JiaNi (“NiNi”) is much loved by our staff – no one can resist her chubby and rosy cheeks. We especially treasure her every smile because we all know how much she has had to struggle in her short life.
When NiNi arrived at The China Care Home from Xinjiang Province five months ago, she was a tiny, two-month-old, very sick baby who barely responded to external stimulation. Right from the start we showered her with love, but when her nannies held her in their arms they had to do so gingerly because she was born with spina bifida and had a fluid-filled sac on her spine. NiNi’s nannies took care to avoid pressing or even touching the sac, which was so transparent that it looked as if it were about to leak.
NiNi’s doctors soon discovered that she also had hydrocephalus (excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulating in the head) and Chiari malformation (abnormal formation of the brain where the brain and spine meet). In addition to all of these life-threatening medical conditions, we also discovered when bathing her that she had club feet.
Almost immediately, NiNi had surgery to correct her spina bifida and Chiari malformation, and was discharged from the hospital ten days later. With the help of intensive nurture and care from her nannies, NiNi’s surgical wounds healed quickly, in only 17 days.
Then NiNi went back to the hospital again, this time for surgery for hydrocephalus. That surgery was also successful and NiNi returned again to the Home.
Meanwhile, despite all the medical treatment, NiNi was becoming the happy baby she is today. By the time she was four months old, she had started babbling and communicating with her special nanny. She could play happily by herself as long as her nanny was in her sight. Otherwise, she would cry loudly, with tears streaming down her face. Her nanny would reassure her: “Mama is coming, NiNi. Wait a moment.” Hearing her nanny’s voice and seeing her bottle of milk, NiNi would smile through her tears.
When NiNi came back, her nannies carefully observed her head to watch out for any intracranial infection, especially where her shunt was placed by hersurgeon. Again NiNi proved to be a tough, resilient little baby – she recovered well.
Now NiNi is our staff’s alarm clock. She wakes up exactly at 5:30 AM and loudly shouts “mama,” breaking the silence of the dawn. When she is happy or needs something, she will also call “mama.” Then her nanny holds her in her arms and gives her a kiss.
Whenever NiNi hears music, she stretches out her arms and waves them like the wings of a bird, giggling all the while. NiNi loves to play on the gym mat and especially loves the toy tiger and playing peek-a-boo. She covers her nanny’s face with a handkerchief and then pulls it off. When she sees her nanny’s face, she giggles and then repeats the game over and over. When she feels hungry, she throws away the toys she’s playing with, becomes anxious, and lies down, crying loudly or even kicking hard. She always has a good appetite and sleeps well at night. She has gained some weight.
After NiNi went through her operations, we arranged an examination for her club feet. The doctor recommended that NiNi have tenotomy surgery, a relatively minor procedure given all that she had already endured, and then wear braces for three to six years.
NiNi had the surgery at the end of last year and is now wearing braces. She will have a followup checkup in a few months so doctors can evaluate how she has recovered from the spina bifida, Chiari malformation and hydrocephalus surgeries. Based on her current development and health condition, we believe that our loving and beloved NiNi will recover fully.
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