Her story, set in the spring of 2011, inspires the vision of Second Mile Ministries in a huge way.
Monia is a wonderful mother. The best. We met Monia the day Mark…well, almost died.
Their story is an inspirational one full of twists and turns with one underlying theme.
Monia and Mackenson love their son.
Mark is a very small baby. At six months old he weighed just six pounds, smaller than your average North American newborn. Mark suffers from a heart condition called Pulmonary Atresia which was undiagnosed when we met him. Monia and Mackenson had taken him to several hospital and clinics in search of answers and their resources were running low.
One doctor suggested that Mark be given infant formula rather than breast milk. The option to formula feed one’s baby is not a luxury many Haitians can afford. For this reason, Mark’s mother sought to be included in the infant care center’s formula program.
One unsuspecting afternoon, Monia brought Mark to the orphanage to receive his ration of infant formula. It was quickly noted that this wasn’t going to be just an average well-baby visit. Mark was not well. He was febrile and in respiratory distress. He needed oxygen, IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and nebulized medication, right away.
As we fought to keep Mark breathing, his mother fought to keep her eyes on Jesus. We started oxygen. She started singing. We started an IV. She started praying. Her gaze was unfaltering. Not once did she take her eyes off her son. And his eyes? Glued to hers. Two things were clear as afternoon turned to evening. Mark was not going home…but neither was Monia.
It was going to be absolutely pivotal to this baby’s survival to have his mom at his side. Without her he was lost. Thankfully a spare room was available. This wasn’t protocol. It hadn’t even been done before. But we prepared a bed for her and begin to train her as Mark’s most important nurse.
That one night turned into a week. One week turned into a month. One month turned into three. As the weeks progressed my involvement in Mark’s care decreased. She learned to monitor Mark’s machines, to administer his medications, to weigh him and record his intake and output. She learned to take his temperature and to administer Tylenol as needed. She learned to suction with a bulb syringe and perform chest physiotherapy. She gave breathing treatments and NG tube feedings.
Mackenson, Mark’s father, was equally present as were friends, family, and community members. In the days and nights following Mark’s admission, the orphanage was overwhelmed with visitors who would come to lift songs of praise to a God who heals.
During the course of his stay Mark was seen by an American cardiologist who was able to diagnose his condition via echocardiography. The news was bleak. Pulmonary atresia isn’t an easy heart defect to repair. Surgical options were limited. To complicate matters further, Mark had absolutely no surgical options in the country of Haiti. Unless passports and visas were obtained and travel to the United States or the Dominican Republic was secured he might not even have the opportunity for further cardiological evaluation.
It was no surprise to us that Monia and Mackenson’s faith did not falter one iota after hearing this news. In fact, they thanked us. They thanked me for taking the time to help them learn about their son’s heart. They thanked me because the news reminded them to pray all the more. They believed in a God of miracles.
After proving herself quite capable Mark’s mom was asked to assist the orphanage in looking after a second child, a service for which she received pay. After all, Monia was still living at the care center with Mark and it only made sense to use her natural mothering skills to nurture another baby in need.
Eventually, passports and visas were obtained and a trip to the Dominican Republic was arranged. In the Dominican it was decided that surgery would not be pursued but, if his health held, he could enjoy several, maybe even 20-30 years of life. After roughly a month in the DR Mark and family returned to Haiti. It was a joyous reunion.
I checked Mark’s vital signs for old times’ sake. I think we were all thinking the same thing but it was Monia who posed the question. Did Mark need to be readmitted to the care center? My answer: an easy “no.” Monia had the skills and the knowledge to care for Mark at home. He was not acutely ill and she would be able to tell if his condition worsened. As an equipped, informed mother she had nothing to fear. Mark, arguably more ill and at risk than any other child inside the orphanage walls, was about to return to his Haitian home, in his mother’s arms, right where he belongs.
This story may not have ended so well had the care center not invited Monia to continue working as a nanny. A family income is such an important answer to this compound, multiple-choice, select-all-that-apply problem.
Both Monia’s unswerving dedication to her son and her steadfast faith amaze us.