Mack-Edens is a two year old boy with special needs living in the Mole. Upon my return this summer, I learned that our staff was concerned for his life. He wasn’t sick, his condition wasn’t getting any worse, his mother was just exhausted. I struggled to wrap my head around how you can be too tired and worn out to care for your child – to a point that you are asking others to take him away.
I went to visit him and his family. When there, his mother could not look me in the eye. She was clearly embarrassed and stressed. On my way home, I decided that the best way I could help at this time would be to give his mother a break. Throughout the next week, Tezzie helped me get all the information and supplies I would need to take Mack-Edens overnight. We found out what he eats and how he sleeps, and we found diapers and formula. By the time I was ready to present my idea to his mom, I was super excited. Who doesn’t want to keep an adorable baby overnight?!
When I went to ask permission from Mack-Edens’s parents, it could not have gone better. His mother actually looked me in the eye and smiled hearing that I wanted to help her in this way. She practically ran to tell her husband, and they both thanked me repeatedly.
When Mack-Edens arrived for his first sleepover, our kitchen staff loved all over him. They made sure to make food his mom said he could eat, and even took turns holding him. When dinner was ready, they served him is own portion of rice and went out of their way to find the smallest spoon we have.
From that point, the sleepover went downhill. Feeding Mack-Edens was far more challenging than I thought it would be. I ended up feeding him with my fingers a few grains of rice at a time. Then the generator decided that this would be a lovely time to catch on fire, leaving us all in the dark. And if you’ve ever seen rural Haiti at night with no power, you know it is as dark as dark can get! We relocated to my room where I finished feeding him by lantern light. It took two hours to feed him that night, a few grains of rice at a time, and I do not even think he actually ate that much.
I started to get a little grumpy. It was clearly the worse night ever to offer a sleepover! We were in the dark, the fans were not running so it was super hot, and I didn’t have any batteries charged! Then I remembered. At Mack-Edens’s house there is no power. They have no fans. They have no lights. His mom cares for him in the dark and in the Haiti heat EVERY NIGHT! Mack-Edens has all kinds of muscle spasms and struggles to stay comfortable. His mom warned me that sometimes she has to hold him all night long. This was one of those nights. He woke up every few hours – if he even lasted that long – and we would reposition and try to sleep more. The power eventually came on again, and I was more comfortable, but I could not stop thinking of Mack-Edens’s parents and how they care for this child every day.
When I dropped off Mack-Edens the next morning, I was not planning on offering again. His mom clearly cares for him better than me. Then, as I gave him back, his mother thanked me and smiled. She already seemed so much more relaxed than before. I bet that was the first full night of sleep she has had since he was born! How could I not help this lady out?! I offered again, and vowed to be better prepared the next week.
The day of the next sleepover I was prepared. I found a blender for his food, had everything I needed sitting out, and made sure to charge my batteries (just in case of another fire).
This time, so much help showed up at my door. Rosie came to hold him. Miss Beth stopped by with a baby bottle, cute onesies, and all kinds of advice!
For dinner, we put his rice and fish sauce and some water into the blender and made a lovely substance Rosie and I like to call “fishy-rice-goo.” It smelled horrible, but Mack-Edens ate this drinkable dinner far better than the week before! We gave him a bath, and were all set for what I thought would be a far better night. The easy evening ended there. Mack-Edens did not feel so great that night, and only slept for 4 hours. We spent the night pacing, singing, humming, and praying for dear Jesus to put the kid asleep!
Sleepovers are not super easy, but they are doable. I take a whole day to recover after one, but I am well aware that his mom does not have that option. I had Rosie, Miss Beth, and the kitchen staff, but I know his parents are on their own with no help from neighbors or family. His mother is exhausted, and I now understand! She is raising a severely handicapped child in a village with little to no resources. More than that, she is lacking encouragement! Not again, will I let a day go by without praying for this family. These parents are rockstars!