Archive for August, 2013

Day 10

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

We’re now on our second Saturday so it’s been 10 days but it feels like a lifetime

At the moment I can’t quite work out whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. We’ve had some fantastic times but we’ve also had some dreadful, hard, tiring, exhausting, over emotional times where you can’t see the wood for the trees, can see no end in sight and want to, feel like, at moments, giving up! This morning was another dreadful one. Daddy P (my new nickname for him…Mummy P for me!)) has had a cold so feels really rough and hasn’t slept properly for a few nights because of it. I feel down in the mornings, especially when pickle is whining from the moment she wakes and we’re bored of saying no to certain things (the TV is like a magnet to her!!!!) I know that sounds pathetic but when you’re contending with all sorts of big things (bonding, attachment, keeping routine and doing it alone!) it’s the little things that really get to you very quickly. And it’s hard to not get irritated by stuff when you haven’t bonded completely yet.

That’s where the confusion about how long she’s been here comes in. It feels like years because she’s a joy! She’s an absolute superstar and when she’s in routine, eating, smiling, playing and laughing it feels like she’s been here years and that really helps the bonding part! But when she starts whining and having her tantrums you find yourself right back at the 10 day mark and feel like you could give up. It makes it sound like we’d give up at the first sign of trouble but, of course, we wouldn’t. She is our daughter and we’d never give up on her, just like if she was our birth child. But, by this point in a families life you have had 15 months to bond, attach and get used to each other so, even though you may still get annoyed by the whining the “love” is there already. We do love her a lot, but at moments like this it’s hard to ‘like’.

And that, I believe, is the same as any other child. So actually, perfectly normal! 

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Day 8 – Survival by cake

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

This morning was my worst morning yet

I could quite easily have given up. I felt I was failing because I was letting her whining get to me so much (and so quickly!) and that I could quit now. Actually, what I have to remind myself of all the time is that we’ve got it relatively easy. She is a dream child, naps in the morning and afternoon, sleeps through the night and is very very easy to put to bed. She brushes her teeth, puts her arms in clothes, the straps of her buggy and high hair with no fuss, tries to put her shoes on (and her socks which makes for interesting viewing) and laughs a lot (as long as it’s ‘her’ humour!) she barely watches tv, loves fruit and vegetables and drinks water, herself, like there’s no tomorrow! What could we possibly not be coping with?

It’s the emotional stuff. My husband, the thinker, suggested (quite sensibly) that it was because we hadn’t bonded with her yet. At the moment, he said, she is still just a visitor in our house. Insightful or what?! I don’t know what I would do without him to be honest. And he’s right. We haven’t got that bond yet, we don’t “love” her yet. How can we after only 12 days of knowing her? That would be a bit weird right? And that’s the sort of insight that makes me feel better. Feel normal. Not feel so much of a failure. We’re supposed to be excited, happy, glowing with pride and enjoying every single split second of this journey that we wanted. But it’s simply not like that. It’s not all a bed of roses, lush green grass, blue skies and sunshine (although it has been a damn hot & muggy summer!) No, it’s hard, tough, draining, exhausting and emotional. But none of that is physical. It’s all to do with us trying to bond with her and feel like a complete family unit. And that’s going to take a while, weeks, possibly months. But, now I know that, I don’t feel so guilty about how I feel. I don’t feel quite such a failure.

Now where’s that second slice of cake…..
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Day 6 – Meeting Nanny & PaPa

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Today Pickle met her Nanny and PaPa, my Mum and Dad

It was such a lovely moment and she adored them! We decided that the afternoon ‘slot’ would be the best time as that’s when she (and us) are at our happiest. Nobody is particularly tired and we’ve all had a good lunch and sleep (yes, we also sleep when she sleeps!!!)

They turned up and she was still asleep so we let them come in and get settled so we could have a chat (we haven’t seen them for 2 weeks!!!!) and then we went to get her up and bring her down to meet them. It was just as I expected it to be and more. She reached for me (brilliant sign!) and then sat on my knee looking from Nanny to PaPa and back again, cautiously working them out and slowly getting used to them over about 10 to 15 minutes. My Mum and Dad were brilliant, they sat and just let her look at them while they talked to her. Then the smiles started and she was soon laughing at them with her big, infectious, toothy smile. She was soon showing off doing her favourite “row row row your boat” song where she grabs your hands and row rows! And heaven forbid if you stop, she then starts the song for you and rows herself! Hours of fun.

This all made for a really lovely first meeting with my Mum and Dad, and we got some cracking photos! One of my friends had made her a beautiful quilt which she took to immediately and we had our photo taken with that.

But the most beautiful thing was that my Mum had knitted her a row of bunting with all sorts sewn on to each piece as a talking point. Pickles room has an owl and birds theme so there are owls, trees and birds on the bunting as well as some little finger puppet  animals, little button balloons, flowers made from felt, a little house with a path made up of little buttons and even our cat features on one of them. It’s stunning! It will be a family heirloom in years to come. It really did make the meeting very special indeed!

They stayed for about an hour and a half in the end. Pickle is very adaptable and copes very well with people because she comes from a huge foster family, but (as mentioned before) we have to be extra careful because of this. My Mum and Dad were very careful not to respond to any ‘reaching’ that Pickle did. And she did. It made it very clear to us that her attachment to us is yet to be cemented. I do believe that she is attaching to us very well and the bond is there a little but I also believe that, if anyone were to take her now, she would just merrily go off with anyone. As long as she still had her routine she would be unaware. Which is why, when she reached for my Dad, he couldn’t respond. It’s as hard for us to witness as it must be for her Grandparents to not be able to cuddle her, but it is so important for her development and our bonding. We will now be able to see them more regularly and not only at our house. We’ll pop to there’s and meet them out, at the park or at a coffee shop. Then she will get to know them as important people in her life.

And I wonder if PaPa’s arms are still aching from doing Row Row Row your Boat 20 times! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Day 5

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Today was really tough. I wasn’t sure why to start with but soon realised

Our daughter woke up and she was relatively cheery but kept whining and moaning and getting all niggly. This, I realised quickly, was an extension of how she’d been the day before and I also realised that my patience was a bit thin on the ground! I felt guilty then but I couldn’t help how I felt. She continued to be moody and making whining noises between smiling and being cheery. As soon as she was happy I became more relaxed, but as soon as the whining started I became tense and irritated. Again, feeling guilty. How could I feel so annoyed when this is what we’d fought so hard for for 3 years. How could I begin to not want her around me after everything we’ve been through.

Then I decided to turn to my twitter buddies again. They’ve been an absolute godsend and I truly don’t know what I’d have done without them. I have an anonymised account on there for all my adoption stuff and I started it a year ago when we started the adoption process. I may be anonymous on there but everything I write on there is exactly how I’m feeling! I’m probably more honest on there than with anyone because the amazing people on there are living our life and have done for longer than us, even if it’s the people who have “only” been doing it for a few months. I’ve even met someone on there who is pretty much at the stage we’re at so we support each other in different ways.

Anyway, I digress. Whenever I have a problem or a worry I run to twitter and there’s always someone there offering advice, support, love and, most of all, complete and utter understanding of the situation we, as adoptive parents, are in and how difficult and alone you can sometimes feel, even with a plethora of friends with children.

I tweeted, desperately, about how to deal with it. I won’t go in to it in detail because a fellow blogger described it perfectly at the exact moment we needed help, but what I will say is that as an adoptive parent I think you do look more closely at your children’s behaviour than that of a birth parent. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s really bad. I want to be perfect but that’s never going to happen, but I do want to do all I can to help our daughter get through these tough days/months of change. We didn’t know whether to cuddle her at every tantrum, whine or whinge or wether to leave her for a while. We didn’t want to ‘damage’ her either way. I suddenly realised I was very scared of doing the wrong thing. My tweeps came back with a wealth of experience, advice and tips and it helped hugely! We decided to continue to reward good behaviour and celebrate achievements as well as cuddle her when she really cried. But decided to try and ignore the whining and whinging, we really don’t want to create a rod for our own backs. And I think this would have really worked………if it wasn’t for the fact we’d looked far too deeply in to the ‘problem’.

You see, after all that, the moment our LO “filled her nappy” she was completely and utterly back to her normal, cheery, happy-go-lucky self and it hadn’t occurred to us that this might be the problem! Talk about thinking too deeply! Bless her, she hadn’t ‘been’ for 60 hours. We did know this and had been giving her prune juice (small doses in her milk) to try and help her, but we hadn’t put 2 + 2 together with her mood and the need to go. I know change of environment and water/food can have an effect so we’re not surprised but, bless her, she did feel better afterwards! The change was astounding! Now we know I don’t feel I’ll be so impatient….and I still feel guilty!

If you’re going to use prune juice get the good stuff (pure, not from concentrate, and give 1 tsp at a time up to 3 times a day. That’s what we did and it worked a treat. Too much and you can give them really bad tummy ache and you’ll definitely “know” about it!  
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Day 3 & 4

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

We’ve had an amazing couple of days

There have been a couple of moments of panic, tantrums and tears….and that’s just us! But we’ve managed to distract and get through. She’s an absolute star. She knows how to put her arms through arm holes to get dressed, she tries to put her own shoes on, she picks things up at the drop of a hat, she even let us brush her teeth for the first time tonight! She did a huge grin face so we could do it and then did it a bit herself! She’s such an amazing, intelligent, bright, brave little girl.

Interestingly she’s actually started to test her boundaries with us already. She normally eats really well, lots of healthy foods and eats quite a bit. But she’s started to play up at meal times, particularly the evening meal, and throws it around rather than eating it. She finds this very funny and says “O-oh” every time. We realised, after chatting to my twitter friends, that this is where the testing of boundaries is coming in, and she’s also enjoying the attention. Although she comes from a busy foster family it’s become apparent that she hasn’t had lots of one to one attention and it’s becoming disruptive. She’s also never had “No” said to her and possibly just been left to her own devices quite a lot so, although that’s great for her independence it’s not so great where boundries and rules will apply. So, the plan is to still eat with her but talk between ourselves and ignore the laughing, ignore the chucking and ignore the “O-oh’s”!

Little monkey!

 

 

 

© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Day 2 of the rest of our lives

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

We woke up today at 6:00 just as she was stirring

She slept through the entire night with no fuss. She’s a dream! We decided that, because she wasn’t upset, we would leave her for half an hour, until 6:30, so we could wake up properly ourselves. I then went in to get her and she put her arms up to me as I walked in and wished her a good morning. We had decided to take her straight downstairs but as I stood at the top of the stairs it didn’t feel right so I took her to say hello to daddy in our room. How glad I am that I did that. She decided to have a really lovely, calm, quiet cuddle with us for half an hour! She lay on me with her head to the side looking at her daddy. She then pushed herself up on to my chest and looked in to my eyes, for ages! That’s bonding for you! It was a gorgeous half an hour. And that’s, hopefully, what will become our morning routine. Even if it only happens like that once it will be enough!

We then just got on with our day, her routine again was flawless. She loves her food, loves her sleep, loves her playing, music and dancing, she loves her Bagpuss and she loves her cat! Although the cat still looks shell shocked! I am, once again, typing this as she’s in bed, and so are we. Tonight she’s a little bit more unsettled but it’s been so muggy today and uncomfortable that I think it’s more to do with that than anything else. She’s been a tiny bit upset today but again I think it’s because it’s so hot. I’ve hated it! (the mugginess that is!) We went for a little walk  which did us good, you can feel so housebound at this point and it’s difficult not seeing anyone.

The irony of her doing SO well is that it’s even more important for us to wait to introduce her to other people. She has come from a huge family with lots of people in and out all the time. This has proved invaluable to how adaptable she is but she now needs to realise and understand that we are the important people in her life, and we are here forever. Nobody else is going to take her away. It seems contradictory to tell people to stay away because she’s doing so well but it really is so important so that we can cement her attachment to us. Only 2 more days to go and then she meets her Nanny and PaPa for the first time….

…and we get to see familiar faces for the first time in nearly 2 weeks! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Placement Day

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

It’s 05:30 and I’m wide awake with excitement 

I won’t get back to sleep now, maybe just for half an hour if I’m lucky. But this is, possibly, the first time I’ve allowed myself to get excited in quite a long time. About 18 months to be precise.

This is a years worth of preparation bundled in to 7 days of introductions and today is the day we bring our daughter home forever. 4 and a half hours to go…….

…..

We did it!

We finally picked our daughter up and drove her home. In the end it was short, very emotional and one of the hardest things I’ve ever taken part in and witnessed. Her foster mum was distraught and that made me burst in to tears. It was so emotional that I sobbed in the car as we drove away at the same time as trying to act normal for our daughter. The good thing was that she wasn’t bothered by it, she took it in her stride, just as she has on her first day at home. Her routine has been flawless today and she is, as I type, in bed fast asleep for the night. We’ve learned so much from her foster mum that we’ve just kept the consistency of her routine going without any change, apart from her location of course, and that’s really helped. The adrenaline and emotion kept us going until about 3:00 and then we crashed out! Fortunately that’s when she has her afternoon nap so we had an hour on the sofa while she was asleep and that helped so much too. We didn’t feel exactly refreshed when we woke up but we certainly felt better for it. We then enjoyed an afternoon of play, had tea together, bathed her and then put her down to sleep with a bottle and her Bagpuss. She went to sleep after half an hour and we’re now just hoping she sleeps through.

She is such a star that I have no doubt she will. 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Introductions Day 6

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Today was the last full day of introductions and it was spent at our house again

The FC brought our daughter to us in the morning and she arrived happy and content again. She was a bit more clingy towards the FC when she arrived but then we found out that she’d not been very well and had a temperature on that morning when she woke up. So it turns out that we’re both so churned up that we’ve both got either a little bug or we’re just effected by everything that’s happened, maybe even a bit of both.

She soon settled though and we had a lovely morning playing, dancing and chasing the cat! We then gave her lunch, which she loves, and she shouted after our cat all the way through that! We then had another little play for an hour and then she started getting grizzly so we decided to take the plunge and see if she would have her afternoon nap in her new bedroom in her unfamiliar cot. We made up her milk bottle which she grabbed, greedily so we were on the home stretch. We started up the stairs, all fine so far. We took her in to her room….I’m sure we were holding our breath at this point….and put her down in to her cot. She did her usual thing of getting back up and doing a little cry but we did our ‘usual’ thing (how the FC does it) and said “bye bye, see you in a bit” and shut the door. Two seconds of ‘fake’ crying and protesting and that was it, she was down! Well, quiet and calm at least.

My husband decided it would be a good idea to buy a video monitor, an all singing all dancing one. It wasn’t a good idea at all……it was an absolute genius idea!!!!! It meant we could go downstairs and leave her without worrying and watch her just to make sure she was ok in her new room. We needn’t have worried. She decided to drink her bottle then spent half an hour wriggling around, standing up, inspecting the camera for the monitor (that was a funny moment) trying to piggle the stickers off her wall, looking at herself in the mirror on her wardrobe, trying to break out the cot, singing and then dancing when we put the “relaxing” music on with the remote control for the monitor (told you it was all singing all dancing!)

And in the end she got herself down and went to sleep for an hour! We couldn’t have been more pleased. One thing that we think may have helped, as well as us just getting on with her normal routine and not worrying and fussing, is that the FC brought her cot bumper and quilt so from inside her cot her surroundings looked very familiar. She’d also washed them the evening before so they smelled very familiar too.

In the time we’ve been in introductions we’ve done everything. We’ve done her breakfast routine, night time routine, bathed her twice, eaten with her every day, dressed her, changed her nappy, driven with her, taken her out in her buggy, given her lunch at ours and she’s now slept in her own room here. Nothing we do from tomorrow will be new and that’s so reassuring, for us as well as her.

The very last thing we did today was take her back to the FC’s house where they did her a farewell party. It was lovely, their family is huge which is why I think our daughter is so adaptable. But the best, most amazing, moment was yet to come. Even with everyone who she’s known in her first 15 months there, at the party, when she had a bump which made her scream out…..she reached up to me. That was the most amazing moment ever! She allowed me to comfort her and calm her and she really cuddled in to me with her little legs curled up.

Truly “awesome”! (that ones for you Dad!) 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Thera-play

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

It wasn’t until our social worker pointed it out that we realised that we’d naturally been using thera-play with our daughter from the moment we met her

Thera-play is, quite simply, little games that you play with your child to help with bonding and attachment between you. It really should be taught more to all parents but it’s concentrated mainly on adopted children to help those attachment issues which may (or may not) be very apparent because of their backgrounds and history.

Anyway, we realised very quickly that our daughter was bonding with us (but still going back to the FC if she was very upset which was reassuring for us as well as her) and we now know why. Firstly we were using lots of eye contact all the time. We are people who do that anyway, but with her we were doing it almost constantly – which felt intense at some points but also very natural. In the first ten minutes of meeting her, she came up to us and stared up at me, in my eyes, for about ten minutes! It was amazing! She obviously recognised us from the photos the FC had shown her every day in the 2 weeks running up to meeting her. It was magic!

Then there were the games we played in the following 5 days with her which is where the bonding, with both of us, really showed. All very simple;

Passing game: We just passed an object, any object, between us. I would tell her to pass it to Daddy and she would do it and he said thank you. He would then pass it back to her (while saying thank you for her) and then he would tell her to pass it to me and I would do the same. Hours of fun and it really worked! The trust was building and she found it funny, and very serious at times!

Peek-a-boo: This was brilliant because she’d go to one end of the sofa and one of us would go to the other and she’d either peek under, over or around the side of it. This resulted in LOTS of eye contact! And then I shout “go and get him, quick, quick, quick” and she crawls really fast to the other end of the sofa where her Daddy is and laughs and giggles while looking at him upside down!

Row Row: This is her favourite thing ever! The classic “Row Row Row Your Boat” but the most amazing thing is that she instigates it. I remember the first time she did it. The FC started singing it when she was on my knee. She started rocking slightly but decided that she needed more leverage, looked down at my hands, picked each one up, held on for dear life and started rowing……like mad!!!!! Now she’s taught us how she likes to do the “row row” we do it all the time and she loves it! It’s a really recognisable tune to her as well so when I started playing it on the piano she started to do the actions….unfortunately I can’t play and hold hands at the same time so that made for an interesting “row row”!

We’ve found that all of this has helped hugely with how we’ve gained her trust and how comfortable she feels around us. It also helps as distraction techniques when she’s a bit upset about anything. And she adores music, she either wiggles or just ‘conducts’ with her hand. Either way it takes her mind off being upset.

But, I have to say, the bracelets still win hands down! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Bagpuss and the Bracelets

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I’ve realised, in the last few days, how significant and important the little things are

They’ve been instrumental in what we’re doing with our daughter and how it’s helping our attachment and bonding development.

The first is Bagpuss. Good old Bagpuss. Actually, admittedly, a last minute decision by my husband to take Bagpuss along to meet our daughter for the first time. I’m so glad we did that now because it’s become a very significant thing in her life. I think mainly because of the colour, bright pink of course, but it’s good for us that she likes it because that’s stayed with her the entire time we’ve known her up to now. It stays at the FC’s and it’s come with her to ours so it acts as a constant. She has it in the car when we’ve taken her out and she actively asks for it, albeit with a squeak and a flapping of the fingers [I want] but that’s what she wants. It’s a connection between us that’s proving to be invaluable.

The second thing is my bracelets. They’re nothing special and I didn’t decide to wear them until the 3rd day of introductions after my meltdown. I just decided that they might be a real interest to her because they’re bright turquoise and very simple, round beads. I did have 3 until she snapped one (and she looked really shocked!) but 2 is enough because we can still share. These have been so instrumental in our bonding with her. She loves them! She puts them on herself, she lets me put them on her, she lets my husband put them on her. She takes them off, jangles them, chucks them when she’s frustrated, passes them back to us both (and immediately wants them back) and they even come in extremely handy when we’re changing her nappy because they distract her and she plays with them while I’m changing her. So I make sure I wear them every day now and they’ve become like a security blanket for me too.

The bracelets have been the hero in all this! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved