What is a home? Is it four walls and roof? Perhaps. I think a home is a place of safety. It’s a place where you’re allowed to be yourself. It can be the place you lie your head down and recharge your battery. It’s where your heart is. My home is my wife. I’m safe with her. I’m allowed to be myself. Time with her recharges my energy, and my heart rests with her.
Eva right now is homeless. She lived the past 9 months in comfortable home with her birthmother. She was relaxed, fed and safe. Now she’s in an environment where food is not available instantaneously. Where unidentified blobs are moving around constantly. With bright lights and idle limbs that move around with no control. It is our job today and on into the future to provide Eva a home.
It’s Christmas Eve. Steph and I had opened our gifts the previous weekend thinking that this weekend would be busy, and we were right. Besides, there was no gift under that tree that could compete with what we’d be bringing back today.
This morning I ran out to the vehicle and brought in the car seat and diaper bag to warm up. This car seat was one of our first purchases for baby. It has remained empty for far too long.
The anticipation builds throughout the morning. Soon we will be heading to a place where we can start a family. We can stretch out. A place with all our pre-conceived items for baby. A crib for sound sleeping, a variety of clothes received as gifts from friends and family, a rocker to put baby to sleep. For Mom and Dad, peace that comes from being in your own environment and with your pillows (oh man how I’ve missed my pillow).
Once the paperwork is filled out and out processing has been completed, I walk out to the garage to the vehicle. This is the last time I’m driving it out of that garage, and I’m happy about that. I park the vehicle in the loading area and wait for the girls.
I can see into the lobby, and there is Steph, Eva and birthmother. Eva is now in birthmother’s lap, as she is saying goodbye. She had been strong throughout the process, seemingly at peace with her decision. Even so, there had to be some tough emotions at that moment. She will always love Eva, and it’s our duty to make sure that Eva knows this.
Steph picks up the car seat, and brings it to the car. I take it and place it in the base in the backseat, facing backwards. We hug birthmother and our agent, before finishing packing up. As we watch them get into their vehicle and take off, we are now the sole care givers for this child. No nurses, no doctors, no social workers, just us. Today, we are officially……babysitters.
Didn’t I mean parents? Yes and no. Yes, we knew we were parents, but officially we were just babysitting (or fostering) this child until the papers are signed. It’s been 48 hours, so only 24 more to go, right? Tomorrow is Christmas, and the lawyer doesn’t want to meet, and birthparents want to enjoy Christmas, so it’s going to be 96 hours for us.
It’s not a long drive home… only 15 minutes, but it seems longer. All of the sudden, there are crazy drivers everywhere. The speed limit seems so fast, and this road is now bumpier than before. I just need to get her home safe. This is my duty.
When we finally reach our home, I put the car in park and look back with a look that says “We’re home, now what?” Well, first lets get in the house. We bring her in the house in her car seat. We’ve succeeded.
Up to this point, we’ve been a family of three: Steph, me and Quinton. Quinton had yet to meet her. This was the moment we had secretly dreaded. What if he hated her? Seen her as a threat? Marked her as his own? Treated her like a squeaky toy?
We leave Eva in the car seat and let the dog out. He’s super excited to see us. After all, the past three days have been rough for him with us popping in off and on. He does his typical run to mom, get love, start running to dad, stop just before reaching dad and turning around back to mom for a little more love, then back to dad. Now with that out of the way, he runs out to the car seat in the living room, with what I imagine is the thought “What did you bring me?”
Eva is sitting quietly in the seat, eyes closed. From what I understand, a baby can only see about a foot in front of them, the distance from breast to face. While I’m excited for her to be home and see all the wonderful Christmas lights and decorations, I’m sure that the foot in front of her is not all that different from the hospital. Except this foot now contains a dog nose.
Quinton puts his front paws on the car seat and sniff the foot area first, before seeing a face in the back. He works his way around and starts sniffing the face. Then come the kisses. Play “Flight of the Bumblebee” in your head, and you’ll get an idea of the pace the kisses were being offered. We have to restrain him, it was just too much. This is going to be a process.
Throughout the day, anytime he had access to her, he would attempt to lick her. I would call them aggressive kisses. I imagine this was a part of his learning process, but man that was stressful. We’re already sleep deprived and worried about our transition. Now we’ve added the layer of Quinton’s transition. You don’t want to be overly strict with him because he’ll be resentful of the baby, but you have to protect her. Why can’t he listen to us when we say that it’s going to be fine, or at least limit the kisses? Here’s hoping he adapts quickly.
Suppertime rolls around, and we are blessed with a meal from friends. We left the hospital around noon, so we missed another meal (lunch), making that about 5 meals missed over the past 4 days. I devour my meal like a hungry hungry hippo. This also become the first time we introduce Eva as ours. At the hospital, it never felt comfortable with the birthparents in this regard. In one she is ours, in another way she is theirs. If we had introduced her as ours, would they feel as though we’ve diminished their roles? We had one situation that bordered that scenario. When the photographer came in for the photo shoot, they did the pictures in birthmother’s room (with her permission). While she was good with the decision, she was visible uncomfortable at times. No matter how great things went (and they couldn’t have gone any better), there will always be some awkwardness.
With Steph and our friends holding Eva, I flip on the TV. Football on Christmas Eve (hey, I’m still me). I see that the Vikings won (ruining their chances at the #1 pick), and their best player tore his ACL and MCL in a meaningless game, perhaps missing some of next year. I’m sure these two facts will irritate me once I start to care about the outside world again (and they did).
I’m not sure who played that day, I watched, but didn’t process anything. At that moment I was an infant. The TV was producing light and sound, with moving figures that occupied my free moments, and allowed by brain to idle. In a few minutes, our friends will take off and I’ll be back focusing on Eva’s every need. Right now, I’m enjoying the rest.
Our friends wish us well and take off. We end up staying awake until after midnight, as our body clocks have yet to reset to normal person time. Well, that won’t happen for a while. We’re working on setting up parent time.
We made it through our first half day with her. Soon she will come to see this house of four walls and a roof as a place of comfort, a place where it’s OK to scream and cry, a place where she can rest her head in safety….a home. Then, hopefully soon thereafter, she’ll come to see Steph and I as her home, where her heart is.