Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My new obsession

I remember when I had only one child. I just knew that if I could only have more kids, I'd stop obsessing about the one.

I think in my case I'd have to have 27 kids to stop obsessing.

My newest obsession: what to feed Miss Daisy and how much to feed her.

She's taking less and less out of her bottle. I do good to get her to drink 18 ounces a day total. She's completely unable to drink from a cup of any kind so I don't know how to get her to consume more. It bothers me though. It doesn't seem like enough. For example, she got up this morning at 6:50am. I gave her a bath and got her dressed. She typically doesn't want anything right away to eat or drink. At about 7:30 I offered her a bottle. She only took 2 ounces.

Daisy is eating solid food a lot better and I know that's part of the reason why she's taking less from her bottles. But she's not taking a tremendous amount. It varies depending on what she's being served and her mood, but she usually only takes about 4 ounces per meal.

Daisy cannot feed herself at all. She's able to tolerate some texture and she's starting to chew soft foods. I don't feel right feeding her all store-bought purees. It's not that I think they're bad. But they're all sweet and they don't offer any depth of flavor. I'm afraid if that's all I serve her she'll never learn to tolerate "real" food.

So I'm obsessing.

Feel free to join me in my obsession. What would YOU feed Daisy?

I've started making a lot of my own baby food. That way I can add a variety of flavors and textures. I can puree it still so she's able to eat it. But I don't have to take the puree down to totally smooth. For example, I made some super soft oatmeal this morning. I added chia seed to it and then stirred in some small ripe banana pieces. At 8:40am I offered her this. She did well eating it but only took 3 ounces. For Daisy's entire breakfast she took 2 ounces of formula and 3 ounces of solids. Is that enough?

Things to keep in mind:
For eating purposes, Daisy is around 4 months old developmentally. But chronologically she's almost one year old. Somehow I have to meet her biological needs within her developmental abilities.

In general, Daisy is about 5 months old developmentally. She's active to a degree. But she's not crawling or moving all over the place. Her caloric needs aren't as high as a typically developing one year old.

However, Daisy is a very big baby. She weighs at least 23 pounds and is at least 29" long. (Those numbers are from a month ago so I'm guessing both are higher.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

The birthday party dilemma

Daisy is turning one year old in two weeks. I've had several people ask me if we're going to throw her a birthday party. Here's my answer...
  1. I never want to treat my foster kids differently from my forever kids!
  2. Birthday parties for my forever kids typically just involve family. I've thrown bigger parties before. When Herman turned one I invited a bunch of people that I worked with, some friends and all my family. Our tiny little house was jam packed. When TT turned one it coincided with his adoption as well. We literally invited our entire church and had a pot-luck one Sunday after service. But when Bart turned one there was much less fanfare. As my cherubs get older they have requested bigger parties. But I'm not the "bouncy-house, gift bags, tons of kids I don't know" party throwing kind of a mom.
  3. In general birthdays involve the child getting to pick out their favorite food for dinner. I bake and decorate a cake. And they open presents from family members. We've also had other small traditions like the child getting their own bottle of flavored milk from the store. (Strange - but my kids loved that tradition and it stuck around for several years.)
  4. I always want to meet my foster kids where they are at developmentally.
  5. Daisy doesn't have a favorite food. She can't eat cake. And my entire extended family lives over 1200 miles away. I've got a few friends in my neighborhood. And I suppose I could invite her therapists and social workers. But it would be over-stimulating and probably even scary to Daisy to have a bunch of people over to the house.
  6. Also, Daisy needs nothing right now. Every time I think of a toy or piece of equipment that might help with her development, I buy it right away. I honestly struggled giving my sister birthday present ideas yesterday when she asked me.
  7. And for what it's worth, Daisy couldn't open presents. She wouldn't even get anything out of hand-over-hand pulling on bows and ripping off paper. Once we got in to the present, Daisy couldn't see it anyway so the excitement would be lost on her entirely.
So I'm really not sure what we are going to do for Daisy's birthday.

I want everyone to know that I love and adore Daisy and that she is special to our family. But I don't have to throw a party for a bunch of other people to prove that. If I throw a party, it would simply be to have pictures so I could prove I threw a party. It wouldn't mean much to Daisy.

I also realize that her own biological family can acknowledge her birthday and take pictures if remembering the event that way is important to them. Bio Mom is high functioning. She can throw a party for Daisy during a visit if she feels it's necessary to have those kinds of pictures.

I don't mean to sound callous. I do want to celebrate Daisy's life!! But I think it's going to look a lot like us singing to Daisy "Happy Birthday" all day long. I'll be sure to take pictures of her with the presents she will be receiving. And that will be about it.

If Daisy is still in my life when she's older, and if she's more aware of thing things going on around her, future parties and celebrations will look different. But for now, I think I'm going to meet Daisy where SHE is at.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CORRECTIONS

  1. I shouldn't write a blog and make dinner at the same time. I really needed to proofread that last post a few more times. I've caught two typos and I'm sure there are more.
  2. I was incredibly wrong about the healing of Daisy's incisions. I'm no doctor but I'm no dummy. I usually try to get my brother's take on things when new meds are prescribed for my family members. And I'll own it when I make a mistake.
    I called My Genius Brother (a doctor) to ask about the cream that was prescribed. He informed me that head wounds heal quickly and it is concerning that Daisy's are still scabbing over. The cream that was prescribed is for burns and wound care.
  3. I was also wrong about the neurosurgeon having us come back in 10 days so he can make money on another office visit. The neurosurgeon was paid one fee for surgery and all post-op visits. It really is concerning that Daisy hasn't healed fully from her craniotomy. She really does need to be seen in 10 days to make sure everything is OK.

It was awkward

I got to the appointment at the neurosurgeon's office about 10 minutes early this morning. Right or wrong - I prayed that Bio Mom wouldn't show up. Or at least that they would put me back into a room and we'd be seen before Bio Mom got there. (I prayed hard too.)

But no. I waited out in the general waiting room and Bio Mom showed up about 5 minutes after the appointment was supposed to have started. I had Daisy down in her car seat because I really wanted her to fall asleep.

(Side note: I'd love to have Daisy on some sort of a schedule. She needs to sleep more than she does. But it is simply impossible to accommodate all of her appointments and keep her on anything that even resembles a schedule. Too many people want to see her each day. If I even tried to put her on a schedule I'd just spend every single day mad because somebody would mess it up!)

It became apparent that Daisy was not going to fall asleep. So I unbuckled her and handed her over to her mom. I did not start conversation. Not even small talk.

Eventually we got called back to the exam room.

It was even more awkward there because again, I didn't talk. I mean...what would I say?! I've already told Bio Mom all about Daisy's medical needs. I'm not just going to start preaching at her. I figured if she wanted to make small talk she could start first.

It's even awkward figuring out how to sit in situations like this. Do we sit next to each other like we're friends? Do we avoid each other because of the situation? I could tell even Bio Mom didn't know what to do. In the general waiting room we sat next to each other. But in the exam room I opted to sit on the exam table instead of in a chair right smack next to Bio Mom.

Awkward doesn't even begin to describe how it feels.

Everyone in the office thinks of Daisy as "my" kid. Everyone is protective of Daisy. Everyone was looking at us funny.

Well...they probably weren't. But it felt that way to me.

In the exam room Bio Mom tried to talk to me some. I answered her questions. But yet again, she got all weirded out (technical term of course) when I flat out told her, "The way Daisy flaps her arms and hits her head all the time is not normal. It just isn't."

I know it hurts. But Bio Mom isn't ready to hear that her daughter isn't normal.

Someone has to get it through her head that Daisy is NEVER going to fully recover. You cannot suffer the level of brain damage that Daisy did and be all hunky-dory just fine.

When the doctor came in he did a bit of a double take and then tried to assess the situation. He had to make sure that Daisy was still with me. I said yes. Then he muttered something about, "so...Mom has visits." I said, "Yes. Bio Mom has two visits a week and can attend all medical appointments." He seemed relieved to know that Daisy was still in my care.

As is typical for this brain doctor, he didn't say much. He prescribed some cream because the incisions are still red and scabby. Bio Mom's feathers were ruffled and she wanted to know exactly what the cream was for. They sort of blew her off and said it was just to help Daisy heal. Me...I'm just frustrated that I've got another med log to fill out for no reason. (The incisions aren't infected. The doctor even said so himself. They are healing just fine. They're just healing slow. I'm no doctor but I'm no dummy either. He just wanted to give us a reason to have to come back again in 10 days. Gotta get as many office visits as you can to make the $$$.)

Bio Mom struggled getting Daisy in her car seat. I took my paperwork and went to the front office to wait for them to give me Daisy's next appointment. Bio Mom came out and awkwardly said goodbye to Daisy and then just left.

I'm going to have to compartmentalize all of this. The awkwardness of everything takes a toll on me. It drums up that compassion fatigue again. It puts Daisy's story out there all over again because I have to explain to Bio Mom things about her daughter that she doesn't understand or want to accept. Today I was able to let go of my stress pretty quickly though. I called My Genius Sister and word vomited on the way home from the appointment. That always helps.

I've decided that I'll go with Bio Mom to any specialist appointment without a social worker present. Since the specialists rarely say much, the most awkward part will be the waiting for the appointment to start. The appointments themselves are short. I've worked with the neurologist for several years (back when I had Pumpkin). And knowing how he functions, I know it will be as easy as the neurosurgeon was today.

I will NOT go to the one-year well-child check by myself with Bio Mom though. Madame Doctor will probably go off on Bio Mom because Daisy isn't vaccinated. I'm going to call Madame Doctor ahead of time though and ask her to cover some of the overall developmental delay issues too. These are things *I* know - but Bio Mom needs to hear it from someone other than just me. Someone has to help Bio Mom understand that...here it is again...Daisy is never going to be "normal". Daisy is always going to struggle. Even if she does learn to walk, talk, eat food, and maybe even read (if her sight returns), Daisy will probably have social/emotional difficulties due to the brain damage. I mean...come on...she has to wrap her own brain around the fact that, intentional or not, her bio dad nearly killed her. That's some deep stuff to try and comprehend. I don't want to be the only foster care professional in the room when Madame Doctor examines Daisy. That one I won't do alone.

There's nothing easy about foster care. But I survived today. And I'll survive tomorrow. Daisy is safe and loved. And maybe, just maybe, Bio Mom will figure things out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Co-parenting adventure

Bio mom is now allowed to attend all medical appointments.

CPS is not going to be supervising these appointments.

That puts me and Bio Mom playing nice together in a doctor's office.

(I can hardly wait.)

Our first attempt of doing this together happens tomorrow at 9:30AM. We get to go see the neurosurgeon. He's going to take 30 seconds to look at her incisions and tell me to come back in 3-4 months.

If it's weird or uncomfortable in a way I don't want to deal with, this will be the LAST attempt at co-parenting without a social worker with us. I already let my agency know I won't play this game if Mom causes problems. And I'm still not sure I'm willing to go to Daisy's one-year well-child check alone with Bio Mom. (Madame Doctor will probably rip Bio Mom a new one and I don't want to be the only one there to witness it!)

Tomorrow should be a very interesting day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Talking with Great Grandma P

I always told myself that I wanted to stay in contact with Great Grandma P even after Dude and Dolly went to Dallas. And we did talk for awhile. About once a month or so GGP would call me and we'd talk about the case. GGP wanted us to stay in the case. She did NOT want those children to go to Dallas. So as long as we were still intervening, GGP and I stayed in contact.

After we officially dropped out in January I stopped calling. I mean...what would I say?!

But a few days ago I decided to tell her I miss her. I sent GGP a brief text telling her I'm thinking about her. (It cracks me up just a little that a 74 year old grandma texts.)

Great Grandma P didn't text me back though. I honestly didn't expect her to. She lives in EXTREME poverty. Her phone could have been shut off. She could have a new phone number. She could be sick. And in reality, she could have even died. She's not young and she's not always healthy. (But to look at GGP she's the type of woman that strikes you as someone that's never going to die. She's strong. She's vibrant. And she's always on the go!)

While in the car on the way to the meeting with Daisy's lawyer I got a phone call. Low and behold, it was Great Grandma P!!

Talking with GGP is always an interesting experience. She talks about family members like I should know who they all are. She tells me stories like I should know all the details. Sometimes I have a hard time following her. But, all in all, our conversation was soothing to my soul.

She had recently been in Dallas. She's seen Dude and Dolly. According to GGP they are doing OK enough. They're not as good as when they were with me. But they are OK.

GGP's filter though is different from mine. The reason she thinks they aren't doing as well is because Dude needs a haircut and they aren't dressed as nice as when they lived with me.

Poverty skews things.

I wanted to know HOW they are. Are they being loved? Are they being kept safe? Are their emotional needs being met?

Of course GGP didn't address those issues. She did say though that the kids wouldn't talk to her much. They just wanted to run off and watch TV.

When the babies came to me they literally did not watch TV. They couldn't. They didn't enjoy it. In fact, there were a few times when I would have given anything for 30 minutes of a cartoon to settle them down. Toward the end they watched some TV at our house -- and a LOT of TV when they went to Dallas for the weekends.

I'm sure it's hard for the cherubs to see GGP though too. When their mom dropped out of their life GGP was the only family member they had much contact with until the State started flying the cherubs to Dallas. I'm sure they equate GGP with their time with us.

I'm glad to know the babies (they're hardly babies anymore -- but they'll always be my babies) are still in the same apartment. When a package my mom sent to them at Christmas was returned twice, I was afraid they had moved or that they had been shuffled to a new family member. But Dude and Dolly are still in the same apartment with Grandma N.

I asked GGP to contact me next time she's going to go to Dallas. Getting packages to Grandma N isn't reliable. She lives in a very large apartment complex and I don't think she's willing to drive anywhere to pick packages up. I asked GGP to let me know when she's going north so I can send a package or two with her for the cherubs. She said she'll let me know when she goes next. I really hope she does.

I miss my babies.

Friday, April 11, 2014

brace yourself...

I just got back from the doctor's office with Miss Daisy.

You'll NEVER guess what she has.

Brace yourself!

Daisy...

has...

eczema!

Madame Doctor is sooooooo not a fan of CPS. This is the same doctor that watched Pumpkin get abused IN HER OFFICE and then watched that abuse get thrown out in court. And, like many doctors, Madame Doctor is in favor of vaccinating children. She is not pleased that Bio Mom and Bio Dad "get" to abuse their children and nearly kill them but still get to retain rights over their care concerning immunizations.

And now Madame Doctor is furious with Bio Mom for even suggesting that I could be responsible for eczema and baby scratches.

Furious!

I am to continue treating it like I always have. I am to use Aquaphor to keep it moist. I'm to put socks over Daisy's hands to keep her from scratching if at all possible. (I refuse to keep socks on Daisy's hands all day. Daisy is visually impaired. She NEEDS to feel the world around her. But I do put them on at night sometimes.) I am also to treat with aloe vera because it has some anti-inflammatory properties.

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Keeping the drama going...

Not only did Bio Mom start all this with a photo to her lawyer...but BIO DAD came in to the CPS office today with a photo of Daisy because he too "is concerned".

(Hmmm....the bio parents aren't "together" yet Dad has a recent picture of Daisy?)

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Mr. CW has documentation - from the bio parents themselves - that Daisy had eczema prior to coming in to Care. Bio Mom has also said before that Daisy has always scratched herself.

It is VERY unlikely that this will go any further. Mr. CW has got my back. It will all depend on whether or not someone actually calls the Abuse Hotline and whether or not the investigator comes to me first or goes to Mr. CW first.

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Foster care sucks!