20 Mar The Six Week Surprise
We have had LAD for six weeks now. He has gained almost 4 pounds since coming to live with us, outgrown two sizes of clothes, and he is sleeping through more hours of the night than not. He is hitting developmental milestones left and right, and we are fiercely proud of each of them. So, obviously, it’s time for something to come along and surprise us, right?
One day, LAD started showing a small cluster of symptoms that could-be-nothing-but-might-be-something, so Beloved Spouse called the pediatrician’s office to ask whether it was worth an appointment. The nurse practitioner suggested we come in that very afternoon, so off I went to the doctor’s office– just me and LAD.
Everything about the situation felt wrong-footed to me. LAD was not unhappy or uncomfortable, yet there we were at urgent care hours, sitting in the sick child lobby. I had time to tell Bio-Mom about the appointment, but not to arrange our usual walk from the bus stop. LAD’s regular doctor was not working that day, so we got someone completely new to his case. Worst of all, I had walked in feeling certain that LAD’s symptoms were quite benign, that all of this was overkill, no big deal, and we’d be out in 10 minutes, but we sat in the exam room for an hour and a half and left with instructions to come back the next day if his symptoms got worse.
Now, every parent has some “medical moment” with their child. It’s a standard part of the parenting experience. But you know you’ve crossed the Foster Line– that distinguishing mark between foster parenting and everything else– when, for example, the doctor asks if there’s a family history of something and you don’t know the answer. “Uhh, can I phone a friend?”
Most parents would only hesitate to give a home remedy or an over-the-counter medication to a baby for philosophical reasons– an aversion to medicating before the immune response has had a chance to work, e.g.– but foster parents are not allowed to rely solely on their own judgment. We have to have a doctor’s permission to administer Tylenol, gas drops, saline, etc., and we have a subsequent obligation to document each dose. Not that it’s hard to acquire a standing order for such things, nor is it difficult to draw up and check the box that says, in effect, “He needed this, so I gave it to him.” In fact, for me, generating such documentation creates a sense of safety. I have it in writingthat I did right by this boy. I was careful with his health and deliberate about providing for his well-being and I am prepared to testify in court that I did so consistently and with the utmost integrity.
Go ahead, life. Throw me another curveball. I got this LAD covered.