Hi. I am still here, and in a very strange case of deja vu, on Saturday we brought home a baby.
No, not that one.
Another one. The girl kind. Words cannot begin to describe the heights of Lucy's joy. Break out the pink and frilly, we have a sister.
When Leo was returned to his mother last week, I felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under me - which is bizarre considering that I knew he would only be with us for a short while. I could not figure out why I felt so bereft. There was this nagging, keening feeling. A nameless wordless thing tapping me on the shoulder. On Friday, Sam and I were making the bed and I stopped, and looked over at him.
"I'm not done."
"What?" he said absentmindedly, as he shook a pillow into the case.
"There's another baby. I'm telling you, that wasn't it. Leo was NOT it. There's something else going on."
Sam shook his head and rolled his eyes. I decided to leave the crib up in the living room.
And the next day, the very next day, my phone rang. There was an infant in the maternity ward needing placement, was I interested? No other information, just "could I take a newborn". Right away. In an hour or two. I said yes, and then walked inside to tell Sam I had manifested another baby.
He put his face in his hands, and rubbed his cheeks hard, and then grinned. "How the hell do you do that?"
"I don't know, I just know."
"It's incredible. I wish you could do that in Vegas."
I drove to the hospital and called upstairs. The social worker sounded almost giddy "Seven pounds, eight ounces, she is beautiful and I'm just filling out the paperwork."
When they arrived downstairs a while later, I peeked through the bundle of pink. "Beautiful" was a reach, but as I peered down at her she stretched a small, delicate hand with impossibly long fingers out of the sea of flannel, as if to say "How do you do?"
I fell very, very hard for that little hand with it's peeling skin and translucent nails.
Evie and I understand one another. We spend long hours lying on the bed facing each other, staring into each other's eyes. Sam and Max are equally enamored, and Lucy is strutting around in the role of big sister that she has long hoped for. And while of course, I know that this is foster care, that I am caring for someone else's baby, and that she is only here for a while, the timeline seemed........fuzzy. The situation was different than past cases, there was no plan for rehab, no father identified, no clear idea of where this little one would land.
And so I did the very worst thing I could do. I put all of that out of my mind and focused on this odd, pink, squalling creature with long legs and thick brown hair. I held her and crooned to her that she was going to be just fine. I told her that we loved her, that I loved her, that this diaper change was going to be fast and the baby wipe wouldn't be so cold. That last one was a total lie, and she called me on it. She suffers no fools, this little one.
We went through the first 24 hours of sleepy sweetness, and then the next 3 days of endless crying and projectile vomiting and diarrhea (hers, not mine, but thanks for your concern) purging herself of all that she had been exposed to in utero. And then last night, after one final Exorcist-worthy puke-fest, she fell asleep with her head tucked under my chin. She has been peaceful ever since.
Which is ironic, because just as soon as we made it out of the dark woods of withdrawal, her mother turned up.
They had a visit today, and I felt almost sick to my stomach when I dropped her off with the social worker. I called feeding instructions after them weakly as they walked away, and then I got back in the car and took a deep breath.
This is not your baby. This is not your baby. This baby is someone else's baby. This baby is going to see her mother. You are not her mother.
Silently, I repeated this to myself as I drove across town. I was close, dangerously close, to crying. I went to my happy place, searching for solace in the only way I knew how without a Target or TJ Maxx nearby: Goodwill.
I walked through Goodwill, and stopped at the bin of baby clothes. There, right on top, was a pair of jeggings.
It was a sign. It had to be a sign. How the hell could a brand new pair of newborn jeggings be sitting there in Goodwill for any other reason? WHAT OTHER REASON COULD THERE POSSIBLY BE FOR THIS?
Spoiler alert: I bought the fucking jeggings. And a dozen other things. And then the visit was over and I went back and stood outside and tried not to snatch her back from the worker who brought her out to me. I tried to be chipper and friendly, tried to walk slowly back to the car instead of sprinting like I wanted to. I kissed her sweet head, and her impossibly soft cheek, and looked at those beloved little fingers.
I know. I know this is not how I should be handling this. I know that I am supposed to maintain an air of professionalism, but oh. Oh.
It is impossible. This one? She is going to break my heart. This may be all I can bear. Giving her back may be the very last thing I can do, the very hardest thing. In the meantime, Lucy has requested a pair of matching jeggings and I assure you that I will find her a pair tomorrow. Because by tomorrow night, Evie could very well be gone.
I am trying to remain clear: for the record, this is not how foster care works. You cannot forget - not for a moment - that this is someone else's child. But at 3am when you are cleaning vomit off the wall while whispering sweet nothings to the creature snoring in the Baby Bjorn on your chest, sometimes you forget......
Carpe Diem. 'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
Other words of inspiration welcome as I attempt to reset my emotional state, and get my thighs into a pair of jeggings tomorrow.
8 hours ago