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Finding space to breathe as a full-time caregiver

When they decided they wanted to become foster parents, Josie and Syd were ecstatic. “Raising a baby was one of the things we’d wanted so much, and we were really looking forward to it. We talked about taking turns getting up to feed the baby, changing diapers—all those tough jobs you expect to take on when you become a parent.” But parenting a medically fragile foster child was a tougher job  than they had anticipated. 

“We tried to handle everything alone for the first few months, and I’ve never felt so exhausted in my life!”

Josie felt lucky to be able to stay at home to care for Michael during the day, but after several weeks, the constant medical care Michael required was taking a toll on her own health and was contributing to a strain on her relationship with her husband.

When a neighbor suggested that they call Family Support Services for respite care, Josie and Syd were cautious about getting their hopes up.

“We knew how hard it was to find a caregiver who could manage Michael’s many issues. When you have a medically fragile child, you can’t trust just anyone to take care of him.”

Their concerns faded quickly when they met Anna, their Respite Care Provider. In addition to her first aid and CPR certifications, Anna was experienced at working with medically fragile children, and was specifically trained to feed Michael through a G-tube and administer his suctioning machine. 

“The first time Anna came, I was too nervous to leave, so she suggested that I just take a long nap while she cared for Michael. I slept for three hours and woke up feeling more normal than I had in a year. The difference in me was tremendous, and Syd could tell as soon as he came home from work that I was different. Respite has changed my parenting experience completely.”

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