Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hurricane Charlie

It begins with a crease. A slight furrow of the brow.

Then, a whimper.

Soon, too soon, a resentful look.

A lower lip juts out.

A nose wrinkles.

A howl reaches ear splitting heights.

Within seconds, tears sprout like from a fountain, sweat beads up on her forehead, all eye contact is denied... Hurricane Charlie has arrived.

Temper tantrums. Daily basis. Sometimes on a minute by minute basis.

They used to show up whenever I left the room, but now they appear whenever she doesn't get her way. It's also her nap time and bedtime routine... the back arching, wailing.. she never falls asleep peacefully, it's always this colossal battle against herself to allow herself to sleep.

I'm not sure how to handle these tantrums.... I've tried different things. I've tried ignoring them (that doesn't work, she keeps going until she is spent and then falls asleep), and I've tried holding her (she arches her back, refuses eye contact, shrieks, until she's spent and falls asleep), I've tried standing near and coming closer when she lessens up and farther when she intensifies (has no effect). She is 10 months old. Ten second time out? (Or, for attachment parents:) Ten second time in? Somehow I don't think that will work... ten seconds is not noticeable to her during one of these meltdowns. Although I haven't even tried time outs... I think at this age they are worthless as she wouldn't understand what was happening.

I don't know how I am supposed to pay attention to anything else around the house. For example, today I needed to pick up dog poo in the yard. The dogs track poo in if I don't pick it up and it's unhygienic so I have to do it. I put her in the high chair, on the deck, where she was within 15 feet of me and could see me at all times. The high chair is very sturdy and she is safely strapped in. She wailed the whole time (15 minutes). This also happens when I shower, even if she is in the bathroom with me. Or any time I'm not paying attention to her 100%.

Did the nannies in the care center pick up every child as soon as they started crying??? I find it amazing to think, but I'm starting to believe it.

Should I just let her cry?

I feel like such a bad mother if I do that. Here I did all this work to bring her here and she's had all this loss and trauma and so how can I let her cry? It doesn't seem right. But soon I will be going back to work and we need to have some ways that we can survive and get things done. She is going to have to be ok being the only child of a single woman. God or whoever put us together and so we must find a way to make it work. She needs to learn, and I am definitely learning!

On the other hand, when she is not tantrumming, she is a delightful, smiley, playful child. She does great with eye contact, she's alert and interested in the world around her, and she is affectionate with me. So this is not RAD or anything as severe as that... it's behavioral and I seem to be making it worse rather than better.



Angela said...

Mika I'm not an adoption expert but as a mommy, I think it's alright when she has a crying fit sometimes. You're not ignoring her when she has these meltdowns. You have to be able to things done and like you said, you're going to return to work soon.

You haven't failed Charlie by letting her cry while you're picking up doggie poo and taking a shower. Sometimes, she going to have to cry. That's realistic.

Shannon- said...

You are just fine! Remember this isn't terribly different than earlier.

you wrote something about "it's not working". Redefine "working".

She is in pain, mad, scared and angry. She has every right to be. The only thing you can do is to remind her you are there... consistently... hold her during these times...( hold her during the good times too)... Soothe her. Sounds like that's what you are doing.. so it's working. Give her time to heal.

Expect a little 2 steps forward one step back every now and again. Be consistent in what you can give her for nurturing and it will reassure her.

You are both ok momma!! Keep going. Take a breath. Hire a pooper scooper/doggy walker for cheap. You'll be all good. :)

Rachel said...

Hang in there! You are doing great! I'm not a mother yet, but I've learned enough to know that sometimes there is not a right answer. Sometimes you have to give yourself a time-out just to keep from going crazy, and that's ok! This too shall pass! Thinking of you! :)

Kristine said...

I think they go through this period of adjustment. Our son had 30-45 min tantrums in the beginning. (I was kinda giggling at your description of Charlie. Thats how Nathaniel started, with a look on his face, and we would say "uh-oh, he's gonna blow")

We did the holding through his fits, which was not easy- I got hardly anything done in the first few months. But it did get significantly better. He really never tantrums now. I think she will get better as she attaches more and more to you (remember attachment is a process) plus, she is heading into the toddler years :) Hang in there!

Can you wear her in a sling or backpack while you do things?

Justice said...

sounds exactly like Mateo the first 4 or 5 months we got him. i agree with the other commenters to some extent. yes, it's reasonable to be able to shower by yourself for 10 minutes knowing your daughter is safe, even if she is screaming. she's gonna cry from time to time and you can't ALWAYS be there to pick her up/give her what she wants. BUT, this could very much be attachment related. especially since you are saying she's refusing eye contact, arching her back, trying to get away. i understand that she is very loving when she's happy, that's great. but she also needs to know you're there for her during her "worst" moments too. and that takes some testing on her part. my advice would be to hold her close (almost forcing her to be held by you and comforted) when you can during these "tantrums". it may be hard and seem like your making it worse, but in the long wrong, she needs to learn you love her no matter what. that's what we did with mateo and he's fully and happily attached now. i can't say the tantrums have ended though, but that's a different story. the point is, it's still very early in the attachment process and she still may need extra love, nurturing, and attention. remember, you can always go back to disciplining later. you're not gonna spoil her at 10 months.

Jenny and Matt said...

I agree with Justice. Charlie needs the extra love and hugs right now. I think trying the backpack or sling while working is a great idea. You can work on transitioning her away from you while you work at short intervals later but for now, she needs to know you're there.

That said, as someone else emtnioned, sometimes you need a break. Can you schedule your showers and non'Charlie chores for when your mom or someone else is over to play with Charlie?