For my friend and fellow adoptive mom Karen, thank you for the thoughtful question. What a good one it is!
Can you write about "being a mom of kids God planned for you? I would love to hear about those first few days she was with you. How you felt: scared, joyful, anxious, reclusive, thankful, humbled. We go from no children, no pregnancy and then baby!"
I have never written about Claire's first few days with us before, crazy!
This is kind of a two part question so tonight I'm just going to tackle what the first few days with Claire were like and IOU part two about going from being a young married couple to parents overnight.
Claire was a tinny ten month old, strawberry blond, big blue eyes baby when she came to live with us. She was like a newborn, she could't hold a toy in her hand or even hold up her head. She had spent the majority of her life in the hospital and it kind of felt like the hospital moved in with her. Claire brought: at home oxygen, travel oxygen, wedge, a huge feeding pump, all the tube supplies, (bags, bandages, tubbing, syringe, tape, ointments...) special formula, IV pole, oximeter, nebulizer, many medications... Nate was comfortable with the live-in hospital, coming from a medical back ground but I felt like I had just been thrown into the deep end after one very short swimming lesson.
She felt so fragile to me. A pink band of scar raced from her nest to her belly button and scars dotted around her abdomen. The many surgeries she had already undergone in her short life were astounding. She had an angry red tube sight that would oozed from her stomach if not constantly cleaned and managed. Her reflex would cause her to turn blue wrethching and not being able to vommit with her fundoplication. She was not like holding any other baby, almost like a doll. Her whole body was low-tone and she really didn't even try to move much. I would sit on our couch holding her, a little scared to brake her and she would just stare at her hands totally content for hours. I felt so responsible for her safety and afraid she would get sick and need to be hospitalized again. I would go into her room while she was sleeping constantly and make sure she was still breathing even though she was wearing a machine that would beep if she stopped breathing. I couldn't understand how Nate was so relaxed when I was so worried I couldn't sleep. I worried about her medications, breathing treatments, tube feeds, if I was going her therapy correctly or even able to get it all in with everything she had going on, if her breathing sounded okay with her history of pneumonia...
Adoption was not a thought at this point because her family was very involved. I was just doing, doing, doing all the time. It was a huge responsibility caring for her many needs and that was about all that was on my mind those first few days. I felt humbled by the weight of it. I was also a first time foster parent. I was struggling to learn how to interact with this new system that quickly would take over my life. What are the rules? When you have a child who has special needs in foster care it can get pretty confusing for a while. Each situation is so different, you have to find the balance with social workers, birth parents, the child's needs and my life. I was meeting new people every day, like a revolving door in and out of the house. It's a crash corse in advocacy.
Looking back, we just had no idea Claire would stay forever. I have started out differently with each foster child we have had sense, lesson learned. If I could give myself a piece of advice back then I would way just be her mom, love her. I was confused about my role. Am I therapist, social worker, visit supervisor (the visits were in our home), aunt (Claire was a relative) support person for the family (again, a relative)... It took a very long, painful road to learn that the most important thing is to love her. Not the million things everyone was telling me to do or not do, just enjoy Claire in the moment just simply for who she is.