Friday AM found me headed to the hospital to do some teaching about HIV and I got a frantic call from the grandmother of baby Jennifer. (First blog here.) She told me Esther had dropped the baby and she was now "acting strange." I met them on the way in from the village and it was obvious from the moment she handed her to me this was a dying baby. We rushed into the hospital and I commandeered a treatment room for a set of vitals. Later, upon further questioning it seems Esther actually shook the baby because she wouldn't eat. She was extremely dehydrated when I first got her so I'm not sure if there was something more going on before the trauma or not. We rushed into the NICU where we did all we could with our limited resources but at noon I unhooked her from everything and handed her back to her grandmother to take her final breaths. Then grandmother needed help transporting the body back to the village so I took them home. Esther didn't know yet the baby had died and it was terrible to see. This mentally handicapped mother knew she was the cause of her baby's death. She started screaming and throwing herself on the ground. Most of what she was yelling was in Ateso but she would switch into English and tell the baby over and over that she was sorry, so sorry. The culture uses wailing to notify all of the neighbors of a death and everyone comes over to see and mourn together and this was no different. Grandma and Esther started the wailing and each new woman who arrived added to the weeping and keening. This baby's death just seemed so needless. We had done so much to give her a good shot at life. I loved this little peanut.
Between her and a few other cases I just needed a break. The suffering and need is never ending. I tried to take Saturday off and my phone rang all afternoon and there were several people knocking at my gate. It is just as hard to say No and send them away as it is to engage in their need. On Sunday at church a woman brought me her two extremely malnourished children and with tears in her eyes begged for help. I just wanted to go to church and not be responsible for a few hours. But it seems there is no way to be off duty. I feel wrung out and like I've got nothing left to give. I can't seem to find contentment and I know I'm working in my own strength instead of God's. So it is time for a break. Some prayer and perspective.