Monday, May 16, 2011


Grace came to live with us last Wednesday. Her mom passed away in a mission hospital a couple hours away from here. According to the family there was 'something wrong with her stomach'. This is a common issue with taking in babies from the village. There really aren't accurate medical records, or even information given to the families, so we never know what we might be taking on.
The good news is that according to the family, Grace's mother was tested for HIV and did not have the virus. We will, of course, test Grace anyway to be sure.

Overall, Grace's health is fine. She has a touch of colic, which we've been treating with homeopathic chamomile,  and her tear ducts seem to be blocked causing her eyes to water almost constantly. Otherwise, she is a pretty good baby.

As is our policy, when tiny babies come to stay with us, we take them into our home (rather than placing them directly into the nursery) so we can observe them more closely and allow them to bond with me. I can work to get them on a good schedule before sending them fulltime to the nursery. Grace has been spending her nights in the nursery so I can get my rest. We already pay someone to be on duty at that time--no sense in two of us missing our sleep.

Now, with Grace there is a bit of a mystery. We've had mysteries surrounding orphaned children before. There have been mysteries as to what caused the death of their parent(s), or whether the child was even an orphan. Another common mystery we encounter is how old the child or baby really is.

With one of our other little boys, we were told by his grandmother that he was 2 years old but he behaved much older. He even, on one of the rare outings to town, offered to show the nannies the way to his home. Some of our staff members insist that he is older than we were told because they were neighbors with his family and know when he was born. 
You might wonder what would lead a grandmother to lie about the age of her grandchild. Well, we only take in children that are 2 years and younger. If he was actually 3 years old we might not have accepted him. With both his parents dead, his grandmother was most likely desperate. 
Because he has HIV, he is very small...more like a 4 year old than a 6 year old. For this reason, we have stuck with his grandmother's version which makes him 5 years old. No reason to give even more of a complex.

Anyway, back to Grace:

When I asked her grandparents what Grace's birthday was, they first said March 15 and then amended it to April 15. Since she looked, to me, older than 3 weeks old, I asked my translator to ask the family how old she was--thinking that they might find that easier than remembering a date. They went round and round a bit and then the translator turned to me and said, "She'll be one month on May 15". So, I didn't really get a satisfactory answer.

To me, she is more like a seven week old baby (8 weeks as of yesterday). She can hold her head up fairly well. When I place her on her tummy, she lifts her head a couple inches off the blanket and turns her head from side to side. She also tracks items with her eyes. Look at the photo up above, where she is sitting on my lap, she was following every movement of the camera. She also smiles a lot.

Unfortunately, Grace has no teeth to check her age by--and she's not a horse anyway. So, there goes that option.....

We may never solve this mystery, and in a year or even less, a difference of 4 weeks in this baby's age will be nothing at all. But for now, it's a little puzzling. 

With the information you've been given, how would you solve this mystery? How old do you think Grace is?


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