With the summer birthdays over and back to school weeks behind us, Hubby and I have got into an easier routine and so have the kids. M is obsessed by fashion and celebrity but is also more focused on school than I’ve ever seen from her, even doing homework before the due date, whilst J is settling in nicely and is enjoying his football practice.
So it’s easy to forgive myself for being complacent and even going as far as to plan the weekend. Being a foster carer, you aim to plan, but usually end up rolling with whatever comes up. Mostly it’s last minute usual kids’ stuff with the occasional foster drama thrown in. However, with things going so smoothly, when Hubby came home early from work last Friday, we both sprawled on the sofa with the luxury of hot coffee, M in her room and J setting up a Lego battlefield in front of the TV; and made the mega mistake of planning our weekend. We thought we might take the kids out for a meal that night, followed by a cinema trip for J on Saturday and then a night off for me with my friends. Did I mention they were long suffering? As we loosely planned Sunday, with a trip to the mall for M to spend the last of her vouchers at JD Sports, I took a call on my mobile. Could we urgently take a baby? Tonight? Now?
An hour after the phone call, my sister in law babysitting, we sat outside a maternity ward at my local hospital waiting to pick up the little bundle. My sister in law who kindly stores various baby items for us had loaded us up with a few essentials including the car seat, clothes and blankets and we were all set, except we didn’t expect a teeny tiny premature little girl, perfectly formed but in miniature. She had been in hospital about a week and the nurses had fallen in love with her, there were a few wet eyes as we popped her into the car seat which made her look like a doll. The first night was all about dealing with absolute basics, and it was obvious the nappies and baby clothes we had were unsuitable so Hubby made an emergency run to our big local supermarket for formula, new bottles, nappies and a few basic items of clothes.
Hubby is what you would affectionately call a bloke and is into his football, the occasional beer when he gets out socially and any sport on TV. He’s such a sports fanatic, he’s been known to watch Kabaddi matches at 2am. He’s also extremely practical and made short shrift at Tesco’s, home an hour later heating formula while I changed the baby. My sister in law had been busy while we were at the hospital, setting up the cot, Moses basket and sterilising unit. I fed the baby S and was amazed how this tiny bundle would survive, but she was a wriggler with a rosy little glow and promptly guzzled the whole feed, demanding more 2 hours later and that has basically been my life for the past week; feeding, changing, watching her sleep and doing it all over again 2-3 hours later.
M and J have completely taken it in their stride and apart from the first day of questions, they’ve been mostly disinterested, much like Luke, the dog. I thought M would be more interested, but that’s my own sexism kicking in as she’s a girl so therefore she must be gushy over babies. Well, she’s not. Can I still take her to the shopping centre on Sunday? Yes. Good, conversation about baby is over. J is a little more interested and wants to show her his superhero collection, but only if she doesn’t touch it. Hubby already had a week off work planned as he’s got to use up annual leave or lose it and that couldn’t have come at a better time. Mind you, I think he was expecting long lie ins and lunch out, not 3am feeds and emptying surprising large nappy packages. Hubby has taken over a lot of the daily routine for M and J, which they like as he forgets to remind them about showers and tidying their room, but he’s cottoned on to their wily ways now. This week, it’s back to work for him as normal but as he’s able to opt for flexible hours, he’s arranged to go in later and do some project work from home, meaning he can still do the school runs and after school activity pickups.
It’s lovely to have this tiny pink bundle that is rapidly growing even after a week and who knows how long we’ll have her? I’m already attached to her but that’s necessary for her to feel secure and safe as well as develop her own healthy attachments. I’m now in a military style organisation mode, sterilising, feeding, changing, cuddling and Hubby is being fabulous, getting none of the glory but loads of extra work. The kids are no longer excited by the baby and the dog just huffs into J’s room for a cuddle and a cheeky sneak on his bed which they both know is not allowed.
My support network have kicked in like clockwork and it’s so important to stress to new foster carers to have key people they can depend on. For me, my sister in law has been essential and so have my nieces, offering advice, clothing, essentials and support. Baby S is a delight to look after, but I do feel for the new mum out there and wonder what her situation is. I’m sure over the next few days and weeks I’ll find out but for now, I’ll treasure the time spent with this tiny, loud, hungry little girl. Even the feeds every two hours through the night!