We are now four days into the induction week and have been gradually taking over the boy’s care, with Sally taking a backseat and jumping in when she thinks we need help or if we ask her one of the many parenting questions. Hopefully she is used to this with past adopters and isn’t secretly thinking ‘how will they cope, as they haven’t got the first clue about looking after a child’ but I guess we are trying to be perfectionists. We are holding back on asking some questions in fear we would look like we constantly need help, but Sally is very approachable and I think this is more of an issue we have as we always like to think we know what we are doing. The reality is that next week we will not have Sally there and most new parents don’t always have someone on hand, so we are trying to get on with it, I’m sure most parents are winging it sometimes.
Yesterday we all went out to the local town centre and got to spoil him with a few bits and experienced the packing of the day bag, which was mad to think we need to remember all these small but very essential items that could throw the whole day out of sync. I mean seriously, I think we need to create a specific bag for new parents that has compartments and labels for all the essential items needed, just to ensure you do not go out without something. The boy himself is amazing and as each day is passing, we are finding it very difficult to leave him with Sally, instead of bringing him home to his bedroom which is waiting empty at the moment. Today is very exciting and not such an early start, as Sally is bringing him to us this morning for him to spend a few hours with us and meet Nutter before we head back late afternoon for him to have his dinner and normal bedtime routine back at Sally’s. The feeling of excitement is also met by a huge feeling of anxiety, worrying about whether he will settle with us at home and probably the most important, will he and Nutter be best of friends or will they not like each other. It’s a lovely thought though that today we will be at home as a family just us for the first time, even if it is only for a few hours, it is going to be lovely. Our house looks like a bomb has gone off in all rooms other than the downstairs areas and his bedroom, as with the early starts and late nights so far this week with all the travelling back and forth, it has been totally neglected. We on the other hand are showered, dressed and ready to go, having only eaten cereal to ensure there are no smells of cooked food for when Sally arrives.
It’s just gone nine and Sally is still not here, she is only a couple of minutes late but where is she, we want every single minute we possibly can with him. It was only a couple of minutes later and doorbell rings, so I answer the door and here they are, Sally and the boy. Sally walks straight in and hands him to me saying “this is going to be your new home” and my stomach turned upside down, not with worry or that anxious feeling but with those butterflies that only seem to fly when you get a truly loving feeling about something. It just felt so weird that someone else was explaining to him that he was going to be living with us and in such a positive smiley way, one of those moments that will be engrained in mind forever. Rich gets to work and makes the tea, while we all head on into the living room. Sally a little worried says “where’s Nutter, he is supposed to be here today” so we explain that he is upstairs as we didn’t want him to go too crazy when you knocked and be overwhelming. I head upstairs to get Nutter and give him the little pep talk on the way down the stairs “you are going to meet your brother today, please be a good boy because he is lovely”. I know this may sound crazy but this is the only way I could even think of explaining it right now, it seemed to work with what I was thinking. The moment that Nutter notices there are others in the house, he goes into his usual excited mode running around barking but settles really quickly as we had plenty of treats on hand. Luckily, Sally has a dog of her own who is slightly bigger than Nutter so the boy was certainly not phased by all the dog attention. In fact, he seemed to quite like the extra attention, especially as we tried to pretend that he was giving a couple of the treats to Nutter from his hand, which meant he got a couple of friendly licks and hopefully made a friend for life. Nutter really should be smart here and realise that if he gets on with him, then he will have years and years of food dropped from the table as extra treats. We have a quick chat about timings and agreed to be back at Sally’s just before dinner time, so he can have his usual dinner and bedtime routine at Sally’s. She seemed to drink her tea really quickly and then stood up to say “that’s it, I am off and you two are on your own, see you tonight” in a jokey way but she did really mean she was leaving and then headed off.
As we shut the door, we look at each other while Rich was holding the boy and didn’t even have to say anything. We both knew exactly what we were thinking ‘how amazing is this, our own little family’. We head into the living room for some play time with the boy, we have got a load of his toys from Sally’s to ensure that he is used to his own toys but have a couple of new ones for him to try also. He seems to be loving life with the new toys, I mean what kid doesn’t love a new flashing toy. The time seems to be flying by, but I guess that proves the saying that time flies when you are having fun, as we are certainly having the most fun just playing and having time totally dedicated to him. The boy seems to be quite settled here, so we decide to be a little cheeky and give him the grand tour of the house. We head into the garden and show him around every single room leaving his bedroom until last, not that this will make any difference as he is only 9 months old and will probably have no idea what we are even explaining to him about it but we want him to have that little moment of surprise, even if it is a little more for us to have that moment with him unveiling his bedroom. When we walk in, he reacts just like every other room that we have showed him, wanting to explore and see what’s going on but we made a specific point of showing him the personalised wall sticker of Mickey Mouse shooting stars across the room with his name in bold above them. If he isn’t sure that we have claimed him 100% yet, then I am sure he will know now, as we have literally printed him name on the wall of his bedroom and told him about it at least 10 times in the last minute.
Grand tour completed, we realise it is gone lunch time and we haven’t eaten, so already off the routine. I mean it is so easy to slip from the time schedule without realising, but instead of panicking we just get back to it and Rich takes him into the living room for some more play time while I head into the kitchen to prepare our first family lunch at home and the first time we get to try out the very complicated high chair that eventually will turn into a stall for him as he grows up. A few minutes into making the lunch and I hear the boy start crying, probably a little more than a little whine but more of an in pain cry and Rich shouts “babe, hurry up quick, he’s bleeding” so in a state of panic I rush in the room not sure of what to expect and there he is with a bloodied lip, literally the smallest amount of blood I have ever seen, he was hardly bleeding to death. At this moment I knew that Rich was going to be a little bit of a drama queen when it comes to injuries and stuff with the boy, so I quickly take over, wipe his mouth clean and he is fine within seconds as if nothing had happened. Rich then started to explain to me what happened, as he has leant on the dogs toy basket which is so light that it simply tipped up and hit him in the face, the cry was probably nothing to do with pain as it is so light but the more the shock of it hitting his face. Rich continued to explain himself as if he was being questioned by a jury and was adamant that he wanted to call Sally to explain what has happened. I didn’t think it was necessary myself, but I backed him and agreed to call her myself as he was going to make it sound far worse than it really was. Sally answered, possibly a little worried in her tone of voice and said “is everything okay”, so I explain what happened and she laughed saying “oh you better get used to that, don’t worry about it and enjoy your afternoon”. I knew this would be her response, but Rich just needed to hear it for himself as he was worried, we would get back and his lip would show a mark and then he would feel guilty. The rest of the afternoon seemed to go by so quickly, we ate our lunch and was somewhat ready to get going back to Sally’s, with the huge packing of the day bag process to be done. Luckily, we are used to the car seat now, as we got to use that when we drove us all into town yesterday, so that’s at least not a worry for us today, we load up the car including the boy and head off.
While driving back to Sally’s we start to talk about how the day has went and it was clear that we were both feeling so happy that he has been, but really felt like we were driving the wrong way. It was hard not to talk about how we feel we should just be staying at home with him, but quickly get off the subject as tonight we have the exciting thing of doing the bedtime routine ourselves for the first time which includes giving him his bath and then actually putting him down. The putting him down to bed part was the only thing that we wasn’t too sure about and possibly wanted to change, as Sally puts him down and leaves him in the cot still awake which is something we found hard to watch, but we understand why she does this as the foster carer to ensure they know how to comfort themselves to sleep at night but at the same time as his parents we would want some of that special time singing him to sleep etc. We agree on the way back that I would do the bath and bottle tonight, but that Rich will be the one to put him to bed, as he would be the better one to explain and stick to the fact that we are going to make a little change to what Sally has been doing with him. We get back to Sally’s the boy was excited to see her, but she was so good with not taking back full control and ensure he started to realise that we were his main carers. I go upstairs to bath him and leave Rich to tell Sally that we are wanting to make a slight change to his bedtime routine, as I really would feel so awkward if I was in the room for that. On coming down, having had such a lovely bath time with the boy, Rich gives me a little sign as if to say that he has told her and I could tell that Sally probably didn’t think it was the best idea but she was being supportive about the idea.
Sally then says “okay the boys, the moment of truth, time to put him to bed” which you could tell she didn’t think was going to go very well as we were making a slight change. Kisses good night all round for the boy and Rich takes him up. Sally then shows me the monitor, which she has already switched on, so we now get a live feed and video of Rich putting him down. I cannot help but think to myself ‘come on babe, smash this and get him to sleep’. He follows he exact same way of putting him down in his cot, with his growbag on and puts his little caterpillar light on too but the boy was not settled straight away. Rich steps back and tries to let him settle on his own, which was not what we agreed but I know he must be nervous about changing the routine. The boy starts to get a little upset, which was normal but Sally would normally let him calm down in time and then go off to sleep but that is exactly the part we wanted to change. Rich then steps up again to the cot, inside I am bursting with pride thinking ‘yes babe, go for it’ and he starts to gently stroke his face while starting to sing a lullaby, twinkle twinkle little star and Sally says “oh no, he is going to wake right up now”. Rich carried on singing for a couple of verses, but cannot have been longer than a couple of minutes and the boy had drifted off but the loveliest bit was that Rich then continued to sing for at least an extra minute, clearly enjoying that he had got his boy to sleep. On leaving the room, he whispered “love you boy, see you tomorrow” and me and Sally looked at each and hugged. It was another one of those lovely little moments, one that I was so glad I got to share with Sally as she has played such an important part in our boys’ life so far. Rich then walks into the kitchen looking very proud of himself and Sally explains how she was amazed at how fast he went to sleep, so Rich was a very happy and was clearly so pleased with himself as was I.
We then said our goodbyes, as today has been such a busy day and quite tiring with all the travelling back and being the first really full day and night of caring for the boy. Everyone was all smiles as today has been lovely and I am sure that Sally must have enjoyed a little break today with her own children. As we get into the car, that moment of sadness seemed to immediately set in which has become a regular thing now on getting into the car to go home without our most previous thing in the world, our son. All through the adoption process we are told that the introduction period is the most difficult and very emotional and draining, which obviously we never really believed. I can honestly say though, that this has been one of the most draining experiences I have ever had as it is a journey of such highs but at the same time lows, not unhappy lows but emotional lows of just wanting to be at the point of taking him home forever. We now only have another 4 days to go, so we cannot complain too much, as tomorrow we will be heading down very early to bring him home for breakfast, lunch and dinner at ours before we then head back to Sally’s for just the bedtime routine, so this again is very exciting.