Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 5

This morning started the same. We went to the clinic, fed the kids, and took them outside. The difference was that Nicoletta took Big Andreea this morning, fed her, and did her exercises with her. I tried to feed Ema-Elena, but she wasn’t having any of it. Cristi did very well with his bottle this morning, he hardly made a mess at all.

Mara, a Romanian university student, spends some days volunteering at the clinic during the summer, so she was here today. Her English is very good, and she translated for us when we had questions for the aides. We also talked about differences in child discipline between the US and Romania, both in the home and at school. Sami, who just turned four last week, is having a hard time understanding that it isn’t nice to hit, pull hair, or throw toys at people, and that is what spurred the conversation.

Two inspectors, I think from the Ministry of Health, came in to check out the facility today, and I guess the aides were scrambling around as they came in, trying to get things together. The inspectors were only there for a short time, however, just to see the clinic building/equipment. It had little to do with the children, this time.

Snack today was yogurt (saved from breakfast at the hotel) and, for some kids, applesauce. I had the task of feeding Sami his applesauce—a task that was 100 times easier than feeding it to Andreea! He took bite after bite, only making a tiny mess (and protesting when I tried to clean him up), and he was so hungry when the applesauce was gone, I fed him the leftovers from another child’s yogurt. He’s a growing boy!

I assumed Nicoletta would bring Andreea outside when she was finished, but I assumed wrongly and found out later that she had spent half the morning inside with the kids who weren’t able to come out. Luckily, she was with Eve, who is very good with her, but I did go in to bring her out myself.

It’s hard to find a comfortable position for Big Andreea. She doesn’t like to lie on her back, though if she’s in her rocking chair, she’ll tolerate it. She likes to be held, but she’s so big, I can’t hold her all the time. She likes to lie on the Boppy pillow for “tummy time” (after the initial few seconds when she’s getting used to it), but I don’t want to leave her in that position for too long because she mostly keeps her face down and doesn’t really get much interaction with anyone that way. So today, I put her in a stroller and took her for a walk around the hospital grounds, along with Colleen, who pushed Gabriela in another stroller. Andreea was quite content to lie in the stroller as I pushed her along, watching the trees and flowers and people. She didn’t even mind the bumps!

After the noontime diaper changes, it was time for soup. The younger kids get it from a bottle (the chicken and stuff is all pureed), and the older kids (well, those who can eat from a spoon) get it from the bowl. I was all set to feed Andreea in the mobile playroom (lots more space in there!) but when the aide came in with her bottle, she handed it to Nicoletta, who decided she was going to feed Andreea. And my goodness, that little girl sucked that soup down in less than two minutes!

Maiastra was hanging out in the playroom with us, but she seemed to want to be by herself. If I looked at her, she shook her head, which I took to mean “leave me alone.” If I gave her a toy, she’d push it away. One thing I know she likes is to look into mirrors, so when I was sitting in front of a wall-mounted toy with mirrors on it and she stood in front of me—staring and smiling—I thought that was what she was looking at. But then I realized she was looking towards my face. She was looking at my glasses! What’s up with these kids and my glasses? They all want them.

I was then charged with feeding soup from a bowl to Ionela, but she only wanted Erin, so I fed Mihaela instead. She was a good eater, too, and seemed to enjoy the soup. Towards the end of the bowl, she started fidgeting with a toy, but it didn’t really distract her from her food, so she ended up finishing the whole bowl.

Afterwards, it was time to put her down for a nap—and she did NOT like that idea. I cuddled her a bit before putting her into her crib, and when she began to cry, I found a toy that made bell-like noises and dangled it in front of her for a few seconds, which calmed her down enough for me to give her a kiss and leave.

This afternoon was much like the past two. Some people took their kids outside after bottle time, and some stayed inside. The older kids had preschool, and Big Andreea was there, so I floated between the nonmobile playroom and outside. I don’t recall any particularly exciting or cute happenings, but if I think of anything, I’ll post it.

I was set to stay until 6:30 this evening, and while the 4-5:30 shift was okay, 5:30-6:30 was just exhausting. The kids had their “dinner” at about 6:00, and the bottles were so hot! We had to run them under water to cool them down. Meanwhile, some kids were screaming and crying because they were hungry or wanted to be held. I fed Daniela, but I think the milk was coming out of the bottle too fast. So I tried to give her only a tiny bit at a time, to give her a chance to actually swallow it, but it kept dribbling out, so I don’t know how much she actually consumed, poor kid.

Before the shift was over, Daniela was almost asleep so I decided to take her in to her crib. I rocked her a little longer, to make sure she was really asleep before I put her in the crib, and as I did that, Maria (who shares the isolation room with Daniela) started crying. I couldn’t do anything for her (because I had Daniela in my arms, plus I can’t really pick Maria up or anything) so I just touched her and talked to her a little until the nurse heard her crying and came in to soothe her. Then I just turned away with Daniela and had to cry a little, myself. After the first two “hey, I’m playing with the babies, and they’re so cute and sweet and cuddly!” days, the emotional reality of the whole situation has finally started to hit me. It’s possible that something incredibly heartbreaking could happen while I’m here. If it does, how will I handle it? WILL I be able to handle it?

On a slightly better note, I learned today that Paula—who I mentioned yesterday was taken to the hospital—is only away for routine tests with a neurologist, which she apparently has done every so often. So she should be back next week.

We returned to the hotel in time for dinner, which was…I don’t know what. I didn’t have much of an appetite so I just picked at it. Then the dessert came out. It was a fried doughnut with sour cream and cherries, I guess. So ridiculously unhealthy, and kinda’ yummy.


Sad news: One of the stray dogs (I believe it was the one pictured above) that hangs out around the clinic was hit by a car. It (I don’t know if it was male or female) was lying on the ground behind the car (or maybe it was the ambulance?), just snoozing, when the vehicle backed out. We heard a loud “yelp!” and the other men over there yelled at the driver to stop. The dog got up after a little while, after some encouragement from the men, but it was hobbling on three legs; the hind leg was just hanging as the dog tried to “shake it off.” But apparently they “put down” injured strays here, and when we were leaving the clinic for lunch, the poor dog was nowhere to be found. Hopefully he just escaped and went to lick his wounds.

Sad news #2: My fellow volunteer (and my roommate) Amy J. was bitten by a vampire today. The accused is named Marius, and this is a picture of him:

Now really, does that look like a mean, human-biting vampire to you? Come on. Apparently it was a pretty good bite, though, even of it didn’t break the skin. Marius has been deemed innocent of this assault, by reason of teething.

Now, for some more pictures:
Cristi, sitting forlornly at the door after (adult) Mihaela left the room. She had been singing Romanian songs to him.
Terri and Daniela
Mihaela, looking deep in thought
Ionela and yet another adorable dress
Cristi
A great picture of Ema-Elena, you can see just how gorgeous she is
Cristi and Ion enjoyed bouncing their heads off of the exercise ball as Gabi used it.
Andrei
Gabriela on the exercise ball
Gabriela
Nicole pushing Maiastra on the big swing
Lea-Celine getting a manicure
Little Andreea
Alina
Maiastra in Mihaela's car

And I didn't take a whole lot of pictures today, so I'm supplementing with some videos!

video
Lea-Celine blowing kisses
video
Ion
video
Maiastra

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