I have 3 babies.
One I carried within my womb but never got to meet.
One I carried within my heart but never got to meet.
One I have carried in my arms, in my heart, in my mind but did not come from me or my husband and will eventually return back home to his birth Mamma.
For about four years, I have longed for this role, the title of Mother. I have longed for my days to be filled with bottles, diapers, lotions, naps, laundry and cuddles. I have longed for the groggy nights, going in to comfort a needy baby.
But I never expected it to be such a storm of emotions.
I may be a mother, but I’m not his mom. My new name is Mamma Caitlin.
He has a mom. And, my goodness, does she ever love her boy.
I don’t want to take that honor or title away from her.
And while I drink in his big, bottomless brown eyes, his deep dimples, his precious giggles, I’m laden with sadness that Mom is missing these moments. She’s missing his scent, the feeling of his silky, baby fine hair.
I write down the big moments from each day. I make sure that when I am able to hand Little Man back over to his Mamma that she will have those missed moments, and hopefully she will be able to pick up where we left off.
I never knew my version of motherhood would be this, the sharing the love of a little baby boy with a woman I’ve never met. A love that is fierce, making us both willing to fight to the death for what is best for Little Man. My hope, my prayer, is that the things we both fight for line up and match, that we can be mutual in our fierceness, both able and willing to compromise and sacrifice for the best outcome for this little soul.
I never expected to love a baby and yet want it to leave. I never expected to long so deeply for a broken and hurting woman to find healing and freedom. I never expected to long for the day where I can meet Mom, and the day where I can hand him back to her and watch her resume the role she was meant for this entire time.
I never expected to feel a stab of pain when the babe turns his head to my breast in hopes of nursing, knowing he is missing out on that intimate connection he can only share with her, a connection I will never be able to provide for him. Being able to imagine the physical pain she must be in not being able to nurse, not being able to comfort and nourish him.
I also struggle with the knowledge that none of that may happen. I ache with knowing that Mom more than likely hates me with the passion of one thousand suns. My heart hurts being able to imagine the absolute desperation Mom must be feeling, waking up without her little one next to her.
I never knew all these emotions could exist side-by-side.
And this is the tension we will be living in for the foreseeable future. The longing, the hoping, the aching paired with the joy, love and anticipation.
This is foster care.