October 6, 2011
Crystella and the Miracle Twins
Another week has passed and here I sit. I can't even begin to explain how the days fly by and yet it feels as though another month has passed. We had quite an eventful week this week. On Monday we had a young mother come to our driveway asking for some assistance. When Stacie went out to meet her, she asked her to come on into the big house to evaluate her needs. The young mother then handed a tiny baby wrapped in a towel to Stacie, that's when she realized there were two babies! We brought them in and weighed them. Little boy, Wendi, was 2 lbs. 10 oz. Little girl, Wendia, was 2 lbs. 8 oz. You could see his ribs, his bones. He lay limp, barely moving. Wendia, looked somehow better; stronger. She immediately curled up in a ball and began to whimper. We changed their diapers and found them some premie clothes and started asking questions. Crystella, new mother, recent widow (the twins father died of Cholera back in June). Living with a friend, sleeping on the floor and not receiving any help with the babies, she didn't eat consistently but when she could. The doctor told her she was anemic so not to try breastfeeding. I am told most Haitians don't nurse because of a superstition or lack of information, but who knows all the reasons, I just know that here is another example of poverty being more than a lack of money. Imagine you don't know that you can provide for your child or that it's better for them to nurse...so you give up your child so they can have access to formula...or worse you watch them starve from sugar water because that's all you think you can give them! Crystella said they were born 4 weeks premature, but look like it could be more than that. The babies, 15 days old, had only had sugar water to eat, three times a day, no one had told her they should eat more often than that. We gave them their first bottles...each ate 1/2 an ounce. She was told at the hospital she won't be able to have any more children and wants to keep her babies, but she needed help. What kind of help did she come to us looking for? Just help. Whatever we can give her. We fed her lunch and gave her some water to drink while we examined the babies. We gave her some diapers and enough high calorie-premie formula to feed the babies for a day and asked her to come back the next morning...Dr. Ken and Diane, our Directors, were in Port-Au-Prince and we weren't sure what we would be able to do. Stacie and I discussed paying for formula ourselves if we need be. We prayed she would be back the next morning and the babies would live another day.Tuesday morning came and went, with no sign of them- but this is Haiti, and everything runs on island time so just after lunch, she returned with both babies. This time Ken and Diane were both here, as was Mark, the Executive Director/Founder of Hands and Feet. We brought them in and checked them over. Diane asked most of the same questions and then some. After discussing our options, we offered for Crystella and babies to stay with us for a few weeks, to see if we can't get them stable, and help the young mother out. We asked if she needed to go get clothes, or her belongings and she replied yes. We asked if we could keep the babies here to avoid the stress of a crowded, bouncy TapTap (think 3rd world taxi/bus in the back of a truck) and the germs off the street, again she replied yes. We immediately sprang into action setting up a nursery in the front room of the upstairs baby house. Stacie tended the babies. Cameron brought up a bed for Crystella. Mark brought up a new Mattress. Diane found a bassinet - of sorts - and some more formula. Kyle found clothes and Diapers. I made the bed, got the hand sanitizer out and started making it ready for all three new occupants. We moved the babies upstairs. When Crystella returned, we showed her to her new accommodations. Nurse arrived. By 6pm we had introduced Nurse to them all and asked her to watch over them if they needed anything. Stacie and I made sure they knew how to get to our room if they needed anything during the night. Crystella ate and slept and slept and slept and slept. For almost two days I think she was only awake to eat or nurse. The best we can guess she hadn't really recovered from the birthing process let alone taking care of twins alone. We split the day up into three hour shifts each (Emi, Kyle, Stacie, and I) taking one and allowing Nurse and the baby nannies to cover the night, unless an emergency arose. I picked the first shift going until 10 am. The first morning I walked in to the nursery to check on everyone and there was Nurse: eating, feeding a baby and staring at Crystella while she slept (this is called active supervision). She said the night had gone well, I wondered if she'd watched them sleep all night or if she had gotten any rest herself.When Eliazer arrived we sat down to talk about some things/get Crystella situated. It was our goal not to take over care for the babies entirely but to teach their mama how to care for them and create the best environment where they can thrive...while providing whatever support we can for her. We explained that the best thing for all would be if she could nurse, we put her on prenatal vitamins, and plenty of food and clean water. I take her a snack (High Calorie Protein shake) first thing and then Breakfast around 8:30am. Lunch arrives at noon via Stacie. Kyle comes with an afternoon snack or two, usually Avacado (or Zaboka in Kreole), or peanut butter and crackers. Then Emi follows up with dinner around 7 pm. I'm not sure Crystella has ever had so much food available to her, but we want her body to produce as much milk as she can so we are trying to give her the best chance we can. Formula will make her dependent upon someone to supply it, nursing means she only must find a way to feed herself when the time comes for her to leave. We are bottle feeding between nursing to increase their calories and chances. Wendi is nursing well. Wendia on the otherhand hasn't gotten the hang of latching on very well, so most of her feeding is by dropper. We are praying for a breast pump so she can at least get some of her mom's milk that way. Each baby is receiving Kangaroo Care for a couple hours a day, and are beginning to thrive. Friday, Wendi reached for his mom and hugged her when she picked him up - the first sign of enough muscle tone to move on his own! He started moving to see where sounds are coming from also. We have a nurse who came in this week to work at a different mission in town. She has been gracious enough to come by each day and work with Crystella on care and techniques. Crystella is a great mom! Everything we ask of her, she does. Anything she sees us doing, she imitates as well. She is learning so much and practicing the skills she is learning. I am inspired by her clear devotion and love for her little ones. I pray for her, that they survive. I pray for her that she be healthy and live a long life with her children. I pray she would learn to recognize the One who has walked her through all of this. Just being in the room with the twins is being in the presence of not just one but two miracles!Today the babies have each gained weight! They both weigh in at 2 lbs 14 oz! I got asked to attend their baptism at church...I think... My creole is non existent and I had a hard time following what the nannies were interpreting for me ;-) I guess we will see...
Posted by Tamara