Two crying babies, 2 high fevers, 5 babies just got admitted in the middle of the night, 6 roaches keep coming up to me saying “hi” and I’m uncomfortable. This may be my “first world problems” kicking in, but I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because an eight year old girl across the way, who is a regular here by herself for days at a time. Her teeth are incredibly skinny and missing because she lacks calcium in her diet. I’m uncomfortable because it’s 30 C (80ish degrees) and the nurses say they aren’t turning on the air conditioner even though that’s their job. I’m uncomfortable because I don’t want to wake up with a roach on my face, nor my child crying because something is wrong and I’m too asleep to realize it.
It’s feeding time now for the babies so now everyone is awake. Luckily my baby girl isn’t bottle feeding and can continue to stay asleep. It took 45 minutes to put her back to sleep last time after she was awaken for her temperature to be taken. It’s time to feed the babies milk, no worries, bottle or breastfeeding isn’t allowed here. A cup is provided with warm milk and the babies must drink up. It’s 3:30 a.m. now “mommy wash the babies.” As every one scrambles to wake up, and find soap as I walk to get the silver bin to start washing my baby girl. At 3:30 in the morning no one is too happy to be up, I still haven’t been to sleep, going on 18 hours of being awake. Luckily baby girl woke up in a cheerful mood regardless of the time; smiling and brightening up my day. Now it’s back to sleep the babies go, at 4:30 my eyes become heavy and I can no longer stay awake, I sleep for 45 minutes. The doctors wake me to take her temperature one more time it’s 36 degrees C, due to my lack of knowledge of celcisus I ask is she running a temperature what are we going to do. The doctor looked at me like, “calm down she is normal.”
6 o clock came around fast, now it’s feeding time for the older ones. The nurse came around handing porridge and yelling Afrikaans to me to take the sugar. I was alarmed and confused until she realized I didn’t speak Afrikaans. It is difficult at times looking like a native because everyone just assumes I speak the language.
Many doctors asked “Are you her mommy?
Me: “No I’m the guardian”
Doctor: “Where is her mommy call her here.”
Me: “Um I can’t she lives in a orphanage.”
Everyone assumed baby girl was really my baby, that conversation became more and more awkward every time for me. The last few hours crept up on me slowly. The mothers began conversing with each other and the nursing staff stayed. Although, I was only there for 18 hours; there were many mothers that had been there for as long as five days straight.
In no way am I saying the hospital doing a great job taking care are of these babies. I am simply outlining the differences between an American hospital and this particular hospital in Cape Town. The nurses were pleasant and once they found out I was American enjoyed talking to me and helping me out. Yes, I was uncomfortable the entire day, but knowing I was there to comfort baby girl it was all worth it. After being up for 30 hours semi-straight I could lay my head with out worrying about roaches.
(None of these pictures are of my baby girl, I can not say her name)
Until next Time,