I’ve hesitated for a long time to publish this blog, because I don’t want you to feel less good because of my experiences. But I decided to share my story..
But because they’re my personal experiences I’ve decided to share them. Otherwise it will feel as if my story is not complete.
Yesterday at 8.30 p.m. sweet little Martha died in my arms..
I will describe how the day looked like. Decide for yourself if you want to read this or not. I’m trying to formulate everything properly, but maybe not everybody wants to hear about it.
Yesterday I went to work after church. Martha still isn’t much better, but she’s stable and her breathing is calm and regular. She sleeps a lot and coughs now and then. The other babies cry a lot and Esther is inconsolable. She also has malaria and is not fit at all. I hold her a lot and eventually she falls asleep in my arms after drinking some milk. Very sweet and now it’s quiet for a while..
At 3 o’clock another volunteer joins me and together we keep a close eye on all babies. Late in the afternoon I can see Martha’s breathing is getting restless again and we decide to ask Els if we can give her another injection. Els is sick in bed, but nevertheless she comes to have a look. She gets an injection and we hope it will help her. She now gets the maximum amount of medicine, so she now really has to do it herself!
At 5.30 p.m. the situation has not improved. She keeps breathing irregularly and she’s coughing a lot. Sometimes you only see the movement, because she sometimes doesn’t have the strength to really cough. We decide to hook up the saturation device and then our presumption appears to be correct. Heart pulse and breathing are irregular. But we can’t do more than monitoring her closely. There we are, both with a plate of food on our laps, watching Martha constantly.
At that point Martha’s breathing is getting more irregular. We stand next to her and see her breathing stop. We push on her chest and lift her up. Esther listens to her heart and is happy to hear it. But she still isn’t breathing. We keep pushing and every now and then there’s a heavy, deep breath (cheyne stockes). After 5 minutes still no change. We increase the oxygen supply and I run to an aunti to ask if she can get Els as soon as possible.
Els is coming fast and takes Martha in her arms. She identifies the same and says it’s not looking good. We’re 10 minutes further now and still no breathing. The heart keeps beating, slowly. Els puts her back and gets the oxygen mask. She creates an air stream by squeezing, but still no breathing. After 15 minutes she tells us that Martha is not going to make it. She asks who would like to hold her. I would like to and the others agree.
I hold her in a cloth and sit down on my chair. She’s resting on my legs and I’m caressing her head with one hand. My other hand holds her little hand. Her hand folds around my thumb but without any movement. She’s not breathing, but after a few seconds there’s a deep breath. Not a pleasant sight. I won’t mention all details here. There’s still a slow heart pulse. I keep seated with her like this. I try to give her as much love, warmth and strength as possible and tell her that it’s allright, that she can go now. She has fought so hard, it’s okay now.
Another volunteer gets twin sister Esther. She’s next to me holding Esther on her lap and to see the twins like this next to each other is heartbreaking. There have been a lot of tears already, but I manage to stay calm. Every now and then I kiss her on her head, it’s such a sweet and lovely little girl..
After an hour she gives up the battle. A few minutes later without a breath and heart pulse she has left, after fighting for her life during an hour. We check the heart pulse a few more times and I keep caressing her head. It’s really true and when I give her a last little kiss on the forehead I can feel she’s getting cold already…
After one minute Els removes the infuse. I remove my thumb from her cold little hand and lay her on a clean towel. We change her nappy and put her in nice, white cloths. While the others are busy with it I hold her head and she’s positioned straight according to Ugandese tradition.
Els is making a call to uncle Simon and he will get a small coffin early tomorrow morning. It’s made by a carpenter alongside the road. Els also has to make a call to the family, a heavy job. Their English is poor and so an aunti helps to explain in Atesso. Tomorrow an uncle from the neighborhood will come and join Els and Simon to the village where the family lives. It’s in a different district at an hour’s drive. Els tells us that she would like us to join her, which we do. This way we think we can give the experience a proper ending. But it will certainly be intense and heavy..
The body of Martha is brought to Els’ office and covered with a canvas.
At 10.30 p.m. I step into my room and there appears to be no water, unfortunately. How I wished I could have washed everything now..
During the night I woke up twice and immediately wondered how Martha was doing. But I also immediately realized that it’s over now, I don’t need to ask myself anymore. I think about the last time I saw her in the office. I take a deep breath and fall asleep soon, fortunately.
In my next blog I will describe how heartily we were welcomed by Martha’s family. Such a warm feeling beside all the sorrow.