Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Warning--crying may occur when reading this

I will update on Hannah first as that is probably what everyone wants to hear about but then will talk about myself--afterall this is really a blog about my journey. Most of Hannah's story is hers to tell when she is ready.

Hannah is doing very well--her time clock has totally adjusted with her sleeping about 9 hours at night and then a 1.5 hour nap in the early afternoon. She has skipped her nap a couple days but does better with it. the sleeping difficulties seems to be working themselves out. She doesn't cry very much at all anymore and sometimes still takes a long time to go to sleep but sometimes she falls right to sleep. I can't complain about that.
She is understanding a lot of English that I speak and repeats many words that I say but isn't talking on her own in English yet. She can count to 10 and actually counts objects correctly and she can sing the alphabet song but she does not recognize the letters by sight yet and is still having trouble with colors. She can be very animated and playful and is a lot of fun to be with.

Hannah truly is the light of my life and when I look at her I can't believe the feelings of love I have--she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I still can't believe I am her mother.

But.......as good as it sounds all is not perfect all the time. Just a note to keep perspective--I am writing this after a particular trying day but we have had several perfect days also. I knew there would be many changes in my life when Hannah came and I prepared for many of them and certainly welcomed them. What has taken me surprise and what no one warned me about is how fragile my own feelings would be. I feel like an emotional wreck. I am not a crying person but have cried more than my share these last couple days.
When my friends or family visit or I visit them, Hannah would rather go with anyone else than me for playing, holding hands on the street, sitting by in church, etc. She loved my sister and I really want her to have a great relationship with my sister but it still hurt when she would repeatedly want her for fun things over me. I logically know this can be normal (especially for chldren from an orphanage) and I have even seen my own nieces and nephews do it when they were with me and asked their mom to leave. Despite having this knowledge I feel so deeply hurt by it and I can't seem to stop that feeling. Then I feel guilty because I am thinking of myself and I should be thinking of Hannah and what her needs are right now. It is all so confusing.
The other thing that is hard is that Hannah gets over everything so fast--as soon as she is done crying or whatever she acts as if nothing ever happened and wants to go on playing like nothing has changed. I am finding it hard to let go of my frustration or bad feelings that quickly but am really trying to because we have so much more fun when I can.
The emotional roller coaster of the adoption process is minor compared to real life with your child. I was a very self-assured and self confident-person before but now, not so much.

As I said I would never change a thing--Hannah lights up my life in ways I never imagined. I just have to learn how to handle all these new emotions.

My sister sent me this article that a friend of hers gave her 10 years ago when she had her first baby--she has kept it all this time and pulled it out for me. It talks about having a baby but as she said--Motherhood is Motherhood and it is the same for all of us:

We are sitting at lunch when she casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.”
“We’re taking a survey,” she says, half joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”
“It will change your life,” I say carefully keeping my tone neutral.
“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on the weekend, no more spontaneous vacations…”
But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.
I consider warning her that she will never read a newspaper again with out asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die. I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. An urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a soufflĂ© or her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation.
I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think about her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.
I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.
Looking at my friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, put she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years – not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.
I wish my friend could sense the bond she’ll feel with women throughout history who have tried desperately to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children’s future.
I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.
My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
“You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reach across the table, squeeze my friend’s hand, and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into the most wonderful callings. The blessed gift of being a Mother.

Author unknown.


Kelly and Sne said...

Just so you know, there are all very normal emotions that you are feeling. Instead of post-partum emotional sensitivity- we'll call is post-adoption sensitivity! Also, I still have those pangs of 'hurt' on occasion when my boy wants his Grandma and Grandpa over me or freely goes to another Mom at daycare. Eventually you will see this as both relief (you'll get a break) and pride that your child will have a bond with her extended family.

Also keep in mind that you are still working on bonding so don't try to dwell on these moments and let them get you down. This is a long road and it IS sometimes disheartening to realize that we Mommies are very bonded but the child is not as bonded to us. It took at least a year for Miras to really bond with us and to really show and give affection. So, that deep trust and co-dependency between Mom and child does take a while to develop. We've been finishing up some adoptive parent education and they provided some very good tips that you can perhaps use to step up the bonding rituals (beyond the normal ones of you being the only one to meet the child's basic needs): regress the child to a stage or two earlier in her development (e.g., hold her like a baby while she drinks from a bottle or sippy (and make eye contact), dress her, feed her, etc), do fun activities together just the two of you at home or at the park that have both a sensory component and an emotional component (touching, eye contacts, mimicking emotions), take a bath or shower together regularly where you get skin-to-skin contact and, rather than discipline in the 'normal' way, use "time-ins" where you are meeting the child's physical or emotional needs, including holding the child close to you when she is either acting up or "checked out" (both can indicate stress).

I also think that there is a novelty factor to other people, especially certain types of people - which is very normal for a toddler. Miras LOVES older men as he sees them as potential Grandpas who are a lot of fun. He finally "got it" that Grandpas are related to you and not just any old guy! In fact, you will need to educate Hannah on the fact that strangers are sometimes nice but sometimes they are not and that she needs to ask your permission before going to someone that is familiar. This is normal to have to educate children on this topic. Also, regarding daycare, I wanted to let you know that we only put Miras in daycare 2 days/week for the first month so he could get used to the environment but wasn't spending more time there than he was at home (which will happen soon enough!) so he would still realize the difference between "home" and "school" and between "teacher" and "parent." Hang in there - one day you will look back and realize all the progress you made and it will make you cry happy tears! Really.

Cameron and Kyle said...

Thanks for including the tears warning. I loved the article you included. All so true. I do think your feelings are all so normal as our Hannah's feelings. I know saying that doesn't make it easier but over time things will get better. Hugs to you.

qmiller said...

Mary---such a poignant post! My relationship with my daughter is certainly the most challenging relationship of my life (and also the most rewarding)---she is headstrong, independent,easily gets over upsets (as you mentioned)---and knows each and every trigger of mine. I won't mention all her positive qualities, for as with Hannah, they are numerous...but oh my...it can be soooo very taxing. I also think that single parenting amplifies all these moments---I am her ONLY target, I get to share ALL of her frustrations, I am there EXCLUSIVELY when she is exhausted. But I also get ALL her good night kisses, ALL her stories at the end of the day, and share ALL the ups and downs. It can be very hard not to have someone to divide all of these attentions with...good and bad. Especially those first couple of years, my feelings were raw...it does get better!
Thanks for sharing!!! Quaintance

Tammy said...

You so summed up my feelings and that article is great. It is true. Nothing else in life matters except for my child. A co worker once talked to me about how vulnerable we become when we become parents. No one ever told me that would happen. All the other mothers I knew seemed to have it all together. They seemed to have all the answers and they always just *knew* what to do or say. Turns out they really didn't know it all, it just looked like it. I get that now.

I have said this a million times but I will say it again. We spend so much time preparing to help our child transition but there is only so much we do to help ourselves. How can you prepare yourself for the total immersion in another human being? I think it is more intense for us single parents too because we are it. We are the most important relationship to this child and, in turn, they are the most important relationship to us. There is no "competing", so to speak, with a spouse.

Anyways. In some ways the emotions level out. You start to feel more confident and the better you know your child, the more comfortable you feel knowing what she needs. In other ways, the emotions never even out. My emotions are in someone else's hands and I can't control that person. Such is the nature of being a mother.

Rose said...

Mary, that article was beautiful. Can you email it to me at rosekh@aol.com My little sister is pregnant with her first baby, and I would love to share it with her.

Kimberly said...

Hi Mary - thanks for sharing in such a vulnerable way! I so appreciate your honesty!

Mama Andrea said...

I am feeling alot of those feelings now too. Almaz and I had a rough day like that today. Hang in there!