Twenty Minutes

The Next Family

By: Stacey Ellis

Weeks of preparing. All weekend, every weekend from 6:00 AM til midnight for three weeks. Every night after work from 7:00 PM until midnight. Building furniture (yes, our crib and dresser are built). Babyproofing the entire house (we have drawers we can’t even open without a spoon handle in the tiny slit). Moving all medicines to a locked box. Moving all liquids to top shelves, of a locked cabinet. Three weeks total. And three last minute runs to SaferBaby on Ventura to pick up more “things” to make our home safe. Pure exhaustion. And then, our social worker comes in to review our progress and will either pass us on the home study or say she needs to come back.

We breathe deep when the door bell rings. She’s gone in 20 minutes. 20 MINUTES!!!! Did I say that loud enough? 20 WHOLE FREAKIN’ MINUTES! She complimented our choice of furnishings and our silver and crystal. Loved the floor plan of our house. She asked me for her checklist that she emailed to me. She forgot to bring one. She asked a few minor questions. She looked at our liquids on that top shelf, our medicines in the huge locked orange tackle box up high. Then, she left. Left. Gone. Done. We spent three weeks for 20 minutes? I wasn’t sure whether to be thrilled that she didn’t look in every cabinet and drawer, though each and every one was ready to be looked in, or to be angry that someone out there less prepared was going to be given a child and be unsuitable because she only spent 20 minutes with them! I spent the next two hours trying to justify my pure exhaustion. Well, she did ask what was in the lower cabinets and we showed her blankets and sheets. Well, she did ask if we had a gun (we don’t). She did notice the gate we put to block off the office because there is one step down. Then I passed out. I slept the rest of the afternoon and night and into the next morning. Our home study is done.

Now what? We wait. That’s it. Just wait. Hmmmm. I have been trying to get to this “wait” mode for weeks now. First we finished the birth mother letter and now we finished the home study. This wait thing is supposed to make me feel at peace. We’re done and waiting. It feels good. It feels scary. Scary because I realize I have no idea how to care for a newborn. I don’t know how to change a diaper or how often. I don’t know what formula to use or how often to feed. I don’t know what other things we “need” to bring with us when we get that call. I am truly clueless. And I realize my husband is just as clueless. Now we look at each other. Well, we both know infant CPR and first aid now, so hopefully we won’t hurt the baby. But wow, we will be handed a newborn from the hospital with no training in a state that may not be our own so we’ll be on an island, by ourselves, with a baby.

I start with swaddling. I keep hearing this word, “swaddling.” What is this “swaddling?” So I watch a video. What did women do before the internet? Huh. Swaddling. Okay. I get it. I feel good now. I know how to swaddle. Next, I decide to send out an email to my closest girlfriends who have babies under six months old and ask their advice on everything from bottles, to formula, to car seats, to swaddle blankets. Ask five friends and get nine opinions. All good ones. Fortunately, my husband is a spreadsheet guy. He put everyone’s responses in a nice big spreadsheet. And off we went to Babies R Us to poke around. We were determined to know more than how to swaddle…and we planned to spend more than 20 minutes…

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