I went to peek in the baby room, it is the only place I have not seen since arrival. I really just wanted to peek in and see the set up, but I was immediately put to work. “Sarah, wash your hands”, “Sarah feed J…”, “Sarah, here is a bib”. You get the drift. One of my biggest pet peeves in life is when people want to go to orphanages and feed babies. And here I was, in an “orphanage” feeding babies. What good was I really doing except relieving staff for a while. What could I give these babies long term? All I have is an hour.
As I fed the first little boy, our eyes locked and he would not look away. And I realized I could give these babies eye contact. The nanny’s feeding the babies did not do this. For the entire bottle, this little boy did not look away. He had one hand grasped around my finger and I used my thumb to rub his little hand. And I looked at him and prayed he would drink slowly.
I did this for three more babies, all who had the same reaction. Eye contact and touch. Once they had it, they were addicted. I watched to flow of the room. First the baby was scooped up (by one arm near the shoulder), Second they were undressed and bathed, Third they were wrapped in a towel and set on the ground to be dressed. Finally they were dressed and handed off to be fed. Finally they were placed in their crib to sleep. An assembly line. Some of the babies slept, some cooed and babbled.
We finished with the older babies who were given porridge. They sat on the floor while we spoon fed them and gave them water out of a cup. The only good thing is that the babies were not guzzling food and some even left a little which tells me they are getting enough.
I had finished feeding and was singing songs to M…. when I saw Jill managing 2 babies at a time. One was eating and the other was crawling over her. I picked him up (with both hands under the arm pits as seemed more humane) and he instantly wrapped his arms around my neck, cuddled his head beneath my chin and pressed his little body as close to mine as possible. So I sat on the tile floor and sang him songs and rubbed his back. I thought he was asleep he was so still, but his eyes were open. He clung for dear life. He would have stayed there all day.
I sang my daughters a song when they were babies, it goes like this:
I’m a little froggy and my mommy loves me
I’m a little froggy and my daddy loves me
When I go sleep and say goodnight they say ribbit ribbit ribbit good night…
I would sing it over and over replacing froggy for monkey or owl or lion. It is my go to lullaby.
When I sang this song for G…, the little boy clinging to me for dear life I did not know what to say. Does his mommy love him? Does his daddy love him? I was stuck. Who loves this boy? Who had deep parental, I will die for you, love for this boy named G…? Will he be loved someday? Will it be too late for him? I put him down in his bed and he immediately started wailing. I know it was against the rules but I rubbed his back and kept singing “I am a little monkey and my Sarah loves me, I am little monkey and my Jill loves me…”