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“Precious Gems 12″ – A Gem of a Baby
02 May 2017

We arrived at Baby Aggie’s* home to find her sound asleep, curled up like a little ball. Save for the tubes coming out of her nose and those bundled around her feet, Aggie looks just like any other adorable and cuddly baby. Delivered by emergency Caesarean section at 32 weeks, Aggie’s brain is damaged due to oxygen deprivation. She was in the hospital ICU for three months and had just arrived home three days ago. Her prognosis is six months at best, but the likelihood is only weeks.

Aggie’s facial muscles are not functioning, resulting in her inability to swallow. The doctors in the hospital suspect that Aggie is also blind and deaf. She cannot cry and has difficulty breathing on her own. As such, she is being monitored by an oxygen and heart rate machine. A normal baby’s oxygen level is usually above 95%, but Aggie’s hovers around 85%. Ever so often, the alarm on the monitor would sound when the oxygen level drops below the norm. Almost every 20 minutes, suctioning is required so that she doesn’t choke on her own saliva. And before suctioning can be done, an oxygen tube needs to be placed at her tiny nostrils to ensure that she can breathe properly. When the tiny suction tube is inserted into her mouth and throat, Aggie would make tiny sounds of discomfort. When it’s time for Aggie’s bath, Mummy has to “fill” Aggie with oxygen, quickly unhook the wires and tubes, gently put her in the bath and rush her back to her cot as soon as possible. Aggie needs to be watched round the clock.

Aggie has two other siblings, an eight-year-old sister, Amanda, and a six-year-old brother, Alister. They are both taking it very hard. Amanda has always wanted to carry her baby sister but is now not allowed to, as Aggie has so many tubes around her. Alister feels unwanted, as it seems everyone is only “playing and fussing” over Aggie. Daddy is badly affected too and has chosen to keep away from the family and just focus on his job. Mummy has stayed strong. She told us that if she doesn’t, the whole family will collapse.

The little one did not complain when our nurse examined her. Suction was carried out three times during our visit. If Aggie cried, it would have been heart-wrenching for the caregiver, but because Aggie doesn’t cry, it is strangely easy to care for her.

Mummy was asked if she would like to have a family portrait taken this weekend. In our hearts, we knew that this would probably be the only photo that the family would ever have with Aggie. We explained that a few of us would come – a makeover artist who would help with makeup and hair, a professional photographer and our nurse. Mummy was hesitant. I felt that she was really keen, but she was taking into consideration her husband’s feelings and she informed us that she would let us know tomorrow.

During our visit, Aggie’s oxygen level dropped very low at one point. Mummy stroked her tiny head, kissed and cuddled her. Her oxygen level went straight up again. Aggie responds really well to touch and she is a real fighter!

We left after promising that our nurse would be back tomorrow. It is really emotionally difficult for us, let alone the family. Aggie is my GEM for the month and we pray that she lives her remaining days as comfortably and as pain free as possible.

Love your family everyone!

*Not her real name