We're two days away from a month of Baby S back in our home.
I'm not sure exactly how to describe this situation that we're in right now. It's very complicated and confusing for everyone involved! Imagine what the service providers and daycare provider must be thinking... having a strange person suddenly bringing in the child every day, and oh yeah, also calling herself "Mommy". So many levels of weird! We are doing all of the parent things but he's not legally in our care in any form. We are waiting day to day, hoping for some certainty of what our future together will be, but there's been very little communication on this front lately and the wait feels very long.
We have been saying for a long while that if Baby S came back, we'd need a lot of help. We weren't wrong! When he first came, the best description I can come up with is "wild." He felt like he needed to do dangerous or naughty things to get attention. He didn't like it when I nursed Baby Gigi and went through his list of things-that-make-Mommy-get-up each time. He vaulted over baby gates like they were nothing. He climbed out of his crib up to 18 times each night before falling asleep. He threw his food from the table. He barely communicated.
It has been a long month, but oh so rewarding. I was in awe this morning as I got myself ready for the day while the two boys played upstairs. Baby S is already a different child than he was a month ago. He is laughing, adventurous and so very goofy and sweet. He is starting to trust that we'll come back for him. He loves his routine. He's sleeping almost 12 hours a night. He's eating like a champ, except the things he won't touch, because he is, of course, a 2-year-old. He's still so busy, but it's so different than when he came. He's active, not lost. He's exploring, not disconnected. He makes eye contact and communicates with a variety of noises and signs and sometimes even words. He snuggles and he SITS AND PLAYS. I can't even tell you how huge that is.
The first few weeks of Baby S here were beyond tiring. He's worth it, but I'm just taking a moment to honestly reflect. We were "on" every moment of every day. There were so many safety concerns because of his strength combined with his lack of boundaries. There was a struggling 5-year-old trying to figure out where all of our attention for him went and feeling frustrated that all of his games were getting plowed over and ruined. There was a confused 4-month-old who was used to being held all the time and wondering (usually with a smile) where that small person came from who seems to speak her language! There was a frightened evil cat, constantly ready to attack ME because she was always getting chased by Baby S but refused to take it out on him. There was no refuge in nighttime, because again, Baby S could climb out of the crib and escape out of the room within seconds. That meant my husband sleeping on the floor in front of his door while Big Bro A slept in our room with me and the baby monitor. We felt like we had things barely wrestled into some form of order only when both of us were in the room. We could barely give each other breaks to use the bathroom!
But we had so much help in those crazy times. We had family who all chipped in together and made such a drastic difference for Baby S while we visited them Thanksgiving week. We had friends bring over meals, help with Baby S so I could feed Baby Gigi, offer to help shop, come over to wrap gifts, stop by with extra clothes for Baby S (who came with literally ONE shirt that fit him)... I could go on. We even got some anonymous encouragement in the mail.
Sometimes things are really too hard for us. Sometimes things are really more than we can handle. I'm so glad we have the amazing community that we have. I'm so glad it was already in place when the hard, crazy stuff hit. We are not exaggerating when we say that we could not do this without our support network. You guys are all so awesome. Thank you! Not everyone is meant to do foster care, but everyone has a role, and we are so very grateful for those who have taken that role and helped us to do what we've done with Baby S.
The future with our big guy is as uncertain as ever, but at the same time, I'm more convinced every day that it's totally in God's hands. This boy has such a bright future ahead of him still. His delays don't have to stick. I don't believe they will, if he's given the right opportunities.
And oh yeah, we have an adorable, thriving, chunky-thighed four-month-old. Have I mentioned adorable? God super blessed us with this mild, sweet, happy baby. He knew we'd need all of our energy for Baby S and he gave us the most amazing new baby. We are so blessed!