First, we finally got in to the new house!! Yay!! We've moved into the new house and spent the last week or so getting the old house "rent ready". Lots of paint, some new flooring and no less than 10 trips to Lowes and Home Depot. I'm finally happy with it and comfortable with strangers living in "my" house. It actually looks really nice now. Though it only took 5 sentences to say this, it has taken up 98% of our time for the last 2 weeks or so.
It's been 2 weeks and 2 days since Sweet Pea officially returned to her family. I met up with her mother at court. I was unfamiliar with the process so I followed her lead. She signed in on a clipboard. I asked the officer sitting there if I needed to sign in as well. He asked what I was there for and I said " a hearing for my foster daughter". He said "are the parents here?" I said "yes that was mom who just signed in". He scrunched up his face "Did y'all come together??". I told him that no we just met up in the parking lot. He says "but still...you guys are here together? That doesn't usually happen. I guess that IS in the best interest of the child though..." You could tell he was totally confused by our amicability. It saddens me to think that our situation is so unusual. Why can't parents (foster and bio) work together for the good of the child?! They aren't property to be won. They aren't pawns to be toyed with. I don't understand why it has to be so difficult for some.
We've had the good fortune to be able to see Sweet Pea a couple of times since her return, as she has had a few doctor appointments. In late August she had her follow up with her pulmonary specialist. Unfortunately, the follow up chest xray indicated there was still something of concern in her lung. The pulmonary doctor ordered a chest cat scan to see if we could get a better look at what was going on. The CT scan was done the day after she returned home to her mom. Because of my knowledge of her medical history, her mother asked me to go along. Sweet Pea would need to be sedated and that frightened both of us. Together we wait as they are prepping to sedate her for the CT. Her mom holds her while the doctor administers the medication to make her go to sleep. She drifts off and the doctor takes her, places her limp body on the imaging table and her mom and I both start crying. It was just a bit much for us. We went back to the prep room to wait in silence. I anticipated that it would take up to a week to get the results. I knew that it wasn't an "urgent" issue and there would likely be no rush. That afternoon the pulmonary doctor called. There are cysts in her lungs that take up a good portion of one lung. They contribute to infection (like all of the respiratory issues she had when she came to us) and if left long term can turn cancerous. Whoa! Wait a minute?! CANCEROUS?!? The pulmonary doctor recommended surgical removal as soon as possible (before cold and flu season hits). Her mom called me. "What do you think we should do?". I tried very hard to not lead her into me making the decision. This was her child now and moms have to make decisions like this. At the same time, I couldn't help but think how scary it must be for her. She's been a full time mom for less than 24 hours at this point and they're talking about cutting her kid open. I'd be looking for guidance too! So we talked and both agreed that we didn't want Sweet Pea to be that sickly kid who gets pneumonia every time the sniffles go around at school nor do we want her to have to endure chemo or radiation later in life should the cysts turn cancerous. I told her mom "We can always go have the surgical consult and discuss it. We're not agreeing to the surgery right now. We're just getting more information and more information doesn't hurt anything". I offered to go with her again and the next week we met with the surgeon. She explained the cysts were likely something that occurred when Sweet Pea was being formed in the womb. She reassured her mother "It's nothing you did. It just happened". She showed us the scan of Sweet Pea's lung. When they had said "cysts" I had imagined like little teeny fish egg sized cysts. Nope...these are full on large grape sized cysts in her little bitty lungs. They start at the bottom of the lobe and branch up into the upper part of one of her lungs. The surgical option? Remove 1/2 to 3/4 of the lung. Um WHAT!? I thought we were just talking about removing the cysts!! Now we're talking about removing most of her lung?!?!? Her mom and I kind of looked at each with the same look of horror and fear. We both cried. The surgeon is AMAZING though. She was so good at explaining what would take place that we really couldn't think of any questions to ask. I kept wondering if we were missing some aspect. Removing half a lung...I feel like I should question SOMETHING! The doctor left the room and gave her mom and I a chance to talk. We decided we'd go ahead and schedule the surgery. We wanted it over and done with. We don't want a ticking time bomb left to go off whenever her body so chooses. She's young and resilient. She'll recover more quickly at this age and God willing won't remember much of it (I hope). We are scared to death. They are cutting our baby open and removing most of one of her vital organs. We had a hard enough time when they sedated her for the cat scan!! I can only imagine what we'll be like when they take her for surgery. I remember when Cliff had his lung surgery and what that entailed. I hate to think of my little Sweet Pea having to endure that. The doctor said that she would be in the hospital for a minimum of 3 days but we should plan on a week just in case. Her mom invited both Cliff and I to be there and of course we will be.
Because of her doctor appointments we've been able to see Sweet Pea once a week since her return home. I think it's a good transition for all involved. My job has shifted from being the best mom I can be for Sweet Pea to helping her mother be the best mom she can be. I've told her that Cliff and I will always be available to help her out (within reason). If you think of us at all in the coming week, specifically on the 1st, your prayers are greatly desired and appreciated.