Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the pages of a National Geographic magazine. The rail thin arms. The bloated bellies. The lifeless eyes. But when you see these things on paper or on the internet, it is much easier to flip the page and go on with your life. When you hold him in your arms, you will never be the same.
Our first night together, Devensly and I slept in my bed. He started out on the yoga mat next to my bed, but after his first night-time feeding, he just didn’t want to be down there by himself. I’m pretty sure he clutched the little green maraca we gave him for a full 24 hours. He showed signs of progress during that first day and night. The swelling in his legs and feet started to go down. He was eating and drinking pretty well. He was getting all the right nutrients and supplements based on World Health Organization protocol. Later that night however, Devensly’s little heart started beating too fast and he was breathing too fast, working too hard to keep up. And thus began our second night.
Once we were settled into the pediatric ward at Milot hospital and Devensly’s blood had been drawn for labs, we both got a little sleep. He, with oxygen tubing and IV tubing tethering him to the crib. Me, curled up around him because there were no chairs left open this late at night. I didn’t want to be further from him, anyway. It was a few hours after we arrived that he finally let go of the maraca, reached for my hand, and placed it right over his heart. Before he closed his eyes again he seemed to look so intently into my eyes. Do you see me? Do you feel my heart? Feel its hurt? My mommy died, you know. I miss her. I miss her holding me. I miss her nourishing me. What will happen now?
In the next few days, Devensly received a blood transfusion for severe anemia, started on various antibiotics, and continued to receive oxygen. When I called our hospital nanny this morning to check on him, she answered every question with “his nose is worse.” It wasn’t until Carla and I went to visit him this afternoon that I actually understood what she meant. The spaces of his nostrils were filled with dried blood. When I looked closer, I realized that there wasn’t skin surrounding them, there was no septum between them. The nurse had no explanation for me so we went to find the doctor who told us about the bacteria that was eating away at him, something she referred to as ‘loma.’ Literally, a flesh-eating bacteria. She explained that she had only known three people with this type of infection and none of them survived. She explained that the infection would continue to work its way up his nose until it ended up obstructing his airway. She explained that they were doing everything they could to stop the progression of this deadly infection.
We spent a few more minutes with Devensly before we headed for home, stroking his skin, kissing his forehead, whispering in his ear. It crossed my mind that perhaps I should be keeping more distance given his newest diagnosis, but how could I? Those wide eyes pleading, pained. Looking in those eyes, it is easy to forget he is only 13 months old. I could question God, question His wisdom or His compassion. I could be angry and doubt His goodness. But for some reason I don’t feel that way. Instead, I keep singing this song in my head:
I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
He knows Devensly’s name
He knows Devensly’s every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears Devensly when he calls
Thank you, Jesus!