Thursday, 30 May 2013

Night and Day.....

 Of course I didn't sleep well last night. I hoped to but there was that niggle in my mind about the baby monitor. What if it doesn't wake me up? The reality is he would just cry louder until someone came to him but logic does not prevail when anxiety comes to town.

The little fella didn't do that badly for a first night. He slept from about 6.45pm until 5.30am. Daddy and I heard him stir around 4am and didn't really sleep properly again after that. Katie was up by 6am. Tonight I will be braver and I won't be rushing in at 5.30am because I now know after the 3 hour "I need to catch up with some sleep" nap he had between 9.30am and 12.45pm that he does send himself back to sleep again.  I was so jealous of his nap today! I got a 15 minute power nap whilst watching "Casper" with Katie.

We're all feeling a bit delicate. Hardly surprising really. We're all exhausted. Daddy's had a cold all week which I've now inherited. Pip has suspiciously pink cheeks which suggests he either has a cold coming or some teeth are finally arriving. Katie is very emotionally delicate. I think she needs some serious normality for a while. She is brilliant with Pip. She plays with him; had a bath with him and even fed him his afternoon bottle. She then loses the ability to hold it all together and melts down into an irrational heap. It's to be expected after such a long process but when she's screaming at the top of her voice in a right old tizzy because she's bumped a foot in the middle of Pip's bedtime bottle it is difficult to handle. Thankfully Daddy was on hand to tag team me. She doesn't want Daddy though. She wants me. She hasn't twigged that Daddy is softer than I am! Silly girl!

We're all still a bit surprised Pip is still here and someone hasn't come to collect him yet. It's quite surreal. Katie can't believe it. He's so easy to look after. He take everything in his stride. It's a shock to the system having to watch him all the time but he's very absorbing. 

Leo came home from the vets minus the fur on his back left leg and an undignified blue collar and a bandaged blue leg to hold his pain meds in place. He's going to spend a week on very restricted movement before we give him lots of physiotherapy in a week's time. He had a femoral head and neck excision which basically means the bone on his hip has been cut away after he fractured it. A complete hip replacement would have seen him caged for 8 weeks which we couldn't do to His Gorgeousness but the vet is confident he will make a full recovery. He looks very woebegone today and I want to make sure I care for him properly, but the timing isn't the best. I will be doing my best with a lot of things this week but suspect I might need to be forgiving of my standards.

I'm going to go back to my usual weekly blog now I think. I wanted to log every minute of our introductions but now I need to focus on getting our life back into some routine. I need to start going to bed to sleep and not to write. I'd like to reply to some of the messages here and on Twitter. I'm going to shift this cold and work out what needs doing and give my brain a rest for a few days. There's a lot to process about the changes in our life and learning about my little son and I need to learn to split myself in two... 

I might need to consult an old magician friend for the latter bit.....

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Everything Has Changed....

As I write this I have two sleeping children upstairs. Two gorgeous children who we are incredibly lucky to have in our lives. It feels like forever since we started the journey towards becoming a family of four. I'm almost having to pinch myself to believe that both children are here.

The sun shone brightly on our last trip down the motorway to collect our son, heralding the future that lies in store. We arrived to an emotionally charged house with a bright smile from our little man; the expectant faces of our SWs and the heartbreakingly sad eyes of Pip's FC. My heart broke for her and we hugged. She knows he is coming to a good and loving home but she will miss him. He's been with her since he was 2 days old. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for her to part with him and he with her.

We exchanged gifts and cards. We brought flowers and a coveted 3D DVD of Madagascar 3 for the whole family to enjoy and give us a wave whilst watching. Our card expressed our thanks for looking after Pip so wonderfully and for all the love he has been given by the whole family.

It was hard to know when to leave. I joked with our SW that I half expected her to send a text to HQ saying that the eagle had landed and the package had been collected. I almost didn't want to leave, to be responsible for the pain that Pip's FC was feeling but I knew that she was also happy; that this was how it was supposed to be.  She texted me later on to say exactly that.

Daddy loaded up the car with Pip's belongings and the gorgeous Teddy called JuMBLeS that Pip held tightly in his arms whilst chewing its ear. We were ready to leave. The time had come to take Pip home.

We drove home with Katie holding Pip's hand and listening to the CD that had formed the backdrop to our introductions: Taylor Swift's "Red".  Driving home we decided that our song for Pip from this CD was "Everything Has Changed" which is a duet with Ed Sheeran

So we now have two family songs. Katie's is "Just Haven't Met You Yet" by Uncle Buble (that's what Katie calls him).  I had tears running leaking from my eyes all the way home as we listened to the song, marvelling at how everything has changed and almost wondering how it had all happened.

Pip slept nearly all the way home so I snuggled him in his cot when we arrived and he slept soundly for an hour and a half. He'd had a very broken night, waking up several times and being fully awake, beaming at his FC at 5am. I think he knew that today was a big day and was feeling unsettled. Maybe he wanted to spend some last minute time with her. I'd love to know what he's thinking (apart from "Where's my bottle and who is going to feed it to me?")

My sister and nephew came over to visit this afternoon and were enamoured with the little fella. He had smiles for everyone and was so good natured. The children decided to not argue for once and played with Pip.  Katie helped me with feeding and changing and was a total little star.  We took him out to the shops in his buggy for a bit of fresh air. All regular, very relaxed stuff.

By tea time he was looking noticeably tired and he struggled to eat his dinner. I gave him a snuggle and put a muzzy that came from his FCs house over my shoulder and he snuggled in and started to fall asleep. Hmmmm not sure I wanted him sound asleep at 5.30pm so I took him upstairs for a nappy change and to get ready for bed to wake him back up again.  He came down for a bit of tummy time and to say hello to my neighbour, the Crazy Cat Lady along with her children Boy and George (both girls!).  Bless him, he managed to be sociable despite being tired. I had him upstairs with his bottle by 6.15pm with Katie splashing happily and singing at the top of her voice in the bath.

Pip was asleep by 6.45pm and Katie was in bed not long afterwards and that's when we hit a little blip in our otherwise sunny day.  Pip woke up about crying about 30 minutes after he went down so I went in to pop his dummy back in his mouth and soothe him back to sleep. Katie was still awake and wanted to be in on all the action.  I asked her to go back to bed because I didn't want Pip thinking it was play time. Katie declined and decided she was going to stage a dramatic sit-in - on the chair in Pip's bedroom. Daddy had to come in and remove her in the end and a 20 minute tantrum ensued which, according to Katie, was all my fault (as most things are these days!).  Pip was more unsettled by the drama and kept crying.  I eventually managed to get Pip settled and back in his cot and went in to deal with my tearful and very angry/stroppy and probably jealous feeling daughter.  I eventually calmed her down and we had a chat about what are Mummy and Daddy jobs and what are things a big sister can do.  I expect we'll revisit the issue raised tonight (probably tomorrow) but she finally went to sleep.  She was exhausted and needs a really good night's sleep after she was also up three times last night.  It's a big change for everyone and I expected there to be teething problems.

To help with some of these teething problems a friend suggested a technique that she and her adopted daughter use since her sibling also came home.  When she is feeling sad or left out she squeezes her Mum's hand. I explained how to do this to Katie and she has used the technique a couple of times today. Very quietly and without fanfare and I gave her the cuddle we agreed she would have if she did that. I'm hoping that this will continue to work whilst the attention is all on Pip.  I explained to Katie tonight that we are all learning about each other and I just need to work out how to take care of Pip and her at the same time but that I will do my best to be there for her as much as I can but that sometimes she might have to wait a little while but that I still love her very much.

So the family of three that left the house this morning is now a family of four.  What will the future bring us I wonder?  I'm not changing the blog to Four Become Five before anyone gets any ideas though!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Why do we have to wait?

The day ended with a distraught Katie screaming for her brother when we got home after dropping him off.  She called his name over and over in a gutteral tone asking "Why is it always a bit more waiting Mummy?"

It was heartbreaking to watch. Katie summed up how we are all feeling.  The little fella needs to be home now.  Katie was already overtired after a long day and was late having dinner because we needed to drop Pip back to his FC. Seeing his play mat on the lounge floor was one emotion too many for this already over-emotionally charged 5 year old.  Two days is forever for a child of Katie's age. Two more sleeps is an age.  She doesn't understand about the protocols and the paperwork and the fact that a review meeting has to happen before Pip can officially move in.  She doesn't understand that his FC would like to have a farewell tea for him.  She just wants him here....NOW!

As do we all.

It took a lot to get her settled and into bed tonight. A nice, deep, warm, bath helped things along but she has been finding excuses to get up.  Katie would take a mile if we gave her an inch so tight boundaries are in force. We can't afford to give too much because she needs those familiar rules to feel safe - even if it's only for her to kick against them.  I'd like to snuggle up on her bed and hold her close but then she would want me to do that every night and then we'd get tantrums every night. I hate having to be tough on her but I know her too well.

So it's been a tough end to the day but also a wonderful day.  Pip has been at our house since 10am when his FC and all her family arrived to drop him off.  They stayed for a cup of tea and a play and had a lovely time. The visit to our house will hopefully help the FCs children manage their feelings about Pip leaving their family and help them to visualise where he will be living.  We have said that they can visit once he is placed with us though. The day was also wonderful because Katie was simply delightful with Pip today and was the greatest little helper a Mummy could ask for.  We sat together at the top of the stairs, outside Pip's bedroom, listening whilst he had his first nap in his cot and chatting about how strange it was having a baby in our house.  Katie said "I never believed we would get a baby!"  I totally agreed with her.

Pip loved the pictures on the wall in his bedroom.  It took us two attempts to get him to sleep. Once
before lunch at his normal sleep time, which resulted in him playing for a while but refusing to sleep, and once after lunch. He had an hour and a half after lunch and awoke very happy and gurgling to himself in his cot.  I received a lovely smile when I went in to get him up.

After naptime I gave him his bottle and then let Daddy have a cuddle whilst I got the pram and bag ready to go up to the park.  Pip decided to christen Daddy by throwing up a nice milky up-chuck on his top.  Katie is obsessed with Pip being sick so there was lots of excitement in the house after that little event!  After a quick clothing change we headed up to the park for a play on the swings although Daddy and I were actually quite happy to just sit and watch our little boy and just "be". We're all fighting colds and feeling exhausted. It was nice to just sit quietly for a while.

At the park I had to push Katie on the baby swing whilst Daddy pushed Pip.  We resurrected an old game we used to play where I held the seat up. She hasn't asked to do that for a while so that was lovely.  We couldn't stay long at the park because it was time to take Pip back to the FCs house.  I can't call it "home" anymore because home is with us.

Pip had another little sleep in the car but was tired and fretful when we took him back.  We got him some tea as quickly as possible but he didn't really know what to do with himself. I think it's getting tough for him now and he's getting confused.  He looked at the FC and me as if to say "Who's looking after me then?" I also don't think he wanted us to leave.

It's all getting tough.  We have our Review Meeting in the morning and then Pip will be coming back to ours for part of the day before heading back for a farewell tea with his FC family.  I'm taking him back whilst Daddy takes Leo to the vet for his consultation and surgery.  Katie is regressing a lot at the moment.  We expected it but it's still difficult to experience.  She is babbling like a baby and squealing in the car like Pip does.  It will pass and we're trying to ignore the baby behaviour and praise the 5 year old behaviour.  She is getting lots of cuddles and kisses but is quite often resisting them at the moment. When she was sobbing earlier on tonight she wouldn't let me cuddle her for ages. I felt so powerless. She eventually came to me when it all got too big and too much to handle alone. I'm glad that she did come to me, albeit eventually.  Poor little thing doesn't know which way is up at the moment. I wonder if this process is triggering some memories in her that she cannot fully remember or articulate.  Tonight at bedtime we read our old favourite Todd Parr's "We Belong Together". I hoped it will soothe her soul a little bit.

We've been talking about when we were doing introductions with her as well so she can see how similar it was for her.  I have no doubt that the long term will be very beneficial for Katie and Pip but it's hard putting them through all this in the shorter term.  Some might say we worry about it all too much and they are just children and children are adaptable.  That might be true to a certain extent but children who are adopted have scars that cannot always be seen.  Memories and emotions that they cannot articulate or understand.  As adoptive parents we are usually left with a behavioural and emotional mess to work out how to clear up. These aren't bog standard circumstances that most parents have to manage.  I have to grit my teeth with the (thankfully few) people in my life who just expect it to be like having a baby.  Even birth children can struggle when a sibling comes along and that can be a challenge for any parent but for adopted children there is more to it. It's deeper and it links into their sense of security and self-esteem.

So a bit of a mixed bag today. We will limp through the next 36 or so hours and hold the fort until our little man is home, where he belongs.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

First Day Out

 The sun shone gloriously for our first family outing with Pip. The buggy was packed in the boot ready for its first outing. My new changing bag was filled with all the baby paraphernalia I could think of, including my first ever bottle! If we had anything missing it was because I didn't know I was supposed to have it. The car seat was fitted and I had my little mirror ready to go so I could see him in the back. We were all looking slightly droopy eyed after an interrupted night because Katie had a bedtime accident during the night, plus this whole process is quite simply exhausting! A SW told me once that they wait until you are totally wiped out and then they let you take your child home - this is running very true to that statement!

I was quite nervous but excited. Our first day out! How would it go?  Katie and Daddy were excited to be seeing Pip. When we arrived at the FCs house we didn't have much time to chat because she was taking one of the other children to a birthday party so off we marched with the little man to put him in his car seat, not forgetting to take a few extra toys and his dummy (he screams blue murder after a bottle ends!). 

We had decided to visit a nearby farm, a favourite haunt of ours, so we felt comfortable and familiar with our surroundings. Katie did a fantastic job of entertaining Pip in the car. We arrived just around lunchtime and I proudly put Pip into his new buggy. Finally it had a real baby sitting inside! I even remembered how to put it together and collapse it again!  

We decided to stop off in the little cafe for some lunch before going into the farm. I sat Pip in the high chair; wiped down the table; and gave him some snacks to play with. He sat there grinning at us all, munching on the odd bit of grape or sandwich and dropping the rest on the floor. It was lovely. So relaxed. I don't think it was obvious that I was on tenterhooks. Little man seemed very relaxed and I started to breathe.

After a quick nappy change, we headed off onto the farm. Katie did most of the buggy pushing although Daddy and I stole it back as often as we could. It's so light to push around. Such a good choice. Little man fell asleep quite quickly as he had missed his morning nap so I had the chance to try out my new blackout cover for the pushchair.

 Pip only slept for about 45 minutes and had to suffer us all checking if he was still asleep every 5 minutes. Katie was a right old mother hen! Whilst he slept we ambled around the farm. Katie and I checked out the farm house and we fed the chickens. I taught Katie how to hand feed the chickens without losing a finger. It took her a few false starts where nerves got the better of her but she finally mastered it.

 Pip woke up and enjoyed seeing the goats and big Shire horses. They were gorgeous!

At 2pm whilst Daddy and Katie played in the little play park I snuck back over to the cafe to nab some hot water for Pip's bottle. Daddy and Katie arrived just as I was finishing up mixing the bottle and everyone watched as I fed the little man. Katie is desperate to feed him but I have had to hold her off for the moment. 

Bottle and burp completed it was time to head back to the FCs house. I said to Daddy en-route that I felt so much more confident today and could happily have pointed the car in the direction of our house and taken Pip back to ours to stay. I'm ready for him to come home now. I just needed a day out, away from all the artificial stuff. We needed that to bond but now I think we're ready to take this to the next level and move in together!

We got stuck in roadworks which gave us more time with Pip. This would have been much improved if he had not filled his boots midway through the journey. Pooeee! Stinky Pete! I had my long awaited baptism of fire when we arrived back at the FCs. Thankfully he had kept it localised in his nappy. Nappy completed it was time for a quick play and the to head home to prepare for Pip's visit to us tomorrow.

It was very hard to leave. Katie was sad and a right royal pickle up until bedtime. She's showing a lot of regressive behaviour but all in all she has been amazing. I heard her whisper to Pip that she loved him before we left. It's not easy at home at the moment. Katie is hard work at the moment and is having some pretty major meltdowns but I think we'll come though it OK.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Dinner, Bath and Bed!

 Firstly I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been sharing our journey with us thus far and for taking the time to comment and send your best wishes. I've not had the time to reply to everyone but I wanted you all to know how much it's appreciated.

Today was a later start. Katie had a dancing class this morning so that worked out well for us all. A lie-in would have been even better but Mum's taxi service doesn't get a lie-in very often! Today's plan of action was to have a play and then give our little man his dinner and then voyage into the world of bathing and bedtime.

Katie has had a mixed day but she is managing very well, all things considered. I'm really quite proud of her.  She is used to having my undivided attention so it's tough on her. Having the other children at the FC's house has been a total godsend if I'm honest.  Katie has had a lovely time playing with them all.  We had a chat at bedtime about this whole introduction process thingy and I explained to her that I have to go to Pip school to learn all about how to take care of him and the things he likes and dislikes. Once he is home we will be able to work out together which bits she is able to help me with and which bits are Mummy and Daddy jobs.  She went to sleep a bit happier about it all I think.

We arrived at the FC's house at 3.30pm (on the dot).  Our little man arrived at the door to greet us
with his customary gummy grin.  Bags were quickly put down and the cuddles commenced.  He seems really happy to see us and is coping really well with the transition to us providing his care.  He was delighted to see Katie and Daddy again and Katie seemed far more relaxed today.  Pip's FC said he had a good night's sleep and had napped well today so being there for the latter part of the day (and over the witching period) would be much improved.  We had a play in the lounge before heading out into the garden for a swing in the swing (Pip) and a bounce on the trampoline (Mummy and Katie).  It was a gloriously sunny day today so it was lovely to get out of the house (no disrespect to the FC) and just have a bit of fun in the garden. Pip seemed really happy out there watching the children play.

At dinner time I headed in with Pip to get him into his high chair and help his FC prepare his meal. He had lasagne followed by rice pudding.  My aim, when Pip is home, is to do child-led weaning which involves him picking up individual food groups and eating them himself. They are not mixed together and he will get the chance to taste each food and decide what he likes.  Pip loves his food and will pretty much eat anything.  He totally adored the lasagne and rice pudding and ate them all up without a single complaint.  Whilst it is wonderful to see him eating with such gusto (particularly baring in mind the fussy daughter we have) where does that leave me with the child-led weaning theory?  He needed to be spoon fed these foods and he clearly loves them but with child-led weaning he should be feeding himself. It makes it harder to allow him to regulate his food though.  Also how does that work for foods like yoghurt which he will need to be fed currently? He also only needs around 200 calories per day to supplement his milk and I would estimate that the food he ate contained a big proportion of that amount in one sitting. I would love to hear from anyone else who has successfully used child-led weaning who can give me some pointers.

After dinner it was bathtime.

Bathtime was brilliant with lots of splashing about but is going to be very tough on my back as Pip needs to be supported in the water as he is not able to sit himself up yet.  He's a big fella so he uses up several of my muscle groups to support him whilst he was wiggling and having a grand old time.  He does love his bath!!  Katie can't wait until she can get in with him so that might solve my back problem.

I make light jokes about his gorgeous roly polyness but there is a serious issue that needs to be noted.  Because of his frame he needs some special care and attention around the folds in his skin because he can easily develop sores there.  His FC has a ritual of checking around his body and she highlighted for me all the trigger areas that I will need to check on daily (and at every nappy change). He's pretty accommodating but he doesn't like being checked around his neck and ears very much. I have no doubt that I will get quicker and more deft with time and practice and I had my little Katie helper who helped me administer all the Sudocrem to the various parts!  Doing all this on the FC's bed absolutely crucified my back. I was twinging all over the place. I'm glad I decided to buy a changing table because it will be just the perfect height for drying and dressing and changing and hopefully spare my back a bit.  I'm hoping my little wiggler will accommodate me and not wiggle off the table though!

After Pip was all dried and dressed in his nightime babygrow it was time for his bottle.  The highlight of my day!!!  Oh how I love feeding him. I just bliss out along with him.  Katie wanted to feed him but I had to explain to her (and upset her sadly) that this was our first night putting Pip to bed and we needed to see if he could handle me taking over from his FC.  I gave her the job of being on hand with his dummy to pop into his mouth as soon as he had finished guzzling because he is not happy when that bottle is empty!

After a wind and cuddles from the Katie family it was time to get the little man into bed, a bit later than he would normally go.  He seemed a little confused that he was with me and not his FC but he eventually snuggled in and I took him upstairs and put his sleeping bag on and laid him in his cot.  Lots of kisses followed.  We said goodnight and crept out.  Two minutes later I was back in the room because he had dropped his dummy and was crying. It took me two more attempts with a reminder that it was bedtime and he snuggled himself down and dropped off with a little gurgle to himself.

Feeling quite pleased with ourselves it was time to leave. Katie was late to bed as well and was feeling a little crotchety.  We had our little chat at bedtime and she snuggled down and drifted off without a protest.

Tomorrow we are taking our boy out, on our own, for the first time.  We're planning a trip to a local farm that we frequent a lot so we know where everything is.  We're taking a picnic and plan to be back to the FC's for his afternoon bottle (although I might actually rethink that and take it out with us).

Daddy and I have commented that introductions this time round have seemed so much more surreal. Whether that is because we have a baby this time or whether it's because we are already parents and we are more tied outside of the process with things related to Katie, I don't know. I really couldn't say. I can't quite believe that this gorgeous little man is going to be living with us in around 3 days. I think there is something in me that is waiting for the other shoe to fall. I'm half expecting someone to say that they've changed their minds and he's not coming home with us. I don't think I will really believe it until he is sleeping in that cot upstairs and all his belongings are here.

I think I'll feel able to breathe then.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Three Become Four.....

 I don't have the words to eloquently describe today. I'm emotionally in a mangled heap and am spoiling for a migraine. It's taken me all evening to put fingers to touch screen and attempt to unscramble the events of today and how I am feeling. Today was the day that we've been building towards for over eighteen months. Today Katie met her brother, Pip.

After a stressful start to the day because we were running late (just for a change) and an intense build-up for us all, the big event started with an anti-climax as Pip was napping when we arrived. It was good because it meant he was well rested and perky and ready to play when he awoke and it also gave Katie time to familiarise herself with her surroundings and meet some of the Foster Carers children. They all played together beautifully all day.

When Pip awoke about 3/4 hour later I went up to fetch him. He literally beamed at me when he saw me. What a relief after the rather tetchy day we had yesterday! He even put his arms out to me for me to pick him up. I think he's really bonding with me. A real melt your heart and do a skippy dance moment.

As I brought him downstairs Katie was waiting to catch her first glimpse of her baby brother. She was proudly wearing her new "I'm the Big Sister" T-shirt. I crouched down and introduced them to each other. Pip gave Katie a huge gummy smile and his eyes just lit up. He didn't know who to smile at first, Katie or Daddy!  Katie seemed to suddenly feel shy. I think she felt the importance of the occasion and it was all a bit much for her. She seemed to emotionally shut down for a little while. I sat them on the sofa and put Pip on Katie's lap, nestled against Daddy because she was worried he was too heavy for her to hold. In the pictures you can see him gazing, with fascination, at her but she is looking away with a closed expression. I was really worried at that moment that we had made a huge mistake and this wasn't going to be right for her. I was really feeling the culmination of eighteen months of this stressful process at that moment. After playing somewhat halfheartedly with him Katie asked to see the family introduction book we made him. Of course! Katie knows full well the importance of "the book". She was so attached to hers for months when we first adopted her. The book was the turning point.  She sat with him and showed her brother his book and then asked me to sing the song we sang in the book together so we sang "How do you like your eggs in the morning" together, much to Pip's delight. I looked at her face and she finally looked like she was on board. I breathed an inward sigh of relief! 

I asked Katie if she'd like to feed Pip his lunch (curry and rice) which she was delighted to do until he gagged a bit and started crying (ok....screaming) and I had to take over. Poor Katie hid under the table in tears, worried about what had happened and the volume of noise he was making. She crept out reluctantly for a cuddle. "Mummy my ears are hurting" she said "He makes too much noise".  I cuddled her and reassured her but said "Errrr that's babies for you honey!"

The rest of the visit went really well. Katie enjoyed spreading her time between Pip and the other children and she was delighted when Pip gave her her special brother present: a Build a Bear My Little Pony, complete with wings and roller skates aka Magic The Pony

Magic was a real hit with Katie, and the other children. So much so that Katie barely noticed when I performed the task that she had most been looking forward to all day - the nappy change! She did pop over to check out that he really was a boy and have a little help but then went back to her pony leaving me to wobble Pip back into his denims! We did get some lovely pictures of them in their matching t-shirts before we left.

It was lovely having Daddy with us today. I tried to step back and give them some time together. I think they are quite taken with each other. It was incredibly reassuring that Pip was happy to let me comfort him whenever he wanted a slightly more familiar face. In fact his FC took a major step back today and let me get on with it all.

It's hard taking over when you're in someone else's house. If I'm honest I just feel totally deskilled. Yesterday I managed to break the tab off a clean nappy because getting Pip into a nappy is quite the skill. He's got such cute pudgy legs but they are hard to lift to slide a nappy under. I'm having to lift him onto the nappy. I'm also having to remind myself to face his little williki in the downward facing position (I'm used to changing girls what can I say?) Apparently his FC had a wet tummy to deal with the other day.....oooops! I've never been in charge of a baby for any length of time so I have lots to learn, most of it straightforward but it's all a steep learning curve. Is also very intense just playing with a baby all day. It's unrealistic and shattering emotionally, especially when you are essentially being assessed. It's all positive but it does all build up inside. 

We all came home emotionally exhausted. I'm emotionally wiped out now and feeling very hormonally challenged IYKWIM? Katie came home in a tetchy and argumentative mood and two females in a tetchy mood does not make for a calm house. Katie had a meltdown over me not letting her play with my hair clip (as she breaks or loses them all the time) and I pretty much followed her lead before my migraine started to kick in. Our SW phoned in the middle of it all to see how the day had gone. I suddenly felt back under that microscope - further proof that I'm tired and now overreacting to things.

We managed to get some food into Katie (thank you Daddy) and get her to gymnastics and I came home and did some yoga to force myself to slow down and breathe. Between all this adoption stuff; my hormones; and lots of worry about not managing Katie well and Leo, my cat with the broken hip, I'm feeling all out Today. I hate leaving Pip each night but equally feel that I'm glad for a few more days to wrap my head around it all. I'm a bit nervous about knowing what to do for him. I've got to become the family expert on Pip by Wednesday! I know I can do it. I don't worry about that but it's that whole deskilled thing again. It's like starting a new job and being terrified to answer the phone in case someone asks you a question! 

We're doing dinner, bath and bed tomorrow so we have the earlier part of the day to chill (or madly tidy the house!). I need sleep now, and lots of it.

All that Three Became Four.....and it's wonderful! 

Oh the things we'll do...


I'm the Big Sister!

Last night before I went to bed I crept into Katie's rom and left a gift bag on the bottom of her bed. At 6.50am this morning a very excited Katie ran I to our bedroom asking if she could open it. She ripped open the envelope and I helped her read what the card said........

She then gave an excited squeal as she pulled out the contents of the gift bag.....

 "Wow!" She said "Is this one for my brother as well? I love it!"

Only 4 hours to go until she meets Pip. She can't wait to wear her T-shirt and to give Pip his.

I can't wait until she sees the present that Pip has for her......


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Day 3 of Introductions with Pip

Whilst it was still wonderful to see my little man, today wasn't the easiest of days as little man is getting a bit unsettled by everything now. 

I had a lovely smile to welcome me (he's definitely recognising me now) and we had a lovely play when I arrived, but his Foster Carer said that he didn't go to bed well last night and was very clingy and just didn't want to go to sleep. His FC said it was very unusual for him to cry at bedtime (a knife through my heart).  As a result he was overtired and a bit grumpy today. He was late going down for his nap this morning because I was there and his FC wanted him to have a little bit of time with me before I put him down. By the time we decided to put him in his cot he was really grumpy and didn't know quite what to do with himself.  I felt awful knowing that it was this process that was unsettling him so much. It's all in a good cause but it's not a nice feeling at this point in the process. He's just a little baby and doesn't understand what is going on.

Pip didn't want to go down for his nap when I put him down and he just cried and sobbed so we ended up getting him up and giving him an early lunch in case he was hungry as well as overtired.  He had a marmite sandwich and some cheesy puffs and some cut up plum and I then rocked him to sleep, which apparently his FC never does, but I enjoyed it (and I think he did too) and then I put him in his cot. He only slept for about 30 mins though. He's such a nosey parker, he doesn't want to miss anything! 

I played with him this afternoon. We read a book and sang lots of  "Row, Row, Row your boat" and "I went to the animal fair" (which he loved!!) and then I gave him his bottle again. I don't think I will ever get bored with giving him a bottle. He almost sucks the teat right out of the bottle!! It's hilarious!

I then had to drive home to pick Katie up from school. It's about a 30 minute drive home with a clear road so I need to leave at least 45 minutes before I'm due home to allow for the obligatory motorway roadworks.  It was hard to leave but I need to be practical about things.

We're all going to see Pip tomorrow. Katie and I have been talking about it a lot today. She needed a bit of Mummy time after school today, partly because she was a bit of a banana and got herself into trouble at school today.  Some friends and Katie decided to colour themselves with chalk (rather than their pictures) as school. Teacher was not impressed.  It was one of those situations where I wanted to laugh but also ask the question "how on earth did Katie and her friends have enough unsupervised time to create such a mess?" I had to put her in the shower, which she decided to put up a fight about.  So one monumental meltdown and a shower later, I felt it would be nice to have some time together.  What did we do with our special time? Skipping? Katie is learning to skip and it's so funny! She's almost there.  She challenged me to performing 100 skips - which I did - but then needed a long sit-down afterwards. I need to get myself fitter!

Katie said to me at bedtime, with an excited smile on her face "I know what we should do. We should get me a T-shirt to wear when I see Pip tomorrow saying that I'm his big sister!"  Little does she know that I've got exactly that for her to wear tomorrow and a card congratulating her on becoming a big sister!! :-) Pip has a matching one saying "I'm the little brother!".

Can't wait to see them both wearing them together!!! 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Day 2 of Introductions

Today we had our Planning Meeting before our "official" introductions started with Pip.

After the false start with it all on Monday, and an email from me highlighting that I was worried that our introduction plan wouldn't go to plan because of it all,  it was agreed that the meeting would go ahead at the Foster Carers (FC) house (it's worth pushing these things - don't be too shy about it).  Of course, when we all arrived,  Pip was sitting in his high chair munching his lunch so you can guess where my attention was throughout the meeting (this is why they like to have the meetings in the office). I helped Pip with lunch and fed him his yogurt whilst doing all the professional planning stuff and trying to agree a plan for the introductions.  It was very distracting because he would forget to move his banana down in his hand so was munching furiously on his hand. 

We had 4 Social Workers (SW) at the meeting. Ours; Pip's; the FCs SW and the Managing SW. 

Here is the schedule that we have agreed for the introductions:

Thurs (tomorrow): Just me from 10:30pm until 2pm to do nap and lunchtime (Daddy has a big meeting unfortunately that he can't get out of).
Friday: Me plus Katie and Daddy from 11am until 2.30pm - nap, lunchtime and bottle.
Saturday: All of us: 3.30pm until bedtime
Sunday: All of us: 10:30am until 2:30pm - we'll be taking him out in the car.
Monday: All of us: 10 am FC is bringing him to ours for the day and we're taking him home around 5pm
Tuesday: 9:30 Review Meeting / 10am take him back to ours / 3pm back to FC for final farewell tea
Wednesday: Placement Day if all approved at Review Meeting.

Just think - In a week's time my little boy will be living at home with us. It seems inconceivable and very surreal.

Intros went really well today. As I mentioned before I fed him his lunch and entertained in for most of the Planning Meeting. I couldn't wait for all the SWs to go so that I could have a good old snuggle and a little kissy kissy.  He is so soft and very kissable!  One of the SWs stayed for a chat (she was lovely) about how cute Pip was and about our mutual love of all things furry and Daddy and I chatted with her and the FC whilst I was rocking Pip and having a bit of a play.  He had the hiccoughs so I was jumping up each time he hiccoughed, making him laugh. He is a real rough and tumble little fella so playtime is going to be lots of fun.

I got to change my first Pip nappy (just wee thankfully) and feed him his bottle.  He has the cutest and podgiest little legs you've ever seen. His skin is almost translucent white so his legs look ridiculously cute without his trousers on, rather like the Michelin Man. On a more serious note though I will have to routinely check through all the folds of skin to make sure he doesn't have any sores. I am hoping that once he is more mobile his little legs will start to slim down a bit.  He has already started to move about more and is rolling easily from his back to his stomach and is sitting with more strength but needs to be balanced to help him sit well.  Feeding him was lovely. Having him snuggled in my arms and holding onto my finger.  He's one heck of a feeder and will not let that bottle go once it was in his mouth and he gets quite upset when it's finished.

He was happy to be with me most of the time but I gave him back to the FC when he got fretful. I didn't think we needed to push it too much. He's just delightful though. Smiley and happy and giggly nearly all the time.

Daddy sat back a bit today as he's full of cold and worried about passing it on. He's got a big meeting at work and won't be coming with me tomorrow but we feel it's important to transfer the caring over to me as I'll be the primary carer. A week is not that long really so it seems sensible to transfer to me first and Daddy will be more hands on once Pip is home. 

Pip seemed to recognise us from the other day. It will be interesting to see his reaction tomorrow. Have invited FC to stay at our house for the first few hours next Monday and she'll be bringing all her kids with her so that they can see where Pip is going to be and to start getting their heads around it. We also thought it might be helpful if she was around for his first nap at our house in case he's confused but she's going to head off after that.

Katie is a little bit all over the place at the moment. She has worries about meeting Pip I think. She's been playing up at bedtime again feigning tummy aches and feeling sick to try and avoid going to bed.  She's been having some pretty monumental emotional meltdowns after school. She had nearly two hours or screaming over wearing a summer play suit the other evening.  Eventually even she realised how ridiculous and unreasonable she was being.  I plopped her in a deep, warm bath to settle her back down again which worked it's magic in no time.  I think it's just so much for a 5 year old to take on board.  I know how I felt about meeting Pip and I am able to rationalise things more. She said yesterday she didn't want to meet Pip on Friday. We talked a little bit about why that might be and I think she is worried he won't like her (plus various other reasons) so I whispered to her that it was a shame she felt that because I had it on good authority that Pip has a present for her.  Her eyes widened and she asked if he chose it himself. I replied that he needed a little help but she would find out more on Friday. Needless to say she is on board and ready to go now. I'm not going to say much to her for the next day or so and let things settle a bit.  I've told her that we will be seeing him tomorrow so she is prepared that he will already know us. It's such a balancing act. What's the right thing to say? How do you make it all easier for them?

On top of everything going on our poor cat Leo is currently on bed rest (have you ever tried to get a cat to have bed rest? Not for the feint hearted) because he has a small fracture around his hip area.  We are either looking at surgery to fuse the bone or for him to have a full hip replacement.  He's only two years old. Thankfully he's insured. We'd be looking at £4.5k for the hip replacement. The issue with the hip replacement is the 8 weeks of cage rest that would follow it.  It doesn't bear thinking about. He would hate it! That is why we think the fusion operation might be better for him. He'll be up and about again much more quickly but he might just loose a bit of mobility and might get arthritis when he is older. We've already had entropion eye surgery for our poor fella so I think he is going to be "one of those cats with lots of issues".  So he's going to see the Orthopaedic specialist next Tuesday when Pip is visiting our house. 

All in a day in the mad Katie household eh?

Don't even think about asking me how I'm feeling at the moment. I don't have a clue. Emotional; manic; in love; anxious; to name but a few!....and I seem to have a major sugar craving going on as well.

I can't wait for tomorrow morning when I see Pip again though ........

Monday, 20 May 2013

Our First Hello

Meeting your child for the first time is an indescribable experience.  Meeting Pip was certainly that. It was very emotionally overwhelming and amazing and beautiful.  I've had to come home and have two carrot cake cupcakes and a really good cry before I can write anything.

We arrived about 25 minutes early at the Foster Carers. Anyone who knows me us knows that we are never on time for anything. I work on a whole different time zone to the rest of the world that runs at around 5-10 minutes behind the GMT clock!  Today was very special and I didn't want to get lost again (and we didn't have a Katie to argue with about sitting in the back seat) so we left very early.  The FCs car wasn't there when we arrived (I was secretly hoping we could sneak in early) so we waited in the car, champing at the bit, desperate for her to arrive home and keeping busy by texting a friend.

Finally, 12pm arrived along with our Social Worker, and we could go in.

Pip's FC opened the door with him in her arms.  We stood there just gazing at him until the FC invited us in and ushered us into the lounge.  I was wondering what would happen next.

He was munching on the remnants of a grape and having a good old dribble. I smiled at him and said hello.

He smiled. A dribbly and grape filled smile.

Then the FC handed him to me. I wasn't sure if she would.

And he cuddled straight into my arms and I fell totally and completely in love.

What a gorgeous little fella he is.  Firstly I will say, just to get it out of the way, that he doesn't look at podgy as everyone has been going on about. Yes he has at least two more chins than you might ordinarily expect to see, but he's a baby. A gorgeous little chubby baby!

What a happy little chap he is as well. He's so sociable and just loves to smile and giggle and cuddle. He's got incredibly strong legs and loved standing up on us both for most of the time.  He loves the book we made him and has almost worn the batteries out, in fact they are starting to make us sound like we are chipmunks!  He particularly loves the sounds of the cats meowing and purring. He loved the squeaky toy and cuddly blue bear we had brought him and we had lots of giggles and dribbles.  He loved his Daddy, it was very clear to see that almost immediately and Daddy seemed to be having a lovely time. He sat and played with him like a pro.  Pip happily stayed with us, in both our arms with us swapping reluctantly every so often, until it was almost time to leave and then he got a bit fretful. I'm going to pretend that he got fretful because he knew we were leaving. I was very good and let him go back to his FC to settle him but he came straight back to me afterwards.

Whilst we were huggling and playing we learned that Pip has now dropped a bottle and is only having three a day and that he is now having three proper meals a day (and that he rather likes this stuff called food - particularly cheese!). He is sitting more strongly so I don't think it will be long before he can sit unaided and is now rolling around. He is just having one nap most days, in the morning and he goes to bed without any fan fare or faffle! He might teach Katie a thing or two....not the other way around I beg though!

The one thing that marred the visit ever so slightly is an issue over the Planning Meeting on Wednesday. The FC won't be able to get to our LA's offices and then back to her house for us to spend time with Pip before the school run starts so there is currently a possibility that we won't have an introduction on Wednesday as well. We're already missing out tomorrow because the FC has an outing planned. I will not miss Wednesday as well! Our SW is going to speak to her manager to gain approval to have the meeting at the FC's house (which is what we did when we were having intros with Katie). I will be kicking up a storm if we don't get to see him on Wednesday I can tell you that know. I can just about hang on until then.

I'm going to have to busy myself a lot tomorrow to distract myself. I hate leaving Pip when we said goodbye and I didn't really speak much on the way home. I was upset about the Planning Meeting issue and just so overwhelmed with emotions that I felt unable to speak other than to smile at Daddy and exchange a few excited words. I emailed our SW in the car to send the confirmatory email that we wanted to proceed.

Roll on Wednesday - I just want my boy home with me.

NOW!!!! - please.....

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Night Before......

It's the night before we meet Pip. The nursery is ready. The pushchair is decked out with every gadget I can find. I've learned how to make up a bottle safely. The car seat is fitted. The cot has been put together and has some gorgeous bedding and some snuggle friends are nestled within waiting for their baby friend. I've washed more clothes than I knew it was possible to wash. We have nappies and creams and even a baby sling. We're ready. All we need now is a baby.

It's been an amazing weekend. Well I say weekend but the weekend started on Thursday for me with a birthday visit to Harry Potter World. What a day! I cannot tell you how much I loved it there and was so excited to finally be visiting. I won't spoil anything for anyone who wants to go but I will say I came home with the most adorable toy Hedwig that everyone now keeps trying to steal!  I was treated to dinner at our local Prezzos by one of my best friends (and treated to some flirty smiles from the very young waiter) on Friday night and then Saturday we had the baby shower.

We actually decided to set a new tradition and have a "family" shower. Adoption is about making families and everyone in the family is involved so we decided we wanted everyone involved. We had a garden full of children bouncing on the trampoline and joining in with games like "Stick the Dummy on the Baby" and "Guess the Chocolate in the Nappy". We had a sweetie treasure hunt; "Guess the Nursery Rhyme"; "Who's the famous baby?" and a pram PiƱata, with which the children terrified the lives out of the adults! There was some serious venting of emotions on that poor pram I can tell you! Therapists are being sought as we speak!

Each of the guests was given a sheet to write their wishes for Pip. Everyone dived into the task, even the children, and wrote some beautiful wishes that set my tears flowing. Wishes for a happy life and ignoring mean people; becoming a loving and generous man; and a life filled with love and laughter (and definitely not being afraid of cats) filled the sheets. They will be set into an album for Pip to read in the future. So many hopes and dreams were shared and wished. 

I am lucky to count Mrs Vander-Cave from as one of my closest friends and she made me the most beautiful baby shower cake. Considering the cake was totally gluten free so I could eat it, you would have never known. One bite of that chocolate fudge cake had everyone hooked and I was in heaven with the added fondant icing. The decoration was beautiful and set the tears flowing again. Unfortunately the cake has Pip's real name on so I am unable to share a picture here for you to see.

We were given some gorgeous presents: clothes, books, toys and themost adorable pair of shoes and it really was one of those days when my cup runneth over. There was just one tiny person missing from all the fun. 

Tomorrow, at noon, we meet that little man for the first time. My stomach is tied up in knots and dancing with tiny little butterflies at what tomorrow will bring. We will have just one precious hour with him. It doesn't sound much. It doesn't feel enough. It feels surreal at the moment. I keep looking at the cot in the nursery in awe and try to imagine it with a sleeping little man tucked up inside. I wonder what tomorrow will be like. Will Pip take to us? Will we be able to hold him? Will he wonder what on earth is going on and feel overwhelmed with these two crazy people staring at him? Heck I feel overwhelmed! I couldn't really pin point all the emotions I'm feeling at the moment. I know I keep leaking around the eyes at inopportune moments or if someone does something nice for me. I feel excited and terrified in equal measures. I've never been left in charge of a baby for more than a few hours before so there's a learning curve coming my way. I actually Googled "How do you amuse a 7 month old baby?" the other night, feeling like a total numpty as I did so. I was incredibly reassured to read that my normal baby stuff was the standard stuff mentioned so am not feeling quite so totally unprepared now.

I'm hoping to write each day and share what's been happening. We won't be seeing Pip on Tuesday as he has a day out with his Foster Carer planned. Yes, that has totally annoyed me as we will literally meet him and then not see him for a day and I don't know how I'll manage on Tuesday, but I'll try and be the grown up and not moan too much even though I'm not feeling very mature about it. We have a Planning Meeting around lunchtime on Wednesday and then we'll spend some time afterwards on Wednesday and then Thursday with Pip and his Foster Carer learning his routine.

Katie will be meeting Pip on Friday. I've bought her a big sister t-shirt and card as a present for Friday morning and Pip has bought Katie the most incredible My Little Pony Build-a-Bear with wings and a cape and roller skates. She will be blown away as she's wanted one for ages. We'll then see now it all goes once big sis and little bro get acquainted. After that we hope Pip will be all moved in with us by mid half term week. 

What a week it's going to be......