12 November 2012

Baby alone

During the two days Anna and I spent in the hospital, I kept noticing a small child who was alone in a side room. Always.



No one visited him, apart from the nurse that was looking after him during her shift.

When I asked, a nurse told me he'd been there, alone, for four days, and that this kind of thing happens regularly. The parents have reasons - they live too far away, they have children at home they have to care for.

I think he (or she, I couldn't tell from the name) must have been about 18 months old going by his size, but I couldn't tell for sure. He didn't seem to crawl or stand. And, disturbingly, he never cried. Like those Russian babies in orphanages who have figured out that crying doesn't work.

The damage.

This was the worst thing I saw during our time there. Apart from Anna crying and shaking with pain and fear when her drip lines failed and had to be re-inserted in a different vein, that is. But our hearts are meant to break for our children, aren't they? We are meant to do anything we can to protect our children from pain and fear - but not all parents do.

And while we read to Anna, brought her drawing materials, played I Spy and 'paper, scissors, rock', the family opposite us told their completely unentertained two-year-old to 'shut up' when she cried and, I'm sure, hit her at one point (she was allowed five sobs in response, at which point she was told to 'shut up' again, and she did).

Anna rewarded me today. "Mama is the hero of the family this week," she announced. "You saved me." On questioning she said I'd saved her from having her knee cut open to release the nastiness in the boil (because the district nurse who came today to do the first of her daily dressing changes assumed that had been done, but I pointed out that it had erupted by itself).

But I think I saved her in a different way: by not being one of those parents. She is so blessed, as was I, not to be born into one of those families. "There but for the grace of God, go I."

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