Sunday, June 28, 2009
To Addis and Back (Part 2), Charlie arrives at the Guest House.
The first morning while waiting for Charlie's arrival, I stepped outside the Guest House gates and saw these girls walking to church. They were so excited to have their picture taken and giggled a lot when I showed it to them.
Two nannies from the care center arrived around 11AM. We were waiting downstairs of course, eagerly anticipating Charlie's arrival. Her nanny was holding her and she started crying upon arrival. I don't think it was my face in particular that set her off (though it could have been) but rather the newness of the whole situation. It probably would have been better for the adoptive parents to go to the care center over the course of a few days and meet our children there, rather than do it this way. It seemed really traumatic. The other child, Bereket, who was brought at the same time was also crying off and on quite a bit (but not as much as Charlie).
The nannies stayed for a few hours and Charlie cried throughout. Considering she had probably never been outside of one room at the care center, I believe riding in a van and then seeing a crowd of new faces, as well as a new building and all the attention focused on her... it was just too much. I kept wanting to take her upstairs to the quiet of our room, but various people wanted to try their hand at consoling her, rocking her, etc, to no success. I thought all the attention was making matters worse, frankly, but also didn't want to be pushy or take her when she wasn't ready for me yet.
Luckily, I had not had any pre-pickup fantasies of what it would be like, so I was not disappointed or hurt. I was concerned about the experience for Charlie, and wanting her fear to end.
Eventually, I did take her upstairs and asked everyone to leave (my mom and her friend had a lunch date anyway) and rocked her in my arms until she fell asleep. She slept for hours, having exhausted herself with the trauma of the day.
When she awoke, I bundled her in a soft pink blanket and gave her a bottle. She looked up in my eyes, wonderingly, while sucking on the bottle. She reached for me, waved at me, gurgled, and that was it, I was mom.
From that moment on, I could not put her down for a second without her started to whimper and then full on cry. Even putting her down for a nappy change resulted in tears until I picked her up again. This was a positive sign for attachment (although I wondered how she could attach in minutes, really) but not so positive for me as I had a hundred things to do, baby related, and couldn't do them while carrying her. My mother would try and hold her and she refused. She showed her discontent with that arrangement by shrieking, tossing her head, arching her back, etc. Thankfully, mom did not allow her feelings to be hurt and was happy she was attaching so well to me.
I started wondering how I would do at home... how was I going to shower? Feed the dogs? Make breakfast, etc? There are a hundred things to do each day, from picking up a toy to preparing to work and carrying a 20 pound baby while doing it seems like a very difficult proposition. As I watched the other adoptive parents at the Guest House, they all had a co-parent to take over, even for a minute, to make live more manageable. Not one of them was unable to put down their child for a second. All of them were able to put on makeup, dress in clean clothes, eat. Here I was, dirty with formula spilled on me, old crusty makeup on, teefs unbrushed, hungry, with a baby on my hip. Pretty soon my shoulders started hurting from carrying her around. Then my back. Then my arms. Then my neck. Rising from bed after a few hours of sleep to get her bottle became an exercise in excruciating stiffness.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. This was Day One with Charlie and it was traumatic for her. I wished I could make it better and less scary and by the end of the day, I had succeeded it seemed. She was just as beautiful as her pictures, even more so because she was live in 3-D. Certain looks and actions make your heart melt. I'm forever grateful to Ethiopia and her birth mother for producing this little being.
(Part 3 coming up)
Bye for now!