Friday, 26 April 2013

Meeting Pip's Foster Carer

Yesterday was a day that took us a step closer to bringing our son home.  We met his Foster Carer.

We were meeting her at 1pm.  I was a bundle of hyperactive energy all morning. It was one of those days when everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  I had a difficult morning with communication generally.  A challenging person and a very challenging computer.  I was writing my
list of questions for the Foster Carer.  I even saved the document.  Then my laptop closed itself down to install some Windows updates.  Usually I spot that these things are going on but, I was so stressed after the challenging person and the need to get the questions written, I totally missed it.  I reassured myself that the document would autosave but when I opened the file, it was totally empty except for the shell of the table I had created.  An hour's work gone.  I took a deep breath and recreated the document, saving it every time I added a question......just to be sure.  I ate some chocolate and had a cup of tea.  I forced a sandwich down.

It was time to leave.  The Sat Nav on my phone was programmed.  I was picking Daddy up en-route.  I got half way to Daddy's office and realised I had left the bag with the two Grobags and blanket on the table.  I turned around, leaving a message for Daddy that I was going to be 15 minutes late.  Thankfully I was well organised (theoretically) and was running early.  Bag collected, I picked Daddy up and we headed off for the 40 minute journey.

We reached our destination, only it wasn't our destination. The Sat Nav had changed the postcode. I know I put the correct one in because I did it twice.  OK no problem, we'll re-enter the postcode.


 GPS signal is lost.

We have 10 minutes to get there but we don't know where "there" is.

I'm getting a bit stressy. I need The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to tell me "DON'T PANIC"

I decide to just drive around the one-way system to pick up the GPS signal again.  Daddy is busy trying to find the address in his IPad.  We have 5 minutes to get there.  Finally, the GPS kicks back in.  We have a route.  It will take us 10 minutes to get there.  I can't believe we're going to be late.  I phone our Social Worker and give her the heads up and apologise profusely.  Of course, she's already there.  She gives us a pointer towards where the house is.  I'm trying to stick to the speed limit.

We arrive. I breathe. We are only 7 minutes late.  We receive a lovely welcome from the Foster Carer (who I actually sort of know from a mutual previous career).  We sit down and we start to ask our questions.

It was great to hear so much about Pip from the person who currently loves and cares for him.  It's clear she totally adores him.  It shone from her eyes and was clear in her smile.  He sounds lovely.  He's currently 6 months old.  He's not quite ready to sit up as he's a bit of a Michelin baby.  He's starting to teethe.  He's inquisitive and likes to be part of the action.  He looks like Katie.  He even sounds like Katie as a baby.  He's really chilled out and takes everything in his stride.

My heart just ached to meet him all the way through the meeting but I tried to stay professional and not let the tears that were threatening, fall.  We learned a lot about our son.  I know his nappy size and lots of practical stuff.  I am get set, ready, GO! to finish off my shopping now.

But all I want to do is to see him.  I want to hold him.  I want to see his smile.

These next few weeks are going to be busy but they are going to be so hard.  Waiting is so tough at this stage.  The administrative stuff has to be done.  We have to return to Matching Panel for the match to be approved and then wait again for the ratification of the decision.  We do have a potential first meeting date though and that is only 25 days away. We have been given permission to tell Katie all about Pip now including the fact that he is her biological brother.  She now knows his real name.  She said that he was "adorable". I'll write more about that conversation separately.

I've got a lot to do over the next few weeks. Jobs I've been putting off since September now have a bit of an urgency attached to them so I might not be blogging so much. I am fond of late night blogging at the moment so I may turn out to be around more than I think.

I thought I would share my list of questions for the Foster Carer in case they are ever of any use to anyone else.  Feel free to copy them.

What is the baby like generally? i.e. tell me all about him

What size nappies is s/he wearing?
Brand used?
Does he suffer from nappy rash?
How many nappies does he generally get through in a day?
Does he like being changed?

What size clothes is he wearing? Sock size?

How many outfits in a day generally?

What milk does he have? How many bottles does he have a day and how many ounces?
Instructions for feeding/winding?
What works well with him? 
What teats are you using?

What is his daytime routine? What time does he generally wake up?
When does he nap?
For how long?
How many naps per day? Does he sleep in his pram at all or just in the cot?
Does he settle easily or put up a protest?

What does he like to do when he is awake? Does he use a baby gym for tummy time?
Does he use a bouncy chair?

Is there anything that makes him sad or anxious?

What makes him smile/giggle?

What is his current weight?

Is he weaning yet and if so what does he like so far?

Is he using a dummy still? If so, which kind?

Does he have any skin sensitivity?

What toiletries/washing products/wipes do you currently use?

What is his bedtime routine? Does he sleep in the dark or with a nightlight? Is he still sleeping through the night? Is he a light or deep sleeper? What does he like to sleep in?

Has he had any illnesses at all?

What injections has he had so far? What was his reaction to them?

How did he cope with contact? How was he afterwards?

How would you describe his attachment to you? Was that effected by contact at all?

Are you using a cot or a cot bed?  Will his mattress be coming with him or do we need to buy one?

What clothes and toys will be coming with him?

What is he like in the car? Is he ok or does he get stressed? Does he sleep in the car? Does he need a baby insert in the car seat still?

Is he using a sippy cup and having tap water yet? If so, what cup is he using?

Is he teething? If so, how many teeth and how is it effecting him?

Is he sitting yet? Rolling over?

Has he been exposed to any pets? Any reaction?

Has he ever been swimming? If so, what was his reaction?

How do you bath him? Big bath? Baby bath?

Does he like bath time? Is he happy in the water?

Is he burbling/making sounds etc?

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Bed

It took four and a half of us (the half being my friends lovely daughter who was brilliant!) around three and a half hours to put the bed together. "The bed" needs more adjectives really.  "The bed" is the pink and purple gorgeously, monstrously, enormous bed with a play tent and canopy that Katie is now sleeping in.

I would generally crown myself as The Flat Pack Queen. It is indeed one of my many *cough* talents but I don't think even the designer of the bed could have deciphered these destructions. Take my a bed of this ilk from a company that will put the wretched thing together for you or invest in a lot of wine and plasters (you'll need both)! Our poor friends only popped in to look over/ help with the redesign of the upstairs of our chalet bungalow but they were soon roped in, and we are exceptionally grateful to them (you know who you are Cat Lady and The Joker!). The bed really did have blood (mine - Alan keys can be a right royal P.I.T.A. at times), sweat and tears embedded into its very core.  But we got there in the end.

So without much further it is..... Ta daaaaah!

Katie's reaction was interesting. She'd gone over to my sister's for the afternoon so we could get on with putting it together (I needed to beg for extra time). I picked her up with the lovely Cat Lady's daughter and I think she was a little taken aback and perturbed that she might have missed out on something exciting (she really didn't). After all our hard work we were all so excited to see what she thought of it all but she was initially quite reserved and a bit aloof about it all. I'm not used to Katie reacting like that and I wonder if she was processing lots of emotions and was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  She soon got over it once we were on our own and climbed up and down the steps and generally explored every inch of her new haven.

The first few nights weren't so good sleep wise if I'm honest. Katie didn't settle too well and she woke up one night having wet the bed. Silly Mummy didn't put a waterproof sheet on the lovely new mattress did she? Katie hasn't had an accident in over a year so I totally forgot. Lets just say it now has a waterproof sheet and a protector on it and a bit of a smell that I'm trying to get rid of!

All in all she's doing well though. We've sorted out a new bedtime kiss and cuddle and story routine and I've created some space at the head of the bed so I can shimmy behind and stroke her hair at bedtime (and when she's in the land of Nod). In some ways I wish our usual procrastination had worked a little quicker and we'd bought the bed ages ago as I hope this change isn't too close to the other big change coming soon. Katie is good at articulating herself though and I think she kinda loves her new bed. She loves being picked up and dumped over the rail, onto the bed. Daddy is very good at this.  She has an army of soft toys to keep her company and room to have them by her sides now so she tucks them into bed with her every night.

She looks so small in it now though compared to her toddler bed. It reminds me that she's not as grown up as she would like to be. She is still my baby too. She seems to be embracing the changes that are coming but with some signs of regression and baby talk emerging. It was to be expected. She's having some monumental meltdowns involving all the antisocial skills she has in her armoury and we're having to plan which strategies to use to manage the meltdowns (we're combining some of the 1,2,3 Magic behaviour techniques with the Bryan Post theories). Katie doesn't have attachment difficulties that we are aware of but the techniques are still really good. 

Katie has told me she's worried I won't have as much time for her when Pip arrives. She's right. I won't but I'm going to be learning some serious juggling skills. Katie has had me to herself for three years so it will be tough on her. I'm going to have to really think about my daily routine so that Katie gets her 'Mummy' time. I've got plans in my head and it's handy that Pip is used to being in a busy foster home and isn't used to having totally undivided attention. Katie has started a dance class on a Saturday morning which Daddy and I have decided I will take her to so he can have time at home with Pip.  I said to Katie this morning that we will add in a visit to our local cafe afterwards on Saturday mornings for some "girl time" - no boys allowed!.  I'm also reassuring Katie that she will always be my special girl and huggles are always ready and waiting for her.  I told her that I think she'll be so busy getting in her brother's face playing with her brother that she'll forget to give me huggles. There will be difficulties ahead. It's inevitable, but I think Katie will love having her brother at home with her. I expect the cats will be glad of the reprieve as well.

At least the bed is less thing to sort out! The list is long however so I'd better get my A into G!

On the bright side I can also hide in the play tent underneath when it all gets too much!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Night Night

I'm having a little emotional moment tonight.

I've just crept into Katie's bedroom, as I have done every night (except for three nights) for the past three years, to give her a sleepy night night kiss. I love watching her sleep.  She is so beautiful. So at peace. I kneel by the side of her bed and gently stroke her hair; kiss her on the forehead and whisper how beautiful she is and how much I love her. Sometimes I apologise for getting things wrong during the day and promise to be a better Mummy tomorrow. Sometimes she reaches out and takes my hand and some nights she snuggles into me for a brief moment. It's one of my favourite times of the day. I can go to bed happy that she is sleeping peacefully and that she knows how much I love her.

So why the tears tonight?

Tonight is the last night Katie is going to sleep in her toddler bed. 

She's outgrown it. She has so many teddies on there with her that there's no room for her anymore and tomorrow Daddy and I are putting together her fab new Big Girl Bed. It's a white and pink and purple dream.  It has a little tunnel over the top and a little playhouse underneath it. 

It's the underneath bit that has brought the tears. This bed is a mid-sleeper. I won't be able to kneel by her bed anymore. I will have to stretch up and get inside the tunnel.  She won't be able to reach out and snuggle me.  She's going to be a big sister. She's growing up. She's having the bed to prove it.

I'm so excited for her but I'm a little bit sad for me. I'll miss my little night night ritual.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Stepping Stones

Throughout my life I have questioned why I am here. What is my purpose in life? What is my legacy to the world? Why have certain things happened and where do those things lead me? These are questions that have kept me busy and some might say I think about it a bit too much.  I'm long enough in the sensitive tooth these days to not beat myself up too much about this and enjoy the beauty of the stepping stones that have led me to this point. Even the stones that were slippery and difficult to walk along and I wouldn't choose to walk along again in a hurry. As we prepare to welcome our new son into our lives I find myself reflecting on the journey I have taken to get here.

I'm not a particularly religious person. In fact I don't do organised religion at all these days although I would love to go back to university one day and study theology. I am deeply spiritual though and respectful of, and interested in, all belief systems. My Reiki practice allows me to step inside myself and experience some of the unseen beauty that lies within and around us and it helps fulfil my need for spiritual attachment and fulfilment. I love experiencing connections and coincidences and seeing how they influence and progress my life. Many years ago I read a book called The Celestine Prophecy and it influenced me greatly and brought some clarity, for me, to some of the events I have experienced.

Losing my singing voice to nodules many years ago and my expectations of parenthood to infertility
have made me question everything about the purpose of my life. Singing had kept me grounded and spiritually happy for many years. I used to have a pretty fab singing voice and sang all the time, everywhere I was. Losing my dreams of singing as a career knocked a hole in my world. I still warble in the car but my voice is very different these days and couldn't cope with singing publicly.  Losing the ability to bear children tore my world apart. Both left me with questions to be answered; loss to be endured and a journey to undertake. Neither have been the end of the world though and the loss of both has brought me great rewards. But I needed to understand why these (and other) things have happened. 

I have never sought fame and fortune but I have a great need to know why I am here. I'm not entirely sure I've worked that out yet but I do feel that the universe works in very mysterious ways and I'm fascinated in the way my life has shaped itself and the little ironies along the way.

Many years ago I made a statement to a friend which has come back to haunt me (in a funny way): 

"I don't want to be a young mum like my mum was 

but I don't want to be in my 40s with children hanging off my ankles." 

Well I was 42 when we adopted Katie and I will literally have just turned 45 when we bring Pip home. At this I raise my eyes upwards and mutter "Very funny". Its almost as if the universe gave me exactly what I said I didn't want and made me realise that actually it was OK. It's better than OK.

I'm a very young (nearly) 45 year old and, in many ways, I became a parent at the right time emotionally and psychologically for me.  I am quite young in myself and I do yoga to help me stay supple although a year of anaemia last year left me unable to exercise as much as I had been. The result of this has been a stiffening some of my joints and some issues requiring physio. I'm sorting that out now thankfully and will be ship shape again on no time (as opposed to the barrel shape I've become through lack of yoga and too much food!). I don't do the "D" word but there is some major healthy eating going on in my life at the moment as I prepare my body for the fun ahead. I joke that I am losing my baby weight!

I like to do what I call a 10 Year Review. It's when I look back and see all the connections and events that have led me to the point I'm at now. Over the years that review has kept me focused and brought a mental strength that has supported me through the difficult days of miscarriages and infertility.  Personally I do believe there is a plan involved somewhere. I think I have many choices but I do feel certain events were preordained to happen and my learning in life is how I react to those events and where that learning takes me next.  The day I met Katie my journey to become a parent became crystal clear and I knew it had all led to her. There was no doubt. Everything I had experienced had prepared me to meet her and be her mother.

Something I find particularly fascinating is that both my children have birth names of very close family members who have passed on. I see that as more than just a coincidence and it has helped guide me and trust that my children were meant to come to us.  As soon as I knew Pip's birth name I knew beyond any doubt that he was meant to be in our family.  I feel a sense of peace and calm (amidst the chaos of preparation that is currently our house) that this is all meant to be.

That does leave me with one very unanswered question though. 

If this was meant to be for me, what about my children's birth parents? What was meant to be for them?  I can't answer that. I am unable to live their lives and crawl inside their shoes and understand all the events that have shaped them. I can only make sense of my own existence but I can hope that, for them, their journey brings some clarity and purpose and that these events will eventually push them forward positively and help them build happier lives.  I wish for them the support that I found in my husband and friends. Support that helped me pull out of some darker places and gave me the strength to rebuild my life.  In some ways I wish I could share with them some of the feelings that I had 20 years ago and show them that life is fluid and constantly changing but you have to see the opportunities and connections and make use of them and be willing to make changes that seem impossible to start with but can become easier with time.

We are all on stepping stones, trying to find our way through our lives. What helps you through yours? 

Just edited to add that as I hit "publish" on this post this song came on the radio and it made me have a little smile.......Cool and the Gang: Moving Straight Ahead....

Saturday, 13 April 2013


 Talk about a whirlwind! The Katie household is a hive of activity preparing for the arrival of Katie's baby brother. Matching panel permitting it looks like our son, Pip (short for Pipsqueak) will be with us in around 6 weeks. 

There is so much to do. My head is spinning! I'm not quite sure what to do first really (although I am breathing again now and calming down a bit).

We have a major remodelling plan underway (our builder assures us he will bring it all in on time) for the upstairs of our chalet bungalow to include making our bedroom bigger and adding lots of wardrobes plus and en-suite and replacing our upstairs bathroom plus moving the childrens bedroom doors forward to allow standard size doors (and stair gates) to be used not to mention all the gubbins required for a baby.  I've been having major fun on Ebay and receiving bundles and packages in the post on a daily basis. My long coveted Out and About Nipper 360 Buggy in a gorgeous red is sitting in a spare bedroom waiting to be assembled. I'm currently bidding on a baby changing unit (I won a baby sling yesterday) and have tons of clothes waiting to be delivered. Friends have been donating play items for our little man.  I still have Katie's cot bed (which she is currently still in until her big girl bed arrives) and just need to get a new mattress and some boy bedding. I have been given some lovely Grobags which I can't wait to see him wearing at night.

We are just waiting for a date for Matching Panel and meeting with his Foster Carer. Our little boy is totally gorgeous and currently 5 months old and meeting all his milestones. There is no need to delay (other than the major building works) in bringing him home. I want him here NOW thank you very much!  I am going to find a toy that we can record our voices on to give to him before he meets us so he can get used to hearing our voices and am going to find a toy we can put our pictures on. Introductions shouldn't take more than a week and then I will be in charge of a baby!

Yikes!!!! I'ver never had a baby full time before. So much to learn and panic about!!. I'm entering a world of bottles and sterilisers (the latter of which has just arrived) and dribbles and learning to crawl.  Luckily I have one friend who is a Community Nursery Nurse and one who teaches Child Care plus lots of friends on hand who have visited baby-land before. I should be fine (she says crossing her fingers tightly). Nappies I can do. Cuddles I can do. Playtime I can do. Winding and settling to sleep I can do. Sterilising bottles I can learn. The rest will be learning about my little man and what he needs although I would love to know of any suggestions or "must haves" to help me on my way.

Katie doesn't know much yet. She knows there is a baby boy coming to join us soon who is going to be her brother. She knows how old he is and she is currently preparing herself by carrying her Baby Born everywhere with her. We are talking lots about what a baby might need and about her role as Big Sister! What she doesn't know is some of the bigger information. She doesn't know his name and I still can't say it but I'm sure you might be able to read between the lines if I tell you that we've known about the possibility of this match for quite some time (around 5 months in fact). There is only one reason that adopters might know something like that.  Once I'm able to tell Katie the news then I can do an official unveiling here. All I will say is he is a perfect match for our family. There was nothing to consider or could put us off. We didn't even need to read the Permanence Report before saying "Yes" (although it has been read thoroughly and with great sadness at the circumstances that have led to the little fella needing to be adopted).

It's all a big change. It's going to impact on us all. I worry about the impact on Katie and how she is going to feel and react. I am expecting lots of jealousy once the initial excitement subsides We've seen some signs of regression already with Katie becoming more baby-like and a recent tummy bug has left her having accidents in her pants again. I worry about the impact on my Nephew CF (Crazy Frog) He has struggled with us bringing Katie into our family because he spent a lot of time with us pre-Katie. My sister is a single parent and needs some time to herself so we often have CF to stay. Pip is going to be in the bedroom that CF usually stays in so we've been making plans about where CF will sleep in the future. Whose bedroom will he share? We want him prepared as well but will need some time to sort ourselves out before he comes to stay I think. We need Pip settled first but we don't want to unsettle or upset any of the other children in our lives. This will impact on CF and my sister. What will our cats think of this new arrival? Some might say I worry too much about everybody and there is a part of me that thinks that people having birth children don't always have to put as much thought into these things as an adopter does, but it is just the way I am. I want to try and prepare everybody for the transition as much as possible.

I'm going to lower my voice and speak quietly about the changes for me and Daddy as well because I feel a little guilty mentioning this. I've had time on my own since September. I have the school days to myself. There is a part of me that has missed all the things that Katie and I used to do but I've also enjoyed having time to write and do my housework and enjoy the odd latte with friends. My "me time" will shrink again significantly. I will probably be able to make it to my tap dancing class and even participate in our forthcoming shows but my Reiki healing circle will have to have a little break until our routine is established and I know when Pip will be asleep etc and would be ok if he woke up and it was just Daddy here. I will miss my Reiki group. We have been meeting together for a long time and they are a big part of my life but it won't be forever.  Daddy will be coming home to a busier, tired and even more distracted Mummy so his routine when coming home from work will be effected.  Daddy and I have our evenings established when Katie is in bed. Pip is apparently sleeping through the night but does he have a late night bottle? We don't know this yet. There will need to be some reshuffling. Don't get me wrong. There is no complaint but simply an awareness and preparation for the changes ahead.

One thing I have been able to do this time round is influence how Pip is weaned. It won't be long until he will start being introduced to solid food and there are various ways people choose to do this. I want to try baby-led weaning. This is currently considered one of the best ways of weaning your child and, hopefully, having a child who eats a balance and variety of foods. It also overcomes issues of the gag-reflex getting confused with lumpy food mixed with puree. People are already giving me conflicting stories about this but I am going to try it.  I felt confident enough this time to ask our Social Workers to pass this request on to Pip's Foster Carer.  I feel more confident about a lot of things this time round. I understand the process more and know our family routine more and am not afraid to ask for what I think we need.

We are lucky that Pip's SocialWorker was also Katie's SW so we have an established relationship with her. Our new Matching Social Worker seems really nice and definitely seems on the ball. Both are responding quickly to email communications from me and helping to push things forward. We were able to meet with the Social Worker who was working with Pip's Birth Parents before Pip's birth and since so we were able to receive lots of information around the circumstances that have led up to Pip's adoption. I am hoping that we will be able to meet with Pip's Birth Parents. We weren't able to do that with Katie and I very much hope that it can happen this time.

Much to do. How much time will I have to indulge my passion for writing? I don't know but I will reflect that I initially started writing this blog as a way of keeping family and friends up to date with our introductions with Katie and now I will be able to do that again with Pip. Wow! How much has happened in that time!