She calls on a Thursday.
He is less than a week old and still in the hospital NICU.
Will we take him?
He has some medical conditions that will take extra effort and pose a small risk to myself and our children.
I say yes and I can’t stop smiling all day.
I picture the soft baby hair and I can feel his baby skin against my cheek.
We purchase the car seat we’ve been putting off, new bottles, pacifiers and a package of newborn sized diapers.
All weekend I prepare for the probable.
I wake up in the night and think about his tiny body swaddled tight in a blanket; a nurse patting him with firm, reassuring pats to calm him.
I wish I am there;
to hold him,
to watch his every move protectively,
to soothe the withdrawal symptoms that make his little body tremble.
My heart cries for his pain and yet delights in his existence.
I pray for his mom, too.
I picture her leaving the hospital.
I remember how tired, tender and overwhelmed I felt as a new mom. As post birth hormones rushed over me and exhaustion seeped in, I had clung to my baby and my husband.
It is doubtful she has either of these to cling to and I wish I could hold her and tell her that it will be ok.
That I’ll be here to help.
That she can do this.
I pray for wisdom to love her well, no matter what I may think of her choices.
I dig out a notebook, ready and waiting to be a log book for us to pass back and forth so she won’t be out of the loop in his care.
By Tuesday morning I am all set.
My Mama Bear instincts have come rushing in and I am willing to rearrange my day at any cost to make sure I can accompany the social worker to the hospital.
I can picture the NICU I have spent time in before and I imagine him there.
He’s parked by the nursing station, waiting for someone to come and claim him to be theirs.
I set the pile of baby items in the hall and try to figure out how I can move all the kids around so there’s plenty of space for everyone.
The phone rings and my heart jumps in anticipation.
Our social worker.
Baby is not doing well.
He’s struggling with the withdrawal symptoms and needed morphine over the weekend.
He’ll be in the hospital for at least another week.
Also, family has come forward and they will be taking him home upon his discharge. We are not needed after all for Baby Boy, but thank you for being available.
I hold up my disappointment from crashing in by remembering why I believe in reunification and kinship care.
I practise gratitude as I pack away the baby things and break the news to my baby-loving daughters.
I wake in the night and turn my disappointment into prayers.
I think about the hours I spent loving this little person that I would probably never meet and wonder why it happened this way.
But then I think…
Why does it make any difference?
He is worthy of it all.
and my money.
Not a single prayer, cent or minute was wasted because
this little person matters.
He matters to the One who made Him
and he matters to me.
And in that,
my heart settles.
“You are beautiful, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”