Being a foster mom is a strange thing.  It feels completely natural to care for this child and yet I am reminded repeatedly how unnatural this situation actually is. 
 I am "just" a caregiver, but I am also a mother. 
I mother this child and yet I'm not.

She doesn't know the difference, and honestly neither does my own heart.

When I said goodbye to my first little foster newborn about 5 years ago (who was actually my fourth foster child) I wondered if I had done something wrong.  Was there some sort of foster parenting trick I hadn't learned, was there a secret that would shield me from the hurt? Was I just not cut out for this sort of thing? I was convinced I was a failure at fostering simply because I loved him, and I didn't want him to go.  I didn't want to send a tiny baby out into the unknown. It was a painful letting go.  

When something feels really bad it's natural to assume that it is bad, that we are doing something wrong.  I felt a little guilty...like I wasn't being "professional" enough. I thought maybe I was just doing it wrong. 

Over the years, a few more foster babies, a couple adoptions, and conversations with other foster parents, I've decided that "getting attached" just means that I'm doing what a foster mom is supposed to do.  Loving.  Grief is just part of the gig when you let go of someone you love.

It's hard though.  It's hard not to want to put up walls of self preservation and hide. Part of me wants to run far and fast. Every instinct I have tells me to jump from a train that's barreling towards certain disaster, to climb into a life boat and row away to safety while this ship flounders. 

This is where the gospel weaves it's way into my heart and realigns my thinking.  I am set aright, even when all seems wrong.  

I choose to walk with her in the mess. 
Press into the pain.
Double down.

The word "attached" often comes up when someone is asking or commenting about fostering.  

"I could never do that I would get too attached"

That's a fair assessment.  Most likely you would.

Getting "attached" is what we do.  I don't have a heart of steel that can care for a child like I would my own, and yet feel nothing but a vague fondness for them.  It also implies that I might be stronger than your average woman, or some sort of super saint...which is not only untrue but it encourages the idea that fostering isn't something more people could do.  I'm just a regular mom who said "yes".  "Attached" just means you have loved well. 

If an abandoned baby, or child in need, showed up on your door step you would do the same thing.  
I just volunteered to be that doorstep.  

That volunteering for it can create some confusion in my own heart and mind though. 
"This child is most certainly not yours, how dare you ever feel like she is".

 It can also give the illusion that because "she signed up for it" she has no right to feel actual genuine grief when that child leaves. 

The word "attached" can also be used in a head tilted condescendingly to the side, sympathetic  toned, "I guess you got attached, didn't you".  It generally implies that getting attached is a pitfall to be avoided, or an inherent weakness to be overcome.  My ability to bond with a child that needs a firm parental bond is not a liability but an asset. 

I will love her like she is my own, because for right now 
in this moment
she is.

I am woken multiple times a night to comfort and nourish. 
I stumble zombie eyed through the dark kitchen making a bottle.  
I pace the carpet waiting for little eyes to close. 
I sit and rock a fevered baby while carefully wetting her hair.
I hold her in my firm grasp, hold back tears, and whisper soothing sounds into her ear as she is vaccinated, and has blood drawn. 
I am filled with pride and joy with every "first".

I am warmth, comfort, security, and sustenance.
I am mother.

She gazes intently at my face as she feeds.
Her smiles break out as milk drips down the corners of her mouth.
She turns her head at the sound of my voice,
quiets and calms as she feels my arms.
Right now, in this moment, I'm mommy.  I am the foster mom...not a babysitter, an impostor, or a pretender.

Simply because that's what she needs. That's what God designed every new baby to need. 
I can be that for her. 
I know how to be a mom.
Even if its only for a while.

What is it like to foster parent a newborn?
Its just like parenting your own newborn...without the leaky boobs and stitches down under. 

What is it like to say goodbye?
I'll let you know when that day comes. 

One day at a time. 
Today I'm going to give her as much love as she needs. 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34



Bubbles are serious business around here.

I love how a few dollars spent on soapy water will entertain this Littles for....the time between when I give it to them and until they spill it all. 

My garden is starting to grow.  The days are warm.  The grass is green and my anemic winterized soul is soaking up all the spring color.  You really don't know how much you miss the colors of nature until you have survived several months of only seeing white..and dirt brown.  Even the dandelions make me happy.  Happy simply because Spring is here.  In fact I should be packing our trailer right now instead of blogging because tomorrow we pull out for our first camping weekend of the year.
                                  Photo: Spring is finally here!  The first flowers have finally bloomed. #saskatchewan

This week was a pleasant lull between the hectic pace of seeding season and all the extra activity/yard work that comes with summer.  I also had no appointments this week...which lately amounts to a small miracle.  Next week I'm back driving kids around to various specialist appointments. I appreciated a slower pace week.  The big kids are wrapping up their school work (just a bit more to go!) and the Littles are enjoying the sunshine.  I indulged in a daily nap.

This is where I spend the majority of my time.  

I tell you she is only about 6 lbs but she has a lovely way of ordering my entire day (and night).
She is a precious distraction. I love to just sit and hold her while she sleeps.  She loves to be held.  It's a pretty good match, although my messy house and malnourished children might disagree. 

I've had several newborns over the years and have generally become quite proficient at getting babies into a flexible routine and gently leading them into good sleep and eat habits. But this one is different.  Maybe because she was a preemie.  Maybe I've grown lazier and softer in my old age.  Maybe I just realize how short my time with her could be and how quick babies grow up.  The focus with her has been to invest as much love, touch, and nurture as possible and keep her growing.  I have been feeding her anytime she desires to eat which typically works out to about every two hours day and night.  This includes the time it takes to feed her, burp her, and then of course I sit and enjoy the sleeping baby for a bit.  She's like a strong force of gravity...I can't quite make myself get up.  By the time I lay her in her bed and decide I should get something done she's mewing for a bottle again and I start the process over again.  She is growing and thriving so its worth it.   Eventually, as she is starting to have more awake time, I will space her eat/wake/sleep cycle out to about three hours.  Everything in it's time though.

                     Photo: New summer outfit.  Nice to see her in something other than preemie sleepers, mostly because I get to see her cute bare arms and legs. She looks bigger in the picture than she actually is, but she is growing. Even a teeny tiny but of pudge.  #babylove #summertime #thereasonIgotnothingdonetoday

Right now it feels like I'm living in a happy little bubble.  I like my bubble.
In here this baby is safe, loved, and every grunt, squawk, and cry is responded to. I kiss a sweet neck, and inhale the delicious baby scent. My arms hold a warm soul soothing weight.

In this bubble my days revolve around the bowel function of a tiny baby (no joke...babies pooping is a big deal. A constipated newborn will rearrange your life).   My hours are filled with the gentle thumping of my hand on her back and waiting expectantly for that glorious belch.  Caring for a newborn takes every bit of you. The best I can describe it is like a dance.  During those hours spent together you learn the subtle cues, she responds to me and I to her.  I am poured out. It's both draining and life giving.

Being a foster mommy to a newborn is really no different than being a regular mommy to a newborn.  The only difference is knowing that with one phone call that bubble can be popped (and I can't show you her gorgeous little face).

                      Photo: Someone really loves her Daddy. #daddysgirl #adoptionrocks

In this bubble little girls are adored, and protected by their Daddy,

                       Photo: Blessed

                      Photo: Roman has been such a sweet baby helper.  He goes and picks her up when she's crying, sits and holds her, and feeds her.  I can't help but catch a glimpse of the nurturing Daddy he will be someday. #bigfamilylove #fosterbrother

Big brothers learn empathy, gentleness, and how to nurture and protect those who are fragile

                        Photo: He has always loved babies. #fosterbrother  #fostercare #soblessed

and a nuzzled into a mommy's neck is always the best place for baby to be.

Photo: Seriously hard to get anything done with this sweet distraction. I finally started to sort out winter and summer clothes ( the big bi- annual season change dresser clean out).... About 10 minutes in she woke up. Then I "had" to feed and snuggle her again. As much as I love the time with her I'm hoping she will soon start to have a longer eating/ sleeping cycle.  Oh well, it's a fleeting season. Even more fleeting for a #fosterparent .

It was just over a month ago that I walked into the NICU and saw her laying in the hospital bassinet.  I ached to get her home, and now she's been home for nearly a month.

Each day, week, and month will be a gift.  She's so worth it.