>Dulce Maria

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My first visit to Hospital Mario Rivas in, Honduras was to interpret for a medical team. It was then that I first laid eyes on Dulce Maria; the tiny, skinny body with an enlarged head out of which stared big hollow eyes. Her eyes were the only thing that moved as they followed me when I talked to her.
She wore only a diaper that smelled rancid; long overdue to be changed. Taped on her fore arm was a small board, about half the length of a big pop cycle stick, which held her IV. Her body was permanently twisted due to the spinal bifida that she was born with. She made no sound, just stared at me with huge blank eyes. Her skin was thin and translucent, every little blue vein visible beneath the surface.
I was in the hydrocephalus unit; a small room with six cribs, six plastic chairs for the mothers and a small sink. The walls were dirty and stained with the odd smashed roach. There were a couple trails of ants and roaches. There was no air condition in the 90 degree room and the window was shut, derived from the mentality that any breeze would make the babies sicker.
I greeted the five mothers, asked about their children, then moved over to Dulce Maria’s bed. “Where is her mother?” I asked.
“She has no mother,” they replied, shrugging their shoulders.
“Que paso’?”
“She abandoned her at birth,” again with a slight shrug of indifference.
“But, who takes care of her?” I asked. For in this public hospital, the family members have to care for the patient. The hospital provided one meal a day and the nurses administered medication prescribed by doctors. The family was responsible for going to the pharmacy and purchasing the medication. They had to bring in their own sheets, bath the patient, feed if necessary, and wash the clothes and sheets. “Who provides her formula?”
“The nuns,” they replied.
“And her diapers?”
“The nun brought some but they have run out. This one has lasted three days.”
I also learned that no one touched Dulce. If she whimpered out of hunger, one of the other mothers would fix a bottle and prop it beside her head with a blanket. Her diaper was changed only when necessary.
My mind rebelled and my heart cried out. I would do whatever I could to care for Dulce.
I left that day to return with diapers, formula, and medicine for diaper rash, lotion, a towel, blanket and clean clothes. I set out to give her a bath but was not prepared for the emotions that overwhelmed me. She had a scar from her tail bone to half way up her back. Her body was so twisted and her head so big that I didn’t know how to hold her and was afraid of hurting her or doing damage. I am ashamed to say that I almost didn’t want touch her. But I knew what Christ would do.
I carried her tiny body over to the sink and turned on the cold water. It stung her emaciated bottom; raw and bleeding from diaper rash. She couldn’t even cry but her face and eyes screamed hurt and cold.
Then I soothed her rash with medicine, put on clean clothes and wrapped her tight in a light weight blanket. I snuggled her in my arms and sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ while she drank her bottle. She just stared at me.
These visits became a morning ritual. I would enter the room, greet the mothers, inquire of their babies, then hold Dulce while she drank her bottle.
Within a few weeks something changed. When I entered the room and begin speaking, the normally silent Dulce begin to whimper. At first we were all surprised. Then we would smile and laugh, realizing that Dulce knew my voice and was crying for the warmth of a mother’s arms. She knew me!!! And she knew the comfort of human touch.
Dulce had various surgeries. A shunt would be made available through donation from hospitals in the US. The tube would be inserted into her brain and run just beneath the skin down into her abdomen. The fluid would then drain from the head to be absorbed into the stomach.
Then the shunt would become infected and have to be removed. She would wait for another, all the while her head growing larger and larger. Such was the case for all those babies, the fortunate ones eventually going home to their families. The hospital released Dulce once to the nuns but she was back in thirty six hours.
During surgery days, I prayed with all the mothers and their babies. Then I would pray silently for Dulce; that God would take her home to be held in everlasting arms. But she always returned to her bed.
I moved to Mozambique when Dulce was just over a year. She was the same size and weight as when I first saw and loved her. My heart cried out for someone to love her, to feed her and sing to her. About six months later I learned she had been adopted by a mother who had just lost her own hydrocephalus baby.
I thanked God for answering my prayer. She may not have gone to the arms of Jesus but He put her in the care of an earthly mother.
It has been three years now. I’m sure Dulce is in heaven now. I know she is healed.
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About shandaoakley

I am a MK and have lived most of my life in Thirld World Countries. This greatly influences how I think, speak and write. I love my husband of 25 years and my three kids, ages 18, 21 and 21. We recently moved to Southern California and have set up life back in the US. I love my home, friends, animals, teaching and mostly Jesus! I believe life is a choice so I choose joy!
This entry was posted in abandonment, babies, compassion. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to >Dulce Maria

  1. omalleyzoo99 says:

    >That is exactly what Jesus would have done. Thank you for showing us what can be done by opening our hearts to others.

  2. Saun says:

    >You were her angel on earth God Bless you..

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