Wednesday, February 08, 2006

In This Exhibit, The Lesser Panda

Another four hours of sleep, another day in beautiful, downtown Chongqing. Today is rainy, which was definitely not convenient on our trip to the Chongqing Zoo, where they have six pandas in residence who are all very cute (although, as Mary noted, not as cute as our babies.) I was so excited for my first-ever trip to the zoo with my own child, but really, the girls (and boys--did I mention the amazing fact that out of eight families in Group 906, two have adopted toddler boys?) are way too young to focus on the pandas. They got very damp but Jarrah was pretty well-behaved when you compare her occasional whimper to the full-blown opera of bellowing we had all night and morning. She also LOVES riding on the bus on her daddy's lap, staring at the city going by. It was a long drive and she fell asleep on the way there, stretched across both our laps, a real blessing considering she has barely slept in the last 36 hours.

Friends, last night was not fun. We had two patches of about two hours each with relative quiet; during the second one, I was passed out so heavily I forgot I have a baby now and was pretty darn wigged when I was awakened by one crying right in our room. After the 4:45 screaming wake-up, there was no going back to sleep. We've also begun a disturbing trend of having that pre-dawn wake-up time accompanied by an extremely dirty diaper, and I'm not at my sharpest at that hour (perhaps that is lucky; my nose isn't really awake, either.) Somehow, nearly 6 hours was not enough time for us both to shower, change Jarrah a few times, choose and put on a new outfit, give her two bottles (one water, one formula) and a small bowl of rice cereal that looked and smelled exactly like kindergarten paste. No, my friends, we were still late to breakfast and had to rush through our buffet selections to avoid holding up the bus to the zoo. Parenthood is extremely time-consuming, and in my addled state I keep finding myself somewhere and thinking "I haven't brushed my teeth in a whole day" or "I am wearing only a t-shirt under my windbreaker and it's 45 degrees" or "I can barely lift this diaper bag but I've forgotten a bottle, something to go in the bottle, and anything to cover the baby in the aforementioned 45 degrees." I am beyond tired. I think I'm in some sort of adrenaline zone and that's what's making my stomach feel so strange. Hopefully it's adrenaline and lack of sleep and not the water.

Of course, we have some unique hardships. I am learning about all the laundry a baby needs, at a time when I have no access to laundry. We can send it out but it takes two days to come back. When she doesn't like the bottles or nipples I've brought, it's everyone's tough luck. Our hotel room trash can is overflowing with dirty diaper accessories and I can't empty it. We can't drink the tap water (or use it for making bottles.) There is no such thing as stroller access in Chongqing's public areas, and speaking of public areas, the restrooms have no changing facilities (they practically have no toilet facilities, save a flushable hole in the floor, so what was I expecting?) I live in fear of a really messy diaper when we're out and about because I have no way of changing it, despite my valiantly stocked diaper bag that I can barely lift.

The most unsettling development is one, given the kind of luck I've experienced, that I sort of anticipated (maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy?) Jarrah openly favors David at this point; she even calls him "mama" which is what the orphanage nannies called themselves. Hence, David is now the most popular nanny. And since there are only two of us, I come in last. ;) I joke about it, but it kind of hurts. But the reason I expected it makes a lot of sense--David is just more patient than I am. It's no secret to anyone who knows us. When the going got tough last night (and it did get tough, more than a few times) I was the one to walk away and David remained to rock her crib (it doesn't actually rock, so it's a lot of work) for a half an hour on the off-chance she would go back to sleep. Today, if he goes out of the room, she screams bloody murder and screams "Mama!" until he comes back. If I try to hold her or carry her during this time, she struggles and twists like an acrobat so I can barely hold on to her. Her rigid bends and flips and kicks remind me of an Olympic high diver. It's like trying to snuggle the pulled-back spring on a pinball machine. Again, I will use the word "unnerving." Of course I'm trying to be a good sport about the whole thing, but I will mention with no little self-deprecating humor that I'm the only mommy here who is not the chosen one. What does that say about me? ;) Maybe don't answer that. ;) Could someone just reassure me, though, if you have a minute, that the child doesn't designate one Good and one Evil Parent for the duration? Because again I will use the word unnerving to imagine a passage of years in this sort of doghouse.

David and Jarrah just awoke from a nap in the armchair; she remains vigilant to the prospect of being placed in her crib and will not let you get away with it. Now we are having another round of random screaming, so I need to go and help deal with it. The plan for the rest of the day is to rest (ha ha) in the room and then have a group Chinese dinner at the hotel restaurant. I'm looking forward to that because each night we've been too out of it to think about dinner. Also this afternoon begins the individual trips to what Marie is calling "the founding sites;" I had no idea CCAI would arrange a visit for each one of us. Jarrah and one other little girl, Sedona, were found the furthest away from here; past the orphanage and probably an hour away. Our two families will be renting a van together for that trip, which will happen tomorrow. Some of the other girls and boys were abandoned as close as a five minute walk from here. How totally bizaare. I'm afraid I'm going to feel very upset when I see the founding site, but I know it's important to go and take pictures for Jarrah.

Back from the crisis and wanted to add one more thing. David and I were so grateful for your outpouring of love and support today. I wept quite a bit reading the replies to my last post. Readers, your wisdom and compassion ease my heart and mind. David and I are so tired that a little while ago we resorted to "tricking" Jarrah into thinking we were paying attention to her (something we must do at all times) while we were actually sleeping. We set up the bed with her blankie, stacking cups, Link-a-Doos, and Veggie Puffs with the TV tuned to Chinese children's TV (talk about your psychedelic experiences!) while we surreptitiously curled on pillows around her, trying to look nonchalant. She wasn't buying it, though, and started wailing as soon as we hit the bed. For the next little while, she alternated: Stack a cup, wail, eat a Veggie Puff, wail, stack a cup, howl, eat a Veggie Puff, sob. Very relaxing for all of us. We are so punchy we were giggling watching this struggle between the diversions of the present and the loss of the past and future. It's really quite heartbreaking but we just have to laugh. It's either that or cry by now.

Next Entry

31 comments:

Aaryn said...

Hey Sam (and David, too, but mostly Sam for this one)-

I laughed and cried at this post. Welcome to parenthood! Don't worry...this is ALL normal. I repeat: this is ALL normal. Jarrah is adjusting and she will definitely bond with you and, at some point, call YOU "mama" instead of David. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Believe me, there were quite a number of times, when Ruby came home, that I had to walk away from her wailing and Sam--also the more patient of the two of us--had to step in. It's disconcerting and a little humiliating, I know, but these moments are not permanent. What helped me when I was in the throes of a meltdown (Ruby's or mine), I tried to focus on the fact that in 15 or 30 or 45 minutes it would be over. Nothing is forever (except, of course, this new family unit) and if you can make it through a wailing session, there is happiness on the other side. Basically, try to live from moment to moment rather than looking at the big picture of "how am I going to do this for the next fill-in-the-blank number of years". If you do the latter, your going to feel defeated and overwhelmed. This es muy no bueno!

As to the lack of showering/teeth-brushing/layers of clothing: isn't it funny how that happens? Before parenthood, I quietly scoffed when other mom's spoke of these occurrences and thought to myself "how hard can it be?". Well. It seems to just work out that way sometimes. Again, try to let go and not worry about that stuff. You'll get in a groove and figure out how to Do It All. Your descriptions, though, are so damn funny (and accurate) that I had to laugh as I read them. Laugh with you, that is, not at you.

Re: the packing of the diaper bag, you will, on occassion, forget things and it's not the end of the world.

Finally, I don't know if you can do this there (I don't know what is culturally acceptable) but when Jarrah needs a changing, just find a bit of grass or a bench and go for it, rain or not. Babies are resilient. I used to be very hung up on the changing table/privacy thing but now, we'll drop trou anywhere we have to. Especially here at home, when I'm in a public place that hasn't seen the need to install changing tables in the bathrooms, I consider this public display as my own little protest (Sam does the same thing when he encounters a men's lieu sans changing table; he's progressive and thinks daddy's need to be accomodated.). And it feels pretty good. Like the time when, at Borders in Mission Valley (can you freaking believe they don't have changing tables???), I went straight to the Religious Video section and changed the most disgusting and foul diaper to date. Ruby was happy, I was happy, the guy who walked by was not so happy. :)

Anyway, now that I've written a book, I'm going to let you go back to being a mom. You're going to be FINE. Don't worry so much. Everything will fall into place as you and Jarrah get to know each other. It just takes a little time.

All my love to the three of you,
aaryn

PS the opinions expressed here are mine and are not meant, in any way, to offend other posters. Everyone has their own way of doing things and, well, I definitely hear a distinct and unique drum...Kisses!

Anonymous said...

Sam and David,
I remember two families in our group that had issues with the baby bonding to one parent. One baby bonded to mom and the other baby bonded to dad. It was really painful. I'll never forget the dad whose eyes welled up with tears and voice got choked up when he told us his daughter would not let him NEAR her much less touch her. Of course his wife was exhausted from doing everything.

Jarrah will attach to you and learn to love both of you. It may take some time though. She (like you) is exhausted, confused, angry and homesick. It's hard to fall in love when you're so stressed out!

Hugs,

Lynette

Anonymous said...

Yup, it sounds like parenthood. It will be hard and wonderful and Jarrah will learn to play you off David and vice-versa. She is going to love you both equally but differently. That's the exquisite joy and exquisite pain of being a family. Sarah

Amy said...

Sam,
Let me just say again how totally adorable Jarrah is!!!

Secondly, I just have to applaud your ability to post during all this life altering commotion let alone with such honesty and humor! Keeping your sense of humor during all this is invaluable. Believe it or not you will look back on this in the future and chuckle. Your descriptions remind me of our first night in the hospital with both girls screaming at once running on about 4 hours sleep in 3 days and thinking I might not make it through. But here we are on the girls 5 mo. birthday and all are alive and well.

Of course I am no baby psychologist but Jarrah's difference in interactions with you and David seem to make perfect sense as to how she is trying to get her needs met on the most basic level. I would imagine that right now she has the need to connect and find comfort at the same time she needs an outlet for her anger, frustration, confusion, and loss. She is so very lucky to have you both to provide for both of these critical needs. It sound strange but in a way the fact that she feels comfortable letting loose on you would indicate that she feels safe enough to express how she is really feeling. Once she can get that all out I am sure she will be looking for another wonderfully witty snuggle buddy. You know what they say..."mother daughter relationships are always complicated." :) I have no doubt that very soon she will not be able to help herself and will begin to fall in love with what we all so fondly love and admire...your undeniably engaging "Samness". So make sure to cut yourself a whole lot of slack.

I mean dealing with new parenthood is hard enough...I really am amazed at how you are going on excursions in a foreign land in and amongst all the family bonding.
You are such an incredibly strong person. You will get through this with flying colors. Oh and I think all moms have had moments where we had to turn to our partners and say "I need you to take this one!" :) You and David are so lucky to have each other to lean on during this transition.

I am sending you all tons of support hugs and again I just cannot wait to meet your little cutie pie in person!

Keep sending those pictures. I can't get enough of them.
All my love,
:)
Amy

Anonymous said...

Hey Sam and David, how's it going this fine day?

Regarding the strange and sudden occurrence of an allergy, this is probably related to the newly introduced foodstuffs...mainly the veggie puffs (which I believe contain wheat and/or corn products. Both wheat and corn can cause mild to severe skin rash and itching.

Regarding the velcro syndrome...don't you worry one more moment. In a few days it's going to be you that Jarrah tends to want to be with...it really is a switch hitter type of phenomenom...you'll see. :-)

Take care, have fun tomorrow!

Ben

Anonymous said...

Once you get home & into a routine here your lives will get much easier. There, that's your hope.
Right now, welcome to new parenthood: Sleepless nights (for me, three months: every night, every 2 hours up to breast feed X two sons); so you nap when they do, if you can (this will be easier once you're home.). Spell each other, one morning you get up for the 4:45 poopy, & the next David.
You have a strong-willed daughter: Congratulations! & my condolences. Somehow Sam, I think your Mom is going "Ah, now she learns how I feel!"
Don't most girls become a daddy's girl at some point? But David got to be the favorite right off the bat..okay, that hurts, sucks...
but there you are. Kids teach us about ourselves, and alot of it we really didn't want to know...
To change diapers in public, take extra blankets, & a washcloth & a bottle of water & a baggie. Put the blankets down on a bench, the ground, any flat surface, & voila, a changing table.
Adapt! Even on no sleep. Find out what's working for the other parents.
You have the most important ingredient, besides love, going for you: a GREAT sense of humor!
(Beth,my daughter-in-law, needed that the other day when she was trying to get out a raisin stuck high up in my 21/2 year old granddaughter Olivia's nose... :) )
Sam, it will get so much easier in time.
By the way, I think Jarrah may be teething.
Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

Hello there, Sam,

All of these other comments are so full of wisdom and good info, so I will mostly say "like she said! And like he said!" rather than be redundant. I am so happy that you have such a supportive cohort of friends to stand by you during this very challenging (and joyful! :-) time.

I have no way of knowing how an adoptive parent must feel, but I really do echo the others in saying that I laughed and moaned and teared up at all of the familiar stuff, the stuff that is universal to parenthood of young kids. One of the hardest parts of it all is that no one can be at her best (or even be mediocre) on so little sleep and under such stress, so I know that makes it all that much harder. But one gets through it, and you will, too.

And as for David currently being the fave, Oh--I'm so sorry--I know that must be so very difficult for you both! But indeed, I am sure . . . SURE . . . that you and she will develop a wonderful bond in your own way and your own time (indeed, as others have noted, Jarrah is in survival mode right now). (Of course, I know you are, too! ;-) But also (and I know you know this!): with his soft-spokenness, his gentleness, his patience, his even temper, and his long hair, David IS the next best thing to Mary Poppins. None of us could compete with that! So yes, cut yourself some slack. You are a gem and she's gonna figure that out.

I'm thinking of you three and sending you all of the hugs and kisses I can!

Love,
Miss J

Aaryn said...

David as Mary Poppins!!LOLOLOLOLOL!
That is just brilliant!
:)

Anonymous said...

Sam and David-
I've enjoyed reading your journey to parenthood. I am so happy for you. I'm sorry that some things are a bit challenging and not quite as you had thought. Hang in there, it will be okay and Jarrah will get more comfortable with time and will love you more than you will ever know!
Have a safe trip home... Kim

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam & David -
Wow, this sounds really HARD. Sounds like she's starting out as Daddy's girl, but I can so easily picture the scene, three years from now, when Jarrah will be saying "Mommy, tell me the story of how you got me in China .... again! .... again! .... again!" I just know that she's gonna feel more and more attached to both of you as the days go by. And it sounds like you're both doing a wonderful job, even through a thick haze of exhaustion.
Keep plugging!
Love to all three of you,
- Jane

Lisa Gillespie said...

Hi Sam and David:

I'm so sorry about the lack of sleep. I'm going to be real practical here, because I have the flu (yeah!). I ran some ideas by my friend Kat, and here is what we came up with. For those of you who do not know us, Kat and I both adopted our children out of orphanages in Russia. Some of the things I am suggesting are things we were told never to do as parents. I am suggesting them because they were most likely going on in the orphanage, and now may not be the time to change a habit.

•Try giving Jarrah some Motrin or Tylenol around the clock (especially before bed). She may be teething in addition to all the new stuff that is going on, and teething can be very painful. Pain meds also have a soothing effect on babies. Anton seems to sleep better with Motrin.

•If you can get your hands on a radio, turn it to "static" for some white noise, and set the volume low

•Increase food intake: at 13 months, Jarrah needs around 1000 calories per day. Baby food and formula does not have a ton of calories (I learned the hard way), so even though she has just eaten, she may need many small meals.

•Try putting Jarrah down with a bottle in her crib at bedtime. Ultimately, you do not want to continue with this habit once you get home, but this is most likely how they were being put to sleep in the orphanage.

•It is o.k. for Jarrah to cry. As long as she is fed, not in pain, and is safe, you can let her cry. Trying to soothe her may actually be aggravating her, as she is probably not used to having people constantly holding her and in her face. Sadly, our children have had to become masters of self-soothing, because there were simply not enough nannies to go around in the orphanage. She may need to cry herself to sleep. This will change over time (I promise), but it is o.k. for now.

•Try giving her a warm bath before bed, especially since she seems to like them.

•Allow some things that Jarrah enjoys to be purely "Sam's." If she loves the veggie puffs, then let Sam be the only one to give them to her. This way Jarrah can start to associate some pleasureable tasks with Sam too, and this will help to facilitate bonding with both parents.

Hope this helps, and I hope you guys get some sleep soon!

Love, Lisa

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and David!

Congratulations!!! Welcome to the wonderful club known as parenthood! Isn't amazing how you can feel so many emotions at the same time. ;)

Sam everything you are feeling and is happening is completely normal. Jarrah will bond with you, I know that sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but it will happen. I can tell your Mom instincts have totally kicked in just by what you have written.

Right now I am typing this e-mail with spit-up and drowl down my sweatshirt and there were days earlier on when I didn't was my hair for 4 days my friend. :) Hope this makes you feel a bit better about the lack of teeth brushing and layers.

As I said to Mary and Paul I look forward to your posts everyday. They make me feel like I am there with you. We are all here for you, David, Mary, Paul, and the girls.

Can't wait see you all. D

ante wants me to send a little message to Jarrah and Joy "How you doin!"

Lots of Love,

Alicia, Joe, Dante and Scully

Steph said...

Wow, your words do paint a picture! What an awesome transition for all of you. Not only meeting for the first time and a complete change of routine for everyone, but all the "business" you've had to tend to and all the touring. I know it's important for you to see and learn Jarrah's country of origin. But, my gosh its A LOT to deal with!! I look forward to you getting home and getting to snuggle into a new routine and get your little angel comfy in her new home and family.

As far as David being the current fave, I know that must be tough. I was kind of prepared for the same thing when we had Nathan, because Shaun, too is about the most genuine heart there is; not fettered with apprehension or worry. (Even MY dogs and I think my parents prefer him! ugh!)

In the beginning I was a little worried that I would not have the patience that I thought would be required in taking care of a baby. Shaun pointed out that it is never a patience issue for him, its how do I comfort this little guy who can't tell me what's wrong. Easy for HIM to say and it is pretty simple, but I still think of those words when I find myself becoming frustrated.

You will be so thrilled down the road to have recorded all of these experiences, because I'd venture to say it might all become rather foggy in the next six months.

Someone mentioned that it's pretty tough to fall in love under such stressful conditions--I think that is right on!

You're doing great girl, and its going to get better and better.

Take good care of each other,
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,

Ah, yes, they do have the saying "Daddy's girl" for a reason. It seems that Jarrah is just like her mommy... weren't you fascinated with David the first time you met him? Personally, I think that it's because as women (even little ones) we know that men are suckers (just kidding). But don't worry... when the s--t really hits the fan, we all really just want our mommies. It will come, be patient.

There is so much guesswork involved with being a parent. Who knows why she is doing what she is doing? But I do imagine that it is incredibly difficult to be a baby that can't communicate and express what they are thinking or feeling. Just do the best that you can, accept that we're not perfect, but our intention is good. There is no right or wrong answer and every child is different.

We like to use the daze and confuse technique. When the girls are in the middle of a cry fest I do whatever I can to distract them (taking their socks off and eating their feet usually works). We try anything to distract them from their little fit.

We also ignore the "bad" behavior and reinforce the good. Sometimes ignoring them completely until they stop trying to pull the spoon out of my hand and throw it on the floor 100xs when eating. I walk away and them come back to start all over again pretending that the first episode never happened. They will test us. Jarrah is a smart little girl. You're an amazing person and her mother. She'll figure that out. Good luck and hang in there.

Diann

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam-

You got such great advice from everyone else I just wanted to pop and give you my support. Things will come around with time and as you all become adjusted. Hang in there sweetie!

Denise

Anonymous said...

I have no wonderful words of experience to offer - unlike all the others - but I too just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and send you much love. It sounds like such a difficult time but I'm sure in a year's time you'll be looking back on it with David saying "remember when?" and laughing. BTW, my mother remembers often thinking when I was a baby 'I wonder whether she likes me or ever will' and now, 38 years later, we're still incredibly close. Bonding will come. Take care of you!

Lou

Lisa Gillespie said...

Hi Sam and David:

Hi! It's Lisa again: I am laying in bed with the flu obsessing about your lack of sleep. I just had one more thought: Benadryl can make some kids hyper and agitated as opposed to sleepy. My mom will never let me and my sisters forget this because we all apparently had this "paradoxical" reaction (Ugggh! ;-)). If you think Jarrah is becoming more fussy AFTER you give her Benadryl, it may be interesting to see what happens if you do not give it to her for a while. I don't think she is in any immediate danger: she may just scratch a little, which may not bother her at all. If you can dig up some 1% topical hydrocortisone cream (ask the other families if they have any, or ask your guide to take you to a pharmacy), Dr. Dern allows me to use that on Anton's itchy places. Aquaphor, Eucerin, and Lubriderm are also options: they don't have any medicine, but they are unscented and will not aggravate already irritated skin (just soothe it).

Hope this helps, and that you are fast asleep and not reading this. :-)

Love, Lisa

Anonymous said...

sharing your experience from a distance is amazing.
thankyou Sam for your wonderful blogs. It will get easier every day, except every now and again you'll have a doozey! Don't worry about her prefering
david at the moment; it's probably his dark hair as much as anything else.
Love Joan and John

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,

Jarah is sooo cute.

Just be sure to keep her away from the honey pots, or you will never get her out of the rabbit hole.

Wishing you all the best. You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

--Mike Gertz

Oh, here's a surf site for inspiration

http://www.mavsurfer.com/main_page/

Kim said...

Your wit and wisdom in such choas astound me. You are doing a great job for someone who has been thrust into parenthood in a different country where everything, thus far, is being orchestrated for you. I bet that when you are on your own turf and able to establish your own routine in your own comfort zone (and with a washer and dryer on the premesis), you will hit your stride and continue to be a wonderful parent, but with clean teeth :) And hey, if the teeth don't get clean, the world won't end. Heck, there are some days when Stacey comes home from work and the babies and I are all still in our jammies and red-eyed from crying all day long. We do what we can to get through and somehow (don't ask me how), the babies survive and, for the most part, so do we. The thing about you is that you can do it with humor--amazing.
-Kim

Anonymous said...

I read Lisa's posts and I have to agree with her thoughts on the Benadryl/Tylenol/Motrin issue and also increasing the food. I also found Ava slept better with Tylenol vs. Benadryl while in China. Jarrah may very well be teething which could be complicating things. If you know what her favorite foods were in the orphanage try feeding that to her frequently. Comfort food always makes us feel better. Right now, familiar things will probably comfort Jarrah.

Another thought I had is that the babies are almost always bundled up (swaddled) for sleep. Ava was glad to be free from the restraints but maybe Jarrah likes to be contained? You probably already tried both ways...I thought I would mention it just in case...this is the time for lots of trial and error.

Hope this next day is better for you. Try and remember not to take things personally - feeling rejected is tough...but you aren't being rejected. Jarrah is attaching as fast as she can and you will be next.

I remember asking Marc "Can you believe how one tiny human being can throw a family into complete chaos? Is this what we did to our parents?".

Hugs,
Lynette

Julie Marczak said...

Hey Sam,
congratulations on Jarrah! Don't worry, she will love you just as much as David. When she screams, try the"seamonster face" from when we were 14. She will be in stitches and all the tension will dissipate. I use that on Matthew and think of you every time I do it.
You are a wonderful mom. Don't sweat the small stuff. Just remember, if she has night time explosions, leave replacement clothes out to mke life easier on you. Also, just hold her when she screams. If she isn't hungry or in pain, she's okay and she needs to just feel her mommy. She can't scream forever, even though it may feel that way.

You are doing a wonderful job. I am so proud of you!

Love,

Julie

Anonymous said...

Hello Dear Friends,

I'm sending you love and light. I got two precious insights when Jacob had colic (which should have an entirely different name, like "cyclon-ic" or "armageddon-ic" that more accurately represents the experience), and he screamed unconsolably and (remarkably) uninterruptedly every night for hours on end. One day it was seven hours straight--how can ANYONE scream that long and not lose consciousness? Moreover, he had acid reflux (which we didn't know at the time), and he nursed every 45 minutes--sometimes for 30 minutes at a pop, except during the four-seven hour screaming spell, but all night long. There were only two things that got me through that, and the realization of them made me feel moderately sane again. I hope they might be of some small use to you.

First, I was so exhausted that I couldn't think very clearly, and that was, in many ways, a blessing. I just got in the zone and did what I had to each moment to have both of us survive. Focus on the small things, not the BIG things. What does she need this minute, this second--not, "oh my God, how are we going to get through tomorrow?" Small moments. For me, it helped enormously to go slowly. When I stopped trying to rush in a panic to figure out what to do next, which only made the whole thing agonizing, everything got more calm, including Jacob. I took a deep yogic breath (literally) and tried another small thing, took another deep breath and tried another. I consciously slowed down my breath. One small thing at a time. I had to remember that I couldn't rush anywhere anymore (and Jacob had to keep reminding me so I could get that--he still does). I had to just take a deep breath and do a small thing.

Second, a woman a the La Leche League International (a stranger to whom I was sobbing on the phone in Chicago) told me that each discreet moment of the crying and the agony would stop, and I thought: "Marlene, look at your watch. You don't have to think of next month or next year to get you through. It will stop in time that you can count in minutes or single-digit hours. I don't know the exact moment of its terminus, but it *is* coming; this is not unending. The peace will come, the calm will come--even if only for an hour or two and it will give me a little bit of strength to go on." And it always did. Sometimes I had to get up and walk away for a moment to take a breath by myself, but it did. Parenting in moments like these makes you find that special reserve tank you didn't even know you had--that you thought you might have found when your heart was broken or your work challenged you beyond your limits or someone close to you caused you enormous pain. And that reserve tank will buoy you up and get you through.

And then the gifts will stay with you forever.

And, Sam, dearest Sam. You with whom everyone falls in love; you--only you--who could win the heart of the wonderful man who is there with you now as you both go through this together; you who can fill the heart of a dear friend or a stranger; you who have a tenderness unique unto you; you who will delight your daughter like the sun: NEVER doubt for a moment that you will feel your daughter's love. It will be a gift unlike any other you've ever received, and it will be given as only she can give it. Knowing yourself, seeing her, can you imagine anything else?

Thank God you both have David to love. You'll do that together. Trust that the love you give her will help her find the path to you.

With all my heart,
Marlene

Anonymous said...

Ugh, my computer died yesterday morning or I'd have been on here sooner to give you my reassurance.

So much of what I would have said has already been said (and better) by your other obviously wonderful friends.

I recognize so much of what you're going through from my own experiences, especially with William, my first. I think it was just that not knowing if it would ever end that made it the worst. Let me reassure you that it will get better, and probably sooner than you think.

I can't wait until you get home so that we can visit and talk about it some more. And, remember, if there's anything I can do to make your return home easier, just say the word.

Sending millions of hugs and an extra emergency dose of fortitude for when you think you've reached the end of your rope.

Caroline

Anonymous said...

Sam, how could she NOT fall in love with David? :) Just think what a fantastic thing it is that the bar is set high, and hopefully she will have as great taste in life partners as her mother. I'm so sorry this is hard for you. For me, nothing is right in the world when I'm sleep deprived, and I'm sure that doesn't help in this situation. I am confident she WILL love you for all the reasons David and everyone else does, just as much as she loves David, for all of the reasons that you and everyone else love him. And all will be so much easier when you are home in your own place, and more caught up on sleep, and she sees just how lucky she is to be so loved.
Laura

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweeties,
What an amazing and beautiful piece of writing. I hope you are thinking of publishing. I miss you guys so much and I love Jarrah's Pics. Can't wait to see you in April. Sam you have to ask Grace about the time Julianna was calling the large teletubbie doll momma. Much Love, Beth

Jen S. said...

Oh, it sounds like you are getting a crash course in parenthood - the ups and down of 14 months crammed into a few days. I'm reading all these wise words from parents, and don't feel like I have the experience to add a thing. Just get through it the best you can, and you'll be amazed at where you are in a few weeks.

By the way, I have been thinking of you much more than my commenting frequency would indicate. (And I love the picture of drowsy Jarrah in the stroller.)

Anonymous said...

Sam and David,
This is a shortie bec. I'm about to leave work to p/u Hannah--more later.

The Diaper Bag:
Leave it packed with stuff you will always need so you don't have to rethink from scratch each time you leave room:

-wipes
-diapers
-diaper cream
-bad to dispose of dirty diap
-food stuffs that don't require fridge
-bottled water/juice
-change of clothes
-diversion/toy

Leaving it packed in a "quieter" moment when you return from outing will simplify departure.

Sam I know it's feeling hard-but it's going to be OK. More on this later when Hannah's in bed.
Love to you both, synthia

Anonymous said...

Hey Sam,

I just realized there were comments at the end of each...figures the person who spends most of her time on the computer missed that one. I emailed you but I figured you wouldn't be reading them until you got back.

I've been following your adventures and have laughed and cried with you all the way through China.

Jarrah is just saving the biggeset hug for you until her arms are long enough to give it. In the meantime, David gets the little ones :)

I am amazed you have the ability to write with such sleep deprevation. I would be a total mess.

Can't wait to see the family when you get back.

Hang in there - soon it will all feel routine.

Love Lynne.

Anonymous said...

sam: nina HATED me with a passion for the first week. she'd cry if i so much as looked at her. she was angus's velcro baby. as much as she wanted to eat everything in sight, she would not even accept food from me! fast forward 1.5 years. last week she told me (at 3.4 years old!), "mama, i love you as much as the moon loves the stars." jarrah will love you, sam. she will love you so much that sometimes you will want to say, "where's daddy? why don't you go and see what HE'S doing for awhile?" i promise. nina started to come around in about seven days but did not actually let me hold her until we were home, so just give it some time. i know it hurts but i promise it will not last forever. as for sleep, the only way we got any was when we allowed nina, who had slept in a crib for twenty months, to sleep in bed between us, where she still does ;-) much love, jalan

Martha said...

Hi Sam and David,

Again, more great stuff. I am just amazed at your journey.

I will save you the time by just ditto'ing all the many wise words and comments of support.

This too shall pass.

How could anyone not love you Sam? David does, Jarrah will and we do.