A Story of Love and Infection in Kazakhstan

There are no sick days when you’re a mom, I guess. Even when you are still a drive-by mom.  I have been feeling kind of iffy for a couple of days. You know the drill, a little tickle in the throat, nose a little runny, a few aches.  I found myself wondering, am I really going to get sick, or if I just need more sleep and i’ll be fine.  It probably hasn’t helped that for 3 days I’ve been bathing by pouring cold water over myself. Oh, and remember that mosquito problem?  Gone. Why? Because the temp has dropped to about 20° Fahrenheit.  Over the last three days the weather has changed dramatically, down from 80° on Tuesday.  Typical spring in a trans-Siberia kind of way (very similar, I suppose, to Minneapolis, where last year on April 1 it was 75° and on May 1, it snowed.)


I woke up this morning with aches, pains, and sniffles. So I wasn’t sure whether I should go visit Annabelle. I don’t want to get her sick after all.  But I was informed that health of the child be damned (not really, just using poetic license) for I must go and get my daily bonding picture taken.  Apparently, if I miss even one day, I’m screwed for court.


So I donned a mask for our visit today.  I expected Annabelle to be horrified, but then quickly realized that she’s used to seeing her caregivers in masks a lot so it was totally normal to see the funny lady in one too.  She was asleep when I walked in so I sat down by her crib and waited for her to wake up. When she did, she looked at me intently – probably doing a retinal scan to see who I was – and then smiled. 


Day 10_files\Annabelle Waking Up.MOV


It was also a shorter visit today because the new family, the Brookes’, is arriving this afternoon to begin the process of adopting the other little girl who I saw the first day.  She and Annabelle were brought over together from the maternity hospital and have slept side by side ever since. Apparently, they hold hands through their cribs on occasion. 


Dr. Natalia (head of the maternity hospital) rescheduled our meeting, but I did meet with Dr. Victoria (head of the Children’s hospital) today to learn more about Annabelle’s health.  Here’s what she said about Annabelle’s health…


Perinatal encephalopathy

Premature birth

Syndrome of excitability (who knew that was a syndrome…?)

African sleeping sickness

Yellow fever

Dengue fever



Kidney failure

Bad eyesight



Carpal tunnel syndrome

…..and last but not least,



Well, okay I don’t think she actually listed the last ten, but she might as well have!  The Kazakhs and Russians take a very different view to infant health than we do. They basically start with the assumption that most kids are born sick and have to overcome all these illnesses just to survive to toddlerhood.  Throw in the fact that the Kazakhs courts won’t let “healthy” children be adopted by foreigners (the healthy kids are supposed to stay in Kazakhstan) and there is even more reason to include some scary diagnoses in the medical report.  I had seen Annabelle’s medical report in the US and I had it evaluated and she was given the A-okay.  And as you can see, she’s not exactly wasting away over here. 


Speaking of wasting away, or not, her last weigh in was April 22 and she weighed 7.5kg or about 16 lbs.  She was only 4.5 lbs when she was born so she’s really caught up.


Now of course, my jaunty dismissive tone totally supposes that my visit today doesn’t finish her off given her fragile health with the Ebola and all….  Hopefully my cold in combination with her carpal tunnel won’t be too detrimental!




That’s it for today folks. I’m going to crawl under a comforter on the couch and slip into a Nyquil haze.


P.S. For those keeping track, I’m now in Day 4 in my battle with the water authority.  I have total confidence of victory. *sniffle* *sniffle*  I will persevere! *hacking cough*  J