Saturday, 26 March 2016

Life story memories

After nearly sixteen months in hospital and nine months in our family, Russell is home! We're so pleased that he's finally here, and our family and friends are queuing up to visit and meet him.

As we were packing up his hospital room we came across lots of items that we had no idea where they'd come from. Teddies, toys, blankets and even clothes regularly appeared in his room when we weren't there, we'd ask the nurses who'd left them but they often didn't know.

As foster carers, one of our most important tasks is helping a child to keep track of their life story whilst they're with us and beyond, and a big part of that is tangible memories such as little outfits, presents, photos, artwork etc. with an explanation of their meaning. A teddy near a hospital cot could be a gift from a nurse, it could have been left by a charity who provide little presents for children in hospital, it could have been passed on by a social worker from another relative, it could have been brought by a parent during contact, or it might not even be Russell's! We had kept a particular blanket early on that said "My mummy loves me" in the corner, feeling sure that it was from Russell's mother, and then had found a tiny label that proved it was just one from the hospital store cupboard.

Thankfully, the play specialists on the ward where Russell spent the most time were very good. They took photos of him every week, made little hand and footprint paintings every couple of months, and compiled these together into a folder as a record of his time there, including bravery certificates for his various procedures. As he grows up he'll be able to look back on these and see how tiny he was as a premature newborn, how quickly he grew, how much he smiled even with tubes and machines everywhere, and will hopefully realise that even though he had a long hospital stay, he was very much loved and cared for first by the nurses, and then by us.

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