I could start by apologising, AGAIN, for my poor updating of this blog but I think I need to face the fact that I just don’t have the same amount of time for writing as I did pre Lily. I have every good intention but life is just busy and when I do have a spare moment all I want to do is relax.
Anyway, as I said in my previous post, Lily came home forever on the 9th March 2016. It feels like a lifetime ago now and hard to believe we’ve been a family for 6 years already! If I think back to those early days it was a mix of bliss and hard work.
The first few weeks were very low key. We got to know every park (7 of them!) in our local area and if we weren’t at the park, we were at home playing and bonding. Daytimes were easier than the nights, except for when Lily would start crying and we had no idea why, and the crying would last a long time. She would look at me sobbing her little heart out but wouldn’t accept cuddles. I just had to sit beside her, reassuring her I was there until the crying stopped. For the first couple of weeks she tended to wake, screaming, every night around 9pm. Again, she would not accept comfort. The foster carer had warned us not to pick her up if she woke in the night but after a couple night’s seeing how upset she was, I just had to pick her up. The foster carer was right. Lily went rigid and the screaming became more intense which in turn upset me that I couldn’t comfort her. Still, I didn’t learn, and did the same the following night! I felt awful, we both did, and we began to wonder how we would cope if the intense screaming and lack of allowing comfort continued long term. Nevertheless, we went back to following the foster carers rule of not picking Lily up and it eventually paid off a month or so later when she would mostly sleep through but wouldn’t be so upset if she woke.
Looking back, Lily was grieving for her foster family but couldn’t tell us that because she was only 13 months old. We persevered and gained Lily’s trust and that bond eventually came, and she started accepting cuddles from us when she was upset. Fast forward to now and she is a tactile little girl who loves cuddles all the time and not just when she’s upset.
We followed social services advice not to introduce Lily to ‘outsiders’ too soon and to do it slowly. It was hard when family and friends all wanted to meet her, but it was definitely the right thing to do as it allowed Lily to form a bond with us first and meant she wasn’t overwhelmed. She met my mum after about 4 weeks, then my mother in law a week or so later, followed by a close friend and our siblings. We started introducing extended family and friends a few months down the line. I would say to anyone in the early days of placement now, if you can introduce people slowly it will help to not confuse your child or overwhelm them, and allow for you to have a more secure attachment with them so they know you’re their safe space should they feel uncomfortable at any time during those introductions.
Life beyond those initial weeks, after Mr R had returned to work, was filled with more trips to the park and eventually attending a local toddler group and meet ups with friends. Of course our time was also filled with monthly social worker visits and review meetings (3-monthly I think). Thankfully Lily’s social worker had no concerns and everything was going well. We had our difficult days but those were outweighed by the good days. I know we were lucky and that not everyone has the same experience when their child is placed with them. Looking back, it was about the 4 or 5 month mark that I can honestly say we had a secure attachment with Lily and she knew we weren’t going anywhere.