Archive for September, 2013

Understanding People Who Don’t Understand

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Our friends & family have all been brilliant, really patient and tried to understand as much as anyone can try and understand something they will never have to know about

But I’m understanding now, just by the little things that people say, quite harmlessly, that they just don’t get it. I’ve had the usual suspects up to now; “you never know what you’re going to get when you have a child”, “adopted children are exactly the same as birth children, there’s no difference”, “she’s young, she won’t remember anything” and, of course, “what happened to her, where’s she from and are you going to tell her she’s adopted?” (Duh to the last one every time!) But, having started to see more people they are coming thicker and faster than I ever imagined they would. I am becoming exhausted trying to explain the theories of attachment so people can understand why we don’t allow her to be held by dozens of people. I’m getting sick of going over the reasons why it’s not good for people to keep reaching for her when she reaches for them (no, it’s not because she likes you, she only met you 30 seconds ago!) and I’m drained from explaining why it can only be my husband or myself that meets her needs at this time.

A couple of days ago one of my friends “forced” a cuddle from our daughter (after dozens of conversations about why this isn’t appropriate at this early stage) which made me feel a bit sick with anxiety but, as it was in public, I didn’t kick up a fuss. We allowed her to hold her for 1 minute (it felt like 2 hours!) and, afterwards, my husband took me outside to calm me down. After I’d got my resolve back and felt calmer we went back in to make our polite excuses to leave and my friend said to me “thank you for letting me cuddle her but she did want it”! I couldn’t quite believe it and I wish she’d just left it at the cuddle and not taken it a step further by rubbing my nose in it. For the record my daughter did NOT want a cuddle, she reaches out for anyone and we are working really bloody hard to cement our attachment with her and just because she reaches out does not mean she likes you or loves you or wants a cuddle, it’s because she’s a little girl who needs our help to feel safe, secure and loved by us.

Only the other day somebody was trying to tell me how having an adopted child is the same as having a birth child in the form of this ridiculous comparison; She said “as a new mum you don’t want to take your child out because all the fumes from the cars will ruin that perfect body that you’ve protected for so long”. What?!?! Erm, yep, didn’t give birth over here and, actually, some children have more to deal with in the first few months of their lives than fumes from cars. I know people only say stuff because they think they’re helping, they’re only trying to give advice which they’d give to anyone else. But adoption is another layer to a complicated situation and I think it’s really hard for people to understand the complexities of it.  What I need to do, for my own sanity, is to stop explaining. I need to practice nodding patiently and making all the right noises and then discarding the rubbish and ignoring it. I’m bored of explaining, I’m tired of trying to get people to understand. And I don’t think they ever will.

Get it! No, I didn’t think so. 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

An even prouder moment

Monday, September 30th, 2013

I felt a total connection to Pickle today

I think we are all so tired from the wedding on saturday and we’re all slightly fractious. I’m shattered & have a sore throat, we went in to town to buy suits for Daddy P’s new job which was fine but busy and it all got to us a bit. I also found out someone I know has passed away at the fabulous age of 100 years old which, while no surprise, hit me quite hard. All of this accumulated in to us getting home, putting Pickle to bed and, subsequently, falling asleep myself for 2 and a half hours until 18:30! Daddy P got Pickle up (thankfully) at 17:00 & left me for an hour and a half which, I have to say, did me good! When I got myself up and downstairs I sat with Daddy Pickle and he put his arm around me. I wasn’t upset or crying, I was just sleepy, groggy, tired and worn down from the weekend & not feeling 100%

But then, from the other side of the room, Pickle crawled to me, reached up for me to lift her so I did and she gave me the longest cuddle with a her head rested on my shoulder. She even lifted her head twice to give me a kiss. It was magical, lovely and gorgeous. She sat like that, her head on my shoulder, for about half an hour while we watched a CBeebies programme and then, even when she moved, she stood on me with her arm around me.

It was amazing. I felt such a connection to her and I’ll never forget it. 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Proud Moment

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

We are just over 5 weeks in and yesterday was a huge turning point

Not that I haven’t had proud moments or that anything has changed obviously, but there’s been a definite shift in how we feel. We’ve “loved” our daughter from the moment we laid eyes on her. But I now realise that wasn’t really love as we know it now. How can you truly love someone when you’ve never met them. How can you love someone who you’ve only known for 2 days. You can’t, it’s impossible, but it’s not taken long. When you spend 24 hours a day with someone, 7 days a week, it’s intense, sometimes hard, sometimes fun. But yesterday it all seemed to come together.

We went to a wedding. All of us. And the day lasted 13 hours. It started at 6:00am, we had to set off at 7:00am and got to the brides house for 8:00am. I had things to do at the brides house so Pickle & Daddy P had to go it alone in the living room for 2 1/2 hours and then we all had to get ready! We drove to the church, sat through a one hour ceremony then drove 45 minutes to the reception which started at 2:00 and we didn’t eat until 4:30. But, we’d come prepared! We’d packed loads of good food for Pickle which kept her busy and a couple of toys. She then sat in a high chair for 2 and a half hours, eating, listening to speeches, clapping, smiling, playing peek-a-boo with other people and laughing. She got tons of compliments about how gorgeous she was and how well behaved she’d been through everything! I felt immensely proud….and really felt it on the way home.

We left the wedding early but we had to be fair to our daughter who’d done so well to get through the day on 40 minutes sleep instead of her usual 4 hours. She was pink cheeked and teary and we didn’t want to push our luck so made the decision to leave. We’d even packed her pj’s, sleeping bag and an extra bottle of milk to send her to sleep on the 45 minute journey home. It worked a treat. We played Eva Cassidy’s “Somewhere over the rainbow” twice and she was sound asleep. We drove home together with a content, relaxed, secure sleeping baby in the back and we felt proud. Proud of our achievement, proud of our organisation, proud of our planning and proud of the day. But most of all we were proud of her for being the brave, trusting, adaptable, fun, lovely little girl that she is.

One that we truly love more than anything we ever thought possible. 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Pets and adoption

Friday, September 20th, 2013

I was originally going to write about our cat much earlier on but decided not to because it became too much of a rant.

It was mostly about how our SW having a huge (badly hidden) issue with him (and all cats) She’d had an experience with her baby & the kittens she took on at the same time (?!?!) Not a bad one [experience] I hasten to add, just something that she over-reacted to and it has resulted in a skewed view of the relationship between cats and babies/children from over 30 years ago. Interestingly, our daughters SW’s didn’t have an issue with our cat and, of course, we made it abundantly clear that we wouldn’t do anything to put our LO in danger where our cat was concerned.

Now I’ve covered that aspect, I want to cover something much more important and much more relevant. It’s something that became very clear to us over the first week after or LO moved in and we think it’s really important to make clear how we think that animals should be viewed as a positive, not only for the child but also for the adopters.

Putting it bluntly our wonderful cat has kept us sane. And we failed him for the first few days. Fortunately we picked up on how he was feeling very quickly and put things in place to try and nip it in the bud. We were encouraged (told) to “possibly” shut him downstairs at night, even though he sleeps with us, on our bed, every single night. We didn’t do this, we would never have done this unless it was absolutely necessary (eg if our LO didn’t like her door closed and screamed if we tried!) but it hasn’t been necessary because our daughter sleeps with her door shut and she also doesn’t wake in the night (yet!) so there’s no “risk” of our cat “being shut in there with her”. And anyway, we would check he wasn’t going in and check before we came out. It’s quite simple really, but was made to sound so complicated. Anyway, I digress (again! – I’m good at that!)

We realised after about 3 days that he wasn’t himself. He’s a very calm, placid cat anyway but he’d gone to the extreme and just wasn’t reacting to us normally. He’d become depressed. Even though we were giving him attention he felt like he’d lost his home and his security and it was horrendous to witness. So, we were then on a mission to settle him down and welcome him back in. The irony of this was that we gave him more space.

When our daughter first moved in we encouraged her to say  hello to him quite a lot. We stopped doing that. She’s not scared of him which is lovely so it’s not like we’ve got to get her over any fear (our cat looks like the FC’s cat so that helps!) so we don’t need to encourage her that way. We then created a space for him that he could get in to but she couldn’t. We’re lucky enough to have a conservatory which is his domain anyway (he’s an indoor cat and that’s his “outside”) so we pushed the door closed enough for him to get through (he’d better not put on any weight!) but not enough for LO to squeeze through.

We’d also made the mistake of changing his cat litter so we got some of the stuff we’d been using and put a layer of that on top which helped. We did this because he went to the toilet on the, now aptly named, splat mat and near the front door. This is both territorial and stress/depression related. Think, for a moment: children who can’t verbally communicate cry to let you know something’s wrong. Animals don’t have anything that they can do apart from go to the toilet in the wrong place. You have to read your animals, they have feelings too and feel anxious, stressed and depressed in times of change and this was a big change. We didn’t shout at him or tell him off, we’ve never done that with our pets, there’s no point, it just makes them wary of you. We just felt really bad for him and I cried. We had to do something for him. So we were hoping that these simple changes and a simple plan would help him come to terms with the change in his life.

The other thing we did was give him treats when our daughter was really close. So she would sit on one of our knees and we would call him to get some treats. This has worked, well, like a treat!! It means he’s associating her with nice things, good things. And I can happily tell you that, after just 1 day of these changes, he is the happy cat we knew before. He’s more confident and happy (and mardy, which is a great sign!) and is coming in to the room more and sitting watching our daughter. Still from a distance, but again that’s a good thing.

And finally, as I cuddled him this morning (he still gets his ten minutes all to himself every morning!) I said to my husband that I felt he’d kept us sane through this change in life. He’s been the constant in our lives. He’s the one that greeted us after every day of the intro’s when we didn’t have time to see anyone else. He was the one that woke with us and went to bed with us every day after our daughter moved in. He was the one who sat on the sofa, between us, purring contently after our daughter had gone to bed each night. I’m certain that, if we had shut him out of normality, out of our every day routine and out of our room (where he sleeps like a log every night) he’d have gone mad, he’d have slowly got so depressed and I don’t think any loyal companion deserves that kind of treatment. And we would have been just as depressed. He’s been our rock in the solitariness of intro’s and moving in week, and for that, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Love you Jack! X

Tips for pets and adoption;
* Give your animal a space of their own. Somewhere he/she can get in to but the child definitely can’t
* Give treats while the child is near or sitting on your knee. This will help your animal associate nice things with the child
* Don’t change anything at all. Don’t make the mistake that we did and use a different brand of cat litter. Keep everything, absolutely, as it always has been.
* Remember to play with your cat/dog etc I sat in bed one night and heard my husband playing with our cat who was racing around so fast that I could almost feel the house vibrating. It was a joyous noise! He was happy again.

* Remember to give your animal attention but not over the top. Just keep it normal. If you give too much attention (more than normal) they will think something is wrong.

 

 

 

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

 

First steps

Friday, September 13th, 2013

We are so proud

In the last couple of days Pickle has walked a couple of steps on her own and, today, she started to stand all by herself. She got down from the sofa of her own accord, crawled away a bit to the middle of the room and just pushed herself up to standing! We were cheering and clapping like mad which resulted in her repeating the move several (hundred!) times and applauding herself every time she did it! She was beaming, we were beaming.

This is why we do what we do. Amazing stuff! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

Perfect Parenting

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

It’s been exactly 3 weeks since Pickle moved in and, as it did at 2 weeks, it feels like forever

However, we all feel something has shifted. In the last week we realised she was beginning to test the boundaries with us a bit (or a lot in some cases) She throws her food an awful lot more and she does it while looking at us. She goes to the TV and DVD player a lot and looks at us while doing it. When she first started doing it we didn’t know whether we could say “no” to her. How utterly ridiculous that sounds now I’m typing it up. But that’s how we felt. We thought “she’s adopted, we can’t say no, we’ll damage her” or “we can’t start implementing rules, she’ll always remember and feel rejected”. Unfortunately by day 2, not saying a word and watching our carpet get trashed and the tv potentially getting smashed to pieces, I’d had enough. We both had. So we decided to start saying “no”. Shock horror!!

I always knew we would have quite strict boundaries with children as I believe this creates security and makes them feel loved and safe. This doesn’t mean that life won’t be fun because it will be and it has been. But you need these boundaries for both you (to keep you sane….unless you live in a dump) and your child (to know you care)

So what happened to my logic and common sense between not having a birth child and adopting pickle? My logic has left home, bags packed and, it appeared, never planning on coming back again. This is where it becomes difficult as an adoptive parent, more to the point a newly adoptive parent. We are experiencing, what’s been coined by a fellow adopter on twitter, “pedestal parenting”. You feel you have to do the “right” thing all the time, you can’t say “no” to your child, you have to allow them to have everything they want and desire.

A perfect example of this was when it came to brushing teeth. Pickle is 16 months old and we quickly realised that she’d never actually had her teeth brushed. She has 6 with 2 more coming through and she needs her teeth brushed but when we tried she screamed the place down…and that was just very gently trying to put the toothbrush to her lips never mind putting it in her mouth. I would then just let her do it which meant her munching on the toothbrush for 3 seconds and then chucking it on the floor. We also quickly came to realise it was the toothpaste she liked and not the toothbrushing. I had visions of our little girl, extremely happy and “feeling loved” but with black rotting teeth showing every time she smiled! But that didn’t matter, right? As long as we didn’t do anything to harm her psychologically it was worth not brushing her teeth?

But then common sense finally kicked in. We weren’t meant to “Pedestal Parent” we are meant to parent. And that’s the hardest sentence I’ve ever had to write. I literally just paused for about a minute after writing that sentence and considered deleting it because it just doesn’t feel right to not say we have to go above and beyond for these children. Because we do.

It’s all very well people saying you don’t have to be perfect but, as an adopter, that’s how you feel. The added layers of being an adopter mean you have no choice but to second guess everything you do and say before you do or say it. You have to have plans and discuss strategies before you implement them and make sure you’re both on the same page. These are just day to day things, never mind all the stuff which will come in the (not too distant) future like starting to tell her she’s adopted and writing and receiving letters between you and the birth family. All these things mean you feel you have to do things absolutely perfectly. But, of course, there’s no such thing as perfect. I keep having to tell myself that.

So now we do give her 3 warnings when she throws her food before taking it away. She is learning consequence of her actions. We do keep saying “no” when she insists on going to the TV all the time and taking her away (great exercise for us too! Up and down like a fiddlers elbow!) And, most importantly, I now brush her teeth through the screaming and crying. It’s our job, as her parents, to bring her up as we see fit. A life with boundaries, rules, discipline and the word “no”. But also with overflowing bagfuls of love, fun, laughter, warmth, nurturing, cuddles and affection.

And if course, with a set of shiny, sparkling, clean pearly whites! 
© www.hoopsandhurdles.co.uk 2013 All Rights Reserved

Musings at 2 weeks

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

We have reached the 2 weeks mark and yet it feels like a lifetime!

Pickle has met both sets of grandparents, a family friend and my lifelong friend, who she met today. That was utterly lovely. We had a gorgeous photo taken (by my husband) of us with our girls (her twin boys were having a wild party in the living room and we sneaked in to the “quiet” kitchen!) and it’s those little things that mean so much in this bizarre world of adoption.

Speaking of the strange world of adoption I just wanted to touch upon a few things in this post.

Emotional vulnerability; I have realised, over the last 2 weeks, that I am actually quite vulnerable at the moment. Not to the point where it’s detrimental to me, but it’s become apparent that I need a sense of emotional support from certain people around me even if we can’t see them yet. There’s nothing like a lovely text message out the blue from a friend who’s just asking how things are going. Even though you can’t see a lot of people to start with it’s so important that those relationships continue. It can be a very isolating place having a child but not more so when you adopt. Imagine coming home from hospital with your new baby and being told, in no uncertain terms by the midwife that you mustn’t see anyone for days, that you can’t go visiting people in their houses to get out and to make your world so small that only a couple of people can venture in to it. You are totally cut off from people and, even later on, you feel like you can’t see lots of people. It’s a very lonely place. One of those texts from a friend led me to arrange a cuppa with her 2 days later because I was so desperate for some time out, which leads me (quite nicely) in to the second thing I want to talk about.

Time out; When you adopt you are on this huge journey to become a parent so consciously that, when it actually happens, you get very confused as to why you suddenly realise you feel bored, irritated, like you don’t want to do it any more. Why would you feel like that if you’d worked so hard to get where you are. We should feel lucky, right? We should feel blessed and excited and amazed at every little thing they do. But we don’t. We like her a lot, but not when she screams (blood curdling, high pitched, ear bleeding screams) because she’s not getting what she wants. We love her, but not a deep, meaningful, solid, unconditional love yet. How can we? That would be weird? Yet we can feel that growing, day by day. The bond is getting stronger, the attachment to each other is growing, the love is steadily getting more real and the liking her is definitely enabling us to zone out the screams and the whining. It all takes time, we’re not super human, we can only do our best and we need to remember to take care of ourselves if we’re going to take care of these children properly. Today I did just that. I went to a friends house for a cuppa for an hour, like I used to, on my own and had a damn good catch up, chat & laugh. It was good to get away. Get away from the house. Get away from Pickle. Get away from my lovely husband who has done nothing wrong…..apart from keep moving the high chair, not shutting wardrobe doors, not picking his dirty clothes up blah blah blah! You see? That’s why I needed time out. To keep picking up on these stupid little things isn’t helpful, fair or kind and so off out I went. I ended up going to costa coffee for a large soya hot chocolate on my own after visiting my friend and it was bliss. I was me again! Which leads me quite nicely again to my third topic.

Similarities to birth parents; Adoption is very different to having birth children. I’m going to get that out there right now so there’s absolutely no confusion. Anyone who wants to argue that it’s the same let me save you the trouble. It’s not, there will always be an added layer (or several) for adopters and adopted children. However, today I have taken great comfort in the conversations I have had with the 2 friends I saw today. One had her 3 children naturally. One had her twins by IVF. And my daughter is adopted. All 6 children are aged between 16 months to 4 years old. I’d say that was a pretty balanced view of things. And, you know what? We all feel exactly the same. We all have, and have had, the same worries and experiences. Whether that was from what the health visitor told my friends, or the SW’s telling us. We’re told not to see anyone for a few weeks. My friends said they were told this, not to our extreme but they were still told not to overdo the visitors (I suspect that’s more to do with the parents having time out though rather than anything to do with the newborn baby)

We are told we can’t allow people to hold our child for a long time. Our friends were told the same. My friends get irritated with their children for screaming & whining. They wonder why they do it. They wake up sometimes thinking “what the hell have we done”. They sometimes want to be on their own and not be with their child 24/7. They want to be ‘them’ again. And that’s how we feel. I’m only just beginning to realise that it’s ok to feel like that because, actually, it’s bloody normal and my friends have felt the same, whichever way they have become parents. And, you know what, that’s ok. It’s ok to feel like I don’t want to do it any more. It’s ok to want to get out the house, away from my much wanted daughter. It’s ok to get snippy with my husband for moving the high chair 2 inches! (I know it’s not really but he can take it for a bit!) And it’s ok to let people know that’s how I feel because I’m not the only one.

Now, when can I book my next solo costa visit!!!!

 

 

 

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