A goodnight sleep. Did we really have a good night sleep? We awoke with that general feeling, yet hazy on the details of how it happened. Ollie seemed a little better so we got our hopes up and made plans for the day. However, after our morning cup of coffee, his fever was back...and with it my anxiety.
"The rain has come - it is colder and dreary . I want to stay. The fear I had before we came is gone: fear of the driving, the food, the water, the bugs etc. I am feeling well and loving the city. But here I am with a sick child. From the time we leave it will be at least a day and a half to see a Dr. in the states. I just don't know how long to wait. I don't want to wait too long, and yet I don't want to miss this time if this sickness is nothing. We give him Tylenol and head to the orphanage. The weather became nice again. My spirits are still dull." -journal
We arrive at the orphanage and are surprised to
see the visiting room packed with people. A French group has arrived to meet their children. We watch as they play...cultures spanning cultures just as we do...and yet it seems strange to be looking through one cultures eyes at another trying to bridge the gap between still another culture.
We make acquaintance with the ones who speak English. There are a couple of single ladies with little babies who are together trying to figure out their baby Bjorns, a lady with a darling toddler girl who is walking in circles holding onto her hands as she leads her new mommy around. There is also a couple who are trying to entertain a young boy of 3. Joseph. The entire group seems so prepared. They all have brought small toys...very amusing toys...balloons, balls, snacks, etc. Joseph hesitatingly plays with the toys they brought and then suddenly breaks into tears. It is hard for his mom, but she says over and over that it is good for him...that he needs to cry. They handle it very well.
Soon the van from the Toukoul guest house pulls up and T. from Dove is with the rest of the group. We say our hellos and let her know what is going on with Oliver. She leaves to talk with the Toukoul staff and then returns with the orphanage Dr. Soon we are being ushered up steps, past lines and lines of laundry, around a few wandering children, and into a small office. She is very nice. She has a confident air of someone who knows exactly what she is doing and can remain calm about all else. We get the same questions as we did at the hospital. As she is looking at his tiny body, she tells us that she would never, herself, bring a baby to this country. Wow! A knife into an already damaged heart. Especially after hearing this from someone who lives here and knows the risks of the country first hand...who works with the children firsthand...I'm feeling right now like the world's most irresponsible mother. She is not lecturing us; it was more of a passing comment and her attitude towards us is friendly...and yet...
Her diagnosis is strep throat. (although no culture
is done). This makes sense. Of course! He caught it from Max or from myself. Good grief! He didn't get sick from Africa...we brought our sickness to Africa. She gives me an antibiotic which I have never heard of and, after our visit with Noah, we go to pick it up at a pharmacy.
S. pulls over next to a white sing with blue lettering and a cross, undoubtedly the place we need. He offers to go in with Josh to translate so I sit in the car and wait...with dozens of eyes watching me.
Everywhere there are people...sitting, standing, walking...and here is no exception. A group of men leans against a fence and stares. I am not sure whether to meet their stare or simply look away. It is not until I smile that they smile back, give a friendly nod, and resume their conversation. I wish there weren't the barriers of separation that I feel. I think a lot has to do with the fact that it is my first time here. There is a lot of culture shock to overcome and I have no idea how to act properly or what would be improper. I am definitely new here...and it shows. Sitting near the car is a woman with her breast exposed, making herself available to the young, diaperless child hanging in her lap.
Yes...just what you would imagine in Africa I know; but this isn't the norm. Not every mother walks around hanging out. Maybe it is just those who are too poor to care. Whatever it is, I wonder again why I am so different and why my child can be wrapped in a blanket...asleep on my lap...in a car and hers is exposed on the side of the street. I want to give her something, but by this time I have learned better. It would be seen and soon the car would be surrounded. But her eyes keep meeting mine. I hold Ollie close to the window and she smiles a warm, motherly smile. I say the word "konji" ("beautiful"...one of the only words I know in Amharic) and point to her baby. She hugs him and nods.
Here come the men. I quickly hand her something before we go and we drive away. I wonder what she is doing a year later. On the way to the guest house I ask S. about babies and sickness here. "Up to age 3...babies are always sick...always at hospital. By age 8 they are stronger...by 13 they are not sick." I also asked him if many people take such a little baby as Ollie out into the city. "Oh No, no no!!" he said. This mother didn't seem to have a choice.
We return to the guest house, past David who gives a "hello," and into our room. Soon afterward, the lights go out and the room takes on another tone. It is damp, and cold, and now there is no light. It is now that I tell myself next time we will get a different room. A bigger one. I am tired.
I drift off to sleep thinking of Noah: the beautiful boy he is and the personality we can't wait to uncover.
"The rest of the day is a blur - foggy hours past in the dark room. Josh goes to see Noah - I stay behind. Oliver sleeps and I lay beside him. Sleep comes quickly. I don't know when I wake up again, but the time between waking and sleeping is blurred and so I slide into another difficult night. Ollie wakes with tummy aches and I worry. God give us wisdom." - journal