Continued from "Foster Care: Our First Bonus Kiddo"
I called Daniel, got some things taken care of, dropped Aurelia off with a sitter and headed for the hospital five minutes away.
I stood in the lobby of the hospital feeling a mixture of excitement, discomfort and solemnity.
This was the same lobby Daniel and I had waited in a little over a year ago to meet Noah for the first time.
It was exciting to think I was about to meet the first child we would care for as foster parents, but I knew the circumstances that created the need for me to be here in this moment were not something to be excited about. While I was becoming the guardian for this little boy, someone out there was losing their son.
I felt a seriousness settle in in the final minutes I waited for his caseworker to arrive.
A constant flow of people passed through the large lobby but I knew his caseworker as soon as she entered. In one arm she held a dark binder and in the other a large, brightly colored canvas bag with a drawstring top.
After introductions we made our way to the elevators that lead to the NICU. Walking into the NICU was comfortable. Not only had I been in this same NICU for both Aurelia and Noah, I had been in this same NICU the same time of year for both children.
Walking up to the NICU desk I got lingering "don't I know you?" glances. I told them I was in there a year ago with our son Noah and they immediately remembered. Noah was so loved in the NICU. :)
As we walked with the social worker to our foster son's room we passed by several of Noah's nurses who stopped us to hug and say hello. It was such a beautiful and healing welcome. These were women who knew the whole story of what happened to Noah, everything, and they loved and welcomed me with excitement. Before we even made it to his room I had been told "you'll LOVE him!" and that they were so happy were going to be his foster parents. It felt so good, so healing to reunite with all the incredible nurses in the NICU.
The three of us came to our foster son's room and ran into one of the amazing Occupational Therapists who had worked with Noah both in the NICU and in our home all the way up until the week before he left. It happened to be her last day before she was moving out of state. I was so grateful to have this serendipitous opportunity to say goodbye to her. :)
We stood talking for a moment outside his room while I familiarized myself with his stats and care. I was comfortable with all the jargon and felt I knew the questions I needed to ask to best care for him. This was my third time through and I felt like I had this being a NICU parent thing down.
We went into the room where our plump little foster son squirmed and grunted, trying to sleep and clearly uncomfortable. I walked over to him, stood for a moment so he wouldn't be surprised, then gently but firmly put my hand on his head (I trick I learned from the NICU previously). He let out a deep sigh and his whole body relaxed.
"He likes you," his caseworker commented. I just smiled while memorizing the little face in front of me, not wanting to explain that the credit really goes to the NICU OTs who teach parents how to comfort babies who are a little more sensitive.
I felt a profound strength in the new responsibility I had as his foster mom. Rather than feeling the giddy excitement of a new baby I felt a peaceful, solemn strength in my new role. It was now my duty, with Daniel, to protect this little boy, to comfort him, to respond to his every need and show him he would be gently cared for in every way.
I was a foster mom, I was HIS foster mom. This was one of those moments in life I knew I had been prepared for. I was exactly where I was supposed to be, exactly when I was supposed to be there and I was ready.