As I walk into the hospital, I say a quick prayer, asking for God’s blessing on this new little child I’ll be bringing home. The social worker walks towards me, fast-paced and red-faced. I notice the small beads of sweat forming around her hairline as she sputters out, “Ok, yeah, so, um, we’re going to get you upstairs and then we’re going to quickly get you into a room. Mom is here, and she’s very upset, and, well, we need to hide you from her.” After the alarm of the moment, my mind wanders, “She is upset? She did this to him, and she’s been off on the street since, while he’s here, alone and suffering. What right does she have to be upset?”
While his little body should’ve still been safe in his mother’s womb, he was lying in a plastic crib, fighting off the poison he’d been fed for 32 weeks. At four weeks old, he was suffering through the painful withdraw that conquers grown men. At four pounds, his little heart was fighting to beat, his little lungs fighting to breathe. He shouldn’t have even been born yet and already this woman had harmed him. She had no right to be upset.
The baby’s prematurity and drug exposure meant I needed two hours worth of CPR and heart/lung monitor training before I could bring him home. The medical supply trainer introduces himself and hands me a packet of information. “Sorry there’s already writing on it. This is the packet I went through when I trained mom last night.” I stop him. “You did this training with mom last night? Mom was here? Are you saying that she thought she was bringing him home until last night?” “Yeah,” he answers, “We did all the training and pre-discharge work last night. They tell me she’s been here with him every day.”
And then it changed. At that moment, I didn’t see her as an addict. I didn’t see her as the villain who had hurt her son. I saw her as a mother. A mom. A mom who had visited her son in the NICU each day for four weeks, dreaming of the day he could come home. A mom who had listened attentively to a medical supply trainer talk at her for two hours. A mom who had proudly chosen her baby’s “coming home” outfit. A mom who had left the night before without her son. She was a mom. Just like I’m a mom.
I understood the reality that she wasn’t ready to be his mom just yet. I would step into that role for as long as she needed me, as long as he needed me. And as I held him and rocked him and enjoyed all of the moments she missed, I would think of her. Not as “the woman who did this to him.” But as his mother. And as I remembered that “but by the grace of God I am what I am,” I would lift her up before this God who gives grace. I would stand before the God who loves us both, who created this child and placed him in this mother’s womb, and I would pray for his mom.
This post originally appeared at Foster the Family.