We're back home. The hotel's internet didn't work well the last few days. But we had some pretty awesome things happen. On Thursday Abi's cough was almost gone. We had been told by our coordinator that the hospital was pretty intense and to be prepared for seeing "new things" if we decided to go. Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to the visit…especially if Abiella's cough wasn't an issue anymore. I was also a little concerned that by taking her to the hospital needlessly, we'd be exposing her to things she wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise. We prayed that on Friday morning we would know for sure if we needed to take her.
Friday morning, we packed our bags, checked out of the hotel and then went to the orphanage. As soon as they put Abiella in our arms she started coughing. This was the answer. We were going to the hospital. A nurse, another orphanage employee, Sean and I, our driver, and Abiella (in my lap) loaded into a car and headed to the hospital. When we got there we walked in. It was one big room with wooden benches. The place was PACKED. Every bench was completely full. Maybe 300 people there. We were the only obrunis (white people) there. Around the room were nurses walking in old-school uniforms with the structured white hats. Very surreal. The nurse that came with us from the orphanage found us a place on a bench to sit and then she went into a backroom with the hospital staff. As we sat there Abiella was completely happy. A man sitting next to Sean pointed to the three of us and said, "White, white, black baby... how does this happen?" Haha. Sean tried to explain.
Then the most amazing thing happened. A beautiful woman dressed in full African garb (dress, beautiful head wrap, etc.) walked up to us. She said, "I'm here with another child from the orphanage. I saw you at the home yesterday?" We nodded although we had never seen her before. She then pointed to Abi in my arms and explained that she takes care of her. WHAT?!!?? We hadn't been given the opportunity to meet her caregivers. We said, "You take care of her?" And she said, "Oh yes, I feed, I bathe." She then picked Abiella up out of my arms, and started holding her, squeezing her, playing with her, amazing. She was SOO good with her. Honestly, the most perfect "Aunti." She said, "She wails when she's hungry... and then she's good." We confirmed, "She cries when she's hungry?" "Oh YES. She wails... and then she's fed and she's good!" THANK GOODNESS. Sean said, "If that woman's taking care of Abiella I feel a million times better." Me too! It was amazing. It was just by chance that that woman was at the hospital when we were and that she came up and explained who she was. I'm not totally sure she's even a human. She was soo beautiful and it was such a profound moment.
Soon the nurse and woman who came with us to the hospital walked up to us and said, "We're up." (Clearly they pushed us near the front of the line b/c the original 300 patients were still sitting there.)The woman grabbed Abi out of my arms and told me and Sean to sit on another bench. They took her behind a curtain. I could see them undress her, take her temperature, etc. Then they dressed her and walked past us and said, "We're going to see the doctor. Wait here." They really took great care of us. Until she's through court the orphanage is legally responsible for her so the staff took care of her at the doctor's office. After 5 minutes or so (and a LOT of stares and whispers around us) they brought Abiella back to us. She was still very content and happy. The orphanage nurse told us it was just a "typical cough" and that the other woman needed some money to run to the pharmacy across the street and get Abi’s prescription.. The other nurse said she was running upstairs to get some wound dressings for someone else. We were left in the waiting room... the three of us: Sean, me and Abiella. We ended up waiting there for almost an hour. It was burning up! NO AC... babies crying, etc... But sweet Abiella, sweating up a storm, just sat contently in our arms... looking around. While we were waiting a woman brought us our hospital bill. Sean paid it (10 cedis... approximately 7 US dollars!) . Soon, both women returned and we were back in a taxi. We had to go to another pharmacy b/c the first one was out of one of her medications. As I held Abi in my lap, smashed between two strong Ghanaian women, watching Sean in the front seat, and holding Abi's head steady while the taxi slammed every which direction, I thought "Wow this is one experience I'll never forget.” While Sean and the other woman were in the second pharmacy, the nurse and Abi and I sat in the taxi alone. Abi coughed. The nurse looked at her and said, "We give her medicine. She'll be good." It was so comforting. She asked when we were going back, I said "Today. In a few hours." She said, "Oh...we'll miss you. Abiella will miss you." Abiella eventually started to fall asleep in my lap.
We finally arrived back at the orphanage and the nurse directed someone to take Abiella and go feed her. We waited under the tree. Eventually, K’s partner showed up to take us to the airport. Sean went and asked if we could see Abi one more time to say goodbye. They asked, "where are you from in America?" Sean said, "Tennessee." They said, "Oh we hear that place in songs!" (Are you kidding me??) Sean said, "Oh that's what I do... I write songs." The director said, "Oh next time bring your guitar and you can play for the kids.” So nice.
Eventually a woman brought Abi out. I walked up to the building and Sean and I loved on her, prayed for her and told we'd be back as soon as possible. Very sad but we made it. (We'd been told to do all you can not to cry b/c it's a cultural 'no-no' and would make EVERYONE super uncomfortable. So we somehow managed... ) Abiella had just eaten and was super happy. Eventually we handed Abiella back, waved and smiled to the staff, told them, "Thank you so much" about ten million times and got into the car.
20 hours later we were at our house in America... with toilet paper, and clean water, and clean food, and no Abiella.... It's a wide array of emotions. But ultimately, we couldn't be more thankful for the way things went on Friday. We got her medicine for her cough, we met her super unbelievable caregiver at the hospital, we were invited by the staff to come back and spend more time with the kids, and we learned that Abiella cries when she's hungry... (Thus making us feel that she wasn’t hungry when we visited with her… she didn’t cry much with us.) So, So, So good.
We feel very blessed...We cannot express how much all of your prayers and encouragement and messages meant while we were in Africa... more than you'll ever realize. We felt your support from across the world and it helped us in the hardest hours. We are so grateful for all of you and CAN'T WAIT to share pictures and videos with you of our precious Abiella. She is literally the strongest, most resilient, most amazing person I've ever had the honor of meeting. We are so in love and we miss her so much. Can't wait until she's here with us!!