(This is the latest e-mail from Meagan. Please keep Meagan and those with her in your prayers as they deal with the constant death of the babies. It is almost impossible with the way BLOGGER is set up to match comments with the pictures but I think you can get an idea which shot goes with which line of Meagan's message.)
Hello dear ones.
I’m about to unload on you. I’m doing this for two reasons:
1. You love me and you will listen and care.
2. I never keep a journal here, so it’s nice to be able to write down what all has gone on and happened so one day I will remember.
Please bear with me… Lisa died today. Henry and Cassandra died last week. I’m so tired of babies dying I can’t stand it. I know I probably say this in every e-mail, but I feel like 99% of my time over here I spend looking around asking, “Is this really my life?” Because sometimes it doesn’t feel possible. Cassandra is the one I wrote to you about last week. She died at a day old. Here is a picture from her burial- her grandmother is holding her while Conrad digs the grave. Remember the two new baby girls from the set of triplets? Well, they have been pretty sick lately, especially Olivia. So on Saturday night, I brought her home to spend the night with me because she kept doing weird breathing things. She is still under 4 pounds, so it just worried me that she would forget to breath or something. So I had her home, and Louisa and Christy (a girl that came and spent a month with us) were home as well. About 20:00 she started acting kind of weird, and Christy kept her hand on her chest to make sure she was breathing. We noticed that she would breath for a couple of breaths and then stop and hold her breath. We think she had probably been doing this all along a little bit, but she was stopping breathing for longer periods, and she started turning blue. We rushed to the clinic right away to get her on some oxygen, and while Lou drove, I was literally thumping her little chest and beating on her to keep her heart going and keep her alive. There were probably bruises on her chest from trying to keep her stimulated enough to breath. She would turn completely blue in the hands and face until you made her breath again. We finally got her to the oxygen machine and she stabilized some. We got an IV in the head and brought her back to my house with the oxygen machine and the canula still in her head. We kept her through the night, taking shifts at watching her breath. By Sunday morning she looked better, but she would still have some episodes of apnea. So I stayed home with her during church because we were still running her IV and all, and I wasn’t ready to take her back to the orphanage. About 11 oclock that same morning I get a call from mama at the orphanage saying I need to come fast because Henry is sick. He is one of our precious HIV babies, 6 months old. We’ve always kind of known he wouldn’t make it long, but he had been doing so much better. So I left Olivia with Lou and Christy and went up to take Henry to the clinic. I took the oxygen machine back from our house up to the clinic for him to use. We proceeded to spend the next 6 hours at the clinic trying to start an IV (I think the final count was 8 attempts—his veins were just too fragile) and getting him oxygen. Mama had called his family, a grandmother, an aunt, and an uncle, who showed up around 16. They came in, held the baby and we all prayed over him, and then they left. We then decided to just take the baby back to the orphanage to die at home. So we took him back, toting the oxygen machine along with us. After I dropped him off, I went back to my house and got Olivia to bring back to the orphanage. She was doing better by this time and her diarrhea had stopped, so she no longer needed the IV. I brought her back and we kept her and Henry in the sitting room together for monitoring. Henry stayed on the oxygen. Well, after awhile Olivia stopped breathing again and while I was thumping on her chest to get her breathing again, we actually had to take the oxygen out of Henry’s nose and let Olivia use it. It was just one of those moments where it makes you so sad that each of them can’t have their own oxygen and all the medical attention they would need. Olivia pulled through and is doing fine as of now, and she is actually up to 4.4 pounds. Her twin Donna is still at 4. But Henry didn’t make it through the night. Here is a picture a few hours before Henry died of Christy holding Olivia and Caitlin, a Harding student that really loved Henry. A happy, smiling Henry a week before..
So it's been a long week anyway. Then this morning, Lisa died. My sweet, sweet Lisa who has already made it through so much. She came to us at 1 kg, tiny and covered in draining sores. And she has made it and turned into this beautiful, smiling, happy baby girl. She has HIV, and she has fought pneumonia pretty much her whole life, and especially the last month or so, but it never looked like she was going to die right now. I always just had this thought like she would make it. Even now, after having buried her today and filled out her Brought In Dead Forms, I still don’t believe it. Last night I had taken her to the clinic because she was struggling to breath—retracting and flaring and all that stuff. The clinical officer gave her an injection and some ventolin and I brought her home. She did much better until I got a call around 06:00 this morning. They said to come fast and get her to go to the clinic. So I rushed there as fast as I could, and when I walked in mama was sitting at the table weeping, and the aunties were crying, too. I thought maybe Lisa had already died, but she hadn’t. They just knew she was about to go. So we got her to the clinic where she was given some medicine to slow the breathing and everything, but it didn’t work. She died at 08:10, as we wept and wept. It just doesn’t seem possible. Which probably sounds stupid to you, seeing as how she had HIV and we lose them to that all the time, but it still just doesn’t make sense. I held her warm little body there and at least had a peace about the fact that I was really just holding a dead body. I could picture her sweet little smiling face up in heaven with Jesus and Harper and all my other sweet babies that got to go to heaven earlier than all of us. But I still can’t believe it. When we got to the mortuary to bring her body, there were already people outside wailing. When we walked inside with Lisa, there was another little girl lying dead on the table being prepared, and she was about 1 ½. They said she just collapsed in the night, too. I walked outside and stood in the rain, listening to the sound of African wailing. A Zambian man I didn’t know who was there for the other little girl stood next to me and said, ”Ahh, these days in Africa are tough.” I almost wanted to laugh out loud at that understatement. We buried sweet Lisa. We couldn’t even sing. We just kind of all stood and stared into space in disbelief. As always, I feel the guilt so heavily. I wonder what I could have done differently, what might have saved her life. Sometimes it overwhelms thinking that their precious lives are somehow in my hands, and I don’t feel prepared enough to always be making those choices. I ultimately know that God is the healer and he has their sweet little days numbered and that HIV is a major killer and all the statistics, but at the end of the day I still just feel plain guilty. And sad. One of the first days she was with us. Getting a bit stronger, but still only 3 pounds. When she made it to 4 pounds! Becoming a big girl. Putting on some major weight, with a cool haircut from having to have IVs in the sides of her head A sweet smile At the end of days and weeks like this, I feel exhausted and so heartbroken that I want to stop feeling and stop loving and stop thinking. One of my favorite songs right now is “You Are Good.” The lines I’m holding onto these days are ''When it’s dark and it’s cold, and I can’t feel my soul you are… so good. When the world has gone grey and the rain’s here to stay, you are still good. So with every breath I take in, I’ll tell you I’m grateful again. And the storm may swell, even then it is well, and you are good." I know that God is good and that these babies are being held by him now. But we’re still hurting, so please keep praying for us and our sweet ones. We need it.
I love you guys. Thanks for letting me get it all out.