“Come and see the new baby."
The orphanage's baby home director, a nanny and two medical staff were gathered around a white metal crib. Inside lay a newborn baby boy with a severe cleft lip and palate. He slept peacefully as the staff discussed what to do. "We've raised a baby like him before," the director commented, "but there are already so many babies and only one nanny to take care of them." For an infant born with a cleft lip and palate to survive, he needs meticulous care. These children are at higher risk for respiratory and other infections, as well as malnutrition. The orphanage staff knew this. "But what if we can't care for him?" the nurse asked. What if he doesn't survive?
This one precious new baby is not the only concern. There are other children, little ones who have survived the infant stage and are growing into toddlers and preschoolers. Their need for care and for love is just as intense.
The nanny on duty for the infant room - caring for fifteen babies between the ages of two months and a year and a half - is bustling about, propping bottles on towels, sticking nipples back into hungry mouths and cleaning up the mess of the day. She takes a minute to rest on her feet and comments, "What these babies really need is love. That's it. But we can't give it to them. All that I want to do is love them and show them that they are special, but I have ten babies to care for and I spend most of the time taking care of the daily needs, not loving them. If each of us only had three babies to care for, we could do it, we could love them. But ten? It's impossible and it makes my heart sad." She gently smooths the blankets of the almost-sleeping babies and goes to wash up the bottles.
A toddling girl needs to know that there is someone available, someone just for her. Growing boys need just as many cuddles as the cutest chubby baby. And all of the babies, from the biggest to the littlest, the skinniest to the chubbiest, the cutest to the sickest, all of them need love.
The hearts of the nannies working in the orphanage are kind, genuine and full of love for the children in their care. But they are overwhelmed and sometimes discouraged. How can two women provide for the needs of sixteen preschoolers, some of whom have severe special needs? How does one woman make sure that ten infants are eating enough, growing enough and being loved enough? There is no solution, except for what the nanny said as she quietly soothed a little orphan to sleep..."If each of us only had three children... then we could love them."
Part 2, coming tomorrow...