Baby Martha has a star now. Will her twin sister, baby Esther, survive ?

Of all the children that have stayed at Amecet, temporarily or for a long period, there’s a photo on the colorful wall of fame, including their names. Some of the children have a star in front of their name, which means they haven’t survived. Baby Martha has a star now. Will her twin sister, baby Esther, survive ?

Because of the worrysome condition of baby Esther, the other volunteer and I decide to take turns in taking care of her. I sleep from 11 p.m. till 3 a.m. In between I ask by text message how she is doing. When I come back at 3.30 a.m. the situation is still the same. Although she has trouble breathing, her breath is regular and stable most of the time. Oxygen seems to help.

I take her in my arms and feed her, change her nappy, check her saturation and heart pulse, count the number of breathing per minute and comfort her when she cries. It’s really no effort for me to do this for this lovely little girl. From day 1 she has a special place in my heart. I sit like this till 9 a.m.

At 10 a.m. we go to the doctor. Esther’s lungs still sound very bad, there’s no improvement according to the doctor. Still a heavy lung infection! I hate it!! I’d hoped so much that the medicines would have effect!

At 11 a.m. I go to bed for a few more hours and the other volunteer will keep an eye on Esther. We’re a good team! It helps me to know that Esther is in good hands. I can sleep more easily. After a few hours sleep I have a meal and after 8.15 p.m. I go and sit with baby Esther again. Same situation as last night.

But, at 1 a.m. the oxygen device stops and the electricity goes down. An alarming situation! Esther is in my arms and I watch her breath with a torch. The saturation device runs on batteries and so I connect it. The saturation level decreases. She needs oxygen! We call Els and she switches the generator on. After a second try and lots of grumbling the light switches on again. The device, however, still refuses to work.. Els is panicking. She has lost a baby before (another Esther) because the oxygen machine didn’t work. Esther is in my arms and although the saturation is a bit too low, she’s stable and I remain calm. I have to, I’m convinced little Esther would notice my stress immediately. Her saturation decreases, but remains stable at a certain point. Actually, the level is too low, but we have no choice, so we hope Esther is strong enough to remain stable.

At 3.15 a.m. she’s still quite stable and because the other babies (Trevor and Tracy, the twins that arrived on my first day and baby Evelyn) are fed the bottle only at 6 a.m., I decide to go to bed.

Baby Evelyn, look at her hands, so cute!
Tracy and Trevor (twins)

First I take a cold shower and then go to bed at 4.15 a.m. In the meantime I wake up several times and send a text message. Everything still the same. At 11 o’clock I get a message that they ‘ve seen the doctor and there has been improvement since. Also, the oxygen device has been repaired. YES!! Meanwhile I hear rain drops and it feels like a perfect day to have some more sleep. The other children are inside too and that makes things more quiet. I get up at 2 p.m. and continue my work till 3 p.m..

The following night the situation is allright, although I’m very tired from 3 till 7 a.m. Three half nights clearly have their effect. I’m substituted at 6 a.m. I quickly go and blow 30 balloons and tie them to a rope. It’s Els’s birthday today. The older children are up already and give me a hand. John, a boy of about 10 years old says he wished it was his birthday.. It’s incredible to see how much some balloons can do to these children..

Baby Esther looks stable and so it’s time for a happy evening. We celebrate Els’s birthday! The children bring in chocolate cake with burning candles, flowers and horns. They sing, honk and dance. A real concert. There’s singing and praying and then after this all children go to bed. A nice evening!

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