A newborn is a lot of work, am I right? I don’t care if they are the chill-est baby on the planet..they are still a lot of work. And some newborns are more work than others (can I get an amen?).
Both of my newborns have been a piece of work. Tera Evelynne cried from 5-11 pm non-stop every.single.day until she was 3 months old.
But that was nothing. NOTHING compared to our Little Miss. She cries non-stop pretty much all day, everyday. Thankfully, she doesn’t cry all night (usually). I know that some of the crying can be attributed to personality, but in the case of being a foster parent to a newborn, I think a lot of it does have to do with the situation. While I can’t say anything about Little Miss’ particular situation, even just the fact that she is no longer with her Mother is enough to make a baby cry all day long. She has been hearing her heartbeat, smelling her scent, hearing her voice and simply being bonded with her Mom for 10 months. Then she was taken away from that. No more voice, no more scent, no more smell, no more of that person that she knows so well. It’s rough.
There are many things, however, that can help with this transition. I’ve found myself running to the store or frantically adding these items to my Amazon cart. I thought I would share just in case it might help any other parents out there that are fostering newborns.
This is the first thing that I bought for our Little Miss. I went to Walmart and go this one:
Theo is a master at swaddling babies in a blanket, but as soon as I do it, they just pop their arms and legs right out. I also put these on her Amazon wish list, and “Grandma” bought them for her:
Lifesavers, I tell you.
The reason that swaddles are so great is because it helps the child feel safe and protected, almost like they are back in the womb. In Little Miss’ case, she has always been incredibly TENSE and her muscles have a hard time relaxing. Putting her in the swaddle helps her relax those muscles and ease the tension.
Tera never used a swing. She was just content to sit in her bouncy seat or roll around on the floor. But with Little Miss, I need a swing. First, she loves the rocking sensation. She needs to feel constantly comforted, and if the swing brings comfort, so be it! It also helps to keep Tera off of her, which is a MUST!
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a simple back and forth motion. We ended up borrowing a swing from a friend, and it has been wonderful!
I want to love baby wearing. I think it’s the coolest thing, and that so often it’s completely necessary. However, I never liked it with Tera and that was fine. She was the only child, so I could just set her down to get some things done around the house. Not so with Little Miss. First, Little Miss doesn’t let anybody set her down for any reason. Housework? C’mon!!!! That’s a stupid reason to put me down, so I’m just going to cry and cry until you pick me up again.
Second, Tera doesn’t let me put Little Miss down.
Because of this, I babywear. I still don’t love it, but I do understand it’s many amazing benefits and the fact that it does make many tasks (grocery shopping, housework) so much easier.
Right now I’m still using the moby wrap, which is a perfect little newborn snug hold. Little Miss conks right out the moment I put her in it. She loves it, she loves being so close to me and she loves feeling my movement as I go about my day.
(No, that’s not me. I would never white around these children! Hahaha.)
For Christmas, I will be getting an Ergo to carry her around in. The buckles make it a little bit easier to get on than the Moby, and it’s a little more heavy duty and more comfortable on the back.
If you get only one thing when you foster a newborn…get a carrier. They need to be constantly held and carried, and even if you don’t LOVE baby wearing, it will be worth it.
Sound Machine/White Noise App.
It took me about 7 weeks to figure this one out. Little Miss sleeps so much better and longer if there is a white noise machine making noise close to her head. Genius! Instead of buying a sound machine, we just downloaded a white noise app onto our phone. The app does tend to the suck the battery so the phone must be plugged in during nap time. It’s also slightly unfortunate that someone has to sacrifice their phone during nap time…but I’ll do pretty much ANYTHING to get this child to nap.
Dr. Brown’s bottles.
These are the bottles that the NICU provided for our Little Miss. They are designed to prevent colic and gas build-up while the baby is drinking a bottle. I have never tried regular bottles, so I don’t actually know if the effect is different. BUT everyone I’ve talked to says that they are the best bottles.
I’d go ahead and get this type of bottle if you are expecting a newborn in your home through foster care
Bottle paraphernalia, such as a bottle brush and drying tree.
I breastfed Tera, and was completely unprepared for the amount of bottle feeding and bottle washing I would be doing with Little Miss. While Little Miss actually only drinks every four hours, we still go through 6-8 bottles a day. That’s a lot of washing bottles, especially these Dr. Brown’s bottles that have 4 parts in each bottle!!! I put this bottle tree on Amazon and Theo’s Aunt generously bought it for Little Miss. It’s a MUST!
Sometimes I like to consider myself a minimalist. Basically, if it’s convenient to have less, I’ll have less. When Tera was born, I was really good at keeping her diaper bag organized. Instead of hauling around a diaper bag AND a purse, I just decided I would throw my items in the diaper bag.
When Little Miss came along, I decided that I wanted to continue on my path of ‘simplicity’, and just have one bag that I carried around. This made sense to me since I would now be carrying two children, I wanted to carry as little ‘extra’ as possible.
Well, that plan backfired. You see, Little Miss has visits and appointments and all types of things that Tera’s stuff can’t go to. Every other day, I would be picking through the diaper bag, taking out all of Tera’s stuff and making a neat pile on the couch. Of course, Tera would then get ahold of the pile and throw it all across the living room and it was resulting in chaos every time I was trying to leave the house and couldn’t find half the items I needed.
Finally I decided: separate diaper bags for separate children. On visit days, I just have to grab Little Miss’ bag. When we are going somewhere with everyone, I grab both bags. This also works for when we drop Tera off at nursery on Sundays. The nursery volunteers don’t have to sift through all of Little Miss’ stuff to find Tera’s pair of pants or diaper change.
I went the first 6 weeks or so with Little Miss without using oils around her. I was kind of wary of what the caseworkers or the birth family might say. Finally, one day I couldn’t take the crying any longer and I pulled out some serenity for Little Miss. That was the day that she took her first actual nap for me. A two hour nap. Without screams and crying. Without being held. Coincidence? It could be. But I’m willing to continue to use them even if it’s just a placebo effect (which I sincerely do not think it is).
They are also really helpful for me. A lot of the foster care process is full of unknowns, of nerves and anxiety and stress. Diffusing serenity or elevation or even just some lavender at night to help myself wind down has been helpful to me.
Patience, patience, patience and more patience.
Yep, I wish I could buy it from Amazon.
Unfortunately, patience is something that has to come through practice. And I need so much more practice in this area. Honestly, fostering a newborn needs a whole lotta patience. It’s patience for all the screaming and crying. It’s patience when it seems to take weeks to get ahold of someone at the agency. It’s patience when people in the store ask some questions that are borderline rude. It’s patience when you have to drive to multiple visits each week. It’s patience when both children are crying and the dishes are piling up and someone said something stupid and you are struggling with the heartache of saying goodbye. All at once.
I pray for you, dear foster Mom who is reading this post. I pray that God will equip you for the patience it takes to be a day-in; day-out foster Mom. It’s not easy, but it’s so, so worth it.
A word on diapers and clothes:
The agency gives an initial amount of money in Walmart gift cards for clothes and diapers. Unfortunately, Walmart doesn’t have the most extensive collections of clothing. It’s kind of a bummer to me that the foster kids have to wear Walmart clothes. I mean, I wear clothes from Wal-mart all the time, but it’s not my only wardrobe source!! I would encourage you to find other places where you can buy some nicer quality clothes elsewhere and use the walmart gift cards for the many, many diapers and wipes that you will need.