This week sees the beginning of a new phase in our lives. Little One has started her full days at nursery, and I’m back at work too. It got me thinking about the past year, and how my thoughts have changed over time….
Little one has been home almost a year now. This week I keep thinking about the week before we met her, (this time last year) and thinking about how life has changed.
I remember having just finished work for adoption leave, and having a few days off before to do last minute prep, as well as run the Great North Run. I remember it feeling a bit surreal, and I was at a bit of a loss of what to do with my time. I remember wondering round the shops but not really being able to buy anything as we didn’t know her size or really what she liked or disliked. The house was clean, her room was ready so there wasn’t a lot to do.
I remember buying her carseat, and then it feeling really strange driving around for a few days without a child to put in it. We had a pushchair, and a highchair, again, without a child. We had all the toys, but no one to mess them up and not tidy them away. We had all the story books, but no one to read them to. I know all parents do this before their baby is born, but our ‘baby’ was already born but with someone else at the time. Oh how I wished that week would fly by.
I remember meeting members of her birth family, and having the placement planning meeting. All those people had met our daughter, except us. It felt strange talking about someone we didn’t know, but planning the beginning of the rest of our lives.
I remember running the Great North Run, and feeling like every step was a step closer to the day I was going meet my girl. The training I did ran pretty much alongside all the prep we did during matching and getting ready for her to come home. Intros were even put back a few days so I could do the run. I was quite emotional at the end of the run, as I felt I’d done the run for her, even though I’d never met this precious child. I ran it to raise money for our adoption agency who had been great. It was a cause truly close to my heart.
Those early days of placement were tough, my poor girl was grieving so much for her old life (she did/still does adore the foster carer & family). Looking back on that time I realise I was grieving for my old life too. I really missed my work. I missed the team friendship and support, the challenge, the sense of achievement I got from work. I missed the routine. I missed the carefree life when I could come and go as I pleased. There were a fair few tears from both of us. I felt cut off, isolated from my friends. At times I felt forgotten about, and ‘out of the loop’ I am however very grateful to the friends who did keep in touch, to those who texted or who wanted to meet up, those are the people that kept me going. We kept our world quite small to start off with, and looking back I do wonder ‘how did we manage?’, ‘what did we actually do to fill those long days?’ I’m still not entirely sure what or how we did it, but we did, and we’ve come out the other side still smiling (well most of the time)
I took a year off, it was always planned that way, as I wanted to spend as much time with our daughter as possible. Luckily we could afford to, and the generous adoption leave arrangements from the NHS is one of the (few) perks of working for them. I knew that I would never get that quality time again with my little girl, so didn’t want to rush back to work. I’ve returned to work part time, and she’s at nursery. I didn’t go full full time because I still wanted some time with her before she goes to school next year.
It’s not always been easy, but I’m so glad I was able to take off the full year. I’m pretty sure it’s really helped our bonding and attachment. We’ve got to know each other so well. I know just how she ticks, and she’s knows just how to push all those buttons of mine, little monkey! We’ve been able to take our time exploring our world together, and have been able to build a really good predictable routine. I know now that she is really settled here and very much see’s us as her family. I’m sure this has made her start to nursery smooth and that makes my return to work easier. There were times when I wondered about sending her to nursery earlier, just for the break to be honest, but looking back now I’m glad we didn’t. We all needed that time to learn to be us. She still got her social interaction and learning from the groups we went to, and we’ve done some fun activities at home too. I am lucky to have really supportive family who looked after her for short amounts of time to give me a bit of space which was really needed. We did get questioned about if she was in nursery (by strangers and professionals), but I’m glad we stuck with our gut feeling and didn’t give into pressure. I still maintain that I didn’t take the time off for someone else to look after her.
So now we’ve started on the next phase of life I do feel sad that it’s the end of the previous one. I wish we had longer to carry on doing what we want when we want without the rigidity of work and nursery. I feel a bit sad that after only a year with her, I have to let her go a bit. However, I know it’s best for all of us to move on. I will hopefully benefit from the mental and social stimulation from work, and she I know will benefit even more from everything that nursery will give her. I’m probably too protective of her, so nursery will give her some of the independence I struggle to. She will be able to see her little friends every day. She is very bright, so will thrive with all the resources and activities they have there. So far she’s been very happy to see me at pick up time, and I’ve not had any reports of her not settling whilst she’s there so I know she’s ok.
My super girl has done amazingly well with all she has gone through, and makes me so proud. Her smile when she see’s me, and her happy exclamation of ‘Mummy!’ make all the hard work of the last year so totally with it……