Sunday, March 23, 2014

#14 - Our First Week Without Our Baby (through Jan. 9, 2011)

January 3, 2011
We met in the lobby near the entrance of the hospital with our attorney - completely at his mercy, hoping for some loophole he knew.  He said there was nothing that could be done.  I had not mentally prepared myself for walking out the front doors of the hospital without our baby in my arms.  Jason went to get the truck while I waited inside with the wagon and bags.  Our attorney explained that we will have to go through the legal action again with a Shelter Care Hearing within three days.  After leaving without our baby and an attorney that said there was nothing that could be done for 3 days, Jason and I decided to find a new attorney. 

It was a bittersweet day.  We were pulled from our baby's side, but got to return home to Jason's parents where our other 4 are staying.  I hadn't seen my other kids in over a week.  I could not hug them tight enough or with enough emotion in my body to show them how much I missed them.  I didn't want to let go out of their hugs.  Like Christmas day, I just wanted to be near them and soak up all their sweetness and let them climb all over me.  My 4 year old wanted me to hold her and pack her around - and as heavy as she is, I was happy to snuggle her as much as possible.  Our 2 older boys were full of stories to tell us about the fun they were having with their cousins, all the while sitting a little closer to me on the couch than normal.  I had to remind them over and over that I could only listen to 1 at a time.  There was nothing on my To Do List that was more important than just being with my kids - completely listening to every word they had to tell me.  Sometimes in everyday life I get busy and expect them to follow me around to talk while I put laundry away or fix dinner. 

Today was not that. 

Today, their little conversations were the very most important thing to 'get done.'  There were no dishes, no laundry, no toys to pick up, that were more important than soaking up time with my kids.   

There are so many blessings with my older kids as I have been away at the hospital with Bryer.  I have not had to think about the daily things of what they would eat, who would wash their clothes, who would buy them groceries, helping them clean up their toys, where they would sleep, if they needed a nap, a diaper change, or hurt their knees.  My in-laws have taken over our family and are such a blessing to us.  Great lengths have been taken to make sure Jason's parents are supported in this adventure they have taken on.  Jason's aunt came from out of town to run the business so Cindy (Jason's Mom) could be with our kids full time.  They all have given up their own plans, their own schedule, their own lives for an undetermined amount of time.  I am amazed.  People from church have brought in meals and treats for the kids.  They have made trips back to our home over an hour away to get the kids' clothes and other necessities.  The church arranged for 2 sets of bunk beds to be set up in a spare bedroom so each of our four had their own bed to sleep in, complete with dressers, sheets, pillows, the whole thing.  This has been an extended outpouring of love and service that I feel so humbled to be on the receiving end of!  These are 4 busy, full-of-energy kids.  TV will only pacify them so long.  They are used to being active and normally encouraged to build, create, explore.  Not the most convenient of visitors for a couple of empty nesters, but they are taking it all in stride with a lot of help from those around them! 

As much as Bryer has benefited from having me near, my heart has ached to take care of my other 4 at the same time.  To know that they are in such good, capable hands is such a blessing.  This whole situation could be such a detriment to them emotionally, yet they are thriving.  The only time I have sensed any sadness is when I would talk to Walker in the evenings from the hospital and he would ask, "When are you coming home Mom?"  It always killed me not to have an answer for him. 

After the kids were in bed, it got later in the evening and I had time to think - the first night I have ever spent without Bryer.  I started to panic that the foster mom wouldn't know my milk was (dairy free) that I had pumped and that she would be fussy if she had dairy or regular formula.  I tried calling the on-call worker at the Health and Welfare office, only to be used in case of emergencies.  I don't like to call people I don't know.  I get anxious just dialing the numbers.  But for the sake of my baby, this was an emergency.  Besides not being with Bryer, I needed to know that my baby was taken care of and had the right food she needed.  After a dropped call and then getting through again to give them the house number to call back at, I apologized for the mix up.  The on-call worker was sharp with me and said, "You're not sorry!  You woke me up twice now and you don't answer your cell phone!"  I was crushed.  I just had my baby taken away.  I didn't want to call, but wanted the information to be passed along.  I didn't know where or who my baby was with.  I gave her the information, got off the phone, and broke down.  And then I prayed and pumped - the only possible thing I could think of to do.  I asked God to watch over my baby while I was away from her. 

The older boys were due to return to school today after the Christmas vacation.  We tossed around the idea of them switching schools since we don't know how long this will last of them having to stay with Jason's parents.  Sawyr (6 years old) is my slow-to-warm-up kid and likes to be prepared in advance for everything.  It would be hard for him to start all over in a new class, so I called to talk to their teachers at home.  They are so supportive of whatever we want to do and are willing to put a package of school activities in the mail just so the boys stay up on things.

During this transition time we realized another major piece in preparing us.  Last year Jason started talking about holding Hunter back a year in school.  Honestly, I thought he was crazy.  He's one of the top readers in his 3rd grade class; he's well adjusted with his friends; he needs challenged as it is.  There were so many reasons why not to hold him back.  As Jason persisted, I decided that I would pray about it - obviously knowing that God would confirm to me that Hunter should stay in his grade and continue on.  As I prayed, the answer I got was that we were supposed to hold him back.  It seemed crazy.  Absurd!  How was I supposed to tell his teacher and principal - "I don't know why, but that's what God wants us to do."  Yes, I'm pretty sure they thought I was crazy.  I even had to sign a letter with the school district stating that I understood this may be a detriment to him by holding him back.    Now here we are, both boys missing school for an undetermined amount of time and they are not missing any major pieces of their learning progression.  A miracle that we listened to and that I was humbled into accepting.  Could God have known and prepared us even a year ago for what was to come?  I am thankful for answered prayers that we chose to obey, as illogical as they seemed at the time. 

January 5, 2011
We have settled on a new attorney and he encouraged us to ask for a continuance (postponement) for our Shelter Care Hearing.  He wants to nail down the prosecutor to the verbal agreement he made that states our kids would be interviewed by child abuse professionals and if everything checks out, then the kids are ours.  Bryer was listed in that original paperwork, which would make this new paperwork invalid.  It hurts to know that a postponement for the hearing means a postponement to get Bryer back, but it may be best in the long run.  I feel like we can trust this attorney with his experience. 

In the meantime, family members are trying their best to find any possible way for Bryer to be placed with them in the foster care system.  The social worker that stopped by the hospital had told Jason days ago that his parents were already licenced, fingerprinted, and ready for Bryer to be placed when she left the hospital.  As of today at our hearing, she told Jason that Bryer would not be placed in any of our family's care.  Crushing, again.  We are doing everything we are supposed to be doing.  We are being supervised with our own kids.  We left our baby without a fight.  We brought more frozen milk, diapers, and clothes to the case worker today at the hearing to pass along to the foster mom.  What else did they want us to do? 

My brother-in-law has continued to stay on top of Bryer's placement, hoping for their home to be an option.  He's made multiple phone calls trying to ask about the process to be a licensed foster care home, fingerprinting, etc.  The case worker has been very gruff with him and said nothing can be done and that he should stop calling; that she would call if she needed their home as an option. 

I have been pumping milk every 3-4 hours around the clock.  It would be much better to wake up to a crying baby ready to eat than an alarm clock, reminding me that my baby is gone and that I need to get up to pump anyway.  That's the only thing I can do for Bryer at this point.  It's a very helpless feeling to not know where she is or who she's with.  These people that have taken her are not making logical decisions, yet they are also the ones that choose who is qualified to care for foster children.  Besides supplying the case worker with milk, clothes, and diapers, I also included a journal for the foster mom to write about Bryer's days.  If I couldn't be the one to hold her and rock her and take care of her every need, then I needed the foster mom to make the best decisions on Bryer's behalf. 

In the letter I told her about our family; Bryer is the youngest of 5 - Hunter (10), Sawyr (6), Piper (4), and Walker (2).  I told her that we are a religious family and attend church every Sunday and read scriptures as a family regularly.  I explained that I felt that although infants may be too young to understand verses of scripture, that Bryer would be able to understand the spirit that came with reading and encouraged her to read to her.  I told her that we would not only be praying for Bryer's safe return to us, but also for her as a foster mom to be able to take care of Bryer the very best she could. 

It was a letter full of tears - to write to another woman who was taking care of my baby.  Completely humble, I prayed for that woman that I did not know who had my baby. 

Jan. 6, 2011
We had our first visit with Bryer today at the Health and Welfare office.  We were allowed 1 hour with Bryer and to meet the foster mom.  I was trying not to pace, waiting to see my baby.  Jason's mom brought our older kids with her.  The whole thing is chaos - that we can't be with our older kids alone, so one of Jason's parents has to drive with us with them or drive them separately wherever we go.  It's a lot of hoops to jump through, but we will do whatever we need to, to get our kids back. 

In the meeting room, there were toys for the kids to play with, 2 black leather couches, and a rocking chair.  There was also a mirror that I suspected was a one-way window for supervision, although the case worker stayed with us in the room the whole time anyway.  She escorted us in first and then we waited for her to return again with the foster mom.  She packed Bryer in her car seat into the meeting room.  She was a chubby, grandma-type with full, cheery cheeks and a big nervous smile.  I tried not to be critical of her.  No matter how happy or loving or knowledgeable she was, she just was not me.  I made a conscience effort not to hold that against her.  No matter how we saw things, she was willing to receive our baby into her home and care for her the best she knew how.  I am grateful for that.  It's just hard to swallow the idea of someone else feeding, bathing, snuggling, and playing with my baby.  I pulled Bryer out of the carseat and held her close to me.  I sat down in the chair with tears in my eyes and rocked her as Jason nuzzled her nose and got her attention.  The kids crowded around to see their baby sister.  Piper had come once to the hospital, but the others hadn't seen her since church on the day she stopped breathing.  Panicked about every little move, we had to tell the kids to stay out of her face and to be gentle with her.  I rocked her when she got fussy and then the foster mom mentioned that she might be hungry.  I tried not to wince at the mention from another woman telling me my own baby was hungry.  I had planned my pumping schedule around our visit so I would be ready to nurse.  I just was nervous about her latching on.  It was hard work to get to that point in the hospital and now we haven't be able to for 3 days.  I prayed she would accept it - and she did!  This in itself is a miracle that she is able to nurse.  Most normal babies that I have heard about have a hard time going back to breast after they've had the flow of a bottle.  It takes more work, more patience, and more energy - and in Bryer's recovery, I hoped that she would remember those skills.  I am so thankful for this answered prayer!

Once Bryer was happily nursing under the blanket, I pulled out my list of questions for the foster mom - Is Bryer going to daycare while you work?  What's your background with foster care?  What's your educational background?  What have you done for work in the past?  How long have you and your husband been married?  Do you have other kids?  Do you go to church?  What are your hobbies? 

I'm sure I sounded more like conducting a job interview, but I needed to know these things.  I wanted to know the details of the lady who was caring for my baby.  We learned that she spent most of her years as a nurse, but wasn't working currently.  They had older kids, but they were all grown and out of the house now.  They seemed to have a strong marriage and enjoyed the infants they had cared for through foster care.  She talked about how good her husband has been at getting up to feed Bryer in the middle of the night and walk with her.  It made me sick to my stomach.  That is not his job.  That is my job.  Again, I had to consciencely remind myself not to be critical. 

During an awkward silence in conversation, the case worker asked if we were planning to have any more kids.  It kind of threw me off.  Isn't that kind of personal?  And really none of her business.  I just shrugged my shoulders and told her we hadn't decided yet.  Honestly speaking, I did want to have more, except the heartache for me right now is just too much to think about doing it all over again.  It was odd timing to ask, so I probably looked odd giving a half-way answer.  Was she reading into it?  Thinking that would prove or disprove my innocence if I answered one way or another?   

I would rather not remember the moments of bundling Bryer up in her car seat to leave us again.  Our visit was like putting a band aid on the situation long enough to form a clot and then ripping the band aid off again to let us bleed again.  It makes my heart desperately hurt. 

January 9, 2011
As hard as it is, to survive this I have to find some good that comes of everyday.  Today it was a nap with Walker.  To snuggle him in all his 2-year-old innocence was just what my heart needed to be comforted.  I could feel a spirit-to-spirit closeness.  As I laid there, I thought about family relationships.  If we can't be together after this life, then what's the point in fighting so hard?  I know that God has meant for families to be together after we die.  I got goosebumps - confirming that everything we were trying to fight for to keep our family together was worth it.
It is worth it. 
Our marriage.  Teaching our kids.  Making choices to put each other first.  Even the heartache we are enduring right now. 
It's worth it! 
And with that thought, I curled up next to my little boy and slept peacefully for the first time in weeks. 


  1. Hi Krissi- I am a friend of your mom's from high school. You are so brave to be sharing this incredible story, and I am praying for you all, each day.

    1. Thank you Linda for your prayers and for following the blog. I am thankful to those that have been so supportive of us!

  2. It's too bad that you had to go through this awful occurrence. But I’m glad that you’ve managed to stay strong all throughout this encounter. I can only imagine how hard it is for moms to be apart from their children – let alone their newborn. Anyway, thank you so much for sharing this with us, Krissi. All the best!

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney NY