Last night was Luke’s first night in our “apartment” (fully furnished basement in foster parents’ house.) This morning he awoke at 7am because we didn’t think to close the blinds. He was slightly groggy, but cheerful.
I headed upstairs, ate some eggs, toast, OJ and returned downstairs to dress myself and Luke for church, which required far less time, energy, and effort than dressing Mary the lady lightning bolt.
Mikki, Luke, and I attended Mass with the foster parents, their 5-year-old son, and two little munchkin foster kids, their first 1 to 1 ratio of kids to adults in a long time. At Mass, right before our row was excused to receive communion, I disconnected Luke’s oxygen tube from travel tank and cranked the switch to the “off” position. We stood to cross into the aisle when the fire alarms sounded. My heart filled with panic at the thought that Luke could suffer a case of apnea from the sound of the alarms. I took a deep breath, sat back in my seat, and plugged him back into the tube, closely monitoring his mood and breathing. By that time, a steady flow of parishioners swiftly exited the building, despite the ushers’ announcement, “There’s no fire, just stay where you are. Ignore the alarms.” Yeah, right. Most of the parishioners (myself included) ignored the ushers and sought safer shelter. Mass quickly ended when the fire department arrived.
We then headed to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. Arriving right at opening, the hostess led us to two joined tables with plenty of child seats. The foster parents orchestrated the seating chart so each child sat near two adults, thus allowing a double team strategy for any unruly behavior. The seating chart dictated that one toddler would sit at the end of the table, which was unacceptable to the hostess who claimed that she could not put a seat at the end because it would block other customers. I looked around at the empty restaurant and replied, “What other customers?” Crickets chirped. The hostess repeated her first line, then walked away and returned to her hostess stand where she promptly produced a box of 64 Crayola crayons and coloring book and spent the next 30 minutes coloring. (I am 100% serious. No kidding.)
We returned home and all was well. Mikki, Luke, and I napped for two hours.
After dinner, Foster Mom showed us how to change the “tender grips” which secure the cannulae to Luke’s face. The poor little guy started bawling, grabbing for his face, and fighting to get away. There was no pain involved because we used a solution which dissolves the glue. Foster Mom explained that the NICU inserted a feeding tube through Luke’s nose which caused him to dislike people messing with his face. An apnea episode accompanied Luke’s distress, which we intended so Mikki and I could learn hands-on how to treat such a case. My heart broke into a thousand pieces when he cried out and his throat collapsed. Foster Mom directed Mikki to turn the oxygen from 1/4 to 2 which provided more oxygen to Luke’s airways. Foster Mom explained that Luke’s cheeks turn red, and the skin around his mouth becomes pale, then blue from the lack of oxygen. Writing about it makes me tear up. It was soon over, and Luke and I quickly returned to our regularly scheduled playtime.
A few hours later, the trio descended to the basement for bed. Last night, Foster Mom supervised Luke’s daily hormone shot. I volunteered and took the syringe in hand, pinched the fat on Luke’s leg, drew back and hesitated. At that very moment, the words, “this will hurt me more than it hurts you” rang through my head and I finally understood what my dad meant all those years ago. In a split-second, I cleared the thought from my head, poked the needle through, and mashed the plunger, holding for a count to twenty. Luke flinched and gave a soft cry for the duration. Each time he moved, my mind focused on the thought of the needle wiggling back and forth in his leg, causing more pain with every twitch. Tonight, I did it again, unsupervised. Luke cried even more because his n00b daddy put the needle in his butt instead of his thigh and lost the grip on his fatty portion. Shortly after, Luke was back laying on the rug, watching the flame in the fireplace. He dozed, so Mikki and I prayed with him and put him to bed.
Tomorrow, I return home, leaving my wife and new son in a far off land until the state grants clearance and we can finally welcome Luke into his new home.