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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Adventures in baby care.


We have a new baby! Peter comes from a village called Lukwesa which is about a 30 minute drive south of us. Little Peter was brought to our door Thursday morning. His mom passed away during childbirth and after his family tried to care for him but just couldn't because milk is so expensive they brought him to us. Sadly, at 13 days old he was in pretty bad shape. He is severely malnourished and dehydrated. The family was only giving him some formula from a sippy cup twice a day.
He also has very congested lungs and some diarrhea. All of this is going to be challenging to work with so we have agreed to take Peter in for one month. If he survives the first month he will become a permanent part of this orphanage.



Peter's dad (also named Peter) looks really young but is actually the father to 6 children. The lady sitting next to him is his mother-in-law. Little Peter's grandmother. I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like to sit in an office not even two weeks after the death of your daughter or wife and try to find a new home for your son or grandson.

Oh, don't be confused by the pink get-up. Peter is indeed a boy. (I checked) Most babies brought to us are clothed in girls' things. I'm not sure why. Almost never will a girl be brought in say, sports clothes. Also, the community seems to share clothing because whenever a baby is brought to us the relatives ask us to hand back the clothing because 'they've borrowed it'.


Because of Peter's fragile condition we called in the local clinic officer and also phoned a doctor in Lusaka. Between the two of them, and thanks to a grant which enabled us to build a little clinic and stock it with basic medical supplies, we got Peter examined and set up with an IV drip of dextrose (sugar water) and two different medicines.

He is lying on a bed Tom installed that folds up against the wall when not in use to save space. It's just like a train berth. The chain also makes a handy holder for the IV bag. We tied it up there with some gauze.

It's hard to tell from this photo but Peter is very tiny. At 13 days old he weighed only 2.6 kg (5.75 lbs) and was 51 cm (20.4 in.) long. His skin was completely wrinkled from dehydration and he doesn't appear to have body fat anywhere. His skull is shrunken so the bones are overlapping some. I plan on weighing him this morning and hope to see some improvement.

The stick next to his arm is a splint we used to hold his arm straight for the IV. It didn't really work because he is a little fighter and kept waving the whole stick around so I ended up just sitting next to him to keep his arm still.

As of this morning, nearly two days after his arrival I am cautiously optimistic. We still have a long way to go. His lungs are quite congested but thankfully he does not appear to have pneumonia. We have him on a 10 day course of antibiotics and will put him on IV fluids periodically.

He is drinking some milk but struggles with the sucking part. Also when he does get a good suck going he forgets to breathe and that sends him into a spasm of coughing. He is drinking about 30-50 mls per feeding. That is around 2-3 Tbsp.

Please pray with us that we can indeed nurse him back to full health. We lost a couple babies this year who were brought to us in such a state so we/I am finding myself very nervous. Even when Peter sleeps at night I wake up every few minutes and check his breathing. He and I are sleeping in the living room--I am on the couch and he is in a little laundry basket next to me. I look forward to the day he outgrows it.

Thank you for praying. Stay tuned for updates.

Related Posts: At the Hospital
                       Peter and His Sister

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