Oh I don't even know where to begin with what they said...
After a few minutes of examining, the doctor said it was obvious that she's had some sort of brain damage. I asked how that could have happened and he said it could be any number of things-- an accident, a fall, shaken baby, abuse. With the mother, Babette, being only 17 years old, I realized the likelihood of any of these events were probably increased. But she seems to be a pretty conscientious mother so I tried to think the best. As we're discussing these thing I start touching the baby's head to feel if anything feels misaligned. Babette saw me touching her head and said, "She did fall on her head when she was a very little baby." My heart skipped a beat and then I asked her a few clarifying questions.
I said, "You've told me in the past that she's been throwing up her whole life. Did that start before or after the fall?"
Babette said, "Right after." My heart skipped another beat.
I asked her, "The way her body is all curled up and her muscles are all tight and her face is winced in pain... did that start before or after the fall?"
Babette said, "Right after. Everything about her changed after she fell." And my heart sunk.
I communicated this to the doctor and he basically told me that we can try to do something about the vomiting and dehydration but that there won't be anything we can do for the brain damage-- it's irreversible. He said it's likely she's highly damaged, and that he can't say for sure, but she will almost always be very handicapped. Probably not even able to eat solid foods. He said that in the states with good medical care and the many support services available, she'd have a good chance of beginning to thrive somewhat. And then he asked what kind of life is available for a handicapped child in Haiti. And my heart completely broke. Completely.
I don't want to judge or speak ill of Babette, but she's 17. She's a single mom. She LIVES IN HAITI. THERE ARE NO SERVICES FOR HANDICAPPED CHILDREN! What usually happens is that parents who have handicapped children usually just stop feeding them and they starve to death. And when I say that, I am not saying that as something I even BEGIN to understand. But it is very common. And not being in the position of a mother who is poverty stricken, and living in Haiti where there are no services available, it's not my place to judge.
I am going to be completely transparent right now, and it's probably not going to come out the way I actually mean it, but just trust my heart on this -- the thought actually crossed my mind that I was kind of disappointed in myself that I brought her to the hospital the other day when she was so dehydrated. If I didn't, she might be hugging the neck of Jesus in heaven right now. I KNOW that sounds terrible. And I KNOW that most of you won't understand what I mean by that sentiment. But the outlook for her here is so grim I just don't know how to process what her reality is going to be.
Early on Nick warned me not to get too attached to this baby. Part of me thinks I should have listened. The other part of me thinks that in the end, (to quote a line of my favorite song from my favorite music group), "we're better off for all that we let in."
I'll keep you posted as I try to figure out who's right.