Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm getting nervous about court

I'm not worried about COURT so much as I'm worried about all the interactions with the bio family.

I realized at about 5:00PM tonight that I didn't ask who is going to be responsible for Daisy during court tomorrow. I'm quite confident that her mom, dad and grandparents are going to want to hold her.

I really wish the children didn't have to go to court down here.

I can appreciate letting tweens/teens attend. They should go. They need to be active in their cases. But even them attending down here is pointless. The judge didn't say one word to Ricky during his case two weeks ago. But still, they should be given an opportunity to attend.

I have to bring Daisy tomorrow. It's a requirement. If I'm lucky her lawyer will "meet" with me for a minute or two before the case is called.

(Nope. I've never spoken with Daisy's lawyer.)
I've got ALL my trust in Mr. CW and his supervisor.

It's that time before the case gets called that's got my nerves starting to tense. I'm afraid of how all the passing around of Daisy will affect her temperament. I would like to keep her stress level as low as possible. But due to how the waiting room is situated, I'm going to be between a rock and a hard place. I'm pretty sure there will be no way to avoid having her get passed around.

Please say a prayer for all of us. I honestly have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. All I know is that CPS is going to recommend "permanent relative conservatorship". The judge will be able to do whatever he wants with that. As of right now, there are NO relatives in line to take Daisy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Visit drama

I made this post on FB last night:
I don't know if it's leftover trauma from being in the hospital, frustration from the visits, or just because...but Miss Daisy is having a rough time at bedtime every night. The inconsolable crying breaks my heart. Nothing seems to sooth her once the jammies go on. And it's so unlike her. Miss Daisy is usually so happy. I hope she snaps out of this soon.

Someone that reads FB but prefers to comment on the blog made this comment.
Hi grkanga!  :-)
Re Daisy acting out post visits and hospitalization. Talk to caseworker and see if her crying during visits is documented for court and ask how to document for caseworker the change in Daisy's behavior. MAYBE court will take it into consideration in what is ordered re visitation ... MAYBE the agency/caseworker can help reduce the stress on Daisy if it is shown to be harmful to the baby.
Although general what I saw was that since the baby is pre verbal the system assumes the child is unable to communicate at all. Might be worth a shot..... or not. 
Here's what I know so far about that...

I did talk to Mr. CW shortly after Daisy was released from the hospital. He made it clear that there is nothing they can really do about Daisy crying during visits. They need to see how Mom handles things - even things like Daisy crying.

-----

Yesterday I got to the visit before Bio Mom did. The visit monitor came over to talk to me while we waited. She asked about the cuts on Daisy's head. I explained the surgeries that Daisy had and why she had been hospitalized.

The visit monitor then just started sharing. She seemed to be thinking out loud and said something along the lines of, "Oh yeah. This is the baby that cries during her visits." (Not that it applies directly to this story but I will point out that Daisy does not have the same visit monitor at every visit. It changes almost every single time.)

I told the visit monitor that I was aware of Daisy crying during a visit back in February. And I know Daisy cried at one in the hospital. But I had been told that Daisy had been doing really well lately.

She said, "No. No. It was...um...Tuesday this week. Did Daisy have a visit on Tuesday?"

I said yes, she had a visit that day.

"Yes. That's right. I supervised it. I remember Daisy crying. Boy Mom doesn't know how to calm her down at all. I remember Tuesday, when she was crying, Mom grabbed some of those puff things and stuffed them in Daisy's mouth. Daisy choked a little."

I nearly choked myself. No child should have solid food shoved in their mouth when they are crying - let alone a brain damaged, visually impaired, globally delayed infant!!

I honestly did not know what to say.

I managed to stammer out a question though. "Do you document this?! Does CPS know how Daisy has been acting in the visits and how Mom is responding?!"

The visit monitor assured me that she documents everything.

I handed Daisy over to her bio mom when she arrived. I walked out the door and immediately called My Genius Sister. It's not like I really needed her input or anything. But, I think of her as my therapist. (Thank goodness she doesn't have a $25 co-pay!) I needed to word vomit before I called Mr. CW.

Then I called Mr. CW. I simply told him that I needed to express a new concern I've got about Daisy's visits. I told him what the monitor had told me. (Adding to all this drama...it was just the day before that I found out Bio Mom was feeding Daisy solids at all. I had called Mr. CW just 24 hours earlier to express a minor concern over solids in general.)

Thank God Mr. CW has a clue! He said he would drop what he was doing immediately and drive across town to the visit. He would look at the recent visit notes and talk to the monitor.

He did just that.

Butterflies attacked me as I drove back to CPS to pick Daisy up last night. I knew Mr. CW was going to address things but I didn't know HOW he was going to do it. Was he going to tell Bio Mom that *I* have a problem with things? Or was he going to tell Bio Mom the concerns more generally?

Bio Mom came out with Daisy and together we walked outside. She told me that again Daisy refused the bottle but that she did take a jar of baby food and some baby puff cereal. I didn't say much of anything. (I really hate confrontation. Plus, I know that Daisy ultimately is safe at these visits. They are closely monitored.)

But then Bio Mom started telling me that she was confused about my concerns toward solid food. I explained to her that I work with a speech pathologist almost two hours every week. The goals we are working on with Daisy include eating solids. Due to her developmental delay, you can't just shove food in her mouth. I explained that there are aspiration concerns and overall safety issues.

Bio Mom got incredibly nervous. I could tell this by the huge, fake smile on her face. I know what I was saying probably didn't make a lick of sense to her. Daisy looks adorable. And most of the time Daisy appears to be doing just fine eating solids. But there are a lot of subtleties to it that are lost on Mom. For example, Daisy just recently started actively taking the food off the spoon herself. And Daisy JUST learned how to move the puff cereal from the front of her mouth to the back all on her own. Chewing skills are emerging but are not there yet!!

Bio Mom made a nervous comment telling me that if I have any questions or concerns I can ask her directly.

As I started my answer, Mr. CW came out the door. He let me answer and just nodded along in agreement.
"I know it seems strange. But I have to take my concerns to Mr. CW first. Everything has to be documented properly. There is protocol to follow. If I simply tell you, and something bad happens, I can be held liable for not keeping CPS in the loop. It's also up to Mr. CW to decide what to tell you, and how to tell you, about any concerns I might have."
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate confrontation?

Thankfully Mr. CW backed me up completely and Bio Mom just sort of walked away.

Mr. CW and I walked toward our vehicles on the other side of the parking lot. He confirmed that the visit notes are there and that the monitor told him the same thing she told me. Daisy choked a little when Mom gave her the puffs because she was crying inconsolably.

There was NO mention of anything in the visits changing. Bio Mom is still going to be allowed to feed Daisy whatever she wants. But Mr. CW did say he would be addressing the safety issue at a later date. The only thing he told her yesterday was about my general concerns when it comes to feeding Daisy solids.

-----

Visits are so tricky.

I honestly don't know what is going to happen next. Daisy choking on food isn't enough to change anything immediately.

I want to think that I'm overreacting here. That I'm being too dramatic. Maybe I am.

But Bio Mom is in denial about her daughter and it just becomes more and more apparent.

We have court on Tuesday. I'm glad the new courtroom has everyone on microphone. I'm not going to want to miss a word of what is covered.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One time...during a visit...

One time, during a supervised visit at the CPS office, Ricky announced that his art piece had qualified to be entered into an elite art show. Rebecca was there, with CPS's permission. She was happy for Ricky and congratulated him. She put her hand on his leg and gave it a pat.

One time, after a supervised visit, when Rebecca was saying goodbye to Ricky, she gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Ya know...like how a mom would do. Ya know...like how I do all the time.

For 14 years Ricky didn't get love and adoration like this. For 14 years Ricky got physically abused by his bio mom. The only time he got a pat of congratulations was when he sold drugs and brought home money for his mom to use.

But somehow in all of this, Rebecca is the bad guy. There must be something inappropriate in their relationship. A mother figure hugging and kissing her son?! Oh my stars!! How horrible! (insert sarcasm...lots of sarcasm)

And now the song has been officially sung.

Ricky had his monthly meeting with Emilia last night. I told him to be bold and to demand to know what happened in court.

He did. I'm so proud of him.

It's obvious CPS has NOTHING but these incredibly innocent observations to go off of. They've questioned members of Ricky's family that knew both of them before CPS got involved. They do not have anything to investigate Rebecca on.

But it's enough to keep Ricky in formal foster care until he turns 18.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What happened at the FGC

On Wednesday this week I was notified that I was to attend a Family Group Conference and I was to bring Miss Daisy with me. Initially I was petrified. It isn't common to run an FGC meeting this far in to the case - at least not in my experience it isn't. I was afraid there was some major goal change. Also, I saw on the invitation that the biological father was being invited to the meeting.

I panicked.

The first thing I did was respond to Mr. CW, via email, by telling him that in the future I would appreciate more notice when I need to commit to a meeting of this length. I reminded him that I have other children I have to make accommodations for. He immediately apologized and told me that he too had just been notified of the meeting.

I then asked him, via text, why the meeting was being called. He simply answered that he would be able to better explain things on Friday at the meeting.

I continued to panic.

On Thursday, Mr. CW called me to get some information about Daisy for the court report he was writing. I answered all of his questions and wowed him with the Word doc I sent over detailing the name, address and phone number of every specialist Daisy sees. While on the phone with him though I asked, "So, what's the deal with this Friday?"

"Oh yeah. I do owe you that one!" he answered.

Mr. CW proceeded to tell me that Bio Mom does not understand why her child is in the custody of the State. Awhile back she had requested an Administrative Review of things. The review board came back stating that this case is black and white. There are clear-cut reasons why Daisy is with me and cannot be returned to her. As a result of these finding though, the Department said that CPS must not have done a good enough job of explaining things during the first FGC and at subsequent meetings with Bio Mom. This second Family Group Conference was scheduled so that everyone could go over the case in detail so that Bio Mom could not claim that she doesn't understand what's going on when we go to court in two weeks.

Whew! No goal change. Mr. CW assured me that they are not moving toward reunification at this time.

-----

As the day went on yesterday I got more and more nervous. It was as bad as a court day with Dude and Dolly. My stomach was in knots and it was hard for me to focus on anything. With about 40 minutes to spare before the meeting, I was curled up on the couch holding Daisy messing on my phone. I started going through my emails for some reason. I seriously don't know why I pulled up the email with the invitation to the FGC in it or why I clicked on the attachment to see the full invite. But I did.

And there it was. Bio Dad's name. And under that - an address for the meeting all the way across town!

Shit! I had to leave RIGHT THEN!

I had assumed that the FGC was going to be held in the CPS office about 10 minutes away from my house. I didn't realize we were meeting in a different town altogether. I grabbed my stuff and Daisy and took off.

I got to the meeting about 7 minutes before it was to begin. I thought about waiting in the parking lot until exactly 3:00PM. I was most nervous about the waiting room. I didn't want the bio family swooping in to take Daisy from me. I had been assured by Mr. CW that Daisy was MY responsibility during the FGC. I was also insanely nervous about meeting Bio Dad. It's not every day you meet and talk to someone that nearly killed a person you love.

But I went in.

I brought Daisy in the carseat bucket and I positioned the two of us in the room making it clear Daisy was staying with me. I signed in and sat down. I made eye contact with Bio Mom once or twice. She even asked how Daisy had been doing. But I refused to look at Bio Dad or his parents.

Thankfully the meeting started on time and we were called back to the conference room.

-----

I feel like I need to keep the actual details of the FGC somewhat private. I'm not sure why. I do spill my guts on here a lot. But there's something about this meeting that was different so I'm only going to give highlights - not details.

-----

The agenda of an FGC is this:
- introductions
- sign a formal privacy agreement
- discuss family successes
- discuss family concerns
- go over goals for the bio family, the permanency plan and the legal timeline

SUCCESSES:
Both bio parents have been working their case plans well!

CONCERNS:
Dad still has a criminal case that he must see through.
Bio Mom is in denial over the severity of what happened and who is responsible.

GOALS:
Bio parents need to finish their services and cooperate with CPS.

PERMANENCY PLAN:
The goal CPS is recommending to the court is relative conservatorship. The State is not looking to reunify with either bio parent. Instead, they want a family member to come forward, go through the home study process, and take PMC (permanent managing conservatorship) of Daisy. As of right now, the State is not looking to terminate rights on either parent.

The secondary goal in this case was just changed about two weeks ago. They reported that when this case was opened, the secondary goal had been adoption. However, because the bio parents are both working their case plans so well, the secondary goal is now family reunification.

The State made it very clear though that that is a secondary goal!
Right now they are not looking to reunify!!

LEGAL TIMELINE:
Daisy is supposed to have permanency by the first week of November 2014.

-----

Bio Dad was cooperative and polite the entire meeting. Bio Mom was polite but very upset. She does not understand why the State won't return her child to her. She did not injure Daisy. She was at work when it happened. She understands the accident and will do whatever it takes to keep anything like that from happening again.

The key word in that last sentence is "accident".

Denial is deep.

-----

Miss Daisy was a charmer the whole meeting. She sat on my lap and made lots of wonderful baby noises. She smiled, cooed and was perfectly adorable. Then, after about 1.25 hours, she settled down into my arms and fell asleep. I held her for awhile but then put her down into the carseat bucket.

I was grateful that she stayed asleep. When the meeting was over I didn't have to pass Daisy around to the bio family for everyone to fawn over. In fact, CPS rescheduled the visit Bio Mom was supposed to have following this meeting because they didn't want to stress Daisy out any more and they wanted to let her sleep. (I told them it wasn't necessary. But Bio Mom had no problem and simply asked for an extra visit next week.)

I spoke with the paternal grandparents some. I showed them some pictures on my phone and promised that I would print them off and bring them to court for them to have.

Bio Dad was appropriately emotional. He lightly touched Daisy's feet but didn't try to wake her or anything. Praise God Daisy slept through it all!! She even let me fasten the buckles without waking up.

-----

Court is April 1st. Anything could happen. If Bio Mom's lawyer can convince the judge that Bio Mom is stable and capable of keeping Daisy safe, Daisy could leave my care. The State is going to argue against that for sure! I'll be honest though, I'm not getting my hopes set on anything.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Court for Ricky

Just to make sure everyone knows Ricky's timeline...

Ricky spent 14 years living in extreme poverty being subjected to severe neglect and physical abuse. In late elementary school he started down a dangerous path himself. He joined a gang and got involved in substance abuse.

In 8th grade Ricky met Rebecca. She was his teacher. He decided to turn his life around. She helped him.

Right around 2 years ago, Ricky moved in with Rebecca with his mother's full blessing. CPS was "watching" their family but nothing official was being done. Ricky's little brother went to live with another friend of the family.

In October of 2013 Ricky's bio mom fell apart and CPS got officially involved. Ricky continued to live with Rebecca only now there was paperwork involved and it was an "official" fictive-kin placement.

On December 17, 2013 Ricky attended a Status Hearing. The purpose of a Status Hearing is to make sure that there is a Service Plan in place for the child(ren) and that the bio family is aware of the Service Plan and all of its contents. Everyone is also to make sure that the bio family understands what has to happen in order for reunification to occur. During this hearing CPS twisted reality and made it sound like Rebecca was denying CPS access to Ricky. He was removed from Rebecca's house and came to live with us.

Court this past Tuesday was the first Initial Permanency Hearing for the case. The judge reviews the case to make sure that the Service Plan is being followed. The purpose of the hearing is to ensure that a final order consistent with the permanency plan is rendered prior to the date of dismissal.

The courtroom was full of people. Unfortunately though, Ricky's AAL (attorney ad litem) was not one of them. However, he did phone in and was there in voice. He started things off by perfectly expressing Ricky's desires. Ricky's letter had reached the judge and both his AAL and GAL (guardian ad litem) prior to court. It was evident in how Ricky's AAL worded things. I was impressed and felt a surge of hope.

After the AAL finished his portion, the judge, without any emotion in his voice at all said, "I will not be considering a change of placement during this hearing."

I was crushed. Rebecca was there and her face fell. I had to explain it to Ricky. I could see anger in his eyes but he contained it.

I'm not sure, but I do believe an official goal change was made then for both boys (Ricky and his younger brother, Michael). Ricky is now set for Independent Living. Michael's goal is no longer reunification but has been changed to "relative conservatorship".

There was some back and forth about the boys and their current status. CPS could say nothing wrong about either kid. (I mean...come on...Ricky is awesome!!!!)

Then the GAL asked the judge if the children could be excused from the courtroom. The judge looked at the GAL and said, "I think I know what you're going to ask me. Let's take this back to chambers." And with that, CPS, the judge and the lawyer went out of the courtroom. (They did say that they would reconnect the call with the AAL in chambers as well.)

I had NO IDEA what they were discussing. It made me feel horribly nervous. But all we could do was sit there and wait.

About 10 minutes later they all walked back into the courtroom. With no emotion, the judge again said that he would not be allowing any changes in placement. The children were to stay in their current foster homes. Then he mumbled something about taking up the request again in trial if they want and witnesses could be presented if necessary.

They left the room to discuss Ricky and his request to go back to Rebecca. The answer was no. And they refuse to tell him WHY it's not possible. We know nothing!!

The Permanency Pre-Trial was scheduled for June 25 and the Trial is July 2.

CPS never even left the courtroom to talk to Ricky after things finished. We all filed out and stood outside stunned. Rebecca was sad. I was angry and wanted answers. And Ricky was numb.

Ricky's request to have visitation with Rebecca wasn't addressed either. So, legally, he still cannot see her at all. We literally know nothing. CPS is Hell bent on keeping Ricky with me for the next 9 months. But to me, it simply does not make sense. They have to pay me daily to care for Ricky. Rebecca would do it for free. So it's not the money. And if Rebecca isn't "safe" - shouldn't someone be doing something about that now?! She's a teacher after all and comes into contact with kids every single day. And really, if Rebecca isn't safe now, why is she going to be OK in 9 months when Ricky turns 18? Shouldn't they be getting him to consider other independent living plans?

I've got a call in to each of his lawyers (the AAL and the GAL). I'm not going to talk to CPS any more than I absolutely have to. I do NOT trust them in Ricky's case at all!!! I know that Emilia will lie to me about what was said in chambers at court. I'm hoping Ricky's lawyer will say something though. Someone needs to be fighting for Ricky.

Thankfully the stress hasn't crippled us. Ricky keeps insisting he's fine. And he knows he has a home with us for as long as he wants. We will be a resource for him after age 18 too. I don't need a per diem to keep on loving and supporting a kid!!!

I hope a lawyer calls us soon though. I want answers!!

-----

If you're interested, I found this PDF online that explains Texas' CPS process. It's for the bio parents but it answered some of my questions. Believe it or not, they never covered ANY of this in any of our foster parent trainings.

Diagram of a hospital visit #2

On Friday the 14, after two brain surgeries, I was told that Daisy was to have another supervised visit. Mr. CW was not going to be able to supervise it himself but he did say that someone else from CPS would be there with Bio Mom. We chatted via text making the plans.

I asked him, "Is there a plan in place in case the visit distresses Daisy like the last one did? It is not good for her to be upset right now."

Mr. CW said that Bio Mom was not going to be allowed to carry Daisy or hold her at all. She could only see her, pray over her and minimally touch her hands and such. It was going to be at my discretion. I do believe that I was going to be allowed to stop the visit if Bio Mom upset Daisy. I thanked Mr. CW for keeping Daisy's best interests at heart.

Bio Mom came into the room. I moved a chair over for the supervisor to the center of the room (who, by the way, never introduced herself or said a single word to me the entire visit).

I did not leave the room this time. It simply wasn't an option. Miss Daisy was in the middle of a hospital crib with two bags of blood draining out of her head. I was going to protect Daisy from any undue stress! The PICU room was much larger than the room up in general pediatrics. I climbed up on my bed and played with my phone.

Bio Mom asked me a few medical questions. I used words like "permanent damage" and "lifelong problems". I did not hold back. I was very tactful. I didn't try to be mean in any way. But Bio Mom was asking questions and I gave answers. She needs to know that this is not Daisy's last brain surgery. Any child with shunts in their head will need further surgeries to repair, replace or remove the shunts. I also made sure Bio Mom understood that even though Daisy isn't showing signs of seizure right now, it will be a concern for the rest of her life.

Bio Mom turned to Daisy again. There were tears. This time they were from Bio Mom. She stood over Daisy's crib and cried. And cried. And cried.

Reality hurts.

Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I'm going to share the entire "conversation". I'm not proud of my initial response. But I do try to paint a picture of what fostering looks like to me. Interactions with the bio family are part of fostering for sure. I know I'm capable of supporting reunification. I fostered a beautiful little boy when we were in Iowa and he went back home. I even helped his family out by babysitting a couple times after reunification. But in Daisy's case, it's a lot harder for me to have compassion.
Mom was crying and I was "told" to offer her some tissues. I looked over at the counter and saw the box of them.
I resisted. I told myself that she wasn't crying that bad. If she wanted the tissues she could ask for them to get them herself.
I was "told" again to offer Bio Mom the tissues.
I argued. (I don't always like to obey.) I tried to say (in my mind of course - I'm not that crazy) that she didn't need them. That she could get them herself. That I didn't have to get involved.
Then I was reminded of a sermon. Pastor said that if you're being "told" to do something and it's not illegal or immoral it's from God and you had better do it.
Oh did I want to continue to argue. I did not want to show that woman compassion. I wanted her to FEEL the pain. I wanted her to feel so horrible for everything that had happened to that innocent baby. Oh I was angry.
Reluctantly though, I obeyed. I got up, walked across the room, got the tissues and walked over to Mom. I handed her the box and then I asked her if she wanted a hug.
She didn't really say much but I put my arm around her. I patted her back while she cried and cried. After a few minutes (that felt like hours and hours), I walked back across the room to my bed and picked up my phone.

Bio Mom cried a bit more. Then she calmed down and just whispered things to Daisy. She was saying things like, "You're going to get better. You're getting so strong. You're so good."

Bio Mom must have mustered up some more courage because she started asking me medical questions again. We talked about Daisy's vision. Bio Mom said that she's not been told much by anyone and (obviously) she doesn't talk to the doctors - so she's been googling her questions. When she asked me about Daisy's sight I confirmed what she had found out, we simply don't know if Daisy will recover her vision or not.

I'm sure that had to hurt. But Bio Mom did OK.

We talked for a bit more about things and then the visit was over.

Daisy hadn't cried at all. She handled things perfectly. And Bio Mom got a huge dose of reality. I can only pray that some of it sticks.

Diagram of a hospital visit #1

Daisy got sick on March 1st. She missed both of her visits with Bio Mom that were scheduled March 5 & 6. Daisy was then admitted to the hospital on March 7.

On Saturday, March 8, Mr. CW told me that Daisy was probably going to have a supervised visit with Bio Mom in the hospital. But then, about an hour before the time he told me to expect them, he sent me a text telling me the visit was called off.

Foster care is nothing if not a roller coaster.

It seems that Bio Mom was going several hours north to pick up her two other kids (that live with their dad) so she could see them for spring break. I honestly couldn't figure out why she couldn't do both. But...whatever...it wasn't for me to figure out.

On Tuesday, March 11, Mr. CW told me again that a visit had been coordinated. I let the nurses all know that they could buzz Bio Mom in when she got there because she was going to have CPS with her. I could tell the nurses were uncomfortable though. Having a shaken baby puts everyone in a different mood. And then knowing that baby is going to have to have contact with a person being held responsible for the injury? Ugh!

Bio Mom and Mr. CW walked into the room. I handed Daisy over to Bio Mom. For about 45 seconds Daisy was fine. She smiled for her mom and cooed a little.

But then she started crying.

I discussed some of Daisy's medical issues with Bio Mom and Mr. CW. I then looked at Mr. CW and asked if he wanted me to leave. Mind you - Daisy was still crying. He said to give them a few minutes. On my way out the door I told him to text me if Daisy kept crying.

I walked out of the room and burst into tears myself. It was horrible. Nurses stared at me. I did not know what to do. Inside that hospital room was a screaming baby that wanted ME and I couldn't do a thing about it! I walked down the hall a short way and found an empty room I could hide in. I stood in the room and just cried.

Two minutes later I got a text from Mr. CW. He said Daisy was still crying and he was going to give it two more minutes.

Two minutes later he told me to come back into the room.

I know my role. I knew better than to walk into the room and swoop that baby up in to my arms. No, I walked into the room and made a bit of small talk and just waited. Daisy kept crying.

I don't remember exactly how I did it. It wasn't too weird. I mean...the visit in and of itself was weird enough. Me taking Daisy away from her mom didn't make it any weirder.

Daisy stopped crying immediately!!

After a few minutes I handed Daisy back to her mom.
Daisy started fussing almost immediately.

I looked at Mr. CW and Bio Mom and told them I was going to run down to the vending machine to get a Diet Coke.

Less than five minutes later I rounded into the hallway and started toward our hospital room. I could hear Daisy screaming. I walked into the room and put my Diet Coke on the shelf. Again, after a bit, I took Daisy.

She stopped crying immediately.

(deep breath)

After a few minutes, I handed Daisy back to her mom.
Again...Daisy cried.

Even Mr. CW was uncomfortable now. We kept making looks at each other. It was heartbreaking to watch Daisy be so upset. I knew I couldn't just keep taking her. We had to watch Bio Mom to see how she would handle it. Mr. CW even told Bio Mom to stand up like I did to calm Daisy down. (It didn't work.) Daisy just cried and cried while in her mom's arms.

With a visible sign of defeat, Bio Mom just handed Daisy over to me.
Again, Daisy stopped crying immediately.

I felt bad for Bio Mom. But I honestly didn't know what to do. Neither did Mr. CW. So, I sat there and held Daisy while Mom talked to her and tried to engage her in baby babble. We discussed some of Daisy's needs. But for the most part, I just held the baby for Mom so the baby wouldn't cry.

Mom got out her phone. She started up a video of Miss Daisy from before the "accident". The video was of Daisy and her bio dad.

Daisy did not respond at all. Me...I almost got sick. I know I'm supposed to have compassion and forgive. But this really seemed over the top to me.

When the video finished, Bio Mom looked up at Mr. CW and said, "Nobody knows him like I do."

Red tape hassles

Please keep in mind as you read this text conversation between Emilia and I that Ricky is 17 years old and the goal in his case is now Independent Living. In 9 months the State of Texas will be OK with letting him be fully independent. They will owe him nothing unless he learns how to work the system himself by then. (Thankfully Ricky has a support system that is deep and he won't end up homeless and alone.) But until those 9 months pass...these are the types of hoops we are forced to jump through just to handle normal daily life.

I sent the first text Tuesday afternoon following court:

My husband is taking our three boys to volunteer on Saturday in Beeville at an event called The Texas Mile. We would like Ricky to be able to go as well if he can have permission to miss his visit. It's only going to be a day trip - but they will be gone all day long. Ricky would be supervised by my husband the entire time.
Yeah. Let me ask. This Saturday?
Yes. It's a four day event. They're only going up on Saturday tho. It's totally awesome BTW. I went last time in October. It's a standing mile race that brings drivers in from all over the country. My family volunteers with the Christian Motorcyclists Association. They help run the event at the front gate, parking and at the finish line.

On Tuesday at 6:20PM I asked if Emilia was able to get an answer. She responded that everyone was at court all day and she'd get me an answer by Wednesday.

At 1:30PM yesterday I asked if there was any word on permission. I got the same response. Her boss was in court all day. She did say that she messaged the attorneys. (Keep in mind he's 17 and this is a simple day trip!)

So today I sent a new text:

Any word on whether or not Ricky can go with us on Saturday? We are supposed to give him as normal of a life as is possible. The minimum standards state that we don't "have" to have permission for day trips. Having to wait this long for an answer continues to cause stress because it proves Ricky isn't able to lead a "normal" life while in foster care.
So far it's a no. Usually I need 10 days to make a request. His child plan does state that.
But it's just a day trip within the state.
I know but that's county policy. Is there any way this can count toward volunteer hours with school? That's the only loophole I see.
It's not thru school at all. It is volunteer work though.
I have one more day to hear back.
WHO is saying no? Your supervisor? Or is the no just because people haven't answered the question? Could I call someone to advocate for Ricky? This is really so unfair to him.
I can't submit a formal request to the judge so I asked his attorneys via email and my supervisor. My supervisor says it's not within the 10 days and his attorneys haven't responded for me to persuade him and have the judge approve it. I need their response in writing first.
-----
That's our tax dollars at work my friends. We have to ask a judge for permission for a 17yo to go on a day trip three hours away from home. Fully supervised.

Ricky is supposed to be preparing for Independent Living. Ricky's mother isn't working her case plan. Ricky should be old enough to decide if he wants to sit in a Burger King for two hours with his mom and two brothers on a Saturday night or not.

But no. He's not valued that much.

And that my friends is another reason why teens in foster care run.

BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF

Mr. CW (our CPS worker for Daisy) was very busy yesterday doing a removal and then subsequent placement of five children. That explains the limited information and inability to answer all of my questions. The man was swamped!

He's working on Daisy's court report right now though. He needed a couple of simple questions answered and he called me this afternoon.

I answered his questions and then said, "So, what's the deal with tomorrow?" (the Family Group Conference)

He answered, "Oh...yeah...I owe you that one."

Then he explained and I breathed a huge sigh of relief!!!

Long story short...Bio Mom is in such a state of denial that she simply cannot believe that her child was injured at the hands of her significant other. She also refuses to believe that Daisy belongs in foster care. She wants Daisy returned.

Bio Mom is in denial. She's not the brightest bulb on the tree as a result of that incredible denial. But Bio Mom is a high functioning adult. And Bio Mom formally requested an administrative review of Daisy's case.

The administrative review happened. It is black and white! Daisy was injured at the hands of a biological parent and therefore cannot be returned at this time! CPS is not wavering in its position in this case at all. They aren't turning a blind eye to the reality of what was done to Daisy.

However, this whole process burdens CPS with more "work". They have to prove themselves again. AND they have to explain to Bio Mom (and Bio Dad if he shows) why they were justified in removing Daisy from their care.

Thus the Family Group Conference tomorrow.

It is simply (ha ha) going to be a big, long, formal meeting where we lay everything out on the table again. I've been to a few of these and yes, I will be allowed to talk. I will discuss in great length all the developmental delays that Daisy struggles with as a result of her injuries.

My biggest fear was that CPS was moving closer toward reunification and that was why the meeting was being called. I was wrong! They are continuing to err on the side of caution as much as they legally can. For that I am grateful.

I'm still not looking forward to the meeting at all. I still DO NOT want to face Bio Dad. I especially don't want to face that man while holding the child he nearly killed in my arms.

But at least I don't have to worry about CPS making light of the situation. That is not the purpose of this meeting at all. Instead, it's going to be a room full of people that feel as I do about Daisy's need for safety. First we'll go over the family's strengths. Then we'll go over the weaknesses. Then they will set goals for the family. I'm pretty sure I can handle that since I know CPS isn't going to be trying to contradict anything I say.

Please continue to pray for me. I survived the last 24 hours on those prayers you guys sent up on our behalf. I'm nervous about meeting Bio Dad. Even though I'm relieved now that I know the WHY behind this meeting, it still doesn't take away my belief that the baby should not have to attend.

---

Several people have mentioned on the last blog post and my FB page that I should "wear" Daisy to the meeting.

I do wear her some. I've got a ring sling and a soft-structured carrier that I use. Unfortunately, I don't think either one will work for this meeting. Daisy resists STRONGLY the ring sling. My Genius Sister says it's because of the sling itself. I'm not an expert in baby wearing so I have to trust her on that one. But I simply cannot get Miss Floppy Baby situated in the ring sling at all. And then for both carriers, Miss Daisy complains when I've got her in one and I sit down. She'll let me wear her for hours if I'm standing up. But if I sit down when I've got Daisy on my front or my back she gets super fussy. I really don't want to stand for the entire meeting either.

I trust Mr. CW that I'm to be the one holding Miss Daisy. I will try to position myself in the meeting so that I've got the baby and it's clear she's to be with me. Hopefully I'll be sitting opposite the table from the bio family and they won't have an opportunity to take the baby from me.

But really, I'm just going to pray that Bio Dad doesn't show up. As horrible as that may sound, that's my prayer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family Group Conference

I realize my posts are all over the place right now. I've got more to write about the hospital stay, family visits and court for Ricky.

But right now I need prayers.

(I know. I'm so damn needy. Always asking for prayers.)

I JUST got notice (literally...15 minutes ago) that I have to bring Daisy to a Family Group Conference meeting at CPS on Friday at 3:00PM. It's not an optional event. I have to come and I have to bring the baby.

Both bio parents are to be in attendance as well.

AND I HAVE TO BRING THE BABY!

It's not like the baby can tell the committee about her experiences in foster care. It's not like she can weigh in on her goals or tell anyone what she wants.

And BOTH bio parents are going to be there.

----

My emotional tank isn't full enough for this kind of contact. I'm still trying to recover from eight days in the hospital and two brain surgeries.

Please pray for us.

CPS assures me that I will get to hold the baby and care for her during the entire meeting. I'm not sure how much I trust that. I've had to bring children before and when I did, those children were always with the parents at the meeting.

I honestly do not want to have to talk to the bio dad at all.

God help me if I have to talk to that man while I hold the baby in my arms that he nearly killed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

quick court update

I'm going to write a more detailed post later where I hopefully answer any questions y'all may have.

But in the meantime - please just keep praying for Ricky. Justice was not served today and he remains in my care.

He's very angry. He's sad. And we're all confused because nothing makes much sense.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Court tomorrow

My posts have all been about Daisy lately. But we've been just as busy with Ricky too. Well...not exactly "busy" per se. The kid is awfully easy to take care of. (Absolutely no behavior issues whatsoever!!) But nevertheless, he's still a hot body in the house that is a part of things.

Ricky has court tomorrow (Tuesday). These are the things I know to be true...

CPS told me that they don't have a formal recommendation from Ricky's therapist about where he should go to live. His worker also told me that her supervisor is going to recommend that he stay in formal foster care (with me) and age out of The System. Emilia thinks Ricky has about a 50/50 chance of getting to go back to Rebecca's house (his godmother) tomorrow.

Last week though, Ricky's therapist DID write a formal recommendation. Instead of handing it to CPS, she gave it directly to Ricky. It's a little more vague than I would prefer. But does specifically state (and I quote), "Ricky should be given the opportunity to chose where he wants to live."

I wrote a two page letter on Ricky's behalf that we submitted to the judge. It's obviously not written by a 17yo male that lived his entire life in abusive and neglectful circumstances. But Ricky did read the letter, had me make one change, and then signed it at the bottom. When I mailed it to the judge I included a letter from myself explaining that the "words are mine but the intent is fully his". We mailed both his letter and the one from his therapist directly to the judge. Due to the hospitalization, they didn't go out as early in the week as I would have liked. I pray the judge read them today though!

After many, many phone calls and voice mails, Ricky's GAL (Guardian ad litem) finally returned a call last week. We met with him this afternoon. The meeting was entirely too brief but we were able to place both the letter from the therapist and the letter from Ricky in his hands. My biggest concern was this GAL's approach to how things work in court. I have been told by other CPS lawyers, and it is my own personal experience, that the GAL is the lawyer that fights for the kid's wants and is to advocate for their best interests. I had been told that Ricky's AAL (Attorney ad litem) is incredibly hard to get ahold of. Because I really didn't think Ricky's request was a legal one, I decided to focus our efforts only on the GAL. Well...Mr. GAL said, "No, your lawyer is the one who will fight for what you want."

All I could think was, "Damn! It's already 4:30PM. I guess we're screwed on this one." I felt so bad for Ricky. I really felt like I let him down. (Even though I had no idea they were switching the "rules" on me mid-game.)

Ricky reminded me that the GAL said he would personally call the AAL. I told Ricky to not get his hopes up. I honestly don't trust the lawyers down here to do much for their foster kids. It's depressing. But they never make contact on their own and they are so removed from their cases it's amazing there ever is true justice.

Still, while we were eating dinner, Ricky's phone rang. It was his AAL. He told Ricky he wasn't going to be in court but that he would Skype in. (ugh!) Ricky said something about the letters but didn't get an email or fax number so I could send them to him tonight (before court). I told Ricky to call him right back.

He did. No answer.
I felt defeated again.

So I called. This time the AAL picked up. I was able to fax and email the letters to him. He assured me he'd look things over so that he can be prepared tomorrow in court.

I still think Ricky's chances are only about 50/50. He very easily could be staying with me until he turns 18. But I am praying that justice is done tomorrow and the people in power can see that Rebecca never meant to make it look like she was restricting CPS's access to Ricky.

Ricky is a nervous mess! Yesterday, when he may or may not have gone over to visit Rebecca briefly, they got into an argument. He came back home and strongly announced he wants to live with us until he's 18. Then he can go to Rebecca if he still wants to.

My heart was broken for him. But it didn't take me long to see the true story behind their argument and his rash decision. He's nervous about court. Ricky has been looking out for himself for many, many years. Through his anger and anxiety, he subconsciously decided that it would be easier for him to make the decision himself. He would say that he no longer wants to go to Rebecca's. That would take the power away from the judicial system and he would be in control again.

Thankfully Rebecca is wise beyond her years. She saw through his anger and continued to tell him that he's capable of making this decision and that she'll love him no matter what.

I was able to talk to him several different times to tell him his truths as well. I reminded him that arguments between parents and children are very normal. What isn't normal is the fact that he wasn't going to be able to wake up in the morning and see Rebecca's face right away. That it wouldn't be easy to "make up". I told him he needed to keep a full perspective on things and not get swept away in the immediate argument that was being blown out of perspective. I went to bed not knowing what Ricky was really going ultimately decide.

I imagine school wasn't easy for Ricky today. But when he came home and I finally asked him point blank what he was going to tell his lawyer, he told me he still wanted to go to Rebecca's house.

Whew. Another crisis adverted.

So now we wait.
Court is at 9:30AM. We're the fifth case on the docket at that time so we were told to expect to be called around 10:30AM. Everyone that needs to be there will be there. I convinced Rebecca that she needs to go to court. She was worried her presence would be viewed as confrontational given all that happened three months ago. I assured her that she has to be there to prove to everyone she's committed to Ricky no matter what.

I'll post again tomorrow to let y'all know what happens.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stupid things nurses said

The first night in the hospital tested me greatly. First and foremost - I was worried about my baby. She was sick and I wanted her well.

But there was something about the bedside manner of the nurses that kept me on edge. Thankfully things smoothed out quickly and this blog post will be a short one. But I figured I'd share with y'all some of the things that were said to me within our first 24 hours at the hospital.
"She's so pretty. Are her parents pretty?"
I honestly had no answer for that one.
"She's so fair. Which one of her parents is white?"
Again...I stumbled over an answer. I live in an area of the country that is 99% Hispanic. My white children are old enough that they don't get a ton of attention. But my blond haired child has been the subject of touches and questions about his hair that were unwanted. And total strangers do like to comment REGULARLY about both TT's and Bart's blue eyes. I suppose a very fair baby with a very Hispanic last name threw people for a loop. When we're out in public people just assume she's "mine". I even had one bold person directly ask me if I had an "oops" baby.

But the one that cut me to the core was this...
Nurse: "So...you have had others? Or is this your first one?"
Me: "Yes, we've had other foster kids."
Nurse: "Where did your others go?"
Me: "My last kids went to a relative."
Nurse: "How long did you have them?"
Me: "27 months."
Nurse: "Oh. So you don't get attached?!"
(said like a statement of fact...not a question)
All I could do was stammer, "Of course I get attached."
I had nothing in my emotional tank for anything else.
She completely deflated me.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Timeline of an illness & brain surgery

This is going to be a CRAZY long post. It's just for me. I don't know why I want to keep all this info...but I do. And this is as good of a place as any for me to document things. Feel free to skip it as I'm just documenting the entire illness we survived with Daisy.

03-01-14 (Saturday)
Daisy got a fever. Not a super high one. But because she's a special-needs foster child, I didn't mess around. I took her to her family doc.
The doctor did a barrage of tests. Daisy was negative for the flu and strep. The doc took a bagged urine sample. It took FOREVER because Daisy hadn't eaten a ton that day and she had just had a wet diaper prior to going to the doctor. The bagged urine came back someone inconclusive so the doctor put her on an antibiotic just to be on the safe side. My Genius Brother (the doctor) says that bagged urine is always inaccurate. It's very frustrating living somewhere where the doctors do the wrong tests in-office, or refuse to do things in-office. But there was nothing I could do about it.
The doctor filled out my agency paperwork and told me we had to come back the next day to get blood drawn again. Her white blood count wasn't particularly high. But this is what the doctor requires.
Of course, when I finally got to the pharmacy at 6:07PM, I discovered that it had closed at 6:00PM.

03-02-14 (Sunday)
Daisy woke up at 4:45AM and threw up. The day didn't improve. Like a good little foster mamma I took my charge back to the doctor's office. Of course I told the PA that saw us about the fever the day before and about the new symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. He seemed very laid back and understood I was only there because I'm required to. I don't know why he didn't run the CBC again but I wasn't about to tell the man how to do his job. I assured him I know the signs of dehydration and that I'd go to the ER if there was any concern. He filled out my agency paperwork and sent me on my way. Daisy vomited and had diarrhea all day long.

03-03-14 (Monday)
Daisy's primary doctor had the office call me. They demanded to know why I hadn't gone to the doctor the day before. I explained that I was there for almost two hours and that I didn't know why her blood wasn't drawn. They told me I had to come in.
Blood was drawn again. The white count was down even more. Daisy graciously gave me a diarrhea filled diaper while there so the doc opted to run some stool tests.
When I got home from the doctor at noon I crawled into bed myself. I spent the rest of the day suffering from the same gastrointestinal issues Miss Daisy had suffered from. Mr. Amazing somehow made it through work for the day and came home with the same symptoms that evening. We were all three miserable together.

03-04-14 (Tuesday)
Daisy seemed better...but she refused to eat or drink all day long. I offered up Pedialyte and formula. I even made a batch of homemade rice water like the doctor had recommended. Daisy simply wouldn't take anything. At 8:30PM, after she aspirated when I offered her yet another bottle, I packed things up and took her to the ER.
They ran a bunch of tests. The doctor told me the only way he could give her an IV of fluids though is if she refused, while at the hospital, liquid from a bottle (likely a Medicaid requirement - I'm guessing a child on traditional insurance would have been given fluids and possibly even be admitted). Daisy must have decided she didn't want to be admitted so she managed to take two whole ounces of Pedialyte. The doctor discharged us around midnight. The only new diagnosis we had was RSV, but Daisy was given no medications for that.

03-05-14 (Wednesday)
Wednesday was a little better. Daisy still had diarrhea but she managed to drink about 13.5 ounces of various liquids throughout the day. The ER doc told me to not worry about giving her Pedialyte. Said it tastes like crap. If she would take juice, that would be OK.

03-06-14 (Thursday)
Daisy already had a follow-up at the family doc scheduled for the morning so off we went. Daisy's doc examined her and wrote a script for a nebulizer. She also told me if Daisy stopped eating again all I needed to do was call her and she would admit Daisy directly. No more trips to the doctor or ER. Daisy didn't eat well all day long but she ate enough that we stayed at home.

Her pediatrician told me to have Daisy checked out by the neurosurgeon as well. I (emphasis on I) thought that the head circumference measurements might have gone up. In hindsight I should have asked for a nurse to remeasure. But, to be on the safe side, off to the neurosurgeon we went. He gave Daisy a visual examination. Upon hearing the symptoms he too agreed that "no eating" was from the stomach bug and the RSV. He said her shunts looked fine. 

03-07-14 (Friday)
Daisy started the day off with a wet diaper. She had one full of diarrhea later in the morning. She even had a wet diaper around 3:30PM. But she was not eating! Not nearly enough. I didn't want to wait any longer. I called Daisy's pediatrician and told her what was going on. She said she would admit Daisy. All I had to do was stop by the office to pick up the orders.

I had Ricky drive me. Mr. Amazing stayed home with the rest of the cherubs. While in the car I called all the important people to let them know what was going on.

We arrived around 6:00PM. The hospital got us upstairs to the pediatric unit pretty quickly. They assessed Daisy, confirmed she was dehydrated, and got her started on IV fluids. The doctor also ordered nebulizer treatments.

I called the abuse hotline to report her hospitalization. In Texas being admitted to the hospital is a reportable event and it has to be called in. Then the case number has to be reported to my licensing agency. It's a minor thing now that I understand. However, I do remember when I had to do it with Pumpkin the first time it was a little unnerving.

03-08-14 (Saturday)
The day was rather uneventful. Daisy took very little by mouth. But because of the IV, I wasn't worried anymore. That feeling of relief was wonderful. However, I did have to deal with nosey nurses asking too many questions and making several stupid statements about foster care. I was extremely tired and really didn't want Daisy to be a poster child for anything.

03-09-14 (Sunday)
Again Daisy took almost no formula by mouth. She sustained life via the IV fluids.

03-10-14 (Monday)
Daisy still wasn't eating enough. The RSV didn't seem so bad that it should be causing her to not eat. She still had diarrhea but no one seemed concerned about that. The stool culture had turned up nothing. The doctor was confident it was a "normal" virus that Daisy was suffering from. Watching her demeanor and hearing all the symptoms he said again that Daisy did NOT look like she was having any problems with the shunts. But, to be on the safe side he asked the neurosurgeon to pop by during rounds. Dr. NS (NeuroSurgeon) ordered a CT scan of the brain and an X-ray of the belly to examine the shunts.

I'm pretty sure Dr. NS never sleeps. He came by late that night to tell me that Daisy had three areas of blood/fluid on the brain. He ordered some blood work to be done.

03-11-14 (Tuesday)
Dr. NS got the blood work results and ordered an MRI. Immediately I had to start jumping through hoops to get judicial permission. As foster parents we are the medical consentors for many things. However, we have to get permission for certain procedures. Anesthesia is one of them. The nurse had to type up a letter explaining the procedure that needed to be done and then fax it to Daisy's CPS caseworker. Mr. CW then has to take it to his supervisor. When there is time, they then inform the lawyer(s) and the judge. When possible, the judge has to sign prior to the procedure being done. I don't know at what point during this process we got permission - but we did. (Sometimes CPS will grant permission in-house and then advise the lawyer(s) and judge after the fact.) About an hour after the hospital sent the paperwork on, I got a text from Mr. CW saying permission was granted.

In between all of this, Daisy had a supervised visit with her bio mom. I think I want this to be a separate post in and of itself. To summarize though, the visit SUCKED! Daisy cried the entire time except when I was holding her.

Daisy went in for her MRI around 3:00PM. It didn't take too long and they brought be into the recovery room to be with her. The anesthesiologist told me - somewhat off the record - that the MRI findings were consistent with the CT scan. He also told me that the blood was called sub-acute. He had little else to say except that it was consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

I spent the next couple hours trying to calm down. I googled "sub-acute" and learned that it meant the blood was between 4-21 days old. I basically had a PTSD attack at that point in time. Did that mean Daisy had been hurt again? Was CPS going to come after me for no reason? I really worked myself up into a frenzy.

The only thing that calmed me down was knowing that no one said anything to me after they got the results of the CT scan. And it was the anesthesiologist that gave me these results NOT the neurosurgeon. I really wanted to see Dr. NS badly!!!

I'm convinced that Dr. NS really must never sleep. He stopped by our room around 9:45PM that night. He must have said at least two dozen times, "She's going to be fine." However, he also said he wanted to operate first thing in the morning.

Brain surgery.

He made it sound so simple. Kept telling me she would be fine. Just a few holes in the head. Some catheters to drain things. Easy peasy.

My knees shook. My baby was going to have brain surgery.

And of course I had to get CPS/judicial permission. I had no idea how to move the paperwork through things fast enough. I called her CPS worker. Then I sent him a text. Then I called him back when they told me they wanted to operate between 7-8AM. He picked up this time and told me he had already tried to contact his supervisor. Everything hinged on this supervisor.

Thankfully it only took about 15 minutes. His supervisor called him back and they approved the surgery between the two of them. Of course the hospital still had to submit all the paperwork so CPS could submit it as an advisement to the court. But we had approval.

I barely slept that night at all!

03-12-14 (Wednesday)
My alarm went off at 5:30AM. I showered and packed up all of my things. I knew that after surgery Daisy would be in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) instead of the general pediatric unit. I wanted to be ready when they came for her and not scrambling for anything.

The morning drug on and on. I got more and more nervous. They finally came for her a little after 9:00AM (much later than I had been told to plan on). I went with Daisy down to pre-op for some more waiting. At 10:30AM they took her back for surgery.

I was a huge bundle of nerves!! Mr. Amazing had told me that he made arrangements for TT and Bart and he was on his way. I scanned the waiting room hopeful that he was there already. My heart sank when he wasn't but I called and he was close. I anxiously waited to see his face.

Rainbow and our current agency worker both came to sit with us for a bit. They brought me a breakfast sandwich. (When breakfast was delivered to Daisy's room that morning I was entirely too nervous to eat and thought that Daisy was going down for surgery right then anyway. I didn't even have them leave the tray. I just said no. By the time Rainbow called to say she was on her way, when she asked if I wanted anything I told her breakfast would be nice.)

A couple minutes later Mr. Amazing walked in the waiting room. I raced to give him a hug! I finally relaxed a bit.

Surgery was to take 1.5-2 hours. At about 12:30PM the neurosurgeon walked out to talk to us. Brain doctors are an interesting breed. He very quickly raced through the details all the while saying that she did fine and she'll be just fine a couple dozen times. The gist of things included:
• He put in 3 burr holes. The one on the right was draining a bright red blood. He wasn't sure why.
• The middle burr hole was draining just as he suspected.
• The burr hole on the left wasn't quite right. It wasn't draining at all.
Then he mumbled something about not wanting to puncture a membrane. And needing to run another CT scan so he could see the placement of the catheters. And, "she's going to be fine," a few more times. And then he was off.

Mr. Amazing and I continued to wait. I assumed someone would call us into recovery as soon as she was stable. We waited and waited. After an hour I tried to track someone down to find out how my baby was doing. I mean really...some people have complications in recovery and we hadn't heard a thing. I wanted to know what was going on.

After asking several people who had no clue, I was finally directed to an administrative office where a nice woman told me Daisy had just been moved to the PICU. She called another line and told me to wait. Then an important person in the surgical department came in to personally apologize for the error.

I raced back to Mr. Amazing and together we went to the PICU to see Daisy.

After establishing that she was doing well, I grabbed my things to race home and get more clothes. Mr. Amazing stayed with Daisy. Amazingly, she came to quite quickly and started eating. He gave her a couple 2oz bottles of Pedialyte and then switched to formula. All in all she took 10oz in two hours.

At home I saw my other kids, packed a new suitcase and took a full shower (that felt wonderful BTW). As quick as I could though, I headed back to the hospital.

03-13-14 (Thursday)
Daisy had another CT scan in the morning. I didn't know when we would see the neurosurgeon again. He asked Daisy's nurse to call him when it was done and he'd check it from his office computer across town. I figured we'd have a break in action.
A couple hours later though the nurse came into my room and said that Daisy needed surgery again. They wanted to do it in just a few hours.

Immediately I started the process to get permission. (Sigh. Paperwork is such a pain sometimes!)

Mr. CW pushed things through quickly. We had permission in well under an hour.

Mr. Amazing came to the hospital. I really wanted to go home and shower. The PICU doesn't have any facilities for showering. In fact, they only have one bathroom for all the visitors of the unit to share. I raced home, took care of some stuff for work, hugged and kissed my other cherubs, took a shower and raced back to the hospital

When I got there they were already in pre-op. One of our friends from the Christian motorcycle group we belong to met with us. We chatted for a bit. He prayed over Daisy and she went back to surgery again.

The wait this time wasn't quite as nerve-wracking. I'm not exactly sure why. It's not medically sound, but somehow I was comforted with the fact that the holes were already there and the doctor simply had to make adjustments to existing things. Surgery took an hour this time and Dr. NS was out to tell us about two dozen times that, "she will be just fine". He removed the middle catheter during this surgery and said the one he adjusted was now draining as it should be.

Again we waited for someone to take us to recovery. Again no one came. Instead of going through administration though, Mr. Amazing and I simply walked into the pre-op area and asked for someone to take us to our baby. All the nurses knew us and our story so we got help quickly. We were told one of us could go to the baby and one of us could go up to PICU as they were getting ready to move her. I went to be with Daisy.

The rest of the day went smoothly. Daisy came to quickly and started eating right away. She never cried like she was in pain. Can you believe all they give for it is one dose of *something* strong in recovery and then only Tylenol after that?! Blows my mind.

Daisy's night nurse was awesome. She gave Daisy a wonderful sponge bath and was fun to chat with. Daisy slept well all things considered.

03-14-14 (Friday)
The big event of this day, other than getting discharged, was a visit with Bio Mom. Again, I think this needs to be a separate post. It was equally as difficult as the first visit. Only this time Daisy did great and never got upset - Bio Mom did all the crying instead. It is notable though that Bio Mom was not allowed to pick Daisy up at all during this visit. She could just stand over the crib, stroke her skin, and talk to her. I was told that if Daisy was distressed by the visit, they would leave. I made it VERY clear to her caseworker prior to the visit that Daisy could not cry like she did during the other one. It would be detrimental to her healing. And as Daisy's advocate, I wouldn't tolerate it.

Sometime mid-afternoon, Dr. NS finally rounded. He popped in, looked at Daisy, said she was doing great and she could go home. They got him a couple supplies. I was standing right there when he snipped the tiny suture holding the catheter to her scull and pulled out a piece of tubing about four inches long. (It was actually kinda cool and kinda gross all at the same time.) After both the catheters were removed he was done. That was it. Nothing special. We could go. I had to actually press him a little to give me details about after-care and stuff like that.

The pediatrician in the PICU had to officially discharge us. I pressed him a little bit more on wound care. He was almost as casual about things as the neurosurgeon was. I guess tiny holes through the scull and in to the brain aren't a big deal. (What?!!) Of course I'm to look for any signs of infection. But after 48 hours with any more seepage, life goes back to normal and I can bathe her and everything.

Wow!

The pediatrician did change her seizure meds. That caused a bit of drama because after Mr. Amazing came to pick us up, we stopped at several pharmacies in search of the med. It seems the dosage is unique and not even the big chains have it in stock anymore. We made our way to an independent pharmacy though and I picked up their last bottle. The liquid is very foul tasting so I now get to crush two tiny tablets to mix with food twice a day for Daisy.

Finally...we made it home.

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We follow up with Daisy's regular pediatrician on Monday. All of her therapists (speech, OT and PT) will have to reevaluate Daisy before therapies can start again. We follow up with the neurosurgeon in about two weeks. I'm supposed to follow up with her neurologist in 3-8 days. I'm a little torn though. We informally saw the neurologist while in the PICU. He said to just keep her next appointment in early May. And since I know the office literally does not have any appointments any sooner, I'm leaning toward doing than as opposed to sitting for hours (and hours and hours) as a walk in this week. My only concern with that is the fact that a different doctor switched her seizure med and part of me thinks her neurologist needs to know this. But then again, the other doctor knows his stuff so does it really matter?

All day long today (Saturday, March 15) Daisy has continued to surprise me. She's happy. She's talkative and playful. You would NEVER know she went under anesthesia three days in a row and spent nearly eight days total in the hospital. Every now and then when she's sleeping she'll startle a bit. But as soon as Mr. Amazing or I talk to her and gently touch her she goes right back to sleep. It's almost like she just needs a small reminder that yes indeed, she is home.

I'm sure this won't be our last trip to the hospital. You just can't smash a baby's brain around in their scull the way hers was and expect it to heal without intervention most of the time. Dr. NS isn't convinced that one of her shunts is working - but he stressed that she does not need it right now so everything is fine. There's still the concern about the burr hole on the right that had the bright red blood. Dr. NS is going to have to get to the bottom of that problem or I assume this will simply repeat.

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The thing I take away from all of this though is how the hand of God moved through it all.

Several times Dr. NS stressed that the pressures in Daisy's head were still quite low. He said that he does not believe that her "not eating" was a result of the blood in her brain. It is really quite a fluke that anyone did a CT scan to find the problem.

If Daisy had simply healed any faster we would have left the hospital and the problem in her head would have gotten worse. We wouldn't have known about it until the pressures were higher and they caused pain, vomiting and other nasty symptoms. I have to assume that it was better we caught things early.

God has perfect timing. In that I am eternally grateful.

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I didn't proofread this too much. Like I said at the beginning, this was largely just for me so I've got documentation of all we just went through. If you're still reading, please forgive any typos or parts that don't quite make sense.

We are home

The neurosurgeon did rounds yesterday afternoon. He took one look at Daisy and said we could go home. A couple of snips later and the catheters were pulled out of Daisy's scull. The whole process blew my mind. The holes are super tiny and she has three incisions next to each one as well. But that's it. No fanfare. No super special care instructions. No fancy dressings. Just, "She's fine. You can go home."

Miss Daisy is doing great. She was thrilled to get home and to finally get to do more than lie in a hospital bed. 

I've got about a dozen blog posts floating around in my head. I'll write more later. But this weekend I'm just going to relax and enjoy life without tubes, wires and beeping monitors. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Recovery is going great

You would barely know Daisy had surgery today if it weren't for the 2 big bags of blood hanging off of her head. The neurosurgeon removed one of the three he put in yesterday during today's procedure and he fixed the one that wasn't quite right. 

The man must never sleep. He popped by our room again tonight at 9:30pm. He is confident that Daisy is going to be able to go home tomorrow. 

Daisy is eating well. She doesn't seem to be in any pain at all. 

I questioned the doctor about what will happen next. He said he doesn't think we are going to have any problems. But...even he knows this isn't our last trip to the hospital. He assured me that he won't order any CT scans for a long time. He will go straight to MRI *next* time. 

I'm going to see if I can get standing permission for anesthesia for that. Her caseworker right now has been really impressive. He pushed thru approval for all three procedures pretty quickly. But I know I can't count on him being her caseworker forever. I'd like to make things easier for me in the future. 

I'm anxious to get home. I miss my kids. And my kids REALLY me miss me. I miss my bed. I miss my food. I'm ready to be done in the hospital for awhile!!

Please keep praying

Daisy had another CT scan this morning. The neurosurgeon needed to see the placement of the catheters in relationship to the areas of her brain needing drained. He missed the mark by just a little bit yesterday in an effort to not perforate the membrane. 

Daisy is going in for another surgery yet today to make adjustments in that drainage hole. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In the PICU

It has been a crazy long day. I got up this morning at 5:30 because I wanted to be totally ready when they came up from surgery to get Daisy. I was told they'd probably be up for us between 6-7am. Sadly, my nerves took over when they didn't come to get Daisy until almost 9:00. After a wait in pre-op, she went back for surgery around 10:30am. 

They drilled three holes into her scull and attached catheters to drain the fluid/blood that has been accumulating since the initial injury. The fluid is not there now due to malfunctioning shunts. Honestly, I can't explain it. The neurosurgeon was completely unphased though and assured me everything is going to fine. 

Around 12:30pm the doctor came out to let us (Mr. Amazing was with me) know that Daisy did well and there were no complications. He is a bit puzzled by the type of fluid coming from one of the drainage holes. I don't know how he's going to do it but he says he's going to have to figure out what's going on there. Also, one of her shunts is possibly not working. He says it's currently not needed tho so it's not an issue at all right now. 

I'm positive this isn't going to be the only brain surgery Miss Daisy has while in my care. 

We are now back in the PICU. Daisy is eating again!! She's doing well. Believe it or not - but they are managing any pain she has with plain old Tylenol. So far, Daisy doesn't appear to be in pain. She has taken 16oz of fluid (4 of pedialyte and 12 of formula) since she got into the PICU. That's more than I was able to get her to take daily when this whole ordeal started. 

The surgeon did say that he does NOT believe the vomiting/diarrhea/not eating issues were caused by the fluid on her brain. He said the pressures in her brain were low. I believe this whole brain issue was caught early simply because we were in the hospital for the stomach virus/RSV issue. It was easy enough to order the CT scan because we were already here. If Daisy had recovered from the virus she so lovingly gave to our whole family easily, we might not have caught this for a long time. 

God knows what He's doing. 

We will be here until Saturday or Sunday I believe. 

Thank you all for your prayers. It was not an easy day. But I can't imagine having lived thru it without prayer. 

I'll do my best to keep updated on here. Thanks again for all your prayers. Keep them coming please. I'm sure this recovery isn't going to be easy. 

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST

I'm not a fan of blogging from my phone but wanted to reach out to any readers that aren't on Facebook. 

Miss Daisy has been very sick. I don't have time to go through it all. Simply put, she stopped eating. It seemed it was a normal stomach virus because the little darling had it first and it went thru the entire family. 

But things didn't get better and her neurosurgeon got involved. One CT scan and one MRI later - and Daisy is now scheduled for brain surgery. They should be coming to get us any minute now. 

I covet your prayers. It's one thing for a neurosurgeon to say she's going to be ok. It's another thing for a mamma to wrap her brain around holes being drilled into her baby's head. 

I will do my best to keep everyone updated. I'm posting a lot on Facebook because it's easier - and I've been trapped in the hospital for the past five days. I'll get on here later though with an update when I can. 

Thank you again for your prayers.