Imagine you are standing over the bed of a newborn baby. You notice their sweet little nose, and you count all their tiny little fingers and toes. You realize once again that they are truly a blessed gift from God to this earth, fragile and precious people.
Now, try to imagine yourself looking at that new precious baby in 20×20 ft. room that is over 90°F; feel your sweat drip down you back. You notice the baby has a small tube coming out of their mouth. It is filled with left over breast milk from their mom who is sitting on the other side of the warm room. She is sweating and trying to hand express her milk so her little child can eat through that tube soon. You look again and see the plastic tubing in their nose, running pressurized oxygen to their tiny lungs which are fighting to stay open, even though they were born premature.
The baby’s skin is a light brown and they only wear a diaper so their skin can absorb the heat created by the 3 space heaters strategically placed around the room.
As you breathe, you immediately feel the moisture in the air. Looking behind you there is a large bowl of water in the center of the room, which sits on a small wooden foot stool. It is very effectively keeping the room humid, so the baby’s skin will not dry out.
Finally, looking back at the sleeping child, you notice the large bandage wrapped around their arm and hand. Your eyes follow the tube from their hand up to the bottles of liquid hanging from a metal pole. You know the fluid is bringing hydrating fluid to the baby because they cannot drink themselves. The plastic tubing is also providing medicine to help this little one fight for their life.
They are so fragile and yet, shockingly resilient. Their body’s rage with infection and fever, but they continue to breathe by their own effort. Their tiny chest, no bigger than the circle you make with your two index fingers and thumbs rises and falls while their skin between their ribs pulls in and out.
Your shirt is sticking to your body, and drops of sweat are running down the side of your face. You look down the row and see 5 other babies waiting for your attention, some born two to three months early.
Now, close your eyes and remind yourself of the healing power of Christ and His great plan of salvation and eternity with Him. Remember Christ’s command in Mathew 19, verse 14 for the little children to come unto Him. Then, pray. With fervor and passion, send your pleas for mercy and healing to the only one with the true power to give both.
This is our life, every morning in the newborn unit at our hospital. We wrote this so you could try to experience what we see and feel each time we enter this room. It is a visceral experience which is hard to describe in a couple sentences.
We share the responsibility of teaching and mentoring the young clinicians at the hospital in how to navigate this room as health care providers, making decisions about medications, ordering tests, and which medical interventions to consider. We also have the responsibility of helping them deal with the pain and suffering they see on a daily basis in this room.
We see the anguish and fear on the faces of the mothers watching their babies fighting to live.
Some infants develop significant complications, especially due to prematurity and do not survive. However, even though we do not have all the same equipment, monitoring, or medicines as in the US, some survive and are able to go home with their families. It is a blessing and often a miracle each time one of these precious infants goes home with their family, eating and growing like all their other newborn friends.
We are humbled that God has brought us to Chogoria to be a part of His plan here and to walk alongside these families and their little ones each day. This is our call to Chogoria, our call to medicine, and our service for God in His Kingdom.
Jared, Jenny & Sophia