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.
The last 2 months in Kenya have been busy. We went to Nairobi a couple of times to get our work permit finalized. We are thankful it was approved and two weeks ago we started in the hospital officially as consultants/physicians.
While we are really grateful for the season that we had to learn Swahili and take a little time off from medicine, we were excited to get back to being with patients and their families. We are both doing patient care in the outpatient department and the inpatient wards. Jenny is seeing patients on both the pediatric and adult medical wards. We look forward to building deeper relationships with our Christian Kenyan and American colleagues as well as all the learners and students in the hospital. Please continue to pray for our family and our transition into the hospital.
So how is Sophia handling the transition? Well….let’s just say its a day by day adventure.
Her sleep has been a bit off, and she has been pretty upset at times when we leave to go to work in the morning. We have created a schedule in the hospital/clinic that gives one of us a lighter schedule on alternating weeks, so we can have a more time with her.
She is slowly adjusting to the change, but this has worked well over the past couple of weeks. We started to tell her where we are going each day. Now, in the mornings when one of us leaves or you ask her where we went, she says, “Mommy, daddy, go, go. Baby. Baby sick. Daddy. Babby”. Then she points to her chest to let us know where we are supposed to listen to their hearts.
Other than transitioning, Sophia is growing well, and we are thankful for family time with her. She has developed quite the personality and has started to talk a lot more over the month. She has actually developed a really funny British-English accent. We have no idea where it came from but one-day she just started saying things like “Da-ty” instead of “Da-da” and “be-ah” instead of “bear.” Our only guess is the fact she has lived almost her entire life in two prior British colonies (Malawi and Kenya). She continues to learn and understand some Swahili words. She will most likely pass us one day and speak better Swahili than the both of us.
Again, we are so grateful for all of your continued support for our family and for the community we serve. Your support allows us to walk alongside of our Christian colleagues as we work together and with God to serve the physical and spiritual needs of this community. Keep our family, the hospital, and the community in your prayers. We are excited to see how God will continue to work and transform this community.
Jared, Jenny & Sophia
PCEA Hospital Consultant Weekend
Animal Orphanage trip during consultant retreat
Extra Sophia Pictures