The last two weeks have brought about a few new arrivals and changes to my adventure here at Door of Hope. The first is that we said goodbye to Hannah, our international volunteer from Sweden. We miss her and her sweet hugs already! But just before we said goodbye to Hannah we said hello to Rochelle who happens to be Jessica’s mother and will be with us until Christmas Eve. It has been such a joy getting to know, love and live in community with these precious women. I am excited to meet all those who will be coming and serving over my year here!
Speaking of hellos, on December 1st around 3:00pm the Aunties at our Baby House 2 collected a basket of laundry after the alarm went off in the baby bin. They set the basket aside to attend to feeding the children and some time later one of the Aunties set out to investigate what had been donated. When she lifted the first blanket she found a set of newborn twins, a little boy and girl! They were only hours old, with their umbilical cords tied off with shoestrings. The little girl, who is only just 4 pounds, was so cold that here hands and feet were blue. Lindsay took them straightaway to the hospital where they were given a clean bill of health and she brought them to us stay here at Baby House 1. What an honor to get to give them first baths, first bottles and first loves. I was working the night shift and sometime around 3:00pm we had a tremendous storm come through town and all I could do was marvel at our God’s bigness as I heard the thunder and rain holding two of His masterpieces in my arms. What a blessed girl am I! These are the first babies that we have processed that have been assigned to stay with us. I have been purposing to go and hold them each day and it has been so fun to watch them grow.
I can’t believe that I get the privilege of witnessing so many firsts. First smiles, first coos, first cuddles and sighs. This week we also welcomed a little girl who was born 10 weeks ago at 27 weeks gestation at just over 2 pounds. Her mother abandoned her at the hospital just a week after she was born and she is just now healthy enough to come home to us. She is now tipping the scales at just 4 pounds. It is crazy to hold and talk to someone so tiny who smiles and coos back at you. She is already filling out, eating 2.5 ounces every 4 hours or so. Apparently at the hospitals here they limit the babies to just less than 1 ounce per feeding! I am hoping to have her plumped up and caught up as soon as possible. I am also trying to hold her as much as possible as well; unfortunately I doubt she had much interaction sitting in a hospital cot for over 9 weeks. I personally thing she looks like a little who from the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Perfect for our December here at Door of Hope.
In the midst of role arranging and budget juggling here at Door of Hope I have been asked to move into the Small Babies Supervisor position here at Baby House 1. This past week was my first week overseeing our Small Baby Room that currently is home to 9 babies as well as the Aunties and Volunteers who care for them around the clock. I will no longer be working the night shift but I will be working 8 to 5, 5 days a week, mostly Monday – Friday but with one Weekend on duty. I will be supervising the babies health, managing medicines and medical conditions, creating and enforcing room protocol, monitoring schedules and feeding amounts, ordering and keeping track of weekly supplies as well as training and shepherding the Aunties and Volunteers scheduled in Small Babies. Needless to say, this week felt like my longest week since I’ve arrived at Door of Hope. Unfortunately the person who was in this position before me left swiftly and was unable to train me this week so I’ve been doing my best to figure out exactly what I’m exactly supposed to be doing on a weekly basis. I am excited for the challenge and I feel very thankful that the Aunties who regularly staff the room have warmly welcomed me and thus far I have only received confirmations that this is a good fit for me. December will be a trial month for me in this position and if all goes well it will become a permanent spot come January.
Part of my job this week was to catch up all the babies on their immunizations and clinic visits. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I toted 6 babies to get their shots. The twins had their first clinic visit, and 4 others had either 6 week or 10 week check ups and/or immunizations. It is still so strange and surreal to be holding down little brown thighs for shot after shot, comforting the pain away and feeling like the bad guy for subjecting them to such “torture”. On Friday when I realized I had one little man to take in for his 6 weeks appointment the Auntie who supervises the Big Babies asked if she could come along with some babies she needed to bring in for their check ups. I informed her of the spots I had available and then headed to the car to put my little guy in his car seat. A few minutes later out tromped out 2 Aunties with two babies apiece! One Auntie sat in the back with two in her arms and the other Auntie sat in the front seat with two on her lap. I realize that there is no law requiring car seats for babies here in South Africa but I could hardly believe that I was towing 5 babies, 2 Aunties and myself to the clinic. Although I only had to drive less than 2 miles, it was still the tensest drive I’ve ever driven. Note to self: next time put your baby in his car seat up front (which still feels intrinsically wrong) so the others can roam around in the back where I don’t have to see them so I don’t have a panic attack.
Please be praying for me as I adjust to this new position. I honestly feel like I have become a mother to 9 babies overnight! Last night I woke up in a cold sweat second-guessing a medicine chart I set up to treat the twin’s thrush. Was the dosage .1 milliliters every 4 hours or 1 milliliter every 4 hours? It took everything within me not to march upstairs and double check the chart at 3:00 in the morning. Everything was fine; p.s., I was just panicking for nothing. But come Friday at 5:20pm when I finally got out of the room I was so tired I was in tears. I think I need to work on letting the babies cry when we are all busy with others and I also need to spend next week evaluating when certain tasks need to fall in my days/week so that I don’t feel like I’m a chicken running around with my head cut off. Please pray that I would have wisdom, discernment and courage as I evaluate what changes and adjustments need to happen. Please pray that all of the babies will thrive under my care and that I can communicate clearly (and slowly) to all the Aunties who speak English as their second language. I am excited for this leadership opportunity and I am confident that the Lord has equipped me for this task but I realize that I need to remember to do things in His strength, leaning on Him for wisdom and guidance and not merely on my experience. Thank you so much for praying for me!!! I am grateful to know that I am in so many of your hearts, thoughts and prayers. I am loving this little ones for you today!
Here are some new pics for your enjoyment: