Wednesday, 26 October 2011

26th October 2011

Over the past few days we have not only been cut off from the internet but also had no phone network for hours on end and then been without electricity for a few hours. So all communication has taken place down the ‘Green Bar’, a little place just 10 minutes walk away, where you can get a good cold St George’s Beer and shout above the clinky clanky music that booms out non stop. Mind you, this is a great improvement on the Orthodox Priest’s singing every night as he call everyone to prayer from the bottom of the valley, to which we are the recipients at the top.
 It has been a busy few days working at the hospital and also going out to a hospital around 25km away, which is also supported by Maternity Worldwide. It took us about 2 hours to get there but the drive was really amazing as we drove up over the pass and were above the clouds.

 It was a really interesting visit as they had a Waiting House just outside the hospital and I was able to chat to women there who were ‘waiting’ to have their babies. The idea is that those women who are considered to be at a high risk of needing a hospital delivery are advised to wait for the last 2 or 3 weeks in the Waiting House. It’s a nice idea and I am trying to set up some evaluative work there with one of the nurses to see how many women actually end up needing a hospital delivery. They don’t have an obstetrician in the hospital as they can’t recruit anyone, although there are 5 pretty competent nurses and a general surgeon to do caesarean sections.

 Baby A has had a harrowing time over the past few days, largely because his mother has abandoned him, leaving him without any milk. He was doing really well and absorbing her expressed milk (well ¾ strength anyway) and had been taken off of the oxygen. But then yesterday evening she crept out of the hospital without anyone seeing her go. I’m not sure whether she just headed off home to her village or not but this was at least 4 hours walk away and it was pitch black.

So I had to introduce Baby A to powdered milk. It is at least baby milk but is designed for term babies rather than very premature ones. He doesn’t get on that well with it and has had quite a few episodes of vomiting. Last night, it looked as though he had aspirated vomit into his lungs as he went very blue and needed oxygen again. His lungs were also quite noisy. So I went to bed feeling rather disheartened by it all.

 However, this morning, much to my surprise, he was off of the oxygen and was quite perky – well as perky as a premature baby gets, I guess. So now I have him on ¼ strength Nan (powdered milk) and make the rest up with Dioralyte and glucose – I have managed to calculate his requirements for glucose and electrolytes and can just about make the right solution up. However, I run out of Dioralyte tomorrow and they don’t have any here in the pharmacy so I will have to re-think things a bit. Perhaps he will take more milk.

This evening, after I fed him, I dressed him in the only baby outfit that we have here – a knitted top. We don’t have nappies so it will be wet fairly soon but at least it’ll keep him warm for a while. As I tucked him in, I removed the cockroach that landed in the cot...........

We have now employed a gardener at 20 Birr a day (80p) and so he is helping us to prepare the ground a bit for the vegetable patch. We inherited a caged in area so it is money proof. We have also started a composting system – might as well as all the rubbish goes into the garden anyway.

 Tonight we had a delicious meal of Jerusalem artichokes and rice – you may not think it such a treat but I can tell you that it made a very welcome change to beans and lentils.


  1. Well, more exciting times. As luck would have it, my friend has got me knitting tops to send to babies in South Africa. Shall we adopt your little ones and get those needles clacking?
    K is going to have a read now and will post a comment. Much love Angie xx

  2. windy city after the artichokes but delighted to hear that not only is Baby A doing well but that you have a composting system. Hopefully this will help in the long term veg growing experience. Not sure if a randomised trial of different composts vs placebo (none) is required. Lots of love Kevinxxx

  3. No nappies! what do the women of Ethiopia use? We are so lucky here. Can we give anything to Sophie to bring when she visits? Let us know if the parcel arrives from Karen, we have sent a letter but a parcel would be good to send also. Keep up the good work and don't get too depressed over baby A, you can only do your best. Love Mum

  4. We've managed to find a few baby clothes now as there is a midwife here who worked here 5 years ago and she brought some with her - they are about 10 sizes too big but that's the norm here.
    Without nappies, babies just get wet and dirty and have to sit in it until there are some more clothes available. Seems odd from the UK perspective but from here it's not that strange as you see children walking aroudn all the time with wet and dirty tee-shirts....and no shoes.
    Lovely to hear from you all
    Karen xxx