Monday, November 26, 2012

The rest of our story in Ghana

So I have put off sitting down to write this post A WHOLE lot the past month.  Mainly because I knew it would be emotionally draining and who has time for that??

So we posted about our first day meeting Emmanuel, and it really was as precious as we said.  The week from there got a bit crazy.  His temperature was up and down a lot those first couple days and the Advil I was pumping wasn't really doing much for the 104 degree fever.  He was in great spirits though, playing, giggling and eating like crazy.  I mean HOW ADORABLE is his little voice in this video?

 On Friday we decided to take him to a clinic down the road.  Praise God for having this sweet lady that owned the hotel we were at, Marianne.  She was a WEALTH of knowledge for us and called down and let them know we were coming.

The lab and waiting area.
They took his vitals first which resulted in a nurse stripping him down and hosing (LITERALLY, OUTSIDE, HOSING) him down to cool him off.  That made him so happy.  Then they sent us to the lab out behind the clinic to get blood work done thinking he had malaria.  He did.  Malaria +++ to be exact.

Which is so much of the parasite in his blood that he should have been unconscious.

They gave him a few injections to bring down his fever and for the malaria, sent us on our way with tons of medicine and we were to return Saturday morning for another round of injections.  Saturday was a bit better.

Then came Sunday.  Emmanuel barely woke up all day.  When we would try to wake him up to eat or take his medicine he would just refuse and go back to sleep.  We physically forced the medicine down his throat.  It got worse as the day went on.  OF COURSE there were no clinics or hospitals close by open because it was Sunday.  So we spent the entire day watching him and praying.  And freaking out quite a bit.  From our past experiences, we knew that he wasn't getting enough oxygen and wasn't breathing the way that he should.

The fear of all those things we went through in the past began to choke our faith.  Sunday was a LONG day.  With nothing to do in the middle of Africa but watch him and plead with God to not take another child from us.

I am not going to lie, there were some not so great words between me and my Savior that day.  I sat looking out into the ocean that reveals so much about the majesty of God and was so angry as I whined at Jesus.  If it was His will to take Emmanuel to heaven and He brought us into his life just to rip him out of ours, I was not going to be ok.

We woke up Monday (or got up, we didn't really sleep) and were off to the clinic first thing.  We had decided to start there and then let God lead us to the care we needed for our son.  Of course, He provided.  At the clinic they retested his blood and said it was good.  He was down to Malaria +, but his Hb levels were now very low.  (From 8.6 on Friday to 5.7 on Monday)  I asked if we could get a blood transfusion.  They told us that no his blood was too thin and it wouldn't mix properly with new blood.  His levels were too low for a blood transfusion.  They told us to just take him home and get him to eat and wait.

Well that was all we needed to hear to take him for another opinion.  THAT made no sense to my mind and I have no medical training.  So we headed into Cape Coast to another clinic.  E and I sat down in the que to wait.  It looked like there were about 65 people in front of us and we were to move one seat at a time to the front of the line.  Seriously?  Later we found out that wasn't really the system.  They used a computer that had the time that you got there and called you on a first come first serve basis.  BUT everyone waiting thought the "move a seat" thing worked, so they went with that!  Did I mention that E's fever was 104 and it was 100 degrees outside and I was surrounded by sick people I didn't know that didn't speak any English??

As we waited a nurse walked past Gabe and he showed her on his iphone (praise God for technology) the lab test from the other clinic.  She came and took us right in.  I was a bit embarassed to be THAT WHITE LADY that walked in front of everyone else into see the doctor.  But getting E help quickly made me not really care.

Looking back later I did lots of processing over the people we saw at these clinics.  People waiting in hospitals for months for simple care we can get in moments here in the US.  People that are children of God and loved by Him.  But that isn't for this post.

The doctor looked him over and asked me what I thought.  REALLY?  My patience was pretty much gone at this point after being in Africa for 7 days and all we had gone through so far.  So I said I think he needs a blood transfusion.  I think his hands, eyes, and feet are yellow because he isn't getting enough oxygen and he needs to have a transfusion.  He began writing us a letter of recommendation and sent us to Central Regional Hospital.

Me helping put in E's central line
There we waited again to talk to the pediatrician and AGAIN we got right in before many other people. He ordered a repeat blood test to make sure that the levels were right and sent us to the "ward" to get ready to stay for a transfusion after the lab work came back.

So it all came down and we got a blood transfusion.  Ema and I stayed the night at the hospital so he could get his transfusion.  Gabe couldn't stay.  We had to stay alone.  I was terrified, but what else can you do?  Mom-up is what you do!

 So the nurse hooks up the blood and says to me "Watch that drip right there.  If it goes slower or faster over the next 4 hours yell for me."  Ok?  So I did.  Watched blood drip for 4 hours while THANKFULLY Ema slept in my arms as I sat on a plastic covered mattress in this hospital in the middle of Africa alone.  I have never felt quite like that at all before.  So full of fear and so at peace at the same time.  When his transfusion was done, I laid him next to me in the bed and watched him sleep the rest of the night.  All I could think was my son's name means "God with us" so I prayed those words over and over and over.  God with us, God with us, God with us.

Morning came and Ema awoke a new little boy.  He had energy and wanted food.  And it was as if we had received a miracle.  Or...we did.  We were able to leave the hospital and spend our last day together in Ghana with our son.

Throughout this whole ordeal Emmanuel was ATTACHED to me like never before.  He spent those 3 sick days with only mama.  Cried for mama.  Wanted nothing to do with anyone else.  While it sure was tiring pretty much holding him for 72 straight hours.  If nothing else, I am thankful for that gift.  The gift of him trusting me and knowing I am his mama.

As we went home and began packing it was surreal.  We had just brought him home.  Just got our miracle and now we were packing to leave him.  He was toddling around babbling and giggling.  Putting his stuff in the suitcases.  It was heart-breaking.  Felt like we had been kicked in the gut.  But again we did what we had to do to make things alright for him.  I shared with him about his family at home and that we'd go home and when the papers were ready come back to take him with us.  Between the lack of sleep and the reality of the moment, I talked through the tears.

And the next morning, Henry came and picked him up.  Ema loves to ride in the car and loves Henry so he was good to go.  Which was very helpful.

We have spent every day since that day aching for him.  We know this wait is part of the process, but it just seems cruel.  We have a son that is across the world.  We have been without him for 32 days, and I imagine this is only the beginning of our wait.  Leaning on the faithfulness of Christ is all we can do.  We know His plans are better than ours.  Even though right now we can't see that, we still believe it.

Praying for a Christmas miracle for our family.  As my brother says (yes, he is cheezy) O Come, O Come Emmanuel.



  1. I'm sure this was probably hard to write but also therapeutic. Thanks for being authentic. I'm sorry that you have to wait. It just sucks. We will pray for your Christmas miracle too! -Kayla

  2. Hi Shelley! Love hearing your story. and his voice IS precious! He is so adorable. What a miracle that you were over there at the perfect time to get Ema the help he needed! Praise God! Karen