About A: My First Foster Sister

I come from a big family. I am the youngest of six, and then some. From time to time, and in no particular order, I’ve written about my siblings. There are a few entries that I haven’t gotten to yet, and in the spirit of Foster Fridays over at Don’t We Look Alike?, I’m going to write about a little girl named A.

My family had just moved from New York to West Virginia, and we children were down to two: Marji and me. My dad and mum had gone through the state licensing program to become foster parents, and they were invited to meet a little girl who had been born with some health problems and couldn’t go home. For starters, she couldn’t eat food and was fed through a g-tube (a hole was cut through her skin above her tummy, and the food she was given went straight into her stomach). She also had severe breathing problems, which were an issue because her parents were smokers and had a couple of german shepherds. Her parents decided that they didn’t want to quit their habit or get rid of the dogs, and so the only solution was for this fragile girl to live in another home. (It should also be mentioned A had a twin sister who was born healthy and was able to remain at home.)

Well, dad and mum drove to the hospital and were introduced to A. She was attached to so many tubes that were helping her breathe and eat. They both knew that they would be taking her home. The hospital staff was so very happy to hear this, because of all of the other prospective foster parents, my parents were the only ones who were not revulsed upon the sight of this poor girl in the condition she was in.

A came home, and she was the little baby sister I always wanted. She was loved by so many people in our neighborhood and our church, not to mention our large family! My dad was working as a truck driver at the time, and so there weren’t many men in her life. She would usually cry when held by a man, but that changed when my brother the Marine (I still need to write about him!) came home for a visit. Oh, how she loved him! and vice versa.

This little girl with strawberry-blonde hair thrived in our home. I remember when she had figured out how to swallow without choking. She also was very capable of breathing on her own in our pet-free, smoke-free home. She started to become mobile and jabber.

She was so healthy… that the state of West Virginia said that she was able to be reunited with her family. This is the goal of foster care after all. Still I was devastated the day she was removed from our home. I felt that my parents had done all of the hard work, and that she was unjustly being removed from our home. I also was scared that she wouldn’t do well. Ultimately, I felt that her parents didn’t deserve her if they would rather have dogs than a little baby.

I’ll be honest: To this day, I still don’t think that they did. I’ve come to learn some facts about her early childhood with them, and I know that she didn’t have an easy life.

Even though she was with our family so briefly, she was loved with abundance. We think of her often. She’s now a young lady in her early twenties. I wonder did she go to college, is she a hard worker, does she still like big bouncy balls? I hope that the little bit of good we did was enough.

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A wasn’t the only child that my parents fostered, and someday soon I hope to write about B and C. (Seriously, those are their initials, and they lived with us in that order.)

Funny Conversations with Friends and Family

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I had a thought about my life pre-Wren, and rather than saying “While we were waiting for a placement” I said “When I was pregnant with Wren.” I couldn’t believe I had thought that! I guess it shows how much Wren is my child.

Now that I am actually pregnant, I know that this is a time period that cannot be mistaken. Still I am laughing at similar conversations with friends and family.

Okey said rather proudly, “Do you realize you will be the first of our college friends to go through two pregnancies?”

At dinner, a neighbor asked me, “So have you had any different cravings this go round?”

The Attack

After my doctor started to treat my coughing with an albuterol sulfate inhaler, I did feel better initially.  I went back in for a follow up on Wednesday and told him that I was feeling better, although I found myself wanting to use the inhaler every four hours instead of six.  He suggested that I add a daily dose of Clariton (10 mg) to my routine hoping that the cause of my breathing problems were related to seasonal allergies.

I started to feel worse sooner and sooner.  I wished I could take the inhaler every two hours now instead of four.  The wheezing and the coughing were unbearable.  I couldn’t lay down to sleep again.  I was just miserable but I persevered.

Late Thursday, I noticed how increasingly tired I was.  I couldn’t even finish a sentence without having to think for the right word.  On Friday, I couldn’t bear the thought of doing work.  All I could do was take care of Wren, but even Okey had to cover for me.  I thought maybe going to a friend’s Mary Kay debut party would give my body a break if I was somehow allergic to something in my own home.  Still I coughed and coughed, and I had to apologize letting people who were concerned enough to ask about me know that I wasn’t contagious.

Saturday morning was much the same, and in the afternoon came a birthday party for my friend and walking partner’s husband.  I shouldn’t have carried my daughter up that flight of steps.  I spent the rest of the evening glued to the couch in the corner, hoping to not make anyone awkward.  (Fortunately? my walking partner had pulled her back, so we two invalids could keep each other company.)

We left the party early, and after walking the dog around the block once, I went straight to bed.  Only the problem was I couldn’t fall asleep.  I wanted to use my inhaler again, but it was too soon.  At ten o’clock I took two more puffs and was able to fall asleep until two hours later, when I woke up short of breath.

I sat up.  I knew something was wrong.  I could breath, but it wasn’t right.  I had to deliberately inhale, then exhale.  The breaths were also very short.  I knew I wasn’t get much oxygen because I was very light-headed.  With a gentle nudge, at least to my recollection, I awoke my husband.

“I’m” *labored breath* “not do-” *labored breath* “ing” *labored breath* “well.”

With assurance, he held my hand as the breathing got harder to do.

I tried to tell him I needed to go to urgent care, but I couldn’t get the words out.  I started to cry — this was not good.  If you can’t breath, you can’t really cry.  And if you do manage to sob, then you’re definitely not taking the very breaths your body is screaming for.

Butterflies in a meadow.  Butterflies in a meadow.  

That imagery helped, and the panic stopped.

However, the breathing problems persisted. And again I struggled to get a single sentence out:  “I” “need” “urgent” “care.”  And then realizing I couldn’t breath because I was talking, and then I couldn’t breath because I was crying, it all became unbear-

Butterflies in a meadow.  Butterflies in a meadow.  Why isn’t this working?  Butterflies in a meadow.

Okey gave me the inhaler, and I might have said, “not” “time,” but I took it.  I am glad I did.  I could communicate.  I could stop crying.  I could breathe.

Knowing that the inhaler was a very temporary solution, we prepped the diaper bag for Wren (and myself just in case).  Off we went at 1:15 a.m. to the urgent care facility.  [She did not appreciate being awoken at such an early hour.  We parents laughed at the irony.]

The staff took me in right away.  The nurse was taking down my symptoms when another offered to take my vitals.

“Have you listened to her with a stethoscope yet?” He asked.

“I didn’t need to,” she said.  “I can hear her wheezing from here.”

After the doctor came, I was given three tiny steroid pills.  I asked if winning the Tour de France was listed among the side effects.  (I’m still laughing at that one.  If you’re not laughing, don’t worry.  Neither did the nurse.)  My heart raced, and my whole body was jumpy – apparently these are the side effects.  Then I was put on a nebulizer with albuterol sulfate and atrovent for ten minutes.  I could finally really breathe. I continued to stay for observation, but I was finally released home with a list of prescribed inhalers to add to my arsenal.

I’m staying home from church this morning.  I’m waiting for my drugs to come.  I’m taking care of Wren, but I’m going to let her go up the steps (instead of my carrying her), she’s going to get a little more independent play (that doesn’t make me sound like a bad mum, does it?), and we’re just going to enjoy the calm that comes from easy breathing.

Tomorrow I will give my doctor a call, and I will go to his office for the umpteenth time this year.  As my primary care physician, he is the one who will officially determine if I do in fact have that dreaded a-word:  asthma.

One Year!

We celebrated Baby Toddler Wren’s first birthday on Saturday.  It was wonderful to see Okey’s growing family and for my parents to be a part of the festivities.

I think the best part of the day for the birthday girl was when everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to her.  She just glowed!  We then quickly stripped her down for the ceremonial cake smashing.

Before

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She enjoyed playing with her older cousins.  They enjoyed playing with her birthday presents.  😉

What an amazing year it’s been.  I love this girl so much.  She is so sweet natured and loving.  This morning she blew me a kiss as I entered her room.  She has a sense of adventure and loves exploring.  I love holding her hand as we walk around the block on sunny days.   She is healthy and growing well.  The doctor was so happy with her development at the one year check-up.  We are all blessed.

Happy Birthday, my dear Wren!

 

 

Photos of Our Children

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Yes, children.

We are so incredibly excited to announce that Wren is going to be a big sister in September!

This little one looks like he* is relaxing, but actually he is a very active little tadpole.  He wouldn’t stay still long enough the first time we went to listen to the heartbeat.  At the ultrasound yesterday, he was again busy kicking and waving his arms around.

Although the imaging center is not far from our house, the anticipation made it seem hours away.  We were reminded of our long drive to meet Wren for the first time.

We tell our dearest daughter every day she is going to be a big sister, and that there are going to be a lot of changes this Fall.  Most importantly we tell her that she isn’t going to be loved any less.  In fact, she’s going to be loved even more because there is going to be an extra person in the world to love her.

PS Does anybody have any advice on how to transition from one to two?

 

*Sex unknown.

Health Update

If you’ve been following this blog, or talked to me on the phone, you will have known that I’ve been sick for a very long time.  I’ve been plagued with a cough that just wouldn’t go away despite many home remedy attempts.  This annoying cough wakes me up in the middle of the night and has triggered a lot of vomitting.  (With the flu, this, and other stuff that’s been going on… I’ve lost about nine pounds.  As strange as this sounds, I’m not really interested in losing weight right now so this loss has not been welcome news.)

I finally saw the doctor yesterday.  He was perplexed by my chronic cough.  He said that a chest x-ray just wasn’t possible for me right now, and he mentioned that I could have acid reflex, but he wanted to go ahead and get me on an inhaler since I was experiencing asthma-like symptoms.  That was the first of everything he wanted to rule out.

So here we are, less than 24 hours later.  I am still coughing, but nothing like before.  I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with the discomfort I’ve grown accustomed to these past six weeks.  Not only do I have energy and can walk up the steps without having to catch my breath, but I have an appetite again!  I don’t really want to be on an inhaler for the rest of my life, but the rapid improvement is incredible.  I go back to see the doctor next week for a follow-up and to determine our next course of action.

In the meantime, I just wanted to share a little bit of good news.