And Baby Makes Four

Scott got home about the time the boys woke up from nap that Friday afternoon in July, wondering if she was here yet. We had just a little time to have snack and get dressed before the current foster parents were supposed to be at our house to drop off baby girl. Timothy, who was four at the time, would have made an excellent town crier....he ran from window to window and door to door, to watch the drive and let us know minute to minute that "they aren't coming yet!" Until they were, and then his scream bellowed throughout the house, "They're here!"

I have to admit, I was glad for his watchful eye, or I would have been pacing window to window myself. We all rushed to the back door to greet the guests who were "bringing our new baby" to us. Except me. I think I had a dish to wash or a towel that needed folding, or maybe I had to pee....whatever the menial task, it was simply to give me another minute to gather myself for what was about to happen. Our first addition in almost 2 years, since Eli was born. Another baby; a girl; number four. Had we really thought this all the way through?!? Deep breath momma, here she is....

They were nice as they could be, the current foster parents, as they brought her in and handed her to Scott. I sat with the foster mom going over schedules, routines, concerns, issues they had while she was in their care. I was happy to busy myself and watch Scott and the boys with this tiny, 12 pound, five month old baby girl. She was droopy from a hearing procedure that morning, but calmly looked around at the eight eyes upon her and the six hands petting and reaching for her. Scott just smiled at me. He has a way of reassuring me with that smile.

I finally held her after they left, trying to assess what our future with her would hold from the moments I had known her. Would she always be so tiny? How much time will it take to catch her up, so she's not failing to thrive? Will she be deaf from that hearing problem I just found out about? Will the boys cherish her? Will I? All my babies I have held as tight to my chest and neck as I possibly could, but baby girl....she needed a bath. Maybe holding her tight to my face so I could breathe her in as I kiss her sweet cheeks will feel more natural, after she has a bath. Maybe after a bottle. She is sweet...cries a lot, but she's sweet. Scott, sensing my hesitation, kept asking me, "are you ok?".  I said I'd be fine, just a bit overwhelmed by it all. We are all tired. Maybe after a good night's sleep.

Don't get me wrong, I held her, sang to her the same song I had been singing to my boys for almost four years, bathed her, tickled and cooed with her. I was just struggling to find that feeling. You know the one that comes over you when you know. If you don't know what I mean, I'm sorry, my words are lacking. If you do know, then... you just know. It happened so quick with the boys, but it was different then, namely, we didn't already have three kids keeping us physically and emotionally exhausted, and I was excited the other times...this time I was hesitant. I should never have expected to find that connection after just one day, but all the same, I was already struggling. After laying her down and giving the boys some extra snuggle was a big day for them too....I told Scott I thought two of the boys were getting sick. ( I can't remember which two, but that's a trivial detail at this point.) I would need to take them to the doctor the next day, Saturday morning, to make sure it wasn't strep...again.

The couple who brought her to us had her on a bedtime feeding schedule and style we were not very comfortable with, giving her more formula than we thought a five month old with reflux should be eating, and had been thickening it with enough rice cereal she would most likely need a fork to cut it with, then, were leaving her in the carseat all night! We tried it that first night since that's what she was used to, but decided before we fell asleep, it was the last time. In an effort to keep my opinions to myself about how others parent, I will just say, we believe that when you feed a baby, it's the perfect opportunity to hold them close, talk sweet or sing to them, pray for them. From now on, that's all she would receive from us, regardless of what she was 'used to'.

That baby girl cried about every two hours all night long. We took turns holding her, feeding her, we fell asleep rocking her, and got what sleep we could between her cries and the crying of the boys I thought were getting sick. It was a rough first night, and did not help my desire to cradle her close. I'm sorry if this sounds awful and selfish, but without her there, I would have had a lot more sleep that night, and for many months to come. I woke the next morning a bit frustrated by it all. This truth is hard for me to admit and think about in private, let alone to write about it so publicly, but without knowing exactly where I was, you would miss the gloriousness of the rest of the story. Stay with me on this one. It gets good!