Friday, March 26, 2010

Opening Up

Sometimes I am hesitant to reveal the more difficult moments in parenting because this is an open blog and also because I am writing this as sort of a family journal that I anticipate our children may one day read. I don't want my children to read anything that may cause them to feel ashamed, unloved or vulnerable. So I will tentatively and hopefully sensitively write about our last few months with Eden.

I started noticing some changes in Eden shortly after Heidi's birth. This didn't surprise me. Tristan reacted pretty horribly the first few weeks Eden was home and we had been through the "add another sibling" numerous times. But...we were dealing with completely different circumstances and issues this time around.

At first it was just an increase in her already typical 2 year old behavior. One of my very first big warning signs was anytime there was another woman in our home she would completely ignore me. Would not want me to help her, touch her, hold her....she just wanted the other woman. I was extremely uncomfortable with this behavior but mistakenly thought it was just a phase.

Then, she wanted to potty train since Tristan was now using the potty. She initiated which was great and she did a knock-out job of mastering the potty. So, I was completely unprepared for the tactics that followed a few months later. She would purposefully pee on the floor right in front of the toilet, or would stand on the toilet and pee before I could get to the bathroom. Or just sit somewhere and pee in her pants. This is after being completely and totally potty trained for over 2 months with almost no accidents. I realized immediately that these were not accidents but had no clue how to address the problem.

She also began getting up at night and coming over to our room. Over and over and over. Every night for weeks. I would be working with her for an hour to two hours nightly.

By now my patience was non-existent and I was really clueless on how to address things. I called our social worker (duh) who had done our home study and peppered her with questions. She was a God send to us during the past few months. She has helped us in so many ways and has stood behind us cheering us on. She explained that there are three areas that adopted children tend to act out the most: eating, potty and sleeping. These are the only three areas they have complete and total control over. So when life feels out of control they will act out in these areas. Hmmm.....made complete sense to me. She also said that if we cut back on who has interaction with her for a season we will see improvement. She gave us the analogy of walking through a tall, grassy field. If you have a bunch of people walking through the field wherever they want there is no clear path made. But if you have a few people walking on the same path everyday the path becomes worn and predictable. Basically, we needed to be the ones walking with Eden day in and day out to wear down the grass and make a clear path in her brain. She was still figuring out a nuclear family. And Lisa (our social-worker) said that her little brain was still confused over the mother/child bond. That some kids it takes a bit longer.

Here is what I have learned through the past few months. We made some critical mistakes at the beginning of our attachment process with her. I mistakenly saw her warmth with other people as a positive thing. It wasn't. A well-bonded child will gravitate to their mother for all their needs. They are usually pretty uncomfortable with even extended family members. Looking back I know we should have enforced her not being held by other people other than us for the first 3-6 months. I can't go back and undo those months but I can re-create them. So that is what we have done since the beginning of January. We have shrunk her world considerably. We have cut back on the amount of people who have been in our home, we have not left her with a baby-sitter more than 2-3 times and tried to wait until after we had tucked her into bed, we haven't gone to church a whole lot, etc. I have had her with me almost constantly. And here is what I have seen happen.

She wants to be with me! And I want to be with her! As the interaction with other people diminished we saw amazing things beginning to happen. The screaming, thrashing, hitting, peeing, sleeplessness all started becoming less and less. We started sensing a softness in her. She was beginning to trust us. She was beginning to feel secure.

A month or so ago I asked for people to pray specifically for us. I cannot thank the handful of women who responded enough for your support!! Knowing people were praying and supporting us made a huge difference in my emotions. I didn't feel alone. I didn't feel isolated. I felt loved and validated! Thank you, thank you! I know we have seen huge progress largely due to your prayers.

We have experienced a lot of progress and we now know what triggers the regressive behaviors. On Saturday I hosted a baby shower at my house for Mark's sister who is about to have a baby. I thought I prepared Eden well for the influx of women to invade our home and I figured it would only be a few hours so the damage shouldn't be too bad. took her a good three days to return to her happy self. On Sunday, she peed in her pants 5 times! She did a lot of screaming and had to have many time-outs on her time-out pillow. She was up at night. It does something internally within her and I still cannot put my finger on what happens. Anyone have any insight? Even in the regression I see progress. The fits are shorter, the peeing comes under control faster, the sleepless nights may be only 1 or 2 instead of a week or two. There is progress.

We are trying to figure out how to incorporate these types of events into our life again without causing too much damage. She seems fine if we go places but when people invade her space it is a definite trigger.

I know this post is all over the place but things keep coming to mind. I started verbally assuring her during the day many, many times. Things like, "You are my girl. I love that you are my girl." We really started spelling out for her and explaining to her that she is OUR girl and she can be other people's friend. Like grandma, her cousins, etc. She would go up to the grandma's and say, "I'm your girl." So...we sat her down and told her she needs to stop. We also told her that mommy's lap is for snuggling and holding and she can sit next to other people. This may sound extreme but it is what we felt necessary. She quickly owned it as her own and would verbally tell people, "You can't hold me but I can sit next to you." Smart little whip! But it made a difference. She so quickly comes to me now! And for a long time she wanted to initiate the affection but now she is quick to receive affection too. I must say I got really tired of her telling me 20 times a day, "I'm your girl mom. And I'm your friend." But I tried to always answer her with a hug, a smile and a "yes you are."

I have learned so much over the past 6 months. They have been some of the hardest months of parenting yet but we are reaping some wonderful rewards. Having shrunk our world has helped with our relationships with all our kids because we have had a lot of quality time at home. And it has been precious.

I can say in all honesty today that I am completely in love with little girl! She has been instrumental in teaching me so much and for that I am grateful. I have needed God in a whole new capacity and I need other women in a whole new capacity as well. This journey is not for us to walk alone.

So that is a brief and scattered post on our relationship with our daughter. We love her and are committed to making sure she feels secure and has no reason to doubt our love for her. And I love taking her places with me. She loves having time with me without the boys. She doesn't seem to mind having Heidi tag along. We sing in the van (she loves to sing and can carry a tune - hurrah), we chat about nonsense and have frequent pee brakes. She has endless energy which I don't understand. She loves her brothers and needs hugs from them every night as she goes to bed. She has added a dose of life to our home that is priceless!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two Years Ago

Eden just looked at this picture and said she was scared of monsters. Sure.....silly girl! She loves looking at the pictures of her when she was little. I am just sad that we have no pictures of her until she is 7 months old.
Does a mother ever forget the moments following the birth of a child? They are burned into her mind forever! Even though I had seen pictures of Eden up to this point this was the birth moment for me! Seeing her, holding her....she was perfect! I was nervous beyond belief. Who wouldn't be, right? I was standing alone in the secretary's office with multiple people watching me meet Eden. I was terrified of an adverse reaction from her but instead got little reaction at all. Which suited me fine. We spent those first few hours together just snuggling. Since she had fever she was content to lay on me and sleep. And I was content to stay that way for a long time myself.
I told her today that it has been two years since I got to hold her for the first time. She immediately wondered if we were going to have cake for her birthday. I know she doesn't completely understand but in little ways she is beginning to make the connection. I told her as she gets a bit older we will always celebrate this day in a way that makes her feel special. The day she joined our family is nearly as important as her day of birth! In fact, it may be more important. Becoming part of a family is a big deal and a huge reason to celebrate! And today we are very aware of the fact that we have been stretched, enriched and blessed because of that day two years ago!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


We have had a busy yet fun-filled week. The weather has been unseasonably warm for this time of year and we have taken full advantage of it! I stole away for a few quick moments while everyone (minus Heidi) is outside throwing paper airplanes to mention a day two years ago.

Two years ago today a very emotional and anxiety ridden girl got on a plane to travel half-way around the world to meet her daughter. I will never forget that morning for as long as I live. I was so excited!! Yet I cried buckets of tears as I said good-by to the boys and Mark. I knew it was only going to be 10 days before I returned by it felt like an eternity to me. I had never been apart from any of my children or Mark for more than a night or two and I was terrified!

Since Mark's dad worked at the airport the boys got to come out on the tarmac as my planed taxied away. They waved vigorously with big ear muffs on to protect their ears from the noise of the plane engines. I thought my heart was going to break apart. How could I be so excited to meet my baby girl yet so sad to leave the familiar?

I will be taking time over the next few days to talk candidly about the past few months with Eden. The difficulties and also the progress we are making. We are turning a corner in our bonding with her and for that I am incredibly grateful! But for today I am reliving that day two years ago and am amazed as I watch her run and play with the boys today. She is one of us!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thief on the Loose

This is what happens to innocent dessert when my daughter is unsupervised for a few minutes. The dessert gets mutilated and Eden gets her chocolate high.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hanging Onto the Knot

You now the saying...."I'm at the end of my rope." Not too long ago during a snow storm my sister told me to just tie a knot at the end of the rope and hang on. I had to laugh because I am such a visual person and for me that visual has stuck with me. I can see a rope with a big huge knot on the end.

I have had to grab onto that knot in my mind a few times over the past week. Having four dependent children suddenly has had its challenges. Shane has not complained at all and he has done a tremendous job being content within his new limitations. We are a week and a half into his broken leg and he still isn't mobile. The doctor told us this week not to push him at all. When his body feels ready he will figure out how to move around. Which he has! He can scoot all over the house on his butt. I am so grateful for his new skill since this enables him to get to the bathroom, up and down the stairs, into his chair at the table without one of us carrying him. You think 52 pounds isn't that heavy but when you transporting a child around at awkward angels your back begins to yell at you! Like I said....I am very thankful that he is now cruising around the house. I am ready for him to master his crutches so we can actually leave the house though. He started working with his crutches on Friday, was trying again yesterday, lost his balance and fell. I really do not think it hurt too badly but scared him good. So...the crutches remained untouched today. We talked this evening and he is willing to try again tomorrow. I am hoping that he will be good enough with his crutches by this next weekend so we can all leave the house together.

Until then, I am enjoying my time with the kids, getting very little housework done and I'm okay with that. Oh and I'm grabbing onto the knot from time to time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mishap on the Slopes

Well, Shane is settling in nicely after the excitement of yesterdays ski escapade. Poor guy. He has such a high pain tolerance and to see him crying and screaming every time he was being moved was hard to watch. This is what happened.

Mark took the boys skiing for the first time. They had been asking all winter to go and yesterday was the day! Mark picked Judah up from school around lunch time and off they went. They were so excited!! As they were walking out the door I told them to make sure they didn't run into any trees. Shane's eyes got big and I assured him I was joking. I must say...I had a feeling. So when Mark called I wasn't too surprised.
He had practiced on the bunny slopes a few times and had gone up the big hill. He made it down about 200 feet and his ski twisted at a really horrible angle and his boot did not release. He immediately starting screaming for Mark to take off his boot. Again, if you know Shane he NEVER complains about pain. He can be really sick and I have to use my detective skills to figure it out. He just tolerates discomfort. Mark said he quickly took off his boot and the medics pulled him down the hill on the sled. They strongly advised for Mark to take him to the ER and I met up with them there. Of course you know the outcome. He broke his fibula bone. He was in agony. They splinted him and told us to follow up with an orthopedic doctor.
So this morning Mark took him in to see Dr. Martin and the rest is history. He is sporting a beautiful blue cast (his favorite color) and is doing considerably better than yesterday. He wanted to sleep in his bed tonight and seemed very comfortable. He still doesn't want to try his crutches but there is always tomorrow!!
And one of the benefits of being an invalid is you get to play cards - a lot!! He had his first visit today from his friend who broke his tibia just 4 weeks ago. They actually got to see each other today at the orthopedics office since Josh was getting his big cast off and his walking cast on. Later in the day Josh paid him a visit to show him how to use his crutches and to also give Shane a balloon, a movie, some candy and popcorn for a movie night.
We have had kids for 9 years now and this is our first experience with a broken bone. Not super fun but he is a trooper!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ministry of Motherhood

For some reason, I have seldom felt as though what I do on a daily basis is unimportant. I find great satisfaction in being home and being with my children. Maybe it is because I know how much I benefitted from having my mother at home. In fact, it isn't unusual for one of my sisters to call me (or vise versa) and say, "Hey. Do you know where Mom is? I have been trying to call her and haven't reached her." We still even as adults find comfort in knowing she is available to us.

Now....lets go back to my opening statement. I seldom feel that what I do on a daily basis is unimportant. Mundane? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Unnoticed? Yes. Unappreciated? Sometimes. Worth it? Absolutely!!

I was briefly chatting with a friend online today about the frustrations of balancing the here and now and desiring to pursue passions that God has placed on out hearts. Good passions! God given passions! Yet, we cannot long so much for the future that we miss the precious moments of today.

I have moments and sometimes entire days of frustration. Feeling like I am making little to no progress with a child's' attitude or behavior. Feeling like I am getting nothing accomplished. Just recently I caught myself on the verge of saying to Mark that I got nothing done that day. Fortunately I stopped in time because Shane was sitting in the room and I had spent a chunk of time playing games with him. How would he have felt if he would have heard me say I had gotten nothing accomplished? That my "stuff" was more important than time with him. I am sure there have been times I have said those very words in the presence of my children and was completely insensitive to them.

I have to remind myself so often that I am raising children not a home. My home is naturally going to be in disarray since five children carouse and expend there energy here. And I am slowly but surely getting over the fear of peoples perceptions of me. You women feel like their children, their home, their husbands are a reflection of them somehow. And I have gotten to the point where I no longer apologize if someone stops by and it looks like a toy store was sick and vomited in my home. It is what it is!! Those minutes spent with Shane filling his love tank were worth way more than having a clean kitchen.

We did a little valentines craft and it revealed to me Shane's love language. We cut out good sized paper hearts, wrote the names of everyone in our family on a heart and then took turns writing something about that person that we love. Every single thing Shane wrote on the hearts had to do with spending time with that person. Playing games, snuggling, reading.....quality time is huge for him. And that is just one of my children. Each one is so special and unique in their design.

Being a mother, in my opinion , is one of the most important jobs on the planet. A mothers touch can be infinitely gentle or can be devastatingly harmful. I mothers words can bring life or can bring death. A mother has the power to make her home a haven or a place of pain. To be honest...I think I have encompassed all of the above things in my victories and failures as a mother. By God's grace, as I give him the room to work deep in my heart I can become more and more the mother with a gentle touch, life giving words who abides with her children in a safe environment.

Being a mother is not for the faint hearted! It is taxing and so many days I feel like I muddle through. When is the last time I woke up rested and ready for the day? Umm......can't remember. But this is the nature of the job description. There is nothing in motherhood that says you can hold onto your selfishness. can but it won't be very rewarding.

On that note, I am going to try to fold some of the laundry - that was done two days ago. Yes. You heard me. Two days ago. My plans were to fold it yesterday afternoon but I ended up spending time in the ER with my Shane boy. Which will be another post later today when I can actually take some pictures of his newly casted leg! He and the ski slope didn't get along too well.

Or the laundry may wait since I many instead put into practice what I just wrote and spend time playing with the "littles". They are playing with their blankies, some stuffed animals and the beaters from my mixer??? I may just get the video camera and record the moments.