By Melanie Wilson
Life was chugging along and we were getting into a routine. My foster child turned 10 months old was running, talking, and becoming a very happy loving baby. Then the phone rang.
A newborn little girl needed a home. I was shocked. I’d only had my baby for 3 weeks. I thought I would always say yes when called upon but I was honestly more terrified than the first time I got the call. Could I really handle a newborn? I called my mom and we talked about it. A friend prayed with me. The answer was yes.
The next morning a caseworker called me. The little girl had found a home. However, they were headed to the hospital to get twins from the delivery floor. She asked me if I could take them…. TWINS!!!
I knew immediately this was a no. Adding one baby would be hard enough but twins would be impossible. The caseworker told me that in the next 3-4 days there would be about 9-11 babies coming into custody straight from the hospital.
Later that day I got another call. This time I said yes. He was 6 weeks old and needed a home. The next day I went to work nervous, anxious, and excited. Could I really take care of TWO BABIES (a 10 month old and a 6 week old)??? God made pregnancy 40 weeks for a reason. No one can have babies this close together unless they have multiples or the second baby comes early. But deep down I knew this baby needed a home and we were it.
When the caseworker came with the baby he was so little. They said he was 6 weeks but he looked like a 4 day old baby. His clothes were 0-3M and HANGING OFF him. I went to Walmart again. This trip wasn’t as frantic and comical as my first (see my first article “Hey! Just a Foster Mom!” on the NPJ website for a good laugh).
On the Thursday before Thanksgiving I had two babies. I had a work function, so my mother came in to love on the two babies. We survived the first 72 hours like it was an old trick.
My new baby couldn’t have weighed more than 7.5 pounds and was skin and bones. He also had reflux, which caused him to spit up half his bottle every time he ate. It was miserable but I asked lots of friends what helped their babies with reflux and we figured out 3oz bottles with rice cereal in them every 3 hours was the trick.
We trucked along through Thanksgiving and Christmas Festival. We didn’t brave the actual Christmas Festival because I knew that would end with tears and a meltdown. And I’m not talking about the babies.
Our first doctor appointment was on the day my new baby turned 8 weeks old. Later that night there was screaming and crying for hours because of a medicine they’d given him orally. It tore up his little tummy, which was torn up all the time because of his reflux. The 10 month old was not amused. He stared at the new baby and walked away.
We made it through December and Christmas and then January came around.
I just knew something was wrong with the little one. He was 3 months old at this point and he was still so small. He’d gained weight but not enough in my opinion. Other people’s 3 month olds were smiling and staying awake for long periods of time and starting to have little personalities. My baby still slept like a newborn and might stay awake 30 minutes to an hour, but wasn’t interacting with people.
I explained my fears to our doctor. I knew he thought I had no idea what I was doing. He’s super nice and never makes me feel that way. I wonder if all new moms feel this way?
We got the baby’s birth records and he was born at the 50th percentile. He was barely at the 1 percentile and that was after I’d been feeding him for weeks around the clock. The doctor switched him to a high calorie formula.
The prescription I needed to bring to the WIC office said FTT (FAILURE TO THRIVE).
I called my mom crying. I was shocked. The doctor never used those words and didn’t act like it was that serious. I reached out to my friends. Some said their babies were considered FTT at one point in time.
So after I freak out about things, I become a girl of action. We needed a plan. The plan was to feed this baby 3oz bottles every 3 hours. I did this for weeks. By February he was in 0-3M clothes. YAY!
We got weighed every few weeks and he gained almost a pound each time. He could finally handle 4oz bottles.
In March his 0-3M clothing was starting to get snug and by April he was in 6M clothes. By the end of May he was in the 75th percentile!! We worked hard for all that fat! Now he’s wearing 9-12M clothes and weighs 21 pounds.
It’s so funny to look back at pictures because you can see how he gained weight. In May he looked like he’d swallowed that tiny baby from November. He almost looks like a different kid because his face is so chubby.
Every mom has a fear they aren’t doing something right but I have an extra fear because these aren’t my biological children. They could leave at any moment, and the case worker is watching everything. I have to ask myself, “Is he clean and fed? Is he happy? Is he growing and hitting his milestones?” The answers are always yes.
The caseworker and his CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) made me feel a lot better. They both told me you can tell if he is well taken care of. You love him, and he loves you and that is the best thing to see in foster care.
He is no longer “failure to thrive” and is a chunk! I love him so much.
I promise next week’s article will not be so heavy like the last few. Actually next week’s article is all about the funny things people say when I answer the question, “Is that your baby?”
DID YOU KNOW: From October, 2017 to September, 2018 there were 912 children adopted out of the foster care system in Louisiana. If you’ve been thinking about adoption I highly recommend looking into adopting out of the foster care system. You can find out more information and find children that are looking for homes at the Louisiana Heart Gallery’s website. This organization helps DCFS find homes for Louisiana children. They post pictures of some of the kids on their website but there are more. They also host events around the state to try to match children and families.