Friday, July 6, 2012

Ethiopia 2 - A Trip to the Clinic

"How much does a baby poop?"

"I don't know, this seems like a lot."

Within a few days of having Feven in our custody, she began to have a lot of dirty diapers.  A lot.  Between 4-6 a day.  I was talking with a family from Denmark about this one day at our guest house because we were both first-time parents and new to all of this baby stuff when the wife expressed concern.  She works as a nurse in Denmark, and she began asking me all sorts of questions about the diapers which I won't include in my post, in case you're reading this over lunch or an afternoon snack.  I tried to describe the specimens as best I could, but I also tried to look at the dirty diapers as little as possible when I changed them, so I wasn't a big help.

Do you know what she said next?  She said that next time Feven had a dirty diaper, I should come get her and she'd look at it.  I was blown away.  She had only met me days ago, and was willing to come into such a disgusting part of my life with me for the sake of my daughter.

Well, it didn't take long and Feven had dirtied another diaper.  I debated about whether to get my new friend or not.  Did I really want to give this wonderful woman a dirty, stinky diaper?  Ew!  I think God knew my hesitation because when I left our room to go into the hallway of the guest house, there she was!  I told her about the diaper and she came right in to check it out.  She was not afraid.

She advised us to take Feven to a clinic because what she saw made her wonder if Feven had a parasite or something that was bothering her stomach.  We called our adoption agency's translator and she said we'd go later that morning to the doctor.  I appreciated her flexibility and willingness to help us out.

A little twist to our trip to the clinic was that our friends Becky and Andrew were at court that morning for their son's adoption, and were still in the van when it came to pick us up for the clinic.  Those poor people were hauled along to our clinic adventure, which as you will see, ended up to be quite the process.  Bless them for never complaining once about the inconvenience or how our trip to the clinic kept them from spending a few more hours with their son.  I hope to be as grace-filled with others as they were with us.

We arrived at a renowned women's and children's clinic in Addis.  It wasn't a huge complex, but there were a few buildings on the grounds.  We went inside the smaller building, gave our name, and sat in the lobby to wait for the doctor.  There were maybe 10 other families in the waiting room with us.  I was a little nervous how I'd be perceived - it was obvious we were adopting.  I didn't sense any negativity, though, only the understanding eyes of other moms when Feven would squirm or cry. 

Once our name was called, we went in an office to see the doctor.  He spoke to us in English, which was a welcomed surprise.  It was nice to talk directly to him about Feven's problem.  After listening to us and briefly checking her out, he gave orders for some lab work.  We left with a piece of paper and went into another building.  There we handed the paper to someone in the lab.  They gave us a small container guessed it...a stool sample.  Now we had to sit and wait until Feven pooped until we could move forward at the doctor's office.

At this point I felt so bad for Becky and Andrew and our driver that we decided to have them go get lunch while our translator, Zac, and I waited for Feven to, you know, do her thing at the clinic.  We waited and waited, then began to wonder if it was a false alarm to even come to the clinic and maybe now she was fine.  Was this one of those first-time-parent panic trips where it's really nothing?

We got permission from the clinic to leave with our little container and bring it back if she ever did her thing.  From there we went to the House of Hope where our friends got to hang out with their little guy and we got to play with Feven in the company of her nannies and friends. 

After a few hours of playtime, one of the kids began to smell.  It was ours!  We could collect our sample and go back to the clinic to see if anything was wrong with our baby.  Once back at the clinic, we turned in our container and sat to wait for the results.  Not much was happening during that time because the power was out, so staff and patients were sitting around waiting until the power came on.  The staff tried to start a generator at one point, but it didn't power all they hoped it would.  It was so strange for me to see the operations of this clinic come to a screeching hault because there wasn't power.  It seemed like a common occurrence to all of the people there, and to observe it, it didn't seem like it bothered anyone.  Just a part of life.

When the power came back on, we were able to pay for our labwork.  One of the workers brought us a slip with the results, and we took the slip back to the first building to wait in line for the doctor again.  There weren't near as many people in that waiting room this time.  In fact, many of the staff had set to work scrubbing the walls and the floors.  I'm still amazed at how hard people work at cleaning their homes/courtyards/clinics.  Scrubbing the floors seems to be a daily occurrence.  I wonder what my house would look like if I practiced that...

When the doctor saw us, he told us she had food contamination.  He prescribed something for her, and we were on our way.  I was both relieved and disappointed to hear the results.  Relieved because there WAS, in fact, something wrong with her.  It wasn't a first-time-parent false alarm.  I was disappointed because it seemed to me that the problems started after we took custody of her.  I must have done something (or not done something well) that made her sick.  I still don't know to this day what it was that caused her to have trouble, but the medicine helped.

Looking back, I'm so grateful for the people who helped us get our daughter feeling better.  For the Danish nurse who encouraged us to go in, for our driver and translator who made the appointment happen quickly, for Becky and Andrew who were so patient and comforting as we went through our first doctor experience as parents, and for the kind staff at the clinic.  All of those people had a hand in helping Feven get better.

We had to pay full-price for our visit because we didn't have health insurance or anything to help us out.  Our total cost included two doctor consultations, lab work, and a prescription.  The whole thing set us back $6.00.  Nope, I didn't forget a zero.  Six bucks.  Full price.  I'm thankful that it was so affordable for us to get medical help for our daughter.


  1. I remember this day so well! Still laughing about us all loading up in the van almost leaving the sample upstairs! We enjoyed being with you guys...brought back a lot of memories for us when we were the first time parents. Now if we could only get E home so we could be the parents of 2 soon. Tell Miss Feven hello for us!

  2. Ah, Becky! I forgot about how we almost drove off without the prized sample! Thanks for reminding me! Oh, what a day! I'm laughing too remembering it!