Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fostering in the NICU

We're in limbo, as Beetle (nickname I decided for our new placement, I blame this song that my kids love) is still in the NICU, and thus we're not officially his foster parents.  I don't have any paperwork on him, and things like visits haven't started.  Yet, I introduce myself as a foster parent at the children's hospital desk, and a board in his room announces my name and B's as foster parents.

The first two nights, I came after work and got to feed and cuddle him, talking to the nurses now and then.  I'm always out of sorts and shy in a new place, so I had to figure out when I need to be asked to be buzzed in through the doors, and even though they told me I can just go in and out of his room, I should probably ask for his nurse when I first come in so she doesn't wonder who this person is in his room by herself.  Add to that the delicate balance of care in the NICU.  At home, when I sense a baby has a dirty diaper, I change it.  In the NICU, I mention it to the nurse, and she suggests waiting a short awhile because he has some routine care coming up.  In any situation, I would feel awkward and tentative about picking up a newborn I didn't give birth to.  In this case, there's all sorts of wires connected to him.  Yes, I made the alarms go off because somehow I got something disconnected.

I knew I couldn't come by tonight, so I visited Beetle this morning.  It was good to go during the day, because I got to talk to his occupational therapist and the hospital social worker.  Both think he's doing quite well considering that he's going through withdrawal; he's gaining well and isn't inconsolable.  He definitely has many of the symptoms that I learned about, and I learned a lot from the nurses and the OT on how to help make things a little easier for him.  Withdrawal isn't close to done, though, as he'll still go home on medication and continue to wean off of it.

At first I was worried that no one had been visiting him, and my hours with him were the only extra cuddles he was getting, but I learned his mom and grandma have been visiting, just not when I've been there.  We'll see if I bump into them before discharge.  A date for discharge hasn't been set yet, but everyone there seems to think it shouldn't be too long.

In the meantime, I'm torn between enjoying moments of quiet and rushing around to get things done.  I did buy the Mamaroo, newborn clothes, diapers, and a few other necessities.  We still need to move the crib from the nursery to our bedroom, though.  And I want to really clean the house and finish some projects in the nursery because I know I won't have the time for awhile.  At the same time, I want to enjoy these last few calm days and take Rhinoceros on our usual outings, appreciating the ease of getting around with fewer children.

Dinosaur is excited about Beetle's arrival and asked questions about what he looked like.  This morning he said that Beetle could join them in the "monkeys jumping on the bed" game they were playing.  Um, kiddo, I think you've already forgotten what a newborn baby is.


  1. I'm glad that they are letting you visit him in the NICU even though you aren't officially his foster parents yet.
    Make sure to get lots of pictures in the hospital for his lifebook, and take whatever the nurses will give you- whether it's diapers, formula, his hat, his bassinet card...we were even able to get an ankle monitor cuff-thing one of ours wore.
    My mom has had the experience of meeting bios in the NICU before discharge...and it was wonderful. No matter what's happened, that Mommy is probably feeling awfully scared at the thought of her new baby going into a foster home and no idea what kind of foster home it will be. My momma met a set of bios in the NICU and it was great because they had the opportunity to meet her before the baby was sent to live with her...which put a lot of their fears to rest, which sets the right tone for a relationship of any kind with them. The bios my mom met were crying, and wanted to know about our family (not in a creepy I'm going to come after your kids way, but in a "Oh, you've tried this whole parenting on your own kids and they turned out half decent?" kind of way. They wanted to know why my mom became a foster parent. Things like that. I wish other foster families taking newborns home could have that experience. It really helped our hearts be more empathetic too, and remember that they still loved their baby, even though their actions didn't seem like it.

  2. That's great to hear! I met Pterodactyl's mom at the hospital for similar reasons, as she told the social worker she wanted to meet me and know more about me. But when I came in, she was too emotional to really talk. Later she did ask me why we became foster parents, but we never had a very communicative relationship. I'm not really sure what she thought of me. I wonder if it's a little easier for foster parents who have teen and adult kids... like you said, they've earned their cred a bit. A foster mom friend of mine has fantastic relationships with birth families, and she also has mostly grown kids.