The Baby Box – creating narratives

In the last week I have yet again found myself in the precarious situation of being the bearer of news from Birth Family to give the boys and having to potentially face the backlash that the news may cause and I am left having to resist the urge to turn around to the boys and say “Please don’t shoot the messenger”. A few weeks ago one of the boys’ birth parents and their partner has had a baby and they will be keeping it.

Thankfully on this occasion the news although difficult for them both to hear was received with surprising maturity (or maybe a better description would be, their reaction was one of resolute acknowledgement). I think Waxy had been waiting for the day that he received news of this kind and while I know it is destroying him inside and from conversations he and I have had in the past, I know that he feels betrayed and rejected by his birth parent and at the same time I know that he will be worrying for the welfare of the baby.

****We have reliable information that the partner will be an adequate parent and has been instrumental in helping the birth parent get themselves back on track ****

As with anytime I have had to share difficult news with the boys, I have always made sure that they know that they can talk to us when they are ready and not push them to tell us how they are feeling there and then. On this occasion after reminding them of this, Waxy responded with “Well, it makes a change from you sitting us down with a hot chocolate and telling us someone else we know has died”.

Buzzbee’s response was similar to Waxy’s in most ways but he needed more reassurance that the baby would be safe and was more open about his concern for the baby’s welfare. From his point of view, while he was a baby he had Beeswax to look out for him and protect him. Buzz’s concern was that as he was effectively now a big brother himself but unlike Waxy he can’t be there to protect the baby himself. Buzz was also concerned about how Waxy would react and this was visible for a few hours in Buzz’s ‘fizziness’ which rather than placating his big brother was well and truly winding him up to the point where Bumble and I felt that there was a need to use PLACE and talk out loud about how we thought Buzz maybe worried that Waxy was upset or angry with the new and maybe Buzz thought Waxy was going to start blaming him again for being taken into care. To my surprise Waxy joined in and began openly reflecting too about how Buzzbee was be feeling so confused and how much he wished he would convince Buzz that it wasn’t his fault and that while Waxy maybe cross with ######, he isn’t mad with Buzz or the new baby (After so much time with DDP therapist resisting her help, it is nice think he had absorbed some of it).

As for Buzzbee, the news has stirred up thoughts and feelings about his life before coming to us and he has been firing off questions left, right and centre about what had happened to him and Beeswax and why did his birth parents not take care of him like Bumble and I do and so many more questions have arisen, thankfully I many of his questions we could answer because of the hard work one of the LA’s post adoption support worker did on gathering information and putting together wonderful lifestory books. But, Buzz’s questions about what his birth parents were thinking and why they made the ‘bad choices’ that they did, I cannot answer. I can guess but that is dangerous territory to get into. Instead I decided that my best way to support him would be to help him create a cohesive narrative of what had happened when he was and somehow this rapidly turned into “If I had grown in your tummy and I had been your baby what would it have been like? What would you have dressed me in? What colour would my pram have been? Would you have rocked me to sleep or put me in my cot and let me cry to sleep? SO many questions came flooding out and I did my best to answer his questions without filling his head with ‘what ifs’.

The questions and need for extra nurturing has become a nightly event at the moment and I know that it is what he needs right now but last night after the 100th time of him asking me about what it would have been like if I had given birth to him, I decided to show him something that only 2 people other than myself know about (Bumble and Jemima).

During our final cycle of IVF, I had a moment of madness and put together a box containing new-born baby items that I imagined I would bring our baby home in from the hospital. After we made the decision to stop the IVF I put the box in the loft and forgot about it for several years until I let it slip about the existence during a therapy sessions with Jemima. I told her at the time as I had closed the door on that part of my life, I thought it would be best to pass it onto someone who could use it but she encouraged me to hold onto it as it may come in handy in the future and I would know when it was the right time to introduce it – I was hesitant because I thought it might be seen as if I am still holding onto the hope of having a baby but she reassured me that she did not feel it would be seen this way.

Last night while settling Buzzbee down I started thinking about my ‘baby box’ and wondering whether showing him the box would help him.

I decided to talk to him about the box and unsurprisingly he asked to see the box and then was very keen to talk about every item in the box and my reasons for choosing them. He felt the textures of the blanket and teddy. We laughed about the size of the booties and mittens and how he fiddled with them trying to work out how many fingers/toes he could fit into them. He was very keen to understand why everything in the box was white and why I made that decision. And, then he came to the snuggy toy and squealed with excitement “Mummy I have one of these! You gave me it when I first met you”. He was right, I had given him an identical one but I had never thought about it and for a moment I don’t know if I was overcome by his excitement or if it was a delayed pang of sadness for what had never been but tears had begun to roll down my cheeks and Buzzbee noticed and asked if I was crying because he had made me sad. I told him that they were happy/sad tears. I was happy that I he had let me share my box with him and he could ask to see anytime he felt he needed it but I also had a thought for a moment how sad I was for him that I hadn’t been his mummy from the start.

We had a lovely hug and then he looked at his clock and said “Well, you’re a naughty mummy at the moment! Have you seen the time?” – I am not going to say the time but put it this way, Oops!

I don’t know if he will ever ask to see the box again or if it will result in another barrage of questions but Jemima was right. The box did still have a role to play and it played it’s part wonderfully.



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