This is part one of a two part blog post, so stay tuned for part two!
This weekend I was having a conversation with a friend, she was telling me about research she has done on babies that are removed from their birth parents, at birth. She was sharing that babies go into survival mode because they can’t smell their mothers or hear their mothers voices or heartbeats. This, naturally, can cause long term issues with abandonment, security and fear. As we’re talking, she points to my almost 9 month old granddaughter and says, she’s so happy and thriving though(??).
My granddaughter was placed with me when she was just 11 weeks old. As Forrest Gump says, “and that’s all I have to say about that”, so I won’t go into the gory details surrounding that decision.
I used to “eye roll” back in the day, when I would hear Hillary Clinton say, “it takes a village”…HA! She couldn’t have been more spot on, it DOES take a village!! Our sweet baby has a village of people that love her completely and enjoy every little thing that she does and of course, we ALL think she’s the most beautiful, smartest, sweetest baby EVER…and we’re not prejudice a bit!! My granddaughters village, or tribe as I refer to us sometimes, is made up of partially blood related relatives and partially friends; we are ALL family now. Our sweet baby and unconditional love are the foundation of our makeshift family and it’s perfection!
Love is Patient, Love is Kind:
Going from being a single parent to two teenagers, to a single parent to two teenagers and a new baby has been a MAJOR transition for me personally, to say the least. Going from teenagers that will sleep late, therefore on the weekends I could sleep until I decided I wanted to get up and have a little quiet time in the mornings, to having a new baby in the house that was up every few hours and the opportunity for me to ease into my days were yanked right out from under my feet and was about to send me OVER THE EDGE.
I have a growing Health Coaching Practice, it’s one of my passions, but when our sweet baby came to live with us, the momentum I had, stopped in its tracks and working was put on the back burner for awhile and I let this overwhelm me with stress, and anxiety became a daily battle.
Dealing with caseworkers, a whole new territory for me, I had so much to learn and so many people in and out of my house and this was a little scary for me. I wanted to be transparent with them and tell them how afraid I was to take on raising a baby with everything I was already juggling, but I was afraid they may place our sweet baby in foster care and I couldn’t bare the thoughts of that! For the record, each and every case worker has been so wonderful! They truly care about the children!! Also, every single person I have dealt with in The Department of Social Services has been a huge support for me and my family.
Court. We have been in and out of court, the neglected and abused division, needless to say that this has been eye opening and heartbreaking. The cases that go before the judge are unbelievable and I leave there in tears and a heavy heart for days sometimes. The teenagers that are “in the system” and have been for YEARS…it kills me. One teenage boy is in a substance abuse program because he hasn’t seen his mom in over a year, he’s hurting so badly that he’s medicating himself. A teenage girl, thriving in school, the judge commends her for doing so well and she inspires me that in spite of all she’s been handed in life, she is on her game….but in the deepest part of me, I also know that she is wanting to prove that she is worthy of love. I think, “is this our babies future? Is she going to always feel as though she has to prove herself? Is this going to drag out for years?” I can say with CONFIDENCE, HELL TO THE NO!! This is not her future! She is thriving physically, mentally and emotionally and WILL CONTINUE DOING SO!!
Now to tie all of this together and tell you why I put this information in this section of my blog post. Love is patient and Love is kind. This isn’t about me being patient and kind with our baby. This portion is about the patience and kindness (LOVE) shown to me on a daily basis, which enables me to do what I do. Needless to say, I have had more than my fair share of meltdowns through this situation and I’ve needed to just have the space to say what I needed to say, rational or not. I have to say that I hit “rock bottom” almost a month ago when I realized I had our baby by myself for the weekend, while my teenagers were going to be at their dads for the weekend. I so desperately need these every other weekends to recharge, it makes me a better mom. I have never felt so defeated…so alone. I have this amazing boyfriend, he is my biggest fan and he is my rock. He calls me when he gets off of work, as he always does, and immediately he knows I’m not in a good place. I said things to him that I was feeling about myself that I haven’t even thought in YEARS, it makes me want to cry thinking about it now. I didn’t pretend, I didn’t sugar coat anything, in fact I almost felt too defeated to even talk at times. To be honest, and I don’t even think I’ve told him this, but I didn’t even want to answer the phone when he called me that day because I felt “too ugly” to even expose his beautiful heart to my darkness. He loved me through it; he was patient, he was kind, he saw me through the eyes of love, compassion and understanding. He assured me that I am not defeated, that I am the strongest person he knows, I am not alone…he called and checked on me through the night and even made sure I got into bed and that I was going to be able to sleep, and sent me lots of love! Having the freedom to be transparent with the darkness that I was experiencing that night, some how enabled me to get on the other side of all of the overwhelm and anxiety that I had been experiencing and I haven’t had that debilitating anxiety that I had been dealing with since! His love has filled me, healed me, which has spilled over into our sweet babies life and has enabled her life to remain constant and stable.
Love Always Protects, Always Trusts, Always Hopes, Always Preserves:
I wish I could take all of the credit for the fact that she is so happy and thriving, but I can’t by a long shot. The only thing I can really take credit for is setting her up for success. I have been diligent about protecting her from the negativity of the situation surrounding her birth parents, to the best of my ability and I have been diligent about surrounding her with people that love her and see her as the perfect little angel that she is.
I have a friend, her mother and her daughter, that are now family. My friend has quickly become the other grandmother to our baby and she loves her as much as I do! I have leaned on my new family the most with helping while I work and helping with the every other weekends, when my teenagers are at their dads. She is also my friend and I have been able to lean on her during the emotional times too. We lean on each other, because sometimes we both worry about different things around this situation and let our fears get the best of us…we get each other and love each other. They are vested as much as I am and because of that and the love they have for our baby, I value their voice, I trust them. Our sweet girl, loves them all so much along with everyone else in her village.
Her “village or tribe” has approximately 15 people in it and each and everyone of us take off of work and clear our calendars in order to go to court when there is a court date, (my parents drive 4 hours..one way) because we each love and support our baby and each of us want the absolute best for her. My parents keep us stocked up on diapers, wipes and formula, thanks to Amazon. My oldest son and his fiancé have bought her clothes, a car seat, diapers, wipes. My future daughter-in-law has come to my house to help me clean, babysit and they do anything that I ask them to do. Everyone contributes in so many ways, I don’t think I could even begin to list it all and I couldn’t be more grateful!
The love; protection, trust, hope and preservation that she experiences on a daily basis has healed her from the neglect, abandonment, insecurities and the extreme fear she used to experience when she was placed in a position that was unsettling for her. Every single person that meets our baby for the first time, even case workers and the nurses and Doctors at her pediatricians office, say she is the happiest baby they have ever seen! People ask me all of the time if she’s always “this happy” and unless she’s getting hungry or sleepy, she IS always “this happy”. I attribute her happiness to the love she receives at home and the love she receives from her village….her family.
Did you know that babies can exhibit their gifts? I didn’t know that, until now. Our baby draws people in, she wins their hearts over the second someone lays eyes on her and she creates unification, families and oneness. She is a game changer and she is going to shake this world up that we live in….just wait and see! Love has not only healed our precious little angel, but quite possibly our little angel is healing her tribe most of all.