Saturday, February 4, 2012

baby Ashley--pray please

There is a lot I've been meaning to write about but it will all have to wait because today happened and I want you to pray with me for a new friend and her baby...

Today my calendar (which doesn't really exist, rarely actually matches what the day holds, and is usually decided upon only hours before the day is reached-as anyone who has tried to plan anything with me (especially while in Kenya) can attest to) told me I'd be shadowing my friend Joseph, a medical student in Nakuru. I had mentioned my interest in labor and delivery several months ago and so he kindly offered to let me come and experience my first (and hopefully second, third, fourth, etc) Kenyan birth. We spent several hours in the Maternity Ward (which is accustomed to about 30 births a day) until we had seen all of the patients and it was clear no one would be delivering anytime soon. I was a bit disappointed that I had finally taken the time to come and shadow and of course, happened to pick the one day of the entire year that moms were not popping out babies every hour.

We stopped in several wards on our way to lunch and when we entered the 0-2 year old ward, it was clear they were overwhelmed. I have been in plenty of third-world hospitals and I promise I had never seen anything like it before. I think your stomach would turn like mine did when I entered, if only I could share the sounds of that room with you. Hundreds of babies crying sick and pain-filled tears whose different, but similar, noises echoed in the eeriest way. They were laying everywhere... on tables, in chairs, on laps, on backs, in beds with other babies. Several babies lay sprawled on top of a set of drawers, all hooked up to one oxygen tank.

My heart said to do something but my mind told me I wasn't qualified to. The heart won quickly and I found productivity in swatting flies from sleeping/oxygen sucking babies faces, removing the clothes of febrile little ones (a 2 week old having febrile seizures with a temp of 105 and no healthcare professional has told her to take off her onesie, tshirt, sweater, jacket, 2 pairs of pants, hat and thick blanket.... ah!!), rubbing heads, patting moms on the back, nagging nurses to pay attention to the ones who looked sickest, and praying for any little life my eyes found in that busy room.

As I said, the room was filled up to overflowing with desperate cries--hundreds singing distress in an unsettling harmony, so it is only God who directed my attention to the one baby in the room who was unable to make a noise come out of her frail body. The doctor was trying to get an IV started and had failed repeatedly due to this baby's critical condition. As he pushed and pulled the long needle in and out of her head, I watched in horror as her entire body cried, but no noise was released. I have never seen pain like that in my life. I cried heavy tears for her in that moment and her worried mother joined me. This baby needed help immediately. She was not getting it here.

I wrestled with the Holy Spirit for about 30 minutes, watching as my friend Joseph did whatever he could to move this child along in the process to receive the care she needed. I will be honest, the pain in my own heart was so bad at this point that I think I chose to get her out of that situation for my own benefit. I was so disturbed that I physically ached. I talked to the only doctor I could find in the large room and he agreed they would not be able to give this baby the care she needs to survive and supported our request to take her elsewhere. About an hour later (which is actually kind of fast for a public kenyan hospital), we were on our way... Joseph had gotten in touch with one of his professors (on a Saturday, Hallelujah again!) who is one of two pediatricians in Nakuru. He agreed to meet us and was able to admit us to a private hospital nearby, where he promised to provide the care Ashley needed himself.

The day was scary and hectic and I found myself praying often that He'd keep her alive long enough to reach our next destination. He did. He has, for today... I ask for your prayers that He continue to hold little Ashley tightly. She is very sick. At 10 months old, she weighs 9 pounds. She is severely malnourished and dehydrated on top of having a very serious case of pneumonia. Watching her chest rise and fall brings a new reason to rejoice 34 times per minute--she is still fighting.

Taking pictures seemed so odd and disrespectful, but I wanted you to be able to put a face with her name, a face with the statistic (15 million die of hunger each year... every 3 seconds), and a face on one of your sisters that you have yet to meet. They were taken this evening once Ashley was stabilized. Please continue to pray for Ashley and the doctors as they work to get this child back to health by re-feeding, hydrating, and controlling her chest infection. Please pray for her sweet mother Mercy whose ache for her child far exceeds my own small taste (so I cannot even imagine how bad it hurts). As the sun went down, we talked about how sweet Jesus is to have brought us all together. We thanked Him for loving Ashley more than we do and for answering her mother's wordless groans for the child He has entrusted to her. As I get ready to sleep, I am thanking Him that He lets us hear Him and never stops being faithful and true. I am thanking Him that we can say yes to Him even when we don't know how on earth it will work. I am thanking Him that we don't have to be rich or knowledgeable or experienced for Him to use us. I am thanking Him that we get to love people hard and deeply and painfully because He first loved us that way (but more) and He supplies the strength to keep on going. Thank you for praying. You are loving my friends by doing so and that means the world to me.


  1. Praying for sweet Ashley & her mom!!! May they both come to know His love & provision deeper & deeper until the joy & knowledge of it overflow to their family & neighbors. Praying for you too Annie!!

  2. praying for you and this dear baby - what a fighter! Pray for God's supernatural strength all over you & this mother & His healing touch upon Ashley.

  3. I am trying to wrap my head around being in that room with that many sick and crying babies. My heart breaks for them. So glad you were able to be there with this family and help them. May God give Ashley the strength and fight she needs to heal. Please keep us posted!

  4. As I read your story of this precious babe and saw the pictures, my heart wept as I could imagine the anguish felt. I have been praying constantly ever since and will continue to pray. Thanking God for you and your servants loving heart.

  5. Praying for all of God's children who so desperately need Him and each of us to do His will--as He directs, moment by moment! Praising God for Ashley's improvement! He is the Great Healer!