Chapter 31 – Gemma is coming over
It has been a full week since we made the final journey home from Sally’s, the boys foster carers house and started our life as fully-fledged parents and so far, so good. The routine has been going to plan and we are enjoying every minute of it apart from the teething nappies and the common cold which appeared out of nowhere. The social workers all along did warn of this potential cold or illness, as it is such a big change for him but that it would give us the chance of extra cuddles from the boy. We are certainly aren’t complaining about that and an additional bonus it that it is helping us to develop that all in important bond and attachment. Gemma is coming around today for her first home visit since the boy came home and we are actually looking forward to seeing her, as she will be the first person to visit since the boy moved in. We have really been following all the advice we were given in all the adoption workshops about building our attachment and bonding with him, which so far seems to be really going well, as he does seem to be quite settled and happy. Our parents, friends and family are desperate to meet him but we have been proper strict with the process as we want everything to go as well as it can and that means they will all have to wait just a little bit longer. I suppose it’s just not fair just showing him on facetime while he is sleeping, but it’s better than nothing. My Mum is practically hanging around outside in case we need anything picked up that we have run out of, even suggesting she will leave it on the doorstep and won’t come in, which I know is just her way of feeling like she is doing something for him. We’ve heard so many stories from friends about how the period after their babies were born that their homes become a bit of a train station with people coming and going continuously, which for me would be a total nightmare as I struggle with random visits and the constant need to have people in the house, so I suppose we are lucky in a way that we have a valid reason to keep the madness at bay for at least a little longer.
Gemma pulls onto the drive and it’s all action stations like when the family come over on Christmas day and it’s that extra special, “she’s here, Gemma is here, wipe his face and make him sure he looks smart” I shout at Rich. Nutter is also going crazy as he now knows Gemma’s name after all the home visits and probably thinks in his little mind, she comes to see him, so he is also going mental running around in excitement. The boy is the only one calm sitting down just staring at us rushing about for no actual reason really, but I suppose this is what we have all been working towards these past few months and just want to hear Gemma say ‘you are good parents, we made the right decision’. Rich opens the door and invites Gemma in with a hug and I hang back with the boy and also holding Nutter before he starts jumping up at her. Rich starts with the usual “do you want a cup of tea” before she has even had a chance to take her coat off but I’m sure she is used to his approach with this now, as he has fully taken the role as the resident tea maker for visits. The boy crawls into the kitchen with his dummy in and just watches for a bit whilst everyone settles around the table, before we no doubt go into full chat all about him and how it’s been going since he moved in. The boy takes an interest in Gemma’s handbag that had a metal chain strap, which of course he thought was amazing to pick up and drop as he had worked out that it would make a slight banging noise, which quickly escalates into him smashing it repeatedly onto the floor. The first thing that came into my mind was ‘Oh my god, I am going to sort of have to tell him off about doing this and she hasn’t even been here for five minutes’ but I get away with this by explaining it is getting near to the boys morning nap time. Ensuring she doesn’t start thinking we cannot control him and make us look like the world’s worst parents, but then the risk on the other hand is that if he now doesn’t go down for his nap, we will look like we haven’t managed to get a settled routine going.
Rich kicks the conversation off by telling Gemma how it has all been going, mainly explaining the routine which we have inscribed onto our kitchen chalkboard with the times written next to it, in some sort of military style operation plan. Gemma has a little chuckle to herself when reading it, as if she knew that there will be days where this will totally go out of the window but I then had to say that “Gemma I don’t want to jinx it, but so far it is really working and all going to plan”. The conversation then continues about how he is sleeping really well and doesn’t show any signs of being upset or stressed at bedtimes, even sleeping all the way through the night. But again, saying this out loud for the universe to hear, made me feel really nervous and like I was putting a spanner in the works, for it all to just stop working as soon as Gemma leaves today. It was then that I could tell Gemma was about to give us a bit of a reality check and maybe drop some sort of bombshell, as she goes on to explain that in her experience there is a honeymoon period and to expect things to not always be so simple. I thought in my head ‘Oh GREAT’ but realistically we knew this would be the case. We then went on to explain how he hasn’t met any of the family yet as we want him to feel extremely settled with us first, so we have been really strict with this but it did feel like we have had to shut everyone out. “So, have you guys had any support this past week?” we both look at each other with the expression on our face of “No, we have done everything just us two” feeling slightly confused by the question we explained that we want to show that we can do it ourselves and not look like we need help or give the opinion we might be struggling, plus the adoption training really did highlight the need to build a solid attachment.
Gemma explains that we are now the boy’s parents and to stop worrying too much about the process and start to think as parent would. She then says that if and when we feel its right to start introducing him to the family, this will be the perfect time to and we will be able to tell when the boy is acting differently or showing signs of distress if they appear at all. I have been sticking to the rules, guidelines and following all the workshop information down to a tee and been very regimental when it comes to the routine whilst Rich has been able to bond well with him in a very playful way and has been the “fun one”. Gemma explains being a parent isn’t easy and finding your feet with a balance will come and that I just need to find my groove and I will not even think of it in the same way soon. This was very reassuring to hear and practically I feel I have been “the perfect parent” but maybe slightly struggling with the bonding side, but I have put this down to being dead set of getting everything in perfect order. In my head all week I have been so worried about this visit deep down and of course I am not going to tell Gemma about my feeling of struggling to bond, as he has only been with us a week and this is such a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. I also don’t want them to start worrying about me as a parent or give the any cause for concern, I will get there and just wish I could be like Rich and have that connection straight away too. Feeling bad and answering all the questions in a happy response, as to not seem like I had a problem in the world with the settling in period, I knew in the back of my mind something hadn’t quite clicked yet for me but that I was doing everything practical that he needed, taking comfort from that if nothing else.
The conversation then moved on to how things have been when we have been out and about with the boy, which was probably something we really did want to talk about as our main concern over the past week has been worrying about bumping into someone we may know and them getting to meet him before our parents got to and that would make us feel really bad, so we have sort of avoided too much venturing out. We have been to our local shopping centre but during times when most people would be at work to limit these chance meetings. Gemma with a happy smile explains that this will be nothing to worry about soon, as she says in a suggestive way “your parents will have met him VERY soon, so all of the worry will be gone”. She then asks “But have you been anxious about anything else when going out, like what people are thinking about you being a two Dad family?” which was an easy one for us as we are not the type of people to really let that bother us, if a situation came about where we were challenged on it we would be totally fine to respond on the matter through being positive. Rich wouldn’t take any rubbish about us and now even more so about his son, so this has never really been a concern of ours. We did explain that when we have been out, we have really enjoyed it and that the feeling of pushing him around very proudly in his buggy which we have been taking turns on so no one is hogging it, mainly me, is something that we never ever imagined would be something we would be doing so it feels that little extra special. I then feel a sudden excitement about the relaxed rules and the fact that we can make the decisions ourselves as parents and not just follow the textbook and explain that next week we are going to be more adventurous and take him to places we will regularly go and if we bump into anyone then we won’t be worried about is as we are definitely going to introduce him to the Grandparents this week, as we feel he is ready and they are more than ready too.
Rich then starts to explain a couple of stories that I know he has been dying to tell Gemma all week, as although we feel we have been very good practically we have had a couple of mini disasters when we have been out, in true rookie parenting style. The first of the mistakes was not taking a clean vest or a change of clothes in the day bag and being that the boy is teething, his nappy explosions have meant we have had to abandon some “situations” in the changing room bin, god I hope there are no CCTV cameras in baby change facilities. Rich then jokes that he has used more wet wipes in this past week that he has ever seen in his entire life, but I couldn’t make such claims as I have had some terrible home tans in the past that needed fast rectifying before I could leave the house. I explained that we have already lost two dummies this week and forgotten to take out a bottle of boiling water for his formula on one occasion, so the packing of the all important day bag now takes even longer as I give it a final check at least three to four times before believing I have everything I need. Gemma really laughed at this and gave us a very reassuring “well you better get used to this, as it won’t be the last time you forget something, I’ve been there so many times” which really should have made us worry about the fact that it doesn’t get any easier, but the way Gemma explains things like this to us makes us feel okay to make mistakes and also reminds us that all parents go through these issues, it’s thankfully not just us.
Gemma starts to get her stuff ready to go, as she other appointments to get to today but Rich pipes up and asks a very direct question “so you think we can get our parents round then, you think that’s okay?” clearly worried that we have stuck to the process so much we may have neglected our families, but also scared that we then introduce them and it all starts to go horribly wrong for us as it’s too quick. We know they are all really excited to meet him and have had to wait even longer than us, which as new Grandmothers to a Grandson they probably never thought they would have due to us being gay, it must be killing them that they can’t just pick him up, give him a cuddle a spoil him rotten. Gemma just reaffirms that if we think he is settled and could deal with it then of course they could meet him, Rich turns to me and says “babe we can invite your Mum over tomorrow then” and Gemma smiled in agreement. I then got butterflies as I know my Mum is going to be so happy when I call her later to officially invite her over. Gemma then finishes packing her stuff and says “guys, everything I have heard makes me feel that we made the right match, but remember I am always just a phone call away if you need me”. Hugs all round before we wave Gemma off and then perfectly timed the boy starts rubbing his eyes, as his nap is slightly later then it has been this week. Rich takes him up after a kiss and is back down five minutes later to say he was already sleeping, to which I have to kick myself as we should have put him down when Gemma was here to show we have mastered the routine but hey maybe next time.
For our first home visit as parents, I feel like it actually went really well and we are now very excited to start introducing him to the family, which we are both very excited about and will no doubt have a queue of people wanting to visit but we are going to take this slowly and at a pace we are comfortable with. We need to not get ahead of ourselves, as we are only a week into him living with us and have had a really positive visit today from Gemma, but he visits are always positive and supportive of us. It’s next week we need to be worried about, as Dawn will be coming over for her visit and as the boy’s social worker she is the one we really need to impress.