There is a big list of “firsts” every time that phone call comes.
The call from the government hospital. There is another baby waiting. Sometimes in the flurry of it all, or depends on who is making/receiving the call, questions get forgotten.
Boy or girl? Newborn or older? Premature?
Sometimes we don’t have the answers.
A bag gets put together. Pampers, wipes, clothes, pajamas, hat, blanket. It’s like you’re getting ready to deliver, except you know this baby is already there, waiting and alone.
We arrive at the government hospital. Always full with people waiting everywhere. Patients waiting for care. Families waiting to visit their loved ones. We walk past and head up the hill to the infant/premature ward. We pass the open doors of rooms lined with bed after bed after bed.
Children wrapped in bandages.
Babies connected to machines.
We arrive at the second to last door on the right and head in. They know who we are, they know why we’re here. They lead up to the child (or children, as for some reason recently we’ve been picking them up in sets of two- unrelated).
Usually, they’re so small. I can’t help but feel my heart jump in my throat. I careful change their nappy, and get them dressed. Wrap them up in the blanket and top them off with the hat. Then I hold them close, for some, the first time they’ve felt this.
Once we get back to the orphanage, everyone is curious. Who is this baby? What is their story? We get them in the bath quick and change their clothes again. Then always its time for milk. It’s always a challenge, teaching a baby to use a bottle, especially those who had ever been breast fed.