I was still incredibly weak from those first few months of sickness, but I didn't have time to dwell on that now. I suddenly had a tiny little buddy with a powerful set of lungs and 24/7 needs to occupy my time with.
It was hard, and wasn't made any easier by the fact that C and I both came down with colds just a week into his life, but I really was enjoying myself. Since Fritz worked most nights, I took all the night feedings. Fritz would come and get C when he got home from work and let me sleep for an hour. We'd spend the days just watching him and all getting to know each other.
Fritz would leave for work at 3, and C and I would head off to the bedroom to rest and watch daytime talk shows for the rest of the afternoon. Our bedtime started about 10 pm, and we'd spend the night feeding and snugging. He insisted on cuddling in bed next to me all night long.
Fritz and I often commented on how insane we were to even attempt this. Caring for a newborn while I was 3 months pregnant and recovering from a major illness, Fritz working such long hours, and all of us sick to boot. But it really was one of the coziest and most entertaining times of our life. And I honestly wonder if I'd have ever managed to come back home if not for this distraction.
2 Weeks after we got C, we received a call from the foster agency. They had just been informed that prior to C's birth, the birth mother was working with LDS Family Services to put him up for adoption. A family had already been chosen and informed. The hitch came into their plan when mom showed up to the hospital high and C was seized into care. Now the potential adoptive family was petitioning the courts to still have him. We were gobsmacked.
I got off the phone and lost it. All that time we had been bonding with C as our own child, as we'd been told that was in all likelihood where the case was heading. (Foster parents get "first dibs" on kids in their care when parental rights are terminated.) I remember asking Fritz why Heavenly Father kept allowing us to experience so much loss and saying that I just wasn't strong enough to handle much more.
I asked Fritz to give me a blessing, and we had a family prayer asking that Heavenly Father's will be done and that we could come to accept whatever that will was. Then I went with little C to the rocking chair and just sat for 2 hours, thinking.
After a while, I began to feel a little more clarity. We had been told nothing of the potential adoptive family, but I began to wonder if they didn't need baby C more than we did. That we were both Heavenly Father's children and He knew all of our needs, and He had to choose whose needs were greater in this particular instance, even though it would cause the other of us pain. And maybe He also knew that Fritz and I were just a bit stronger than we knew we were. That we could handle this pain and learn to move on from it.
I will say that I never felt that it was better for C that he be with one or the other of our families. I had (and still have) no doubt that we could be a wonderful family for him. But I genuinely believe that this was more about Heavenly Father's grown children this time.
By the end of those two hours, I had decided that I was going to support Heavenly Father's will regardless of my own. I was going to support these parents and raise their child for a little while until they could do so. And I was going to try to make the transition as easy for him and them as I could.
It ended up that LDS Family Services could not claim the child for the family, so they had to be licensed as foster parents and then foster-to-adopt C. We met with the new parents once when they were in town for a meeting (they live up north). It turns out that they had lost two of their own children shortly after their births. And they were wonderful people. They acknowledged our place in C's life, and even how hard this must be on us. Even as we sat there feeling for them, having to wait almost two months to get their child who they'd expected to receive at birth. It wasn't difficult to feel that these were the people C was supposed to be with.
His last month with us, we spent trying to preserve for his new parents. We took lots of pictures and videos. I recorded his milestones (and saved as many as were possible to save, for them to have with him). We had professional photos taken of him. We labeled his special outfits so they'd have them for keepsakes, and I made them a mini scrapbook.
The day we dropped him off at the office was difficult. His new parents gave me a pretty necklace and beautiful note. We went home and felt sort of numb and empty. I couldn't help thinking that I was the only mommy C had ever known, and worrying that he'd be laying there in a stranger's arms wondering why I didn't come when he cried. Then I realized that C was an innocent in this situation. There's no way Heavenly Father would send him on along completely alone and confused. He was the only one who could offer our little C comfort. And so I prayed fervently that the transition would be easy on him and his new parents.
We recently received an update from them. C is doing wonderfully. Completely settled into his permanent family. The adoption will be finalized later this year and he'll be sealed to them.
It was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, but I got so much out of it. I finally understand true sacrifice. I also understand how freeing faith can be when you put your life completely in Heavenly Father's hands. I know now how powerfully He loves me, and how that love really can get me through anything.
The experience also brought me and Fritz back together as a unit. I had become really isolated (my own fault entirely) when I was sick. It was nice to have him back at my side. It was such a comfort to know that even when I couldn't put into words my feelings regarding C, Fritz already knew.