Chapter 28 – Our first day out on our own as a Family
Today is the last day we will be dropping our boy back to Sally his foster carer, which is super exciting, but first we are going to be heading out for the day on our first ever family day trip out. The options are rather limited though, as the weather isn’t great and he is only 9 months old after all, so doubt we will be heading to a theme park just yet. Instead we have decided to head off to a large soft play centre, which I suppose is more like a small children’s theme park and the boy will love it. It all feels a bit different today, maybe because we know tomorrow he will be moving in for good, so we have all those nervous but excited feelings, which I can only compare to the emotions I remember as child on the day before Christmas. We are both already fully showered, dressed and prepared for the day ahead which is going to be a long one, as we have to be down to Sally’s for 6:30 to be there for when the boy wakes up, to ensure that he gets used to us being the first and last people that he sees each day. Having eaten a light breakfast, we head off in the car to Sally’s as we plan to attempt a lunch while we are out this afternoon.
The conversation in the car seems to be flowing and for some reason we both seem to have an air of confidence about us, as if we feel like we have achieved what we needed this week and have sort of finally reached the end of this marathon and are prepared to sprint the last hundred metres to collect the medal, except it’s not a medal, it’s our beautiful son. On arriving at Sally’s, we head in and have a cup of tea together, as today of all days the boy is having a little bit of a lay in, so I am debating going up there to wake him up so we can get out and start our day together. Sally explains that he didn’t sleep that well last night, which seems odd as he normally sleeps through with no issues. There are two things now going through my head, is this the start of him not sleeping through or does he sort of understand what is going on and is a little worried. I mean surely, he cannot fully understand what is happening, but if he does, then I just wish I could explain to him that we already love him so much and will do absolutely everything we can to give him the happiest life possible but we know we can’t. All of a sudden while Rich was busy dunking his biscuits in his tea, the monitor goes off and the boy is awake, he’s not crying or upset, he is just crawling around the cot while murmuring away to himself, he seems happy, so that’s made me feel so much better. I head straight up to say good morning and have a little cuddle with him before bringing him down, to have his breakfast and start the day. Rich seems to have become the expert on the porridge, so he gives him his breakfast and as usual he eats it straight away with no problems, as he really does love his food. I’m super excited for him to get ready today, as I have brought him a new outfit from home for him to wear out with us. I take him upstairs to get ready and ensure that he is comfortable in his own vest and socks, to ensure that he doesn’t feel a big change and is used to the same smells. I have even gone as far and having pre-washed his outfit in the same washing detergent as Sally, as hopefully he will then know any different. He’s ready and looks gorgeous, he always does to be honest as Sally has great fashion taste for him but there is something special about seeing him in an outfit that we have got for him. One of those proud Dad moments, but now it’s time to head off out.
We get to the soft play centre and it’s absolutely huge but it is quite a way out of town from both ours and Sally’s to ensure that we will not be seen by anyone that we know. It feels so weird being out just us as a family, as I feel like everyone is going to be looking at us thinking where is his Mum but I need to remember that it is probably just in my head and not worry too much. Rich is so much more prepared for this sort of thing, I mean he is really the silly playful uncle to his niece and nephew, so he probably cannot wait to get into the soft play with his own boy, get his shoes off and get stuck into the ball pit. We work out very quickly that although the soft play is absolutely massive, our son is only 9 months old and is not going to be able to use or go on half of it, so this is possibly our first parenting rookie mistake. Luckily, the toddler section is big enough for him, so we find a little table and chairs right next to it and set up base camp for the next couple of hours. It seems like only five minutes into us all playing together and we’ve already had quite a few ‘good mornings’ from other parents, which is really so lovely. I then clock another Mum looking at us, well more than looking at us, she was approaching us with her little girl and I started to have a little panic about what she might be coming over to say. Rich was probably totally unaware at this point of anyone coming over, as he was too busy rolling around but she then puts her little girl down right next to me and says “aww is he yours, he really looks so like you” and the first thing that pops into my head was ‘OMG what do I say, how do I tell her he isn’t biologically mine but that at the same time he absolutely is mine’. So, I go for it and explain that he is ours and that we have recently adopted him, but don’t go into any further detail and she was so lovely and supportive about it all. It wasn’t mentioned or asked about any further, we just chatted away like parents do about their kids and what a really lovely feeling it was, just talking absolute pointless rubbish about our kids. I felt amazing, it was the first time I could actually talk about him properly as ours with a stranger. She then heads off to have her lunch with her child and we have a cute little chat ourselves, just about how nice it was to talk to other parents about a child of our own. BUT it highlighted something that we wasn’t really prepared for and that was just how we would explain our situation to other people, because as much as we want to blend in and not be noticed as different or weird, we know that some people will find it a little fascinating and possibly some may not be as positive about it as others.
Having played now for a good couple of hours with the boy, it was time to head off for some lunch and also time for his nap, so fingers crossed he will drop off in the car on route to the restaurant and will transfer nicely into his stroller, staying asleep for long enough for us to at least nearly finish our food. The plan seems to have worked and we are sitting at the table, have ordered and our gorgeous son is just next to us sleeping away in his stroller. We eat our food and decide to order a dessert as the boy is still sleeping and we don’t want to disturb him, but in truth I also love a chocolate-based dessert and couldn’t turn down the opportunity. It was just then that the plan failed, the boy was awake and seemed a little bit upset with himself, so instead of panicking and just leaving before the dessert arrives, I get him out of the buggy and just have him on my lap. I then realise exactly what the problem is “he’s had an explosion in his nappy, so needs to be changed” and so I explain this to Rich discreetly, expecting him to be all helpful, but instead he jokingly responds with “it’s your turn babe”. Let’s hope they have changing facilities in the men’s, otherwise this could be an awkward situation as there is nobody here to take him into the ladies for changing. It’s time like this that I need my Mum and so weird that she has popped into my head, as she hasn’t even met him yet, so I just need to man up and sort this. I head over to the toilets and a very lovely waitress could tell I was heading for the changing area and points me in the direction of the baby changing facilities, what a result. I am not entirely sure what I expected when I got in there, but to say I immediately became a lot more nervous on seeing the nappy changing station which looked like it could be difficult with the boy who is a bit of a wriggler. I go in for it and I think the boy was a little worried about being on the pull-down changing table, especially as I have used the straps to ensure he is secure and cannot fall off, possibly a little too tight but I am not taking any chances. He doesn’t move an inch and just lets me change him so easily, so I think I may need to order one of these pull-down tables for indoors. I then head back with the boy in my arms, giving off the accomplished Daddy look to Rich, handing him the boy jokingly saying back to him now “your turn next babe”. We then enjoyed our dessert together and obviously let the boy have a little taster of our chocolate sundaes, which of course he loved, as all kids love ice cream and this boy loves food, so we knew we were onto a winner.
We settled the bill and headed back home for some time indoors, just to ensure that the boy got used to his house that bit more and again some play time with Nutter to keep their new found friendship going. The rest of the afternoon seemed to fly past and the boy seemed so at home, just enjoying playing with his stuff and exploring what felt like the whole of the downstairs. We then decided to take Nutter out for a walk all together, which was possibly a little risky as we didn’t want to bump into anyone we know, as that would mean they would get to see the boy and if anyone got to meet him before our Mum’s did, I think there would be hell to pay. We make a little agreement quickly before we leave, that if we see anyone, we would let one walk on with the boy and the other explain the reasons why, as anyone who knows us would understand we want to keep that very special moment of introducing him to our parents first. The walk goes really well, Nutter knows no different and I hogged the buggy for the whole walk, there was no chance of me letting anyone see us driving past without me pushing him along all proud. Luckily, we haven’t bumped into anyone, which to be honest was normal as we didn’t ever really bump into people when taking the dog out, but sometimes you just know that one time you don’t want to bump into anyone, is the time you bump into about ten people.
It’s now time to give the boy his dinner and then bath him, so he is ready to head back to Sally’s for his bottle and bedtime routine for the last time there. The boy eats all of his dinner, but for some reason doesn’t seem to be getting on well with his high chair at all. It’s nothing like the high chair at Sally’s so this is probably what he isn’t used to, we have bought him a really crazy high chair, that is supposed to grow with him and turn into a stall, but he clearly doesn’t like it and just wants what he is used to. Rich says “he will be okay, it’s just new and he will get used to it” but there was no way I could cope with that, we know he doesn’t like it and that he does like his usual one, so why would we put him through any stress for his first period of time with us. So, I text my Mum to give her the details of the exact same one that Sally has and ask her to pick one up for me today and drop it round for us, without Rich being aware, while we drop the boy off tonight. Sometimes you just need to make these decisions and take control when it is something so practical, as otherwise you end up not getting it done and just delaying the inevitable. Let’s hope he likes the bath as it is now bath time, but this one we are really confident and looking forward to, as we have the secret weapon, a bubble machine. As expected, the bubble machine is a huge hit with the boy and we both bath him, taking turns of washing, playing and splashing around with the water and bubbles with him. He is really laughing so much and watching Rich making him giggle away was so lovely, every little giggle just sets off another butterfly in my stomach. The feeling of ‘we have actually done it’ is so powerful and really sets the emotions flowing.
We load everything up into the car for the last trip back to Sally’s tonight, instead of worrying about taking him back, we have a different focus, which is trying to keep him awake for the hour drive. He still needs to have his bottle and we really want him to have a good night’s sleep tonight, as we have a really big important day tomorrow. We have bought Sally the biggest bouquet of flowers and a special personalised card from the boy, as she really has been so amazing this past nine days and more importantly been the best thing to happen to our little boy up until now. I mean if you ever needed to wish for someone to look after your child and give them all they need to give them the best start, then Sally is the person who you would wish for, we have a special bond and love for her, as over the last nine days we have really got to know her so well and we know she really does love our son. She is literally so selfless and does everything for kids and really does treat the children in foster care with her as her own, so we are really excited to give her the gifts tonight. We’ve also been told that it is good to give any gifts to the foster carer the night before the moving in day, as the morning of moving day is usually kept very short and can be quite emotional for the foster carer. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to look after a little boy for 6 months and treat them as your own, to then have to wave goodbye to them as they drive off with their new forever family. The drive back seems to go by in a flash, we get to Sally’s and head straight upstairs with him, give him his bottle and then put him down to sleep. All seems to have gone so smooth, so hopefully this is how it continues. I’m now feeling really nervous though, as I send Rich out to the car to get the gifts as a little surprise for Sally tonight as she will probably find tonight difficult, as I know I would. On Rich walking into the front door with the flowers, Sally says in her usual jokey telling off way “you shouldn’t have you silly buggers” but then starts to get a bit upset, so I go straight over and give her massive hug, to which she holds me tight and says “sorry for crying, it’s not because I am upset, it’s because I am so happy that you are taking him and will give him the best life he deserves, he’s such a good little boy”. We all then turn into a blubbering mess for about 10 minutes and enjoy a hot drink and a couple of biscuits together, before we say goodbye and head home for the last time, as tomorrow we get to bring our son home for good.