It is currently 2:36 in the morning. Baby D. has been awake and moaning/screaming/chewing on an empty bottle since midnight. In the past 28 hours, he’s slept a grand total of 8. 2 hours being his longest stretch. Tonight has been pretty volatile. Sometimes he lets me hold him. This most often ends in angry screaming and headbutting. From D. Not me. I’m too tired for headbutting.
Sometimes he lays next to me on the twin bed in the baby room. This has most often ended in kicking and headbutting the wall. Again, him.
Sometimes he lays quietly in his crib. Sometimes he screams in his crib. Sometimes he headbutts the side of his crib. He is currently sitting upright and screaming from his crib.
The one thing he is not doing is sleeping. For those of you just joining us, I am a sleep lover. Like, 9 hours is an acceptable night’s sleep. 12 hours is a divine gift. Fancy hotel beds are delicious treats. As are naps on the beach, snoozes in the car, hammocks, lush grass, my dad’s recliner, and at this moment, a 10 minute reprieve in the baby room.
So, this brings me to the honest truth about foster care. It’s not always fun. It’s not always rewarding. Sometimes, it just plain sucks. But the suckage is so completely understandable that you can’t really fight it.
Baby D. is angry. His family has vanished. I have no idea what he likes, wants, needs. This bed is different. His nose is stuffy. The room has a wicked echo. The pajamas are new. He didn’t eat much today. He’s angry. He has no words. He has a tremendously large head (so I married an ax murder quotes inserted here) and it’s always bumping into things. And it’s dark. And there’s nothing to entertain/distract him from all this foreignness. So he screams and shrieks, and screams some more.
Baby D. is scared. See above.
Baby D. is confused. See above, above.
So I can’t really blame him for not sleeping. I can’t really blame him for being scared, or angry, or confused. I can commiserate. I can try floundering around this room holding him, rocking him, ignoring him, rubbing his back, rubbing his beautiful enormous head. I can share in his discomfort.
And I know that eventually Baby D. will sleep. Eventually his body will succumb to exhaustion. Eventually he will feel safe. Eventually I will understand his screeches. Eventually we will have a routine and be accustomed to one another.
But to be honest, I don’t really want that job right now. What I really want is a phone call tomorrow reporting a relative placement has been approved. What I really want is for Baby D. to be with someone he knows. What I really want is another full night’s sleep.
So while I gladly tout all the beautiful, glorious, rewarding, heart changing, cherished moments of foster parenting, sometimes it’s just not that fun. And it’s at these moments, these witching hour, ear piercing, eye burning moments, that foster parenting becomes sacrificial. And for me, becomes a time of submission. And so I’ve learned, a time of incredible growth.
It’s also these times, when I think I’d be better off doing anything else with my life, that I know God is very present. Because I can still find the bareliest bit of sustenance. And I can see the tiniest glimmer of peace. And I can trust that this one night (or however many it ends up being) of not sleeping will not kill me.
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Eric Lidell