My days quickly took on a routine at the hospital. Some days I was with someone and some days I was alone, but there was so much to do that every day became a blur. I felt possessed by the situation; the hopelessness of it. I often would start awake at night from the empty stares of the babies or the sound of their pitiful wails.
Many of the babies were either born with conditions or had "acquired" them from being at the hospital; Failure to Thrive, Reactive Detachment Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to name a few. Many of these babies jolted at my touch as if stung, became hysterical in water and left marks on my arms as they clung to me when lifted from their cribs. Lice was abundant and frequently "Mr Clipper" would come in and shave the babies to rid them of the bugs, which only added to their ghetto look. Most of the children had not been bathed since birth. Their skin was scaly and resembled reptilian skin. I would scrub and scrub over several washes and often there was bleeding afterwards. The water would turn black.
In the mornings I would bathe, oil and change the babies into clean clothes. I remember the shock upon being shown the clothes cabinet. It was filled with "rags" for the babies. Tattered onesies and ripped, stained pajamas in all different sizes~ one size fits all style. Some of the pajamas had so many holes that it was almost pointless to put on.
Then bottles would arrive. Large, heavy glass bottles with nipples stretched over the top of the bottle and a large, jagged hole in the top for sucking. The nurses would come in and prop all the bottles while I claimed one child and sat and fed the baby. Feeding became an art of carefully holding baby and bottle at just the right angle for the liquid to flow slowly and evenly. When this did not happen choking, gasping and coughing would occur and baby and I would both cry then start again. Meanwhile, the other bottles would slip from the babies mouths and start leaking onto the sheets. The baby would begin mewing but then give up because it was pointless to get it back. Many times the nurses would come in and gather the bottles, commenting that the babies were not hungry! (After a couple of weeks I made the nurses understand that I would personally feed all the babies and please, do not take the bottles until they were empty!) I have fed 8-12 babies alone several times a day.
Burping was unheard of in those days and still quite often today, but it was torture hearing the babies suffering from gas pains because no one took the time to burp them. So I would burp each one until all had once again settled into silence. After a couple of weeks I brought in a CD player and began playing music in the rooms. Bouncy, energetic music for when they needed to be up and stimulated and soft relaxing music for when they needed to sleep. It was the first time these babies had ever identified different parts of their day. It was so sweet to see their eyes brighten and watch them roll back and forth in their cribs during the "up" hours. Such a break in the monotony!
Holding babies, rocking babies, singing to babies, changing babies, feeding babies, bathing babies and on and on every day... It might not seem like much, but watching their bodies grow fatter and softer; their eyes start to twinkle and their brains start to work is a Miracle for me every year....
This ministry is not just about humanitarian aid; it is about rescuing souls!
Project Hope for the Children is a non-profit ministry that seeks to mobilize the generosity of donors to provide for the tangible needs of orphans, disadvantaged children, and at-risk families in Romania, Puerto Rico, and Beyond.