All was right in our world. We had the answer to our prayers in our arms. We revelled in parenting this small, but enormous, miracle.
Then she came.
I had prayed for a girl and trusting God would direct the next child into our family.
But first, he came.
He came shortly after Christmas on a blustery day. He was a tiny and homely baby. I don’t say this often about babies, but he was not a cute one. His skin was red, wrinkly and he was in need of some good old-fashioned love. A few hours earlier his Social Worker had called us. They needed a home for this wee newborn and maybe he would come up for adoption. Even though I had prayed for a girl and had her in my heart, we said yes to this little boy. He was colicky and noisy but we grew to love him from the bottom of our hearts. Our J-man took him in too. He would talk to Z and make him smile.
Four months later, we got the call. A tiny girl had been born and we’d been chosen to be her parents. Her birth history was interesting and we had to consider the fact that it would mean three kids 2 yrs and under. We must have been under the influence of sleep deprivation because we said “yes”. Everything in her birth history, God had prepared me for. I knew she was the one.
Enter – Extreme Exhaustion.
I had no idea you could be that tired and survive.
She was ornery and trying to adjust to life outside. She was a premie and perhaps exposed to drugs, at the very least nicotine. She was a beautiful, dark-haired little princess. Her sensitive nervous system would make her shake and cry. In my delirium of trying to keep up with all the little children, I feel I did not get to enjoy her early days. I would love to go back and remember some of them. I wish I had the time to snuggle her little body and breathe her baby scent in. I would do a few things differently if I had it to do again.
It was six weeks later that Z went to live with relatives. We were so saddened and relieved at the same. I just didn’t think I could take care of so many babies, on a continued basis, without support. We had done those 6 weeks mostly on our own and it was incredibly hard. I’m pretty sure that this time in our lives will go down as one of the most difficult times to survive.
Belle was a fussy baby who didn’t sleep, ever. She napped for maybe 20 minutes during the day and would wake up every 1-2 hours at night. She didn’t love to be held but didn’t want to be put down either. By the time she was 11 months old I was suffering from severe issues due to sleep deprivation. My body was so wound up I couldn’t sleep even though I was extremely exhausted. I got medical help and life seemed to improve. I believe medicine can be a miracle and it was for me. Getting help for my sleep issues made a difference for us all.
It was during this time, as Belle would wake up to every noise, that I noticed J-man having freak-outs. I would get so upset that he’d stand at the stairs (where she was just above) and start crying. She would then wake up and need attention. Sometimes I would have no idea what he was crying at. His food issues were becoming more noticeable as he neared three years old. Everything seemed to be getting more pronounced. I am so thankful I had people in my life who knew who to go to and where to get help.
Managing two sensitive kids seemed to take all the energy I could muster. We thought maybe we were “done” having children. Two blessings were more than we had hoped for. But, as the next two years passed we figured we may just have more room in our hearts for another. We decided to foster-to-adopt again (which is how Z came to be with us for 5 months, before Belle).
Belle progressed in her development at lightening speed and did everything ahead of time, which also gave me some more clues that all was not right in J-man’s world. She appeared to be bored at 2 months old and I can tell you, eight years later, that I was probably right. She had a mind that just needed stimulation. Always moving, thinking and doing. Seeing her progress “normally” gave me insight into how most babies develop.
the two could not be any different. As different as they were, they clashed a lot as she was able to assert herself. She figured, I imagine, that she should have been born first. J-man is a very passive person, but Belle has pushed him to assert his place as the first-born. I imagine that they were born for each other. In God’s infinite wisdom and grace he placed these two incredible people so that, as the saying goes, iron sharpens iron. Indeed, I have seen these two sharpen each other. J-man has had to learn to be assertive, and it took him a LONG time. Belle has had to learn (and is still learning) how to be more sensitive in her leadership. It’s a beautiful thing to see such different personalities come together and cooperate in their uniqueness.