My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cosette Day / Photo Dump

First moments with dad after 1,338 hours apart
Thank you so much for your interest / prayers / encouragement regarding our journey to reuniting Austin and Cosette! I will say that the tension continued right up to the moment we were able to take her with us but we just pressed on and held fast.

There's some discrepancy regarding the concept of "co-parenting". One parent feels like it gives them some magical power like, "abra-ca-dabra!" if they use the word "co-parenting" they can make any demand and it should be fulfilled. That's not quite how it works. So we had continual discussion up until the moment we were able to have Cosy about how Austin's day-long visit with his daughter would go. She had never been away from her mom, really, to my knowledge. Frequently when they lived with us Mom would be upstairs and Cosy would be downstairs in my living room for extended periods of time. We know she left her with me one time when she rode with Pop to pick up Austin from work. And we know that she had left her during court on Monday. Beyond that... we don't know. So I can appreciate that mom had some apprehension. We were concerned that Cosy might be anxious as well.

< ---- First moments together... visiting daddy's work

Mom wanted us to bring Cosy back midday so that she could nurse before her nap. We felt strongly that was a bad idea for several reasons. First and foremost it doubled the potential for anxiety for Cosette in leaving her mom. She would have to separate from her twice in a day not just once. That seemed risky, especially not knowing how Cosette would react. Secondly... it just didn't make sense to nurse her to sleep and then try to put her in the carseat and take her out of the carseat when we transitioned her back to Austin's custody to finish her nap. She doesn't sleep that deeply where she can be moved around and still stay asleep. Going without a nap all day would definitely make for an unhappy baby and we didn't want that to happen. And lastly, it was an interruption in Austin's visitation which... he gets nine hours a week right now... so interrupting that wasn't fair to Austin or Cosy. It's also important to note that the Judge felt that Cosette could spend nine uninterrupted hours with Austin and that's what's in the temporary custody order.

The thing about co-parenting is that both parents have input. The parent who has the child in custody at the moment the decision has to be made is the one who has to make the final judgement about her welfare. Since Austin felt strongly that taking her back to nurse midday was not a good decision for Cosette, that's what we did. (And... spoiler alert... he had no problem getting her to sleep. He had done it many times before and was confident in his ability to do so.) So on the way to pick her up we had to deal with the tension about that decision.




(above photos are at breakfast... she didn't eat the big roll, but she thought it was really funny to hold it!)
Mom was helpful enough to provide us with a diaper bag with a change of clothes, tylenol, diapers and wipes. Really clothes were the only thing we didn't have in abundance for her. She also provided a helpful list of favorite foods and new habits that we might not have been aware of. She also gave us a list of requests... things like wanting us to contact her every hour with updates, giving her a list of times that diapers were changed, providing her with details of what she ate and when. As a mom, I can see the reason for some of those things. I understand her anxiety. We opted not to provide hourly updates. We did provide periodic updates and of course, I think it makes sense for her to know what she's eaten, especially if we had introduced something new or different and it caused a reaction. That's the give and take that needs some work. Austin would never dream of asking to know what Cosette is doing every single hour of every day that she's in her mom's custody. We have to assume that mom is making the right decisions for her and... she has to make the same assumption. In my opinion we should provide consumable products like diapers and food but I don't think it's necessary for Cosette to have two separate wardrobes. We have a few outfits for her but we don't have any warm weather clothing for her and yesterday was hot. We appreciated having an option of a cool outfit to put her into (as she spilled water on her little dress). We sent her home with different socks because the ones she had on got wet (spilled water) and we trust that mom would return those in the same way we returned the non consumable items she sent. To me that's just what you do. We also sent her home with a toy that she particularly enjoyed playing with as we had two and ultimately... she enjoyed it so much that we wanted her to have access to it. Again, that's just what makes the most sense for Cosette.

We all arrived at the pick up spot early but mom wouldn't allow us to have her until 9am straight up. When we brought her back we got there about five minutes early and immediately gave her back because it was the right thing to do. Her mom missed her and was eager to see her and we weren't going to deny her immediate access. We had worried (been told, actually) that Cosette had no idea who Austin was and couldn't tell him from any other "stranger". Not true. She saw him while were in that "waiting until 9am" time frame and she immediately pointed and smiled and then looked confused that he didn't come get her. This was the same look on her face she had in the courtroom a month ago. She knows her dad. At nine a.m. - after nearly two months of desperately missing his baby - Austin was finally allowed to take her into his arms. I thought I might cry but I was trying to be really focused and make sure we had a clean break without Cosy getting upset to I held it together.

For about the first half hour or so she was really quiet to the extent that I was afraid she had some regression in language. She never cried but she was obviously confused. We took her to Ingles so dad could show her off to his co-workers and so we could pick up some tylenol for our own use if she needed it. While we were in Ingles she smiled and had fun but was still really quiet.


Then we drove into Helen to have breakfast at Hofer House. < --  link in case you want to see where we went. It's a favorite of mine and Austin's and we felt like it would give us some privacy as it's more of a tourist spot than a place the locals go. Cosy started warming up when we got seated. She was excited to have a menu of her own, she had fun playing with our phones and she kept pulling my headband out of my hair (this is something she has done in the past). She was smiling and giggling but still not really talking and then Austin did something silly - put my headband on, I think - and she said, "DADDY!" like she was saying, "oh, daddy, you're being silly!". We both immediately teared up. She knows her daddy. He's not just "some stranger" that she randomly smiled at. From that point on she was the same baby we've always known. She enjoyed her breakfast, she behaved really well and we just really enjoyed being with her. There was a gay couple sitting beside us and they just adored her. We were chatting and they said, "she is such a happy baby!" Which made us really proud.

< --- She loves this big Cat in the Hat book

We had thought about going to some other places, like maybe Babyland General but we decided that it was probably best to just surround her with things that were familiar to her. We went home and she was so happy to see Mawmaw and the cats and "oof" the dog. She went right to her toys and we just let her have at it. We watched Sofia the First and The Cat in the Hat, shows that she's used to watching with me. Her dad kept her down in my living room all day because his room is on the top floor and you just can't keep it cool enough when the weather is as warm as it is right now.

She started getting sleepy before 1pm. Her dad laid down with her on the daybed in my living room (that has an ottoman right beside it so if she rolled off she would only have about 12 inches to drop) and it took him less than two minutes to get her to sleep. He fell asleep too and they slept for over an hour. I sat and stared at them because ... you know... feeling all the mom/nana feels.

My mom had to go to the doctor in Braselton (about an hour away) so they had to leave Oscar with us. Oscar can sometimes be snappish and he is very attached to me when Mawmaw and Pop are gone. It got a little complicated at that point because I wanted to play with Cosy and Cosy wanted to play with me but we had to make sure Oscar behaved himself. Mom's doctor found more "spots" that are potentially cancer. It's worrisome, to say the least, especially that they came back so quickly. She has further testing done at the end of this month.

Right before time for us to head home Cosy started feeling a bit warm to me. Her mom said she has been teething - she has 8 teeth now! - and has needed tylenol so we gave her a dose before we headed out to take her to her mama, just in case. We had been down in my living room which is always the coolest part of the house and had kept her in just a little camisole onesie but she had been climbing up and down the stairs with her dad so she may have just been warm from that. Either way... we took her back... the exchange was mostly without incident. I texted back and forth with mom giving details of her tylenol dosage and what she had eaten. Exchange of necessary information is no problem to me. I'm chatty and enjoy giving details. I especially enjoy talking about my grandbabies.  It's been made an issue that I've been the one inquiring about her and I think during this time of transition, we need to just do whatever works. It matters most that we're on the same page and that everyone who is taking care of Cosy knows what's going on. I know some custody issues where all communication has to be done through lawyers. I don't want that to be Cosy's life.

So... all in all... we felt like yesterday went very well. I was so relieved that she didn't have any anxiety. She never cried. Never seemed to have any anxiety at all. In fact, she seemed really relieved to be with her daddy. She did give a little whimper when he stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and was gone for about five minutes (also to take the dog to the bathroom). I showed her where daddy was and told her he'd be right back and she got back to playing.

We still have to go through mediation and get the final custody agreement approved by the judge. This is where it gets down to the nitty gritty / rules for living for the next 17 years. There's a long way to go in getting to a healthy co-parenting relationship that involves adequate communication without harassment. Parenting separately takes a lot more work than parenting together. You have to parent instinctively and not worry about what complaint the other parent might have about how you do things. You have to trust that the other parent is doing their best and has the best interest of the child at heart. I hope that mom, in her nine hours away from Cosy yesterday understood a fraction of what it has been like for Austin to be away from Cosy for 1,338 hours - almost 150 times the length of time. If there was anxiety in not knowing for even a single hour what was happening in Cosy's life... imagine what Austin has gone through. The fact that his communication style is different does not mean he didn't suffer. It has impacted him greatly. Today I am tired but I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I hope that this initial success leads to a spirit of better cooperation.

Hope you enjoyed the photos. Thank you again for your kindness and concern. I am so grateful for the support... it makes a huge difference. At times when we wanted to give up, your encouragement kept us in the fight. Happy Friday, happy weekend, love and hugs, y'all!


MammawsDecorativeArt said...

I have had you all in my prayers. I love seeing all the pictures of her. My heart has really gone out to Austin. I know how this feels from an experience I had over 30 years ago. It has scarred me. But Austin has the family support that I did not so he will do so well. Your love and support is why he is the competent man he is today. My wish for him is that things will only get better and better in the future. I know your heart hurts as well in a deeper, much different way than everything else that does. As a Mom, I know you'd take it from him yourself if you could. That's what my prayers are for. All of you. I hope that Cosy doesn't feel the pain of her Mom's personality some day. She's so unpredictable and volatile. My breath kinda stopped with the news about your Mom. I'll pray for her daily. Nelishia

monica said...

This is the best post ever!
She is so adorable. I can't imagine how painful
this has been.
I have your mom in my prayers.
Have a great weekend and bless all,

JazzyMae said...

Great Post! :) So happy for you all!

Your poor mama... she has been through hell and back and now again. Shouting out prayers for her!

Anonymous said...

She is so pretty and tiny. I am glad you and her dad get to spend time with her. She needs her Dad and her Nana. The more people that love that child the better off she will be.