The picnic

Yah!

Our agency had an Easter picnic and guess who was there?
Little “Catelyn”.

We knew she was going to be there, so it was something I was really looking forward to.
I know, a baby isn’t going to remember me.
But,
To get to have another cuddle.
To get to see that gorgeous little cherub face.
To see how much she’s grown in the 6 weeks since we looked after her.

The best part, it was the day that she moved on from her emergency care family to her ‘forever family’….well, as forever as the courts decided.

So, how did the picnic really go?

I made a CD with all of the pictures we took of “Catelyn” for each of her families, old and new, so that they each have some baby photos of her. Turned out a handy way to introduce ourselves to the new family.

MM managed to get a cuddle. The new family asked if we wanted a cuddle and he ran to her, I mean LITERALLY ran to her. I have never seen him run. I didn’t know he could *giggle*. But, somehow I missed out on a cuddle. That’s ok, I still got to spend some time with her she seeing that cute smile and her little teeth. “Catelyn” was teething when she was here, and now she has 4 teeth!

And guess what? I got a bit teary. Ridiculous I know. What can I say. I’m a sook.
I still want to be a “mum”. To have a little person all my own. “Catelyn” was such a lovely baby, it makes me want one. It’s that moment it hits me, that as an emergency and respite carer, no one will ever really think of me as their mum, and despite a few people telling me this is such an amazing thing we’re doing, loving and caring for many children rather than just one or two, having an influence on many, there’s still times that bring me to tears wanting one of mine.

Is that selfish?

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The aftermath

I was not prepared for my reaction after “Catelyn” went home to her foster family.
They are lovely people.
She is loved and looked after.
But, I wanted to keep her.

I know that’s not what we do.
I know that what we do is important.
I know we are providing much needed help for foster families.
I know all of those things.
I know that my work doesn’t have room for a baby at this stage. Well, that’s not true, exactly. I know that my work wouldn’t allow me to be the full time foster carer I would want to be, and to do it any way other than I would want to, wouldn’t be right.

But, that still doesn’t mean I don’t want to turn my life upside down on occasions for the little munchkins that come into our home and keep them all.

Tears.
So many tears.
I cried to sleep, in the shower, during meals, on the way to work, between work appointments, for days.
MM was amazing, he never told me to “just get over it”.
He would just hold me tight at night and talk to me about the wonderful times we had with “Catelyn”.
I couldn’t have asked for more from him.
I even thought that maybe we shouldn’t look after babies anymore.
One was enough.
Enough for me to realise I do still really want a baby of my own.
Enough for me to realise that parting can be so hard.

My lovely PSW, I could just hug that woman, was so great. I talked to her, and she said to take time, to sit and reflect. She even went so far as to tell me that we are really good and self-analysing and working out what’s best for us. So we did, well, I did. MM is so amazing he would support whatever decision I made. Again, what more could I ask from this man?

So, a few days later, I was chatting with a friend and had a “light bulb”” moment. I was able to talk about “Catelyn” without tears. To share with her the beautiful weekend we had had. And the words that popped out of my mouth surprised even me. I said that it was such a nice change from the challenging kids we have, from troubled teens, screeming pre-teens to special needs kids. To have a lovely baby who cried just once for the weekend, was such a lovely change. Such a lovely balance to the more tricky placements.

So, I called MM and said…
I can’t guarantee there won’t be more tears (he replied, I can guarantee there WILL be more tears)
I can’t guarantee I won’t want to keep more (he replied, I can guarantee you will want to)
But, can we still do babies from time to time. Because it’s such a nice change of pace.
And, of course….he said yes.

Not sure how I would have gotten through this without him.
MM your love and support give me strength.
Thank you for all that you are.

The weekend

What an amazing weekend with “Catelyn” we had.
Such a beautiful baby.
And I don’t mean just a cutie pie.
But, smiled at everyone, talked herself to sleep, talked to me until I woke up during the night for feeds, very relaxed about being cuddled by lots of people. My favourite thing had to be, every time I walked in the room she would turn and smile at me.
She had her signs that we were able to pick up on quite quickly about what she needed, so it made understanding her different sounds easier to identify.

I got to do some of the things I’ve always wanted to do.
Sleep interrupted nights.
Take baby shopping.
Take baby to visit farm.
Learn to dress a wriggling worm.
Gag on poop smells…seriously, how do they make that smell? They’re so small!
Laugh at the tri-coloured poop…thanks mum for introducing her to banana after she’s had pumpkin. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Poop normal colour, with added layers of bright orange and then yellow. I just wanted to feed her beetroot and blueberries. Would we get a pink layer and a blue layer or would it come out a pretty purple colour??

MM was fantastic. He knew how special this weekend was for me. So he let me do as much of the looking after as I wanted as he’s had his own babies. I feel a bit guilty that I monopolised “Catelyn” but he assures me, that he was happy to watch me have my special time.
The first night when I was woken up by “Catelyn” I woke up MM to help me get her bottle and sit with us while she ad it, but the next 2 nights, I figured I’d have a go at doing it solo. No point both of us being tired during the day.

Babies hardly ever need respite care and there’s already a lot of carer’s who do emergency care just for babies, so we generally get the older kiddies, which is totally cool, but it was so nice to have a bubby for a change.

To MM
Thank you for never telling me I was doing things ‘wrong’.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.
Thank you for letting me have this super special weekend.

To my awesome PSW
I don’t know what strings you pulled to make this weekend happen for us, but thank you…a million times, thank you.

The big day

Well, the big day was finally here. All I had to do was manage to make it through work in the morning before “Catelyn” arrived in the afternoon.
We were expecting her to be dropped off by 1.30 pm and I can tell you the last half hour of waiting was torture for me. MM must have been laughing silently at me. Hearing cars that weren’t there, peering out the window every few minutes. If that’s what it’s like for expectant fathers in the waiting room, then men, my heart goes out to you!

Finally, a car in the driveway and I had to pretend to be all cool, calm and collected while answering the door, when really, I just wanted to race outside and grab the gorgeous little bundle out of the car.
Breathe, just breathe. I just couldn’t wait for them to hand her over. She was so beautiful, asleep in her little dress, looking like a precious doll.

After what seemed an eternity (in reality about 5 minutes) I was handed one sleeping baby, who, woke up and just looked at me, no tears, no screaming. What more could we ask for?

The start of a beautiful weekend with a beautiful little lady.

The Call

What an exciting moment. To get the phone call that after 18 months of respite care, we were being asked to look after a baby for a weekend.
I can tell you, I was just a LOT bit excited, and then, a lot bit terrified.
It was something I had wanted for so long, and now the moment was drawing closer, all those voices of people who over the years have thrown at me “what would you know, you’ve never had a baby.”
What if they were right? What if I had no idea? What if I wasn’t able to care for this little person?
The week leading up to our weekend I fluctuated from being like a little kid waiting for Santa to come, to the opposite, worried, scared, cautious.
What if didn’t hear baby cry during the night? What if, what if, what if….