He's Got the Little Bitty Babies in His Hands
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I woven together in the depths of earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…” -Psalm 139:12-18a (NIV)
How do I even begin to describe the life of Elena? I first met her when she was 15 days old. Earlier that day when I first heard about her, I also heard people saying there was a good chance she would come here just for care until she went to home with Jesus however long that may be.
I refused to believe that. I didn’t want to speak death into her—I knew it wouldn’t change anything and that death was a huge possibility, but for some reason I held out hope that life would prevail, that she could have surgery, and that her life would be a miracle.
Elena was abandoned at a local hospital most likely because she had severe hydrocephalus. Her head had already grown a lot since birth.
Right after she came into our care our nurse had to put an NG tube in because she would not drink well and she was in a lot of discomfort from the extra pressure on her brain. She needed love. Because of how heavy her head was she was hard to hold and didn’t really like it when you did hold her. Our nurse suggested I come up with some massage strokes so she could feel touch as we weren’t sure of how much she received while in the hospital. I did and was able to teach them to her main caregiver. Her favorites were the ones that involved her feet (I don’t blame her, I like those too).
Sweet, beautiful Elena was worth early mornings and sleepy afternoons. She was worth hanging out with and massaging her tiny (but so long) toes. She was worth every ounce of love given to her by the people who cared for her here. She was loved and wanted.
On the fifth morning she was here I went to the pharmacy to talk to our social worker about something and the nurse was there trying to put an IV in her little veins. I had so much on my to-do list that morning but she was worth taking the time to stop and slow down.
I had about 10 minutes before preschool started that morning. I sat down to see how she was doing and was told that if our Haitian nurse couldn’t get an IV in then she would have to go the hospital. I started at her and stroked her little arms and looked into her eyes. Those eyes that were beginning to glaze over, doing something I have watched many eyes do shortly before they got to see heaven first hand. I didn’t know if I was going to see her again.
Then, it was school time. I sat on the floor trying to play with the kids but found it really hard to go from sadness to joy just like that. Elena was weighing heavily on my mind. Directly after preschool I had to teach a massage class for our formula program. When I was able to come up to my apartment and get lunch around 2pm I found myself more than ready to stop and cry for little Elena. I didn’t want her to die in a hospital; I wanted it to be surrounded by people she loved.
Shortly after this I found out she had sepsis, which is a pretty serious blood infection and my sadness turned to thankfulness. I was thankful that the IV attempts here were not successful so she could get to the hospital and treat this bigger infection.
Early Thursday morning she defeated all the sicknesses she had. She no longer has a big head filled with uncomfortable water on her brain, she no longer had sepsis, and she was in the arms of God, a love I can only dream of being able to express.
Wednesday night I had prayed for her and our two other babies at the hospital during our staff/volunteer praise and worship time. I prayed (among other things) for them to come home as quickly as they could. I meant to come home to COTP, but God had other plans for her home.
She is healed. She is whole. She is loved. She is more alive than ever.
Psalm 139 has given me a lot of comfort these last few days. God knew Elena before she was born. But what is even more amazing is he didn’t just know her, he knew the number of days she would be alive. I don’t know if I will ever understand why a child’s days would be numbered so short, but I do know that I have been thankful for each life I have known even if they left this world far far too soon. God created Elena to be perfect, he wove her together she was fearfully and wonderfully made. And God’s works are wonderful. Wonderful—every single one of them. Even a child who only lives on this earth for 22 days is a wonderful creation.
“How precious are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” What comfort that brings! God was thinking about Elena, he knew she would end up living with us and he knew the day she would die. God has been thinking about me this whole, he’s been thinking about the visiting nurse who so faithfully and wonderfully took care of her during her stay here, and he’s thinking about the nurse and her children who so fiercely loved her from the moment they laid eyes on her.
This past week was W week in preschool. One of the songs we sang everyday was “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” He really does have it all—even the little bitty babies.
Losing a child doesn’t get any easier. Tears are still shed for each one. Feelings of loss are still present as the baby is held for the last time. God is still needed in the midst of it all. The funeral is still made special for each child. Each one of our children hold a special place in my heart and they always will. Each child has given me memories to look back on and smile. We only knew Elena for one week but yet she made her way into our hearts and memories.
She is healed. She is whole. She is loved.