Thankful for “Small” Miracles
We had some babies in those first days – the little one we nicknamed “Peanut” because he was so tiny – 11 lbs at 11 month old. The sweet, quiet, withdrawn little girl who just needed held. So tiny. So fragile. I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t experienced the effects of malnutrition firsthand. So, in my mind, they were like our kids – well-fed, healthy, strong…but tiny…little ones.
She was quiet, withdrawn. And one day, I took a hold of her upper legs to change her diaper. I was shocked at a feeling I’d NEVER felt before. Her legs were…squishy. I don’t know how else to describe it. I came to find that Blane’s upper arms were squishy too. It was a flip-your-stomach-and-leave-you-with-an-unsettled-pit-in-your-gut kind of feeling. Malnutrition the doctor said. More protein the doctor said. But we saw little results. I wondered what her future was for crawling and walking…
Some of you may remember him. About 3 weeks into the project opening, my distorted view of reality was shattered – shaken awake by 3 little words. Fikadu left day care fine on Friday. Monday rolled around, and he didn’t show up. We all said, “Oh, the project is new. Mom probably just decided to keep him home.” When he didn’t show up Tuesday morning, our social worker went to his house. He found Mom and baby, and had them come to the day care because Mom didn’t think something was “right” with the little one. I – being our medical expert at the time (how truly scary is that?!?) – looked him over. No fever. No cold. No vomiting. No symptoms. But his eyes. Something was not right when you looked into his eyes. That “mom instinct” said something wasn’t right, but there was nothing to back that up.
There was much debate over what to do. We had never sent a child to the doctor yet. No one knew who should make that decision. I wanted to empower our local staff to make the decision. They thought maybe we should wait until the next day when the director was in to talk to him about how to handle it and what procedure was, but I was uneasy with that. The discussion seemed to go on forever in more Amharic than I could ever hope to comprehend, and finally, someone decided to take him to the doctor. A taxi was called, and off Mom, baby and our social worker went to the hospital.
He didn’t have to wait in line, but was rushed into the hospital. The doctor looked at our social worker and said those words that would forever change how I look at a malnourished child. “Good thing you brought him in today.” Then those 3 little words: “He would have been DEAD BY TOMORROW.” There was just no extra in his little body, no margins, and he had had diarrhea for a day and a half. A. Day. And. A. Half. A day and a half?!? I’d read stories, but I just had no idea how fragile this human life really was when one lives on the edge.
Fast forward through his hospital stay, and extended period of time feeding him Plumpy Nut (a kind of super food for malnourished kids), celebrating his 1st birthday (oh, what a gracious celebration!), and 9 months in the day care. And that brings us to the now.
Last week, I walked into the baby room to 2 “small” miracles – one named Fikadu and the other named Blane.
First, I saw Fikadu – our little Peanut – showing off his new trick. He can stand on his own – at least for a few seconds, until he lowers himself quickly to the ground, then breaks out in one of the proudest smiles I’ve seen in a long time. Miracle of miracles! 🙂
And then, the Nannie told me to watch Blane. Our shy little girl with squishy arms and legs. I had no idea what I was about to see. The Nannie told Blane to bring her a toy, and Blane grabbed the toy and took off walking across the room to deliver it!!! I thought we had many, many months of waiting before we’d ever see this day! She barely crawled! Oh, happy day!!!
I was taken aback – amazed and thankful. This is indeed something to celebrate! God’s mercy and grace overflowing! Miracles happening right under our noses.