.

I read Adopted for Life yesterday, holding Small at the hospital. It provoked a lot of thoughts, and one in particular stood out to me, although it wasn't really the main point of the book. I used to be against the idea of racism, theoretically. I wouldn't make snide remarks or anything like that, and I've certainly known and loved friends from other cultures. But now it runs deeper overall, in the way it would if someone said something nasty about my Roma nieces. I haven't seen much discrimination yet (I'm fairly sheltered here) but oh, I have heard stories. And now, far from being an abstract idea that was wrong, it's something that hurts ME because these are people, people from my church who are from many different races and all look different. They are not just acquaintances or friends but FAMILY. And it's not just "oh, you are my brother or sister in Christ" like so many of us rattle off glibly in our church services. No, my Christian friends from around the world are my REAL family. I've been adopted as Christ's daughter. That makes me really, really his child. And that makes my church family my REAL family, just like a child who is adopted has REAL parents and REAL brothers and sisters. I know that may hit home for my friends in the adoption community who are so tired of hearing "Are they real siblings?" or "What about his real mother?"...that's why I draw the analogy, inspired by the book. My church back home is my family (I MISS YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!) and my church here is my family. If one part hurts, the rest of the body hurts with it.

This doesn't mean we have the inability to laugh with (or ok...maybe sometimes at!) each other! Like the crazy white girl trying to tie a baby on her back...or when someone says "curtains" and I think they said "kittens!" No, the reality is that sometimes intercultural mingling IS JUST PLAIN FUNNY. However, none of it is the kind of poking fun at someone that belittles them.

This also doesn't mean we don't ever annoy each other with our differences. Or that we don't ever hurt each other. Or gross each other out. Or inadvertently offend each other. Hm, last time I checked we were all sinners in need of a Savior...DAILY. Last time I checked we were also family. I don't know about you, but family are probably the ones who offend me, annoy me, and gross me out the most...just due to sheer proximity and time spent together! They're also the ones with whom it's most important to mend our differences. They're the ones to whom you say "I'm sorry" and "Please forgive me" and you're kind of stuck with them. Just like I'm kind of stuck with my family in Christ for eternity. I wouldn't change that for the world. =)

Happy news! Sunshine went home with her forever mama last week. I'm going to miss this girl! So glad she finally has someone to answer when she cries "MAMA!" in the middle of the night.

Oh, I do love her.

Once she left, we didn't have an open spot for long! This new little blessing came yesterday.

Isn't she the cutest thing ever? I'm nicknaming her "Owlie." I thought I would do it as a preemptive strike against the sleepless nights to come. Things tend to go by contraries - I nicknamed Sunshine, "Sunshine" and soon afterwards cloudy weather rolled in for a while, complete with lots of teary tempests. However, last time I checked, Owlie was indeed living up to her name. Ah well, she's only six days old...what can you expect? (A miracle might be nice.) It's a good thing she's cute. ;)

Megan is the Official Comedy Supplier for my blog, and again, she has not disappointed us. She can't leave. Ever. Or else this blog wouldn't be funny anymore, and people would stop reading it.

Megan: I need to iron my socks.
Me: Iron socks? You South Africans go WAY overboard on ironing. You are CRAZY. Seriously. Ironing socks. (Did I mention something about laughing at each other?)
Megan: But they're so nice! Have you ever put on a pair of freshly ironed socks? *sigh* They feel like...happiness.

Megan: Are you writing about how awesome I am?
Me: Yes.

So, as a reminder: Pray that Small gets to go home tomorrow! The earlier in the day, the better...although, tomorrow at all would be nice!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


This weekend has taken a turn for the unexpected, as our wee Small has had to be hospitalized. He's been snuffling and wheezing for a while. We took him to the doctor on Thursday but he got steadily worse and by Friday afternoon he was coughing constantly and refusing to eat. So, to the hospital he went. Britt and Auntie Linda took him in Friday afternoon. Friday night I got an email from Marda asking me to stay with Small on Saturday. I believe her exact words were "You will have quite the experience."

Indeed, Marda, indeed.

I got there at 7 am Saturday. Auntie Linda led me through the halls back to the waiting room. There was a temporary waiting room of some sort in the lobby. This one was more like a semi-permanent waiting room. Think: beds. If you're going to be waiting there long enough to need a bed, that doesn't seem like a good sign to me. (Although, I'm sure many a person in a US ER room would be grateful for one. Still, this place takes waiting to a whole new level.)

It was filled with five or six babies and young children in said beds and/or walking around, plus numerous assorted parents, aunties, and workers whose status was sometimes obvious and sometimes confusing to me...the number of people increased the longer I sat there. Random pen marks decorated the walls, along with oddly proportioned cartoon characters. I saw one that looked like a bleeding duck amoeba ghost. The floor looked like it had never seen a mop or broom. I sat down and stuck my hand on what I think was someone's old gum. I didn't want to investigate. This was probably the dirtiest waiting room I've ever seen, hands down.

Small was lying there in a large crib (or cot, as they say here). Auntie Linda and I exchanged blankets, baby clothes, etc then she turned to the small gaggle of ladies sitting there. "This is my friend. Take care of her. She doesn't know ANYTHING!" This piece of advice was apparently meant to invoke pity on their part. (They were all really sweet, so I guess it worked.)

There was one sweet lady with a red skirt and silver scarf whose son had a heart condition, and another small lady with a sickly looking preschooler that she carried everywhere. In the bed next to Small was a very, VERY FAT four month old baby. I'm pretty sure we could have fit three Smalls inside of Fat Baby. Poor Fat Baby. The doctor (?), who looked like an older version of Megan, came in and tried to either take blood, insert an IV, or do SOMETHING with a needle. It took her about 15 minutes to find a vein and the baby screamed the entire time. (A lady from church took her baby in a month or so ago, and after an hour, they still couldn't get blood.)

The baby in the next cot down was very small, a newborn. He had multiracial parents (a colored mom and a black dad) which is fairly unusual here. (For those of you just starting to read my blog, 'colored' and 'black' are not offensive terms over here.) Dad finally stood up and said, "We've been here 24 hours and you have done NOTHING. My baby needs care."

The nurse completely flipped off on him. "I cannot do anything about it! You can leave and go to a private hospital, but you don't have money or you would have gone there first. Go ahead, try to leave. I'll save you a bed because you're going to come back here. You don't have money, you won't be able to pay, I know you'll be back! I cannot do a single thing about it!" (She was a lot nastier than I can communicate in a blog post.) Mom and Dad meekly backed down and said "We'll wait."

Apparently Small had not been admitted until after 3 A.M., almost 12 hours after he'd gone into the hospital. They took him to another government hospital first, but he was transferred to this one because the first one doesn't have room. It's debatable which is "better."

I think he had been x-rayed sometime in the middle of the night, but nothing more had been done except to stick an IV needle in his foot and an oxygen tube in his nose. The IV needle was glaringly absent of any IV, and remained so for several hours. The oxygen fell out every five minutes until I finally realized I was going to have to ask for medical tape to affix it to his face. He woke up and started to cry - he was finally hungry. Red Skirt Lady helped me find the warm water to mix his bottle. I sat down and was just about to feed him when a nurse (they call them "Sisters," but not thanks to any friendliness on the Sisters' part) walked by. The conversation went something like this:

Sister: You can't feed that baby. You aren't allowed to feed him until the doctor sees him.
Me: But he's hungry. He needs to eat.
Sister: You can't feed him. See, it's here on his chart. "No food by mouth."
Me (noticing that he's glaringly absent of any feeding tubes, or anything that would give him nutrition, and eyeing the couple who has waited 24 hours to see the doctor): But, he is so hungry.
Sister: He needs to see the doctor first.
Me: *calls Marda and explains situation*
Me (to Sister): Marda says that our doctor says he HAS to eat.
Sister: What doctor? The one he saw here?
I called Marda again. She said to wait 5 minutes and see if anyone hooked up the IV (called a drip here), and if not, to feed him regardless.

Finally, a man (male nurse? orderly?) walked by and handed me a bottle. "Here, the doctor says he can eat now." I'm pretty sure no one talked to the doctor and he just had mercy on us. No one has bothered me about feeding him since, although they gave Britt a hard time last night. Shortly thereafter someone finally came and hooked up the drip to his foot.

The waiting room filled up with more people...and we waited...and waited. The moms, at any rate, were pleasant company. I got asked about 500 times, usually by nurses, "WHERE IS THIS CHILD'S MOTHER?" I soon learned not to reply "We don't know" when they looked at me like I'd kidnapped him. Once I held him up next to me and replied, "Don't you think we look alike?" which resulted in a very confused nurse, so I didn't try that line again. Finally around 11:30, the chart-following Sister came in and said "Here, let me hold the baby and you pick up your bags." Her grammar was such that I didn't actually realize we were going somewhere, but I figured it out after she rephrased it a few times.

While she was holding Small, his drip came loose and blood shot EVERYWHERE. Bed, blanket, floor, IV tubing, etc, etc. Blood cleanup procedures here are VERY complicated...not! They consist of throwing a brown paper towel on the floor and rubbing one's foot over it a few times, MAYBE picking up the paper towel, and ignoring the blood covering everything else. I finally had to clean it off all of his tubing, later, with some wet wipes. Thankfully he doesn't have anything infectious. I don't know about the other people in the waiting room - this is the second blood spill I'd seen that morning.

We finally got ourselves together and the Sister, without any warning, promptly took off at a dead run through the halls and corridors, which scared me slightly. She had Small in one hand and several files in the other. I had about three tote bags, two water bottles, some blankets, and Small's disconnected IV bag, and was struggling to keep up. She stopped at a gate off in the distance (think prison gates - they looked just like them) and punched in a security code, dropping her files and papers all over the floor as she did so. "Pick those up!" she yelled over her shoulder as she again started running. Remember, I was carrying about 10 awkward and floppy things at this point. Thankfully someone else standing nearby had mercy on me - they picked them up and handed them to me. I bolted after the Sister, but thankfully we were almost in the ward and there wasn't as much chance of losing her as I'd thought. She hooked Small up to oxygen again - apparently the reason she'd been running, although I was not sure it was THAT urgent. I mean, he needs the oxygen, but he's not to the point where 5 minutes without it is going to kill him...

Now we were in the corner bed in the back of the ward, and we resumed our waiting. Once or twice someone came by and handed me a syringe full of green medicine to give to him - I found out eventually it was fever reducer, and not cough syrup like I'd thought. Wait Wait Wait...that is the name of the game here.

In the bed next to me was a little 11 year old girl who kept falling asleep. Her mom came in later and explained that she had tried to climb their property fence and gotten shocked by the wire at the top, then fallen and hit her head on the pavement. They'd been there 24 hours already without seeing a doctor, and they'd been told "The doctor doesn't come in until Monday. There is no doctor." Which was a lie - I saw one yesterday, and one this morning.

Across the aisle from us were small individual rooms. The one across from Small held the multiracial couple and their baby. It had jaundice, and despite the Sister's tirade, someone had indeed gotten them some level of care and placed the baby in an incubator.

That was about it for the day. Small and I spent the afternoon on a very hard, very backless bench and I held him most of the day. Poor little guy. He was eating better, but still throwing up sometimes. Britt came to relieve me about 4:30.

I came in again this morning. Until he gets better, she's doing nights and I'm doing days (unless she ends up needing to swap.) There was a chair with a back. Still, no doctor. We took some pictures - I brought my camera today.

Poor Britt, she had a long night I think.

Even though he's sick, I can start to see chub, and that makes me happy! He was so tiny when he first came!

All snuggled up. =)

This was his bed. He didn't spend much time in it, can you tell? =)

Finally a doctor came by later in the morning. "They told you he has pneumonia, right?" No. No one had told me, but I wasn't about to belabor that point. "Yes, we have him on antibiotics (so THAT'S what the drip was) and they will probably take 5-7 days to work." She listened to his chest and confirmed that he did, indeed, not sound so great. Not a word was said about feeding him (or not), so I'm not sure what that was about. I am thinking, though, that he is aspirating when he's eating, as he has coughing spells after drinking even a little. Not sure what the solution is to that, and I'm afraid to ask as this hospital is not famous for giving expert medical advice - they told one mom with a dehydrated baby to go home and give him saltwater. 

Auntie Jeanne came to visit! I'm glad - I was getting lonely.

So, for now, he's there hooked to oxygen and an IV waiting for the pneumonia to clear up. The little girl with the concussion was feeling much better today, and proceeded to narrate the almost-muted TV shows for me, in between telling me various snippets of her life. (She speaks three languages. Three! And that's not unusual for here. I know an adult who speaks at least nine.) The doctor had her walk up and down the aisle, then pronounced her fit to discharge. She waited hours, and finally an aunt and uncle came to get her.

I think we're bonding. Uh-oh. ;)

Love the shirt. This was right before he vomited all over it. Blech.

What I read today - so much more fun to read this while you're actually holding an orphan. The only thing that would be better would be, well, if he wasn't an orphan anymore.

Incidentally, there was this poster on the wall promoting the disposal of all bottles and pacifiers. Apparently they're "unsanitary" and it's "just as fast" to feed even very small babies from an open cup. The entire hospital had a 50's type air to it, but this little bit didn't fit in with even that stereotype.

Conversation on the way home:
Me: It was nice to talk to all the other moms.
Donovan: You realize what you just said there, right? OTHER moms?

Tomorrow morning I'm driving on the left side of the road for the FIRST time! Thankfully Heather and Donovan have an automatic, as me + stick + first time on the 'wrong' side of the road  = death trap. Nonetheless, please pray for me and everyone else on the road at 7 A.M. Many of the roads around here are one-way, which is nice, because it's harder to get stuck in the wrong lane, but difficult, because you have to learn an entirely different way coming and going somewhere...

On a sad note, I have had approximately one person per day tell me that Small should have been aborted. A white person with a black baby leads to a LOT of questions here, and when they found out he was abandoned, the response has been "That is just so sad. If his mother knew about the pregnancy and didn't want him, she should have taken care of it early on." All said in a tone of "what a shame!" I was just so floored. I've never had to experience those comments in person before, holding a precious little life in my hands as someone tells me he should have been murdered. Tiny baby whom I love, made in the image of God, and WANTED by all of us here at MBH...and they say that to my face? I stumbled over my words, said that abortion is wrong and all life is precious and I LOVE him...but my words felt weak. I am so grieved. 

Funny for the week:


Monday, March 17, 2014

Babywearing here at the home =) What works, and what doesn't

We have been blessed with a number of baby carriers at the home. Some of them work well; some of them aren't quite as ergonomic (for me and/or baby). So it's been a learning process as I find the most comfortable way to carry them! I think it's really important that abandoned babies are held a lot. Plus, it makes life easier for me...=) I can clean or work in the kitchen, and don't have to listen to a screaming baby. Bedtimes go so smoothly - I just put them on my back and wash the dishes. I'm becoming less and less of a fan of the American-style swings and bouncers - although they are nice at times. They just don't seem to work really well for putting babies to sleep! They are more like a nice place for the babies to sit, relax and chill.

First we tried this one, the Baby Bjorn. It was comfortable for my back, and really nice for a while, but as the babies got older than one or two months (we have nice fat babies), their legs/hips grew and seemed to dangle too much. This isn't good for their hips (babies should have proper seat support) and they kept kicking me! This black and red carrier has a waist strap, which is nice, but the other Baby Bjorn carrier doesn't - it just has an X on the back, which doesn't give me enough support and makes me sore unless the baby is very small and light.

This was my first attempt at dual babywearing. It didn't go too well - Small wasn't really a fan of the sling-style carrier and only lasted about 15 minutes.

This was actually a good thing, because I read online that these slings are actually dangerous for babies. So, this material is going to be repurposed to make some cute baby dresses!

This was attempt #2. Comfortable for me, but Little Guy didn't really have enough head support. He wasn't complaining - he seemed to be enjoying himself. But once he fell asleep, his head really slumped and I knew we needed to find a solution.

I thought about sewing some kind of insert into the carrier, but thankfully my practical roommate came up with this easy solution... 

This allowed me to put two babies to sleep within 15 minutes, in addition to cleaning the kitchen and getting dishes done!

This was attempt #3. We still weren't quite there. I've read that it was better to put the heavier baby on your back, but Squishy was also kind of floppy at the time, and the front carrier was not one of my favorites. 

Finally, I decided I needed to learn to do it African style! Joy was a very patient teacher. It took a couple of weeks for me to get the hang of it. It was pretty awkward at first. I tied knots and gradually learned how to do the more comfortable towel tuck (it's secure, don't worry). This is the first day - after Joy did all the work of getting Princess up and on there!

Unfortunately, we don't have a surplus of appropriately-sized blankets. We need a few good big towels!

This was the first time I got her on by myself! I was proud. =) Still not perfect, but she went right to sleep.

This is better! I also got the towel tuck down. Mostly. I wore a baby to the corner store the other day, and an African lady had to stop me to tell me to pull up on the blanket because the baby's head was sagging. (Not falling off, don't worry, just not too comfortable.) It was kind of embarrassing!

Now I do this a lot to put babies to sleep at night.

Look, we're twins!

I'd been meaning to make a woven wrap for a while (buying them is expensive! Good grief, it's just a piece of fabric!) and was so happy to see that the team brought one! I'm on a mission to find a comfortable way to wear two babies at once. Little Guy and Princess were the best first choice for this, as they're close in size (about a KG different) and also fuss to be held the most.

So I found a Youtube tutorial, and with a little help from Joy, I did it! It's not perfect. They did both go to sleep, though. It didn't work so well in the afternoon (Little Guy started screaming) but I think he might have been hungry. We're almost there. I am going to maybe try a few variations with the back part of the wrap. I think I need to learn how to comfortably wrap one baby on my back - that might help.

They also donated this one (see below). It's really nice and comfy.

I'm trying to learn other ways to use the woven wrap! Here's what's known as a "Front Wrap Cross Carry."

And with legs in (she seems to like this better, although is happy to be held, both ways).

And that is as far as we've come! Some people might say I'm 'spoiling' them but I find it beneficial for both them and me. =) <3 my babies!

Missions team - busy week! Plus, more news...

UPDATE: I have, again, changed my mind about how long I want to stay. I'll now be here through mid-November. Please pray that everything works out for me to stay. =)

We had a missions team from Orange County, California here for ten days. They spent all day Wednesday and part of Friday at the baby home, where they helped care for the babies and did multiple work projects.

Several ladies worked together to paint a lovely mural in the living room of the baby home. 

Some of the men installed shelves in the back building kitchen.

They also sealed the brick walls in the interns' bedrooms. (Hopefully now it will be less dusty.)

They also put tile up against the back of the kitchen countertops.

We got many donations for the baby home. All the little ones are sporting cute new clothes! I need to take some photos.

They helped lead AWANA for the past two Fridays.

We did Gospel bracelets last Friday. The kids were excited to get them. One little boy in our group wanted to make sure to have a paper with the explanation of each bead, so he would remember the message.

Large group Bible lesson time at AWANA

Cleanup after a long day! Princess and I are both tired!