I probably got two hours of sleep that night. Two sick babies. A sick husband. It was just a snotty, coughing mess over here and I was in the deep end of overwhelm. I honestly thought it was a big mistake, our choice to foster. Everything just seemed like WAY too much. Nobody was sleeping, but almost everybody was crying. It didn't seem fair, here I was stepping out in faith and being obedient and we were just drowning. Can't we catch a break God?! My heart was ugly those first few weeks. Our little dude came to us with so many more issues then they told us about. Welcome to foster care. And on top of it all was just very sick...which in turn got all of us sick, including my 3 month old baby. That was honestly one of my biggest fears coming into this, as silly as it sounds. When you're a new mom and its your first baby you just feel crazy protective and any little thing can be a big, scary deal. Sam was on night shift, which meant I got to handle the "witching hour" and bedtime stuff by myself. I say this a lot, but it was total crazy town. Eleanor did not want to share me whatsoever, especially teething and being sick. Yet I had this other baby with a laundry list of issues, who desperately needed my love and attention too. I'm leaving out many details because of confidentiality with his case but I'm sure it's not hard to imagine I was very tired and busy...and a little shocked. So much so that I completely forgot to pay rent that month! Or eat dinner. I would collapse into bed at 10 some nights and realize I hadn't eaten since noon. And I was still wearing the same sweat pants from the night before, which now had an array of new smells and stains. Ha!
Sam was truly amazing that first week. Like super-Dad. He seemed so much less phased then I did, he just kept saying it was going to get better and he knew we were supposed to do this. He prayed for us when I couldn't, made me eat breakfast, still cracked jokes and gave me lots of hugs. Which is a good thing, because I was trying to think of ways to call it quits, lack of sleep will make you emotional and borderline crazy! It is no exaggeration that I cried everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. One morning my body was actually twitching because I hadn't slept a good stretch in so long and I just had so much anxiety. Are we ever going to feel normal or be able to make this work realistically? I felt like the worst person ever because every time he threw a fit (which was SO often those first few weeks!) I felt anger and annoyance at this baby. I always imagined I would just love him instantly and have that attachment, but it wasn't coming easily. It felt like all work, all sacrifice. And man, did the enemy use so many lies to discourage me! It's so true that a lot of fostering is spiritual, you are taking on the brokenness and darkness of the system and it is so tangibly heavy. I quickly realized I needed to pray like every few minutes just to get through the day. Thankfully I had an amazing church family and friends who were so wonderful to come along side and encourage and help us during the transition. I had ladies offering to do "bedtime" with me until Sam was able to switch back on to day-shift. All of you Mamas know what a gift that is!! They even brought us meals, which blessed me more then they will ever know. We probably would've had cereal most nights if not for that! I was so humbled by the love we felt and God was so very gracious to me as I dealt with my raw emotions. One night I was feeling so done, we had gone to yet another doctor appointment and received quite the regimen to get this little guy all better. I called a friend who is also a foster Mom and told her I just wasn't sure I could do this thing well. I'm a mess. Both babies just need me so much and I'm really struggling with Mom guilt! She spoke truth over me so sweetly and assured me that God had led us here and is equipping us to handle it. She said every foster family has to get through the first 6 weeks, because that is the hardest part. The adjustment period where you feel like you're going to die...but you're not. You just have to take it one day at a time and trust that it will get better. So I decided I could hang on a little longer.
I took it day by day. Sam told me to even break it up hour by hour if I needed to, and sometimes I did. He was able to get back on the day shift and was now home around 3 to help with the evening hours. Praise Jesus! And sure enough, I realized my friend was right. I did feel like I was slowly getting into a rhythm. There was some routine going on and each day was new. I started with a lot of coffee, prayer and a long morning walk with my babes (I think all my neighbors get a kick out us, we walk a LOT). I could breathe again and laugh more through the chaos and exhaustion. One week I was actually the one encouraging Sam, which was a nice change. I would ask God every morning to give me a deep love for this baby, and I can just now say He really has. We are bonding so much more and making some really sweet memories together. We've all had to adjust to our "new normal" and it's still pretty darn hard a few months in. But honestly two infants is going to be hard no matter what! When I step back and look at the big picture, the privilege that we have to take in a child that needs love, safety and stability- it is so beyond worth it. I hope I didn't discourage any of you reading if you are thinking about fostering. I just want to be real and honest always. This is hard stuff and it does come with sacrifice, but I'm so thankful our daughter is going to grow up knowing we want to try our best to live out the gospel and share what we have with others. We are not perfect people, but we can do this ministry with HIS strength. Our flesh wants to scream and say we can't, or that we just don't feel like it. But when we are weak, He is strong.