Moving down to Honduras and working in a mission hospital has been one of my dreams for so long. I knew that things would be difficult when working overseas but I’m not sure I knew how losing patients would look/feel/quake at my heart. So here is the start of my stories, as I try to unpack my heart. Thank you for walking this journey with me.
This first story “squeezes” my heart and I am still not sure it is mine to share, I believe it belongs to the family and to my coworkers who worked more extensively with this baby. But my parents have loved hearing it, maybe because it tells of the compassion and love that God has lavished on this kid. You may want some kleenex handy.
On June 25th I was waiting for my friends to show up for bible study, but then I found out that they were still at the hospital with a two day old baby who was premature and septic(only later thinking there was congenital defects as well). He was going downhill and in a last ditch effort we were going to intubate him. The catch is that when intubating babies here, we have to manually push air into their lungs or “bag them” as no ventilator machine was available. As I took the night shift that night I pushed air into this boy’s lungs for ten hours and monitored his life saving medication doses to control his blood pressure. We even had rushed, in the middle of the night, a very expensive medication from the city to mature his lungs. His family visited him all night, many of them meeting him for the first time. His mom cried over him asking God to have mercy on him and take him out of his misery. The family would ask me what I thought, and my response was that he was very critical and needed a miracle to live.
As I went home the next morning to get some sleep the baby was doing better. He had survived the night which I found out later the doctor did not expect him to. As the morning came with new mercies the baby started to breathe some more on his own, he was getting better. When I woke up the team was hopeful and wanted to get this baby boy off the ventilator. We got ready, I was oriented to the process and the “just in case table” where if we had to resuscitate the baby we would have everything ready. Two docs, a nurse-midwife and two nurses, we were ready. As the doctor pulled the tube baby boy went gray. I knew somewhere in my gut that he was already Home, but nonetheless for the next 45 minutes we did everything we could to try to open his lungs back up.
Despite it all, we could not save this little man. The family lost their little baby boy for whom they had been so excited.
At discharge we sent the family home with a baby casket and a piece of our hearts.
Lord take our pain because we cannot keep it. My heart still breaks as I remember this little one, and I can still see him in my mind. But what echoes in my heart is that it was such a privilege to breathe for this baby that night, so call me up team whenever we need to bag baby for the sliver of hope of a miracle. I will be there.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”