Finley

Monday, July 03, 2017

I've been fairly absent from the blog for a little while now.

Part of this, as you may guess, is due to adjusting to life as a mother -- juggling work, taking the boys to their many therapy appointments, and taking care of my family and our home. Honestly, I kind of suck at it, and most of the time, I'm too exhausted to really do anything other than crash on the couch and bingewatch The Office for the tenth time.

But the truth is, that's not all of it.

Something pretty big happened last autumn, and I ended up becoming pretty depressed in the aftermath.

photo from legacy.com

Last summer, the boys' caseworker had let me know that their mother was pregnant again. She told asked if we would be interested in taking the baby in as well if she ended up being removed. We talked it over, and we ended up deciding that saying yes was the right thing to do; we wanted to keep the kids together if at all possible. As scary as the thought of it was, I was secretly really excited at the prospect of caring for a newborn (plus I just had a feeling that the baby was a girl, and I loved the idea of having a little more estrogen in this house). However, we did understand that the baby may not end up being removed at all, so we weren't getting our hopes up. In fact, the caseworker made it seem like the chances of removal were pretty minimal, so we didn't bother preparing for a baby, because we weren't expecting one.

However, one afternoon in October, I was talking to one of my co-workers when I received a call. It was someone with the local DCS office, asking if I could come pick the baby up from the hospital in a few hours. I said yes, and immediately went into panic mode.

We had nothing ready. My best friend offered to let us use a newborn seat she had at home, and Eric's former foster mother was able to get us a pack 'n play through her job that we could use for a couple of days while we tried to get a crib. My friend Hallie, who had connected us with the boys in the first place, told me that as soon as she was off work, she'd be there with whatever I needed.

I picked Eric up from preschool, and we headed to Once Upon A Child. I grabbed a few newborn outfits, a Boppy, and some sleepsacks. I would have gotten more, but DCS called while I was there and asked me to come ASAP. Hallie met me at the hospital, and after going through all of the necessary paperwork and procedures for leaving the hospital, we left to get pick Nolie up from daycare and we went home. However, at the hospital, I was informed that there was a hearing the next day to determine whether or not DCS was justified in removing the baby; the caseworkers all seemed confident that it was nothing to worry about, but it it was determined that DCS was not justified, she would be going home the next day.

Hallie, bless her, had gotten a TON of stuff. Diapers, bottles, clothes, mittens, socks, etc. Plus she ordered pizza for us. I would have been SO much more overwhelmed that night had she not been there (and of course, all of this happened on a Monday, which is Tom's night to work late, so he didn't get home until after 7pm).

Eric was absolutely enamored with the baby. He wanted to do everything for her, and wouldn't stop proclaiming how much he loved her. Nolie was a bit more unsure, but he definitely found her interesting. Tom was instantly in love with her, and it was the same for me. I remember having this feeling that our family was complete.

That night was...rough. She woke up pretty much every hour crying. I got up with her every time, trying to soothe her. Sometimes it worked for a bit, but never for long. Around 4am, I was so exhausted that I was crying. Tom was extremely irritable. It occurred to me, finally, that I should swaddle her, and it worked. I was able to get three blissful hours of sleep. Thankfully, I was taking the day off of work, so I didn't have to worry about dozing off during my class.

In the morning, I got the boys to daycare and headed 45 minutes away because the baby had a doctor's appointment in the town where their family lives. Everything checked out fine. Afterward, I got her 1 week check up set up with our own pediatrician, got her WIC set up, and basically felt like I actually had my life together for an hour or so.

That afternoon, I got a call from DCS. The judge had determined that the baby should not have been removed, and she would be going home that evening.

To say that I was devastated is an understatement.

And then I had to explain to the boys why their baby sister was leaving. And yes, in my panicked frenzy, I had been stupid enough to tell them that the baby was their sister; I had told Eric basically as soon as I had picked him up from school (before I knew about the hearing). It was always in the back of my mind that she could go home, but I never actually expected it to happen.

When the DCS worker came that night, Tom and I both couldn't hide our tears. She kept apologizing profusely, saying over and over that none of them ever expected things to go the way that they did. We told her that if she ended up in care again, we wouldn't be able to take her. It was just too much to bear. When she left, I collapsed on the floor in tears. In front of the boys. It wasn't my proudest moment, because I felt like I should have been strong for them, but I couldn't. Instead, they were the ones trying to soothe me.

Over the next couple of days, things for the baby that sweet, generous friends had sent started pouring in. With every package, it hurt a little more. I was in a constant state of grief.

About a week and a half later, they did ask if we could take her again. And despite the fact that we had said we wouldn't take her again, we did discuss it. But ultimately, we decided that as awful as we felt about not keeping the kids together, it wasn't in the best interest for the boys. Because since she had been gone, they had been acting out, and constantly crying about missing her (which, of course, just really reinforced how stupid it was for me to have ever introduced her that way). In fact, it's been almost nine months, and despite the fact that they were only around her for maybe six waking hours total, they still get upset about her. We felt that the boys, who had already been handling it with great difficulty, really wouldn't be able to handle it if she came and left again. DCS felt confident that she wouldn't be going home, but she did at least once more. The last I heard, she had been removed again, but it's been a few months, so I don't know what her current status is.

As much as I would love to have a baby, and as much as I would love a little girl, I have to put the boys first. And unfortunately, as much as it kills me, it just wasn't in their best interest to have their baby sister living with us. We did tell them that if she ever needed an adoptive home, to call us, but I doubt it will happen. Very few people pass up the chance to adopt a baby. But until there is no chance that she would leave, we just can't take her.

The whole situation made me very depressed. It was actually what made me finally seek therapy. I really should have gone years ago (my infertility made me depressed a LOT), but I just couldn't justify the expense. There were more important things to spend the money on. But this? It pushed me too far. I was broken, and in desperate need of help.

So I started seeing Eric's former therapist, who I had (unintentionally) opened up to during one of his sessions when he was still seeing her. She had told me if I ever needed her, she'd be more than happy to take me on as a client. So I took her up on that.

My feelings on the situation are extremely conflicted.

On one hand, I felt like I gave up my only chance to have a baby. I WANTED that baby. I LOVED that baby. I stupidly had planned a life for that baby. And then I lost that baby.

And I feel really bad for feeling that way. Because in reality, I hadn't lost a baby, because she was never mine to lose. I always knew, though I may have wanted to try to block it out, that we could end up only being her home temporarily. But selfishly, I didn't want it to be temporary. I've blogged before about how I feel conflicted when people praise us for fostering/adopting the boys, because the joy we get from being their parents has come at the expense of their own pain and trauma, as well as the pain their parents must have felt/still feel. I wanted the baby at the expense of her losing a link to her parents. Yes, she would have had her brothers, but I know it's not the same. I feel so guilty for wanting her.

But I also feel guilty for saying no. Not having her here has caused my sons immense pain, though I know we said no for the right reasons. I worry about whether she's happy, safe, and loved; I know she would have been cared for in our home, but I know there are foster homes where that's not the case (Eric was in one at one point). I feel guilty that she may grow up not even knowing that she has brothers. Brothers who love her and miss her.

My therapist says it's okay to feel like I've lost a child, which is the only reason I'm even wording it that way here. It's always felt like what I would imagine losing a child feels like, but I feel like actually saying it is a slap in the face to those who have actually lost their children.

I can't tell you how many times I've questioned whether we did the right thing, although deep down, I know that we did. It just really, really hurts sometimes.

I may never see her again, but I will forever carry her in my heart.

We would have called her Finley.

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