The pain of powerlessness

Agnes, our beloved nanny, has children the same ages as ours. She started working for us when Isaac was just 5 months old, and her son Clement was just 3 months. Perhaps it's the working-mother thing, but my heart went out to her immediately, knowing how hard it is to do the juggling necessary to make ends meet. Clement was hospitalized several times that first year, for malaria and asthma and double-pneumonia and measles! Every time the phone rang at 4:30 or 5am, I knew he was sick again and she was taking him to the hospital. I didn't even know about the children's ward's 70% mortality rate then, but I still knew enough to start praying! I didn't know if I would survive the stress of that first year of Clement's life, let alone if he would!

But he did, and he's now a healthy, active 2 year old--talking circles around Isaac and already potty-trained! And then, as I was starting to get big with Omara, Agnes tearfully confided that she was unexpectedly pregnant again, due 3 months after me! It took her some time to get excited about the pregnancy, because she was worried about the financial cost of another child. But oh, did she ever fall in love with Omara. She would sit for hours and talk to her, coo with her, and pray that she would have a little girl as well!

A week and a half ago, I got another midnight call...she was on her way to the hospital! By 10am, they called to say mom and baby were healthy, and it was a girl! And then it all started again. The next morning, they called to say the baby was sick already...103 degree fever that started 12 hours after birth! I drove out and talked with the nurses to make sure treatments were right, and prayed with Agnes and the yet-unnamed baby. And my heart felt heavy. I agonized with how involved I should get. By the next day, I had decided to offer to pay for a transfer to a private ward when they called again to say the fever was gone and they were ready for discharge! This solved one problem (what to do for her) but sent new pangs of anxiety through me (what neonatal sepsis can be treated with 1 1/2 days of antibiotic injections??? My Neonatal nurse friends would be horrified!). But what could I do??? So I drove them home and told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was to call me at any hour at the first sign of a returning fever, poor feeding, or other symptoms of illness. And I prayed. What I really wanted to do was whisk Agnes away and keep them 'hostage' in my clean house, eating 3 healthy meals a day, with access to clean, warm water, showers, and flushable toilets! But I realized that there is nothing I can do to make sure this little baby survives other than to pray for it and to offer help when asked.

A week after they got home, I got another call from them, and my heart sank when I saw the number. I answered with dread, but instead of bad news, her husband said, "Madam--we are still waiting for a name." Excuse me??? Yes, apparently they were waiting for ME to name their daughter, and they were wondering what was taking so long! I was caught completely off guard--I hadn't realized I might need to keep a list of potential names for other people's children! As I stumbled around awkwardly, trying to come up with a good name, he just laughed and asked if it would be ok to just name her Miriam!

I am amazingly honored, and I can't wait for Agnes to come back to work (in 3 months) because she'll bring little Miriam with her and our girls will grow up playing together. I also realize there's no hope for me to have an anxiety-free year. Not only do I love her mom, and cherish all new babies, but now she's my name-sake. I'd better start praying now!


  1. Wow what a privilege and responsibility of having your new addition as well as everything else God has given you to do. Praying that he gives you continued strength.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Grass is grass, no matter what side of the fence it's on

Moving, and moving on

Finite Disappointment