Some of you may be wondering why it took so freakin' long to publish our "Gotcha Day" post--in this one, I'll attempt to explain. I'm afraid I'm also going to have to debunk some of the fantasy elements of yesterday while I'm about it. I also want to explain to all of you wonderful, supportive commenters that David has rigged the computer so we ARE able to read the fantastic comments on our posts, but unfortunately we can't access the blog itself. Does that make sense? I can't see our posts or pictures; I can't see Paul and Mary's posts or pictures, but I can read your comments, and they are so comforting right now, so please keep them coming! I'm not checking personal e-mail while we're away simply because I don't have time, so if you have e-mailed me, thank you and stay tuned for replies when we return.
Today was really hard! I'm feeling exhausted, cranky, deflated, depressed. On the other hand, I really don't have time for those feelings (or the headache I've been nursing since my 4:45 "scream up" call) because of the thrashing, wailing wild child in the crib a few feet away. Thrashing and wailing through a full dose of baby Benadryl, mind you. I'd be more worried except for the coincidence of the CCAI doctor's visit just a couple hours ago. He pronounced Jarrah in robust constitution, except for a small cold which we already knew about. She also seems to have some sort of allergy to something in her new environment--she scratches her little head and her mammoth thighs in an absent-minded kind of way; hence the Benadryl.
I can barely remember any details from today except that it started with an extremely poopy diaper in what used to pass for the middle of the night in my world. Then there was a warm bottle and what, based on our experience from the previous day, we foolishly assumed would be a few more hours of sleep for all three of us. Not. The wailing started and continued off and on until now, with the shortest of breaks for Jarrah to eat copious amounts of food at breakfast and lunch and a great number of goldfish and veggie puffs. Experiences I thought we were all in agreement about got reconfigured today; there was flat-out head-back screaming throughout bath and post-bath massage time; there was screaming any time we so much as said the word crib. There was screaming any time her eyes snapped shut in a perfectly reasonable response to so much activity and stimulation, but we then made the slightest sound or movement. She was howling when the doctor arrived and I cried when two people had to hold her down so he could cram the ear-looker into her ear; that kid is strong! We found out today she is almost 27 pounds--crazy! Her friend Joy isn't even 20 and she's a little older.
Readers, I so wanted to be a "naturally" good mother today, snapping to attention with instinctive generosity and empathy to nurture and soothe my child in all the correct ways. Readers, I did not do these things. Some of the time I picked her up, walked her around and made shushing noises; some of the time I hopefully offered her a Cheerio, a bottle, a toy, anything I could think of to distract her. A few times I fell on the bed, pulled a pillow over my head and yelled at David, "You deal with it!" And one very regrettable and shameful time I snapped at Jarrah herself, "Yeah, we heard you the first time!" It's amazing how she gathers herself for her full lung power and just lets loose. It's also completely unnerving. I feel like my bones are turning to jelly and my head is about to crack open. But (as I expected) David has been wondrously marvelous in the face of any challenge. He has worn Jarrah in the carrier almost constantly and been my right-hand man at baths and changing and bottle-giving. Even when I was shaking with frustration and stress tonight as a big dollop of Benadryl that I was trying to shoot into the baby's shrieking mouth went south and landed on her fresh sleeper (one of precious few that fit, and wasting medicine that we can't find here) he stayed calm as I cursed and fumed, speaking softly to both of us, looking after both the big babies in his life. ;)
She just woke up from a seemingly deep sleep and with her very first awake breath, flung open her arms, legs and lungs in tandem, like a very loud starfish. I wonder if she's having night terrors. So it seems that Serious Baby has become Sad Baby in under 24 hours. I know she is grieving because I can see it in the expression on her wise little face right before the storm hits. She turns to one of us (often me, but sometimes David and sometimes another person in our group who is unlucky enough to happen by) and it's like she realizes that she's not going back to her nannies and friends and the life she knows, that she's staying with these peculiar folks who keep feeding her goldfish and don't seem to know her nap time. And that makes her very sad.
Today we had a tour of downtown Chongqing on foot. This seemed increasingly ill-advised to me as it went on since none of us had strollers and I have not been training to lug a 27 lb. baby on my hip for two hours, particularly in a city where the slightest hesitation in public results in a pressing crowd of 20-30 people, all talking at once, and many grabbing at any available part of the baby--clothing, fingers, toes, hair--in some sort of assessment process. I sort of enjoy the attention for about one minute, and then I start feeling claustrophobic and also can't understand why they don't notice that the baby in question is starting to cry from terror. At that point, I have to back away, since the crowd is not going anywhere. They do say "guai, guai" a lot which is the way to say "pretty baby."
The highlights of the tour included some very nice department stores, one of which sold us our Winnie the Pooth umbrella stroller (which not surprisingly made Jarrah shriek, but only until she realized there was a ride involved and then she dug it) though there is a curious amount of paperwork involved in shopping at these stores; you have to get tickets and go to storage and all sorts of tedious business that took way too long; at one point I was trying to get J. into her carrier with David's help amidst a pile of purses, bags, coats and other junk, resulting in her melting down to the floor and us having to wrangle her up while everyone stared at us, which was not embarrassing at all.
The other wacky thing was a massive "show" in the square, apparently advertising a condo complex, but involving the loudest Chinese rap music and bad American pop covers ever (I think they could have heard it on Venus) accompanying such tableaux as a group of models in matching yellow dresses sashaying up the stage or a troupe of women performing what looked like 1980s-style high impact aerobics in bike shorts, and men in what appeared to be military uniforms surrounding them.
Most of the day, we've been leaving our door open and chatting with the other Group 906 families, all embroiled in varying degrees of our situation, as we walk, stroll, play and chat in the circular hallway outside our rooms. We have the whole floor; CCAI books their groups that way to make "The Crying Club," which sounded funny when Marie first described it and definitely doesn't now. It really is the weirdest thing to snatch a toddler from the only home they've known and bring them to live in a hotel room. It's really no surprise that they feel resistent, even if they can't articulate that. But in the moment, it's no picnic.