This is the story of JanBibi, 17, and her second complicated pregnancy. She lost her first baby two years ago, when she was just 15 years old. Her baby, born prematurely, born 20 days ago is still alive thanks to Neonatal unit World Vision helped to initiate in Herat hospital. She fears losing her baby and with him, her husband.
JanBibi, 17, sits in the hospital. Her baby was born 20 days ago but he has not been cleared to leave yet because he was born so early and so small. “I don’t know why my babies come premature,” says JanBibi, clearly concerned. “Mayby my blood is dirty,” she adds, staring at the floor of the neonatal room of Rezaee hospital, in Herat Afghanistan.
Her baby, who she has not given a name yet because she isn’t sure he will survive, weighed just 1400 grams.
“After delivery, the midwife kept my baby in the neonatal room and started to give medicine and drug and liquids to him,”
“After delivery, the midwife kept my baby in the neonatal room and started to give medicine and drug and liquids to him,” she remembers.
“I didn’t go home because they told me that if I want my child get healthy very soon my existence is important for baby’s feeding.”
While around the world many teenage girls are worried about their studies and their style, JanBibi carries the weight of concerns of someone beyond her years—her marriage and future are directly tied to her baby’s survival.
“My husband loves me and many times told me that would never leave me alone,” she says. “But his family loves to have babies as it is a long time, I think about 16 years, since there was a baby in their family. I am afraid that they force my husband to have second marriage,” she added.
A long slow road ahead
“At first, my baby couldn’t eat by breast as it was so weak,” she says. For the first few days, he had to be fed through a feeding tube. Slowly, he has been gaining strength. “After 5 days, I started to feed him by milk, it was a great experience for me that [I will] never forget,” she says, with a smile
Today, nearly three weeks later, things are starting to look up. “The baby’s condition is better than before. He will be discharged as soon as his jaundice is treated,” explained Malali, a midwife in the neonatal room. He has also gained weight and is up to 1600—still small, but growing.
“While I am bathing or feeding the baby, I speak with him and tell him about my dreams for him;
"While I am bathing or feeding the baby, I speak with him and tell him about my dreams for him; about his father and my wishes. I want to put my baby’s name as Firoz Ahmad and I would like him to be a doctor,” she says.
Neonatal care, saving lives in Afghanistan
“I don’t know what would have happened if this neonatal room with these expert staff and equipment had not existed in the hospital. Without them, my baby would not be alive now and I would not have any hope. I don’t know who or which organization provides this room, but I am sure he or she will go to paradise,” she adds.
The Neonatal unit in Herat Hospital was established by World Vision Afghanistan. Before the establishment of this unit, all premature babies who suffered complications during birth were simply sent home. Last year, the unit served 27,206 children (through immunization, check-ups and advanced treatments).
The midwives who work in this sector were trained by World Vision’s Midwifery project and the neonatal equipment was donated through the SCNU program.