The pumpkin and cherry pies went in the oven early this morning. It’s our Thanksgiving today, a week late, but any excuse for a good meal! ☺ Cranberry sauce, olives, Dream Whip, pie ingredients, chocolate chips, craisons, and almonds—all thanks to care packages carefully saved up to equal a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.
Looking at a table filled with food and surrounded by a lot of friends brings to mind all I’m thankful for—enough to eat, a roof that doesn’t leak, running water, and warm clothes. I don’t have to look far to find people who don’t have these basic things here. I’m also thankful for our newly remodeled hospital NICU which we hope to move into on December 10! I’m thankful for the nurses I work with daily and their desire to learn and improve the care we give the babies. I’m thankful for a supportive family that encourages me to be here, sends care packages at a sometimes embarrassing rate (I’m known as the post office queen) ☺, and comes to visit me. And I’m thankful for each of you who are interested in what I’m doing, pray for me, support me financially, and encourage me.
Our Thanksgiving turkey wasn’t picked up in the freezer section of the grocery store. In fact, he’s still gobbling and, hopefully, gaining weight. Dr. Berg and his family have two children in boarding school in Kenya, and their vacation doesn’t start until Friday. So we’ve agreed to have Thanksgiving next week. Today’s just a normal working day with me still looking forward to a tasty turkey dinner with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, olives, and Dream Whip...thanks to the care packages my family sent!
When I took this picture of us stepping over electrical wires and turning sideways to squeeze between incubators, I knew we had to do something about our NICU. In the past we’d talked about making the room bigger, but it was never enough for me. I always wanted the “perfect” nursery instead of a compromise. But with that picture, I finally realized I didn’t need “perfect.” I needed safe! A safe environment with no oxygen machine plugs wiggling loose from the power strip every 15 minutes or so and me finding a blue baby. A room where I didn’t have to worry about my nurses falling and hurting themselves. A room where I didn’t have to decide which babies would share an incubator or which baby would move to a crib in order to free up an incubator for a new delivery. What started out as a request for more electrical outlets ended up being a request for more space. Today when the decision was made, I didn’t get the space I asked for—I got double! Thankfully, with some money I’d saved from a gift last year and some money given recently, I think we have enough to cover the costs of taking out a wall, adding electrical outlets, painting the room, and building some shelves. And the mamas will get a little more space for sleeping. So I’m still dreaming of the “perfect” NICU, but in the meantime, I’m excited about the expansion!
Not many ultrasounds are done here, so we get a number of babies with genetic problems not identified before birth. We’ve had our fair share of these the past few weeks: a large mass on the neck, cleft lip, heart malformation, blindness, extra fingers and toes, and brain malformation. I have to admit, I enjoy the challenge these babies present. I like doing the physical assessment and taking pictures with the parent’s permission, so we can send the information to doctors around the world, willing to give a diagnosis. This diagnosis gives the parents an idea of how long their child will live and what the child will be able to do or not do. It’s better than knowing something is wrong but having no answers.
The head maternity nurse got married Saturday. I’d agreed to work for the nurse helping with the wedding reception, so the plan was for me to go to the wedding then to the hospital. Thankfully, the church and reception hall are a less than five minute walk away. But when I got a 7:30 a.m. call asking me to come help with a set of twins, I should’ve known the day wouldn’t go as planned. I hurried down the hill to help Sue and Christine. Counting the twins, we had five babies on a maximum amount of oxygen and two stable babies on some oxygen. Five really sick babies equals a busy day, so no wedding for me! Thankfully, there weren’t any that we didn’t think would survive, and it indeed worked out that way. Over the week they improved and are all off oxygen and doing well!
After almost three months, Baby Agnes, weighing 2.2 lbs. at birth and now just over 4 lbs., was discharged from the hospital!! Most babies don’t stay as long as he did. But for those who’ve been around for a long time, there’s always great rejoicing when they’re discharged!
“Better Together” is a group of organizations that support Kibogora Hospital. These groups, the hospital, and the Rwandan Free Methodist Church joined forces last year, so we just had our second annual meeting. I especially enjoyed the morning we visited those in the elderly support program, seeing their homes that have been repaired. This program gives these poorest of the poor the opportunity to maintain their dignity in their own homes. The remainder of the “Better Together” visit was meetings, which were important, but not quite as much fun. ;-)