Baby Steps to Christ
doing general duty nursing, I cared for many newborn babies and their
mothers. There was no special department for the babies. The hospital was
new and there were many needs. The families took care of the
At the nurses station there was a small electric pot that kept water just barely warmer than the air. I noticed that all the baby bottles and nipples for feedings were rinsed and placed in this pot for "sterilization". They were kept at least one minute here for cleansing. All of the different babies bottles were taken to this same pot with the same water. Then the bottle was given to a different baby for the next feeding. Any germs one baby might have grew nicely in that warm water and were shared with the rest of the babies. Any infection one might have was given to all the rest. The babies were sent home after three or four days and no wonder so many babies did not live to see their first birthday. If they survived this, there were germs waiting for them at home. The floors were dirt and they often had pigs running about. Those who did survive to their first birthday had cakes made for them the size of wedding cakes. We saw families celebrating the first birthday with such rejoicing.
I wanted to improve these conditions. I saw the system in the hospital not working well if the mother of the newborn had to go through a Cesarean section. She was still asleep from the anesthetic and could not do anything. The little baby often cried itself to sleep unless grandma or auntie was there to feed and change him. The nurses were very busy.
I bathed the babies and it frightened the people. As I cleaned the baby, I showed how to take care of the umbilicus. They had bound the tummy with a band of cloth and put a quarter over the clipped cord area. The cloth band was very dirty. They explained that this practice kept the naval from sticking out so far when it was an adult. Urine soaked these binders and the skin blistered. Custom is not easy to change I began to realize. With the help of a zmexican doctor I showed the blisters and explained the effect of using binders.
One day as I bathed one newborn, I discovered five layers of coats, sweaters and things under the baby. The baby was so high in its crib, it was about to tumble out.
| I was very worried about the water bath those
bottles were dunked into. That water came from a contaminated supply in
the first place. I watched the laundry woman cleaning her bloody hands in
the open holding tank. She washed surgery garments by hand.
Another time, I saw her large automatic washer going. She was so pleased with this big machine. The big surgery drapes were hard to wash by hand. She filled up the big machine and turned on the tumbling drum. She poured in soap and left to wash other things by hand. This machine had been installed on the second level of the hospital. The suds flowed out the top and flooded the floor. The flood of old blood mixed with soap suds drained off the floor and back into the holding tank for hospital water supply. This same water was received at the nurses desk out of the sink for washing hands and baby bottles and some drank it. This same water was used to wash vegetables, our dishes, and fill the pot for cooking our soup. Sometimes the cook was unhappy with how long it took to use the filtered water spout and mixed our orange juice and watermelon juices with this polluted tap water.
Everyone suffered periodically from amoeba and typhoid. No one ever get immune to these amoeba. One nurse wanted to learn how to get rid of the painful plague of amoeba. She asked if she was correct in believing she could kill amoeba by placing the vegetables in the fridge or in cold water.
| The nursing supervisor saw my interest in helping
improve things. She noticed how I loved the babies. One day she asked if I
would start a nursery department for the hospital and train the nursing
students. I gathered together what they had available but lacked so much.
Writing home to family and friends, many generous gifts were made. Then at
Christmas time we were flown home by Ron's sweet family wanting to see us.
During this trip, we bought supplies and took the sewing machine back to
Mexico. The airlines did not weigh my 90 pound box. God gave me
favor in their eyes. They enjoyed hearing what I was going to do for this
People back home gathered the disposable baby bottles and nipples.
|Several fun days were spent sewing for babies. It took a long time to make clothes, laundry bags, cover gowns, and diaper stackers. Making things without patterns was something new to me. God gave me wisdom as I sewed things to look like the things we used back home. There was a missionary lady from Argentina who came and loved the project. She helped make things.|
|The administrator was shown the nursery equipment and
supplies. I told him how we could use the special department for
missionary work. He was delighted and said was appointed the one
in charge of the department. He would try to get any supplies I needed. He
let me choose any hospital room I wanted for the nursery.
This was a generous statement. Any request I made was met by enthusiasm but was worked on "manana". I had a problem since I was so driven, I expected all others to be likewise. The manana land was probably good therapy to slow me down a bit.
| I found a room that seemed big enough for 10
babies. After scrubbing and disinfecting the room, I was ready to bring in
the disinfected cribs. I let them dry in the sunshine to help with the
final part of disinfecting. Everything looked so good and smelled so
The administrator Sr. Ceara, was so eager for the doors to be opened. I refused to open till I had schedules of helpers planned, rules made, and a teaching plan started. It was a huge challenge. I felt so inadequate to be responsible for those little lives. On my knees, I told God just how I felt.
|It was a big exciting day when we had open house and received our first little brown eyed doll. The day grew longer as I had to give three eight hour cram courses to nurses who had no concept of what a nursery was or that it was important to wash their hands. I watched them excitedly change a dirty diaper, clean up the sweet baby then mix the milk without washing their hands in between. I was teaching 12 and 14 year olds to be nurses. These sweet girls came from mud huts and dirt floors. I think what I was teaching went over their heads.|
|The nursery was one grand curio shop. Everyone wanted to enter the nursery and hold the babies dolled up in soft flannel gowns so different from the typical shirt and bare leg outfits. I had to get a lock on the door to help my students keep down infection potential. The window was designated the viewing port.|
|It was insulting to the other nurses to discover they were not allowed in with their contaminated uniforms where they had cared for open abscesses and tuberculosis and typhoid. They felt they should enter whenever they wanted. I dealt firmly with them and prayed for more patience.|
|It became obvious to me that I would make a difference but perhaps not a permanent one. The only thing permanent when I left after my year could be if I led people to give their hearts to Jesus. One day while praying for how to do this, the idea came to me. A gift could be given to each family to go home with the baby. Steps to Christ in Spanish would be the gift. Inside the front cover, we put the baby footprints stamped right on the page. Then the time and date of birth was written and who gave the care. The Hospital name was also put there. Next I decorated the inside of the nursery with large pictures of Jesus holding children. These people love pictures. A little boom box was taken into the nursery and soft sweet music was played. Approving family members would watch from the window. They hugged me and said their little ones would be singing English songs. One said the music was so heavenly and sounded like angels.|
|The sweet Bible worker gave me a glowing report. She said every home with a baby that had been in our nursery was very happy with the care of their baby. One Catholic mother had placed the book at the head of her baby to protect him at night while he was sleeping. She said they believed evil spirits would have to flee because the picture of Jesus on the book was right at the baby's head.|
| There were many strange superstitions. One
serious parent told me that the bathing must never be done till the child
is one year old. Another told me if you put the baby down too quickly, it
will cause diarrhea. I offended one set of parents when I bathed a grimy
filthy baby sick with diarrhea. I wish I had been more diplomatic. The
parents grabbed up their child and left the hospital in anger.
Another belief was that if the soft spot on the head (fontanel) is sunken in, that was a sign of intelligence. It was amazing to us how all the "intelligent" babies die off. Actually it was a danger signal of lack of fluid or dehydration.
|Babies are so precious to the families. They were so delighted at the care we gave their babies. Many were eager to learn how to keep their babies well at home. Teaching opportunities were taken advantage of and booklets given out to help improve|
premature babies were my challenge. Usually these died but with the
nursery and many prayers to God, the Great Physician, many lived who might
not have if we had not made this nursery care available. Little
Gorge was born at 7 months. He was so tiny. I was afraid. I was up the
first 48 hours with him getting him stable. I took short naps after that
while the little teen girls cared for the babies in the nursery. When he
turned yellow and stopped eating by dropper, I was really sick at heart. I
prayed for God to tell me how to help this little one survive. I
remembered a study I had done on charcoal and on sunlight for helping with
jaundice. In the baby milk I put fine particles of charcoal. It really
helped. He started eating in a few hours. His color improved. His need for
oxygen was critical at first. Since we could not do blood gasses, I prayed
for God to help me tell by just watching him. If you give too much, you
can damage the eyes. If you don't give enough the brain can be damaged.
Finally after the first few weeks, he gained weight and after a month went home. His mother was full of joy.
|She came back to visit and show him off. I was so pleased to see good strength and normal behavior. I gave all the credit to God. I was a nurse with little experience being 3rd year of nurses training. Yet God led me in all I did. I prayed every breath I took that I could honor HIM. I sang to the babies and prayed over them. God's power was seen daily in all He did to train me and help me understand myself and my limits. I learned to trust and love HIM more that year. I also grew up and matured in my ability to serve lovingly.|
|I cried hard the day this other little unnamed girl was born and died in a few hours. I did all I could and prayed yet the answer was not for her to live. There were 19 living children in that home and the mother was very sick. Perhaps she did not live long herself. I wanted a baby of my own. How I adored these little ones. I had been married 4 1/2 years and all the ladies would sympathize and try to comfort me. One even named one of her babies after me and tried to give me one. I figured they were teasing. I really wished for God to give me a sweet little brown eyed baby with dark hair. They were so cute. God had years of training ahead of me. He called me to train as a doctor. I had 9 more years before God was to answer my prayers for a baby. In the meantime, He had lots of things for me to learn.|