Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home for 10 days

It is hard to believe we have been home for 10 days.
It seems like we just got here and yet it seems like we have been through so much together.
First of all I have to say that it is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced and I still feel like it can’t be real. I have gotten very used to calling myself Mama and I really like the sound of it.
I also have to say that it is the most frustrating thing I have experienced. The frustrations all come from me—Hannah is great. I feel frustrated when I can’t understand what she wants or needs, I feel frustrated when I don’t know what to do (which is often) and I feel frustrated when I can’t seem to comfort her the way I would like to. I do think that I am a good Mom but I already wish I could be better.

We have done quite a few things for only 10 days and she is adapting well into my life and I hope she feels I am adjusting to her just as well.
She has had a few visitors—mostly family and a few friends. She warms up slowly to men but quicker to women and even quicker to children. She seems delighted to have some one to play with besides just Mom but she clearly seems to know that she stays with me.
She loves to have me around her and wants me to follow her everywhere, even into the next room to retrieve something. She doesn’t necessarily want me to do anything with her but just be there.
She is generally a very happy girl, enjoys everything, and never seems too frustrated when I can’t understand her. She understands me pretty well now but is not talking in English yet. She chatters and sings in Russian and I wish I knew what she was saying. She can sing the alphabet song if she does it with some one. She loves to play with baby dolls and her kitchen and carries her “purse” with her most places. She also loves to have her hair done and likes to do mine—she is all girl.
She has been out to dinner a few times, to bagels and coffee in the morning with the girls, and to church—she did well in all those settings.
She has also been to the swimming pool and has gone cross country skiing with her cousins—she was cautious of the pool at first but once her 8 year old cousin convinced her to go in, she loved it and cross country skiing was a hit from the start—she cried when I took her ski boots off.
I have seen little fits (tantrums) but they subside pretty quickly with “time ins” after which she repeats “I’m sorry Mama”, gives me a kiss, smiles, and goes right back to playing.
She is not very cuddly and does not like to snuggle with me (except at night) but we do get lots of good eye contact—she has really improved in that area. She freely gives me kisses but is not so quick to hug—I mostly get my hugs from games we play.
She is very smart though—she knows that I love the hugs and kisses so whenever I catch her doing something she shouldn’t be doing—she flashes her big smile and runs over to give me a hug and a kiss. How can I be mad then?

We are still trying to figure out the bedtime and naptime routine—that is the only hard thing we are going through right now. For the time in Russia and almost the first week here at home bedtimes were easy and fun. I would get her pajamas and she would be excited to put them on, we would get ready for bed, I would lay her in bed, read 3 books, say prayers, and she would then fall right to sleep while I laid with her. It was heavenly—at least for me.
On Sunday that all changed. She put up a big fuss crying and kicking when it was time for her nap and has continued that for all bedtimes since. The next day she still cried but would quiet fairly rapidly and then cling to me, not letting me put her down in bed but falling to sleep in my arms—it took a while. Now today she started screaming as soon as she saw her pajamas, cried all the way through prayers, but then quieted down nicely in my arms. Once calm she did lie down in bed but took over an hour to get to sleep.
I am not sure why this is changing but some theories are:
--she has realized that she can assert her authority for the first time without bad consequences and is doing so in a big way.
--she is very comfortable and having fun and just doesn’t want to go to sleep (bed)
--she is scared for some reason.
I think and I hope that it is the first reason. I have remained consistent in that once I start the bed time routine I do not quit and let her be up any more no matter how much she protests. I think she needs to know that I will carry through and not give in to crying. I also stay with her until she is asleep—I just feel she had enough time going to sleep on her own with no one to comfort her and I want her to know that I will always be there when she needs me. Also, it helps my bonding to be able to comfort her.

My journey to Hannah was long and difficult. I still don’t have any great insight as to why it has to be that way but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I certainly can’t imagine any different ending. I simply can not fathom Hannah and me not being together. It is the perfect ending to my long journey.

My adoption song is just as fitting as I thought it would be.


qmiller said...

Mary: Sounds as if the 2 of you are doing great! Those first weeks/months are so difficult with trying to establish new routines, getting to know eachother, and doing it all with the knowledge that it all effects how she perceives your relationship to eachother...such hard, but happy times! Wish I had some words of wisdom re: sleep, but infants have their own issues with sleep and I'm more familiar with establishing that routine. Stick with it... bonding, at the very least, is being accomplished, and I have to say that 4 year old can be very tricky little people!! : )
Hannah is a beauty, and you sound like you've found THE baby girl that you were searching for!

Tammy said...

It is so beautiful how you two have come together, just as you should have. I am so happy for you that it finally happened and that two are so clearly meant for each other!

It sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun together. I can tell she is a smart girl just on your updates!

"Mama" sounds so good, doesn't it??? I think you are doing all the right things at bedtime. I think sometimes we look for the "perfect solution" in that we will suddenly get what the problem is and be able to correct and all will be better. Keep up the good work mommy!

Lou Ann said...


I'm so excited that you are getting all this one on one time with Hannah right now. It's wonderful to help establish those routines and sleep usually is an issue. Just think what you are asking of her. To sleep in a place she hardly knows - by herself - which she's never done. So you are so correct both to not give in to the crying or change the time or routine but to stay there with her until she's asleep. My IA doc said it's critical not to do what her caregivers did which was leave her to fall asleep on her own. She said letting them cry it out either as an infant or an older child for the first 6 months is a big no-no according to their research. So get comfy and enjoy having that sweet little baby girl depend on her Mommy to help her fall asleep and always be there for her. That sounds like heaven to me.

You're doing great mom!

Lou Ann & Lexie too

Robin said...

It sounds like you are doing a GREAT job!! Take good notes because I will be contacting you with advice when we bring our little boy home.

I would love to meet her one day!

Cameron and Kyle said...

Mary, I loved reading your update. Mother and daughter sound like they are adjusting wonderfully. As for the bedtime issue, she might not need a nap anymore but maybe quiet time. Both my boys gave up naps between the ages of 3 and 3.5. Right away I noticed the days were a bit harder...mostly on me because I didn't get any down time but they went to bed so much easier. You sound like you are doing a great job mama!

Kelly and Sne said...

So wonderful to hear that you are both adjusting well and having such a good time with each other. I love a happy ending! By the way, on the topic of giving affection, it took our boy a LONG time to show us affection and enjoy cuddling. Now, 1 1/2 years later, he LOVES to cuddle (well, as much as a boy can sit still) and will give kisses and spontaneously tells us he loves us. Also, Miras was VERY clingy for the first month or two after we got home. To the point that I had to carry him around on my back in the Ergo just to get anything done around the house. So, I'm wondering if she isn't a little scared of being without you at night. Does she wake up at night? I don't know what advice to give you (we co-slept for the first 3-4 months so when Miras woke up crying - which was nightly - we were right there and could talk him back to sleep) but you probably don't want to let her "cry it out" at this point. In any case, it may be a phase (Miras still goes through I don't wanna go to bed phases) and it sounds like you are doing the right things to make her feel safe and loved. All the best and can't wait for more updates and photos of your beautiful little girl!

Margaret and Tom said...

Mary, so glad things are going well! You sound like you are responding to her just as well as you can, and she is doing wonderfully. I am wondering if she is having bad dreams or something, I don't think that is uncommon. You write so beautifully too, I know I will enjoy your blog!

lisa said...

Hi Mary! I can't even imagine what the two of u must be going through but I know that u deserve this love and all will settle down soon..... Well until Hanna turns like 13!

Hanna is so lucky
to have you as her Mama!!


Aaron and Julie said...

Hannah is beautiful. And adventurous - wow! She has done so many fun things and handled them all well :) I wish I could offer you some comfort on the bedtime struggles. You are doing a great job by staying consistent. With B, we slept in his bed with him for a month (in KZ). At home we stayed with him until he fell asleep for 3 months and we moved out of his room slowly. It was a process, but it got better and the tears eventually dissolved. You are a GREAT Mom :)

Kimberly said...

Mary - sounds just amazing - even with the difficulties - it also sounds like you are a fabulous mommy!

Jamey & Catherine said...

Hi Mary,
I have been following your blog for some time now. Hannah is a wonderful litle girl and has a beautiful smile. I haven't commented before but I thought there were a few things on this post that I might be able to give suggestions for. Our daughter came home from Kazakhstan in Aug 2008 and very much to the same tune as Hannah she had good eye contact but unless she initiated it or it was closer to bed time she didn't want to cuddle or snuggle all that much. Part of the reason from what she tells us now that she has better English is that she felt like she was not remembering the "Mamas" at the Orphanage and that cuddling with me or her dad was kind of a betrayal to them. She was afraid to go to sleep because she'd been sleeping with other girls in the room for a long time and was all alone in a room in Canada. Also, where does mom go when I go to sleep? Oksana had it in her head that if she went to sleep that it would all be a dream and we would disappear. She was comforted to know that we were sleeping in the next room and in the 15 or more times that she got up and night to "use the bathroom" is was actually because she was making sure we were real. To help with the cuddling and what not we would put hand lotion on each others hands and arms to promote physical contact and kept explaining that we were a (Visigda Semya) Forever Family. It sure sounds like you are doing a wonderful job with her and I am sure you are not giving yourself enough credit. Its a huge change for both of you and understanding will come in time. One suggestion that I wish I had done more with my Daughter was to take as many videos of her speaking Russian as possible. In a few years time Hannah will probably think it impossible for her to have spoken a different language at all. Oksana says that its like all of her Russian memories are foggy and don't seem real. Two years ago she didn't know a word of English and she is unfortuanatly losing her Russian at an alarming rate now that i wish I had more videoed memories for her. Anyway...Keep doing a fabulos job! Have fun with all the firsts that you get to have with Hannah.All the best


Kim said...

10 days into it and you already have the guilt, welcome to motherhood! :-) You will always feel like you could be doing more. I bet you are the best mom! Don't worry about the hugs and kisses yet. That will come. Maybe in 1 month, maybe in 1 year. It took Josh a LONG time to feel comfortable with my touch. Hannah is BEAUTIFUL and I am just so happy for you all!

Mama Andrea said...

Adjusting is a little frustrating, I'll admit as well. Almaz will not sleep by herself, she refuses to wear pajamas, most of her clothes she refuses to even try on (only wears t-shirts and jeans, sometimes sweat pants), she will not let me read books at bedtime, food she ate before she won't touch now. Hopefully she'll come around or I'll learn to realize it isn't important. :) I too feel that I'm failing her sometimes but I realize I'm not perfect and that I will have to handle a situation better next time.

It is great that Hannah is talking or singing in any language. She sounds like she's adjusting and the two of you are having lots of fun. My pediatrician recommended children's songs and to read nursery rhymes. I notice a huge difference now. Almaz has her own clock radio with a cd player and she can pick her own cds, plays songs over and over ... and over. :) "bissy bissy spider" and the "ABC song" are her favorites. We dance and sing while I'm cooking. "My first sing-along" 2 cd set was at Target and she loves it.

Misty Clark said...

Sounds like things are going very well for the two of you. How wonderful! Yes, your journey was a long, and at times, frustrating one but how rewarding it is in the end. We are so thrilled for the two of you!