Today is the Pumpkin Patch field trip for my two kindergarten students. Tommy is excited and motivated to get out the door. Mere, not so much.
Mere is my fearful child. She has a great sense of humor, and is quite the joker. But when there is something new coming up, she will fret about it for days and play out every wicked scenario in her little mind. Today, she thinks she is going to get lost in the corn maze.
I try to help her overcome her fears. They often seem irrational, silly, and unwarranted. They make her look weak, when in fact, she is a very strong, sensible little girl. I don't want her to be debilitated by her fears. After all, she has overcome soooo very much in her young life already.
This is how life started for Mere.
Born to a cocaine dependant mother, Mere was the 5th child born and removed from her family of origin. In other words, irresponsible behaviour was not new to her birth mom. But that's another post, another day.
Mere was born 13 weeks early, weighing in at 1# 15 oz. and just 13 inches long. Picture a ruler, with feet and a tiny face and hands. Barely surviving, she was transfered to a larger hospital in the next town over. Before the week was over, she was transfered to an even larger childrens hospital 1 1/2 was hours away. The man, who thought he was father, took the bus to the town where she was resting in the NICU, just to be a part of the decisions being made in her life. Birthmom? Gone, as if nothing happened.
Mere had to undergo a surgery to removed decaying pieces of her small intenstines, but within days of closing her incisions, another life saving surgery was needed. This time, Doctors had to remove a larger part of her small intestine. She had necrotizing enterocolitis. Big word for such a tiny baby. A feeding tube surgically inserted into her stomach would insure she got the nutrients she needed while her little body healed from 2 surgeries close together.
I didn't meet Mere until she was 3 months old. She was still struggling to gain weight, but her scars had healed to a bright red line across her abdomen. She had a TPN line in her leg and the feeding tube sticking out from under her rib cage. She was wrinkled, and still. The nurses called her Dolly.
Once the state took over her guardianship, the "father" was found to be nobody to Mere according to DNA testing. I've often felt sorry for him, since the first few months of Mere's life he cared for her like a father would. He even brought her a tub full of toys, blankets and clothing before he disappeared into that grey fog of "whose baby is she?"
When we stepped in as foster parents, it looked like Mere would come home to us long enough to heal and move on to the family that adopted her next oldest sibling. A little girl just two years older than Mere. Seeing her later made me think of Mere. They look so much alike.
Mere was released in April, three and one half months after her birth. We had learned her care, her feeding machine, her routine. We learned how to bathe her with tubes attached to her body, how to make her formula that cost $50 a can. Golden milk for a sick baby.
We found a car seat for a preemie, one that still swallowed her up when she was placed inside it for the ride home. She was only five pounds, fully dressed. We bought a mesh cover for the top of the car seat so no one would touch her with unwanted germs. We learned to protect her.
Fast forward to a tiny framed little blonde, ready to turn 7 years old much sooner than her dad and I are ready for it. Most of the time I look at her and see a normal, well adjusted, funny and sweet little girl.
But on field trip day, when I sense her fear of being lost, I take a minute to reassure her that all will be fine. I tell her that she is smart, she is fun and she makes friends easily. She will not go through the pumpkin patch alone, her teacher will put her with a group that will make sure she makes it out of the maze just fine.
"But what if I get lost, Mommy?"
So, again, I reassure her she will be just fine. After all, Someone special has been watching her from her very first breath, well before we ever met her. And I am sure He is going to be keeping His eyes on her for a very long time.
Matthew 10:29-31(New International Version)
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."