For just over a week now, we have been waiting for a new little one to join us. It's a bit of a complicated situation which I can't go into here really, but it means that from day to day, we are living with the uncertainty that our family life could radically change with just a few hours notice.
It began with phone calls. Lots of phone calls. And then I started preparing, getting out the baby equipment, washing tiny bedding and spare baby clothes, buying nappies, formula, wipes, more clothes, a new set of bottles and, most importantly, getting my two children mentally ready for the arrival of a needy, tiny baby.
Then there were delays, postponements, more waiting. The appointments I had cleared from last week's calendar were re-instated and I started working through next week's, wondering what I could cancel, rearrange or postpone.
Meanwhile, Birdy came down with a dose of winter vomiting. She managed her very first day at Playgroup, but the rest of her sessions that week had to be cancelled. Then the baby's social worker called: baby was alone in hospital. Could I visit?
So followed a time of reaching out to my support network. I couldn't take Birdy with me to the hospital as her illness would be a huge risk to the fragile babies in neonatal. My friends rallied round, my mum offered to fly over to help. We added daily hospital trips into our week's routine.
The contact centre phoned me, to give me a list of probable times and days for baby to visit with his family. It will be three times each week. None of the times are terribly convenient for us, and one of them clashes with the time I have to pick Birdy up from Playgroup. We negotiate a new time for that visit but the rest stand as they are because the service is busy and fostering means being flexible.
This weekend we are in limbo. It is highly possible that a decision will be made to discharge him from hospital any day now, but that can't happen until a Discharge Planning Meeting has been arranged. That can't be arranged until we know the date of discharge. It can't be arranged over the weekend because nobody is in the office to make the arrangements. I am mentally preparing for a phone call early next week asking me to get to the hospital in a few hours to meet professionals and bring baby home. I am wondering what I will do for childcare if I get that call.
I am not yet 'on the clock' with this baby, but I am already totally committed to him, time, energy, money and heart. I have cuddled him, rocked him, sung to him. I have taken photographs of him and shown them to my son, preparing him for the appearance of this little one in our home and our lives. We are a fostering family.