Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Progress Report (reflections from the first few weeks home)

We were all pretty exhausted when we finally arrived back home and it took a few days to adjust to the big difference in time. But, after the jet lag wore off we all started doing a little better... especially Sweet M*.

We were able to control the environment once we got home and that was a huge benefit. In Ethiopia it seemed like almost everything was not child friendly. The steps were made of stone at the guest house including the inside staircase so I was worried about him falling, there were plenty of breakables inside, and playing outside we had to watch out for the cars, the ball falling into the open sewage ditches, or M* trying to run off.

We could also help him with his food issues. M* wanted to eat or drink any and everything that he saw anyone else with, and he was never full so when that item ran out he would lose it. In Ethiopia this was hard because we would often just give in to the sodas, candy etc... to save everyone else a headache. But, at home we could control what foods he could see and that helped me get some better food in his body and a lot less screaming. I think the good nutrition helped him control his mood swings a little better. The first few weeks I had to store all of our sweets (including cereals) up high where he couldn't see them. Then I put the healthy foods that I didn't mind him eating a ton of at eye's level. This was a smart move bc at first I realized that anything with sugar in it he would never be done with and once it was gone he would scream. If it was a healthier item like fruit, veggies, pasta, or popcorn he would eat and then be done and move on. Something else that helped was that I portioned everything out so I could easily grab a baggie of whatever and he did not see that there was an unlimited supply.

Saying no to anything would still set M* off. So, once we were home I would put him in the carrier almost all day so that I didn't have to say no as much. Sometimes he would enjoy being close and other times he would throw a huge fit. But, even now when he gets scared or sad he will ask for the carrier so I think it really helped him to feel safe.

Sleep was definitely the hardest in the beginning. Sweet M* had to be in the carrier with a bottle and either walked outside or taken in a car to fall asleep. And, once asleep he would only sleep a few hours and then he would want to be up and play. This was rough trying to re-cover from jet lag with a kid that only would sleep a few hours consecutively. But, I would nap when he did. I leaned on my mom to help with my other 3 and we survived.

People talk about attachment and I have read a lot about it. I think it was hard those first few weeks because he wasn't attached at all. Yes he called us mom and dad, and he knew who we were so when he needed something he would come to one of us to get it. But, everything was on his terms. He could care less if he was in a bad mood and he knew we wanted something. In fact in that type of situation he would be sure NOT to do what we wanted. But, we are learning together how to make it better. Progress is made it seems and then we regress a little. There are good days and bad days... but one thing is for sure. I LOVE my son.


Jennifer said...

Interesting. I was just reading a similar post where a woman talked about the day she met her daughter (who is older). She talked about how different it was from those meeting infants, and the looks some gave as if "Can't you control her?" I had heard stories of that before, and I was thinking it has to be even tougher when you are there, out of your element. I can only imagine how tough it is. Lots of good ideas in your post.

msl said...

You are one great mom Amber! Can't tell you how impressed I am by everything you've done and are doing.

Zoe said...

I am learning from your posts - thank you!

Vive...rie...ama said...

So good to hear from you, I missed your posts on the WACAP yahoo board:). I'm glad everything went well (albeit challenging!). Congratulations!!!!

Mary said...

Thanks for your honesty and openness, Amber. It's a huge help to us, and I think a lot of us can learn from your experiences!

Anonymous said...

Amber, you are such an amazing mom! I feel honored to know you.


Charity Hildebrand said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I have loved all these posts :)