ANET HENRICO, PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
Originally published September 2016, republished here with the express permission of the author.
How Anet is helping a vulnerable Pretoria baby.
Recently, I went to Abba House Baby Shelter to drop off some baby clothes. The facility provides support to orphans and other vulnerable children to ensure that they have shelter, clothing, food to eat, and that their basic needs are met.
While I was speaking to the house mother, she mentioned that they have a tiny abandoned baby in the NICU, who was born prematurely and whom they would like to help. Seeing that I am working at home, I offered to go to the state hospital to give that precious little one some love and skin-to-skin contact because I know how important that can be.
I held this little baby on my chest, skin to skin, and felt how she relaxed and became calm. About 30 minutes later, I could feel a let-down of my milk—I am a breastfeeding mother of my own baby, who is eight months old. Suddenly, the little one on my chest started moving and wiggling closer and closer to my nipple. When her mouth touched my breast, she pouted and her lips began to flutter making a sucking motion. This lasted for a while. Even after I had put her back in her incubator, she still suckled at the air. This tiny human being has never had a bottle as she is unable yet to manage the mechanics of sucking and swallowing and she is still being tube-fed. She had never been at the breast before; yet, smelling my liquid gold, she knew instinctively how to wiggle herself closer to the source of food and how to start with the beginnings of a suckling motion. How incredible is Mother Nature?
My intention is not to blame or shame anyone who abandons or gives up their baby for adoption, nor is it to adopt a baby: there are already wonderful social workers who take care of arranging adoptions. My aim is simply to be a piece in this baby’s puzzle by giving her warmth, care, and essential human contact during the first few weeks of her life.