Today was a strange day. I had to tell people what was going on. I talked and talked, and cried, and watched Baby 4 cry. A couple people from the county called to check in. The medical examiner submitted his official report and the investigations are closing.
It turns out Baby 7 did not die from SIDS. He had a hole in his stomach that allowed his abdomen to fill with formula and acid. Infection from that situation caused his death. He was very sick already when I saw him for the first time on Monday. The medical examiner said he had never seen this. The Pediatrician said that it happens in older people, but they are usually in a lot of pain and seek help before the situation becomes fatal. There was nothing that could have prevented his death. It was a condition he was born with and it's symptoms can all be explained by normal baby stuff- He was lethargic, but some newborns sleep all the time. He was fussy at feeding time; could be gas or reflux. He was eating less and less for every bottle, so they switched his formula to a more gentle one.
Baby 8 is susceptible for this because his brother had it, so they have alerted the other foster family and he will be monitored closely by the Dr. His risk drops significantly if he remains healthy through his 7th day of life.
Our homefinding caseworker called to give me the, "This tragedy is not a reflection of you in anyway" speech, and in my hurt I really felt like saying, "So taking Baby 8... that was your way of offering condolences?". It's hard not to feel blamed for 7's death when the choice was made to remove the other baby so quickly. Everyone has so many flattering words about how great we are and how the agency thinks so highly of us, but when they had the opportunity to back us up and try to work with Bio-Mom they didn't even try. She's grieving and they wanted to make her feel better. OK, I really really do get that. Honestly though, how much better does she feel? Is her grief relieved because her baby is in yet another house without her? Probably not, but now we have lost 2 babies and are left with only the comfort of knowing no one thinks we killed them. Thank you foster care.
I believe in Divine planning and I really think everything happens for a reason. I don't know what possible reason can explain Baby 7 being born only to live for five days in pain while no one even knew. I do know that the foster Mom for Baby 8 was called about the twins before we were and she did not take them. I know that she has a prior connection to the family. It keeps coming to my mind that perhaps she was always supposed to have Baby 8, but she wouldn't have been able to have 7 die in her house the way he did here. Maybe that was my role all along. If I knew going into this that my role was to watch 7 die so this other Mom wouldn't have to, I think I still would have said yes. I just would have spent those 16 hrs I had with them differently and I would not have involved Baby 4.
I am obsessively looking at pictures of the boys. I have none of Baby 7 with his whole face showing because his hands were always up by his mouth and he was always wearing little baby hats. The best picture I have of his face was post-mortem in the hospital. I never took pictures of his little feet. I never even held both babies at the same time. We ran out of time too soon. They were both asleep by 9pm and I thought it was best to get them in their cribs and get some rest while I could, but I wish I had held them while they slept. I slept through almost half of the time I was given with them.
We are left to pick up the pieces of the whole ordeal. I ordered a memorial plaque and a personalized wooden block for Baby 7. I desperately want to share his picture, but can't. I just want to do what I need to do, to feel what I need to feel, so I can get through this. We were set to go on vacation tomorrow to visit a friend who lives in South Carolina. We cancelled that trip when we got the babies, but still have the child care arrangements for 4 and Baby Girl as well as our travel budget. Brandon and I are talking about maybe getting away this weekend somewhere not too far just to reset and recharge a bit.
We haven't decided what we are going to do with all the baby stuff we set up for the boys. I sent everything I bought for each of them as well as any blankets or clothes they used while they were here. I didn't know what else to do with it. It's not like I would ever put another baby in the clothes I bought for our baby who died. But all the newborn boy clothes that I pulled out of attic, but never used. Or the bassinet in our room or the pack'n'play in the living room. And the changing table with the infant tub on the second shelf. I haven't done anything with the infant car seats in the van. Putting them away to me means going back to normal- which doesn't feel right. Keeping them out makes me feel like we are anticipating another baby- which makes me feel like we are trying to replace Baby 8. At the same time, though, I really want another baby. Just last week I felt like maybe foster care was over for us and now I'm hoping they call us tomorrow. In my heart, though, I only want them to call if they have healthy newborn twin boys who aren't going to die on my living room throwrug. Soo... that doesn't seem like a healthy place to be bringing kids home to.
I've been rambling like this all day. I'll spare you any more of this. Thank you for all the prayers and kind words. They have really been helping. The support from other foster parents has been amazing. We are a great little community.