Being a foster parent to newborn babies allows for many lessons to be learned. Having had three placements I am starting to see my spiritual faith expand and my love grow to depths I never knew existed.
Sometimes these babies arrive in a state of survival their beginning was one filled with strength, endurance and perseverance. The womb, which should be a safe place for a baby to thrive in, has now been a place where the survival battle began.
When we get a new placement we really don’t have a clue about their birth or any other information. We arrive with fresh eyes as we brace ourselves with a load of patience as we take on each new baby. The first night is always filled with nervousness, excitement that hits your gut like a load of bricks. My internal voice whispers self doubt as I find myself asking:
image by:Jan vd Brink Fotografie
“Can I make an impact on this baby?
Will I be able to make a difference?”
“What if I can’t help them?”
I don’t push that fear aside or sink it deep inside of me I allow it to be. I have now realized that the fear is based on the unknown and there is no way I can control the unknown.
I know it will pass I just need to give it the space to be and soon it will fade away. I focus on my present state and begin my new journey.
The first two weeks are what I consider my observation weeks. I allow the baby to provide cues and I am diligent with my routine. I burp on the same shoulder, I change diaper in the same exact way,
I have the same greeting at each wake up time, I feed the baby by touching the nipple of the bottle to his nose which allows the baby to identify the scent and know it’s feed time,
I touch the baby in gentle strokes all over his body, I talk to them constantly describing which is constant commentary of each action I make.
My goal is to create a routine that they can rely on and from there I begin documenting. I document what time they eat, how much, awake times and sleep times, why?
I am looking for their natural rhythm. I am finding the clues to put this life schedule puzzle together. I look for the subtle consistency in each day. I will review my notes in the upcoming weeks to find a schedule that will fit their needs.
Sometimes it can be very frustrating when you are trying to figure it out and there are times that the answer takes a while to present it. These moments you can feel vulnerable and I think that is when I tend to feel unsure of myself.
We are conditioned to NOT be vulnerable but I think that is where the connection can start in our relationships and that are true nurturing of the bonds are created by being vulnerable to each other.
Caring for a baby allows you to embrace a future you cannot control, it forces you to be completely present.
I am asked by the social workers, MAPP assessor, Lawyer, among some of the people I deal with during this process. They always ask what can we offer this baby as a foster parent.
My response is the same we offer our time; we slow things down and become very present.
We have no children to compare this baby to, we have no pre-conditioned ideas of rearing a child, we take each baby as fresh as they are and we open our lives to them.
We take time getting to know them and figuring out what we can offer to help them along their journey.
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