Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Next Stop Wonderland

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.

Next Entry


Anonymous said...

Sam and David,

She is gorgeous but I'm sorry you've had such a difficult day. As you say, bound to happen during the next little while as she adjusts. I'm thinking of you and hoping your 'sad baby' turns into a 'happy baby' really soon!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and David!

Hang in there! Things WILL get better--I promise. You have a lot of empathy for what Jarrah is going through. She is lucky to have been given such wise parents.

Did I mention how BEAUTIFUL she is! Martha is right: the Fortune Cookies all have really beautiful children. Do not worry about her weight: she has nothing on my 2 nieces who were both 20 lbs. at 6 mos., and are not growing into morbidly obese little toddlers. I would take comfort in the fact that her little brain was getting plenty of nourishment in that very important first year of life. You can't say that for every orphanage.

You guys are doing great! (even with your own meltdowns---which are perfectly normal by the way :-))

I loved the bath picture (and the mention!). Jarrah is amazing! Congratulations, and keep taking it one step at a time.

Thinking of you all....

Love, Lisa

Anonymous said...

wow, that sounds rough. but as i'm sure you've been told, it's a good sign. since she was attached to her caregivers enough to grieve, it means she'll soon attach to you, her forever parents. sam, i wish i were there to give you some xanax for the "jelly bones" :-) i think you'll be amazed at how quickly jarrah adapts. i wouldn't be surprised if, by the time you read this, you've had a smile. xoxo jalan

Amy said...

You articulated so well what is going on with your adorable little peanut! Just too many changes in too short a period of time. But with more time will come adjustment and I am sure many adorable smiles and laughs from your little Jarrah. I know how hard it is to be patient...this is one of my hardest lessons I am learning as a mother.

It sounds like the two of you are working as a wonderful team and it will get better with each passing day. I wish for you that the rest of your trip goes smoothly as you all continue to get acquainted. Be gentle with each other during this delicate time.

I am simply chomping at the bit to meet Jarrah in person. I can't wait until you are all back home. Keep those pictures coming!!!
Mucho mucho love,

Anonymous said...

Sam and David,

Congratulations! I hadn't posted because I thought you might not be able to read them, but now I'm reassured that you can. I have been following your 'adventure' very closely every day, eagerly awaiting the next post. Tears fill my eyes when I read about your experiences, I am so touched. Jarrah is absolutely precious, and I cannot wait to squeeze one of her thighs! (and maybe a cheek too!). You are so brave, going through all of this and it will get easier. Congrats again, Mom & Dad!

Sharon =)

Anonymous said...

Sam and David,

Hang in there. We've all had moments like what you've described. And in those moments I tell myself... did I really sign up for this? But then will come the incredible moment that makes it all worth it (e.g. when their faces light up when I come into the room). It might not be right at this moment but I promise that it will come.

Welcome to motherhood. You are experiencing all the challenges and a huge transition all at once. When my girls test the limits of my patience, I stop and ask myself... did I really expect anything different from my daughters? They are strong willed, sensitive, and really smart (our girls take after their mommies, right?;-)

And I feel you on the weight issue. Natalie (yes, little Natalie) is now 20 lbs 10oz at 7 1/2 months. Looks like Jarrah is going to get a run for her money. The doctor said that it was just fine. And it just means that we're going to need lots of play dates where they run around ALOT. (hehehehehe). Huge cyber hug to you guys.

The Sheehys

Anonymous said...

Jarrah will become contented again, but it will be awhile; you've got a bright kid, a fighter, on your hands, who knows what's up, & is trying the only way she knows how to change the situation. This is very good in the long run, and sucks in the meantime! Just keep doing what you're doing, which is all the right things, by the way. Tears of frustration are definitely part of parenthood, as is asking yourself off & on over the years: "Good God, what have I done?!" :)
Love, patience and time will work, so hang in there; and try to give each other breaks for rest/walks.
Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

Sam & David,

Aaron and I just read your blog and we wanted to let you know we are thinking of you and sending our very best. We immediately thought of our experience of bringing Isabella home from the NICU (after 109 days in the ugly hospital being cared for by different nurses every day). When Isabella came home, she cried for hours at night and was out of sorts. The docs we spoke with stressed that even though Isabella was leaving a sterile, ugly hospital for her new cozy home, it was still a huge change of environment and not to worry. A few days later, those night cries were a distant memory. Jarrah has been through some pretty amazing changes and I am sure that your love, a little time, and some TLC will help. Take good care and remember to be patient and kind to yourselves. We hope tomorrow is a better day (and that it just gets better from here on out). XOXO, Stephanie & Aaron

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and David:

Your postings have been wonderful to read. It's like reading a good book. I can't wait for the next chapter.

I don't want to say, "I know it's hard", because I don't know that yet. What I can say from the classes Holt had us take is that what you guys (all three of you) are going through is very normal. It just sucks that this goes along with a cold.

I know this sounds wierd but you will find later that it's great that she is showing emotion like she is because like someone said earlier, she has some understanding of attachment. Therefore, she might have an easier time bonding with you guys.

There was a couple that brought in their daughter to one of the classes so we could ask questions (and goo goo over the kid). She was only a year old and they just brought her home from China a month before the class.

They told us that she cried for three days straight in China. Then things got better a little at a time.

When they were in class you could see she was bonding very nicely with her parents because she would investigate her surroundings, but never go too far from her parents. It was a beautiful thing to see. And that was only after a month.

Okay I'm done babbling!

Oh by the way, Jarrah is a cutie! :-)


Anonymous said...

wonderful! wonderful! You will survive it all, we promise. jarrah's reactions just show how aware she is.
hope you manage to survive on cat naps which may be all you get for the next little while.
Love as always
Joan and John (Nanna and Grandad)

Anonymous said...

Sam and David,
Reading your latest post brought back memories for me. I remember Ava crying...well really screaming at the top of her lungs and us not able to comfort her. It WAS the most frustrating thing. I remember saying more than once to Marc "Now what do we do?". After several days she settled down...but I have to warn you that when you move to the White Swan you may experience a bit of a regression. The same may happen when you return home.

Keep doing what you're doing. Jarrah is in the process of learning to trust you will be there for her and is trying to get comfortable with the new surroundings, new people and new foods.

When you feel the tears burning in your eyes just remember that her behavior is not towards you - she is scared and confused and needs your kisses, hugs and reassurance.

Don't feel bad about about skipping some of the tours to spend some bonding time in your hotel room. Just do what you think is best for Jarrah.

The first month is the most difficult because of all the changes and traveling - once you're home and settled you will see Jarrah blossom and become more confident and happy.

Big hugs,

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and David,

I am so impressed with everything you did on this trip. Three of you all showed different kinds of strength, you will go through any challenges ahead of you. Jarrah is going to love her new mom and dad after she get used to the new room, new faces, new sounds(English), new food...

I know what you meant by being cold in Chong Qing, it was usually cold for me every time I went home during Christmas time, even though my home town is in southern China. I hope you can take care of yourself, and try to stay healthy, you need all of your energy for the next few days. All three of you are in my thoughts.



Kim said...

Finally, someone has been able to articulately describe what I have found parenthood to REALLY be like (the entire paragraph that starts, "Readers, I so wanted to naturally be a good mother...") It is such hard work and it seems that the babies don't care if we've had any sleep. They don't care if we have headaches. They want what they want when they want it and it is so hard to go from taking care of ourselves to taking care of someone who depends on us for 100% of everything. And it's frustrating as hell! In fact, just tonight I pulled the pillow over my head and told Stacey to go deal with it. It's a good thing that you have a David and I have a Stacey--teamwork, for me, is key :)

And it is terrible to watch her cry and be unhappy and scared. And this is not the only time she will feel that way--Ava was just screaming a few minutes ago and making a face that looked as though she held all the sorrow in the world (and she has been home for months!). Tears me apart. But I know that tomorrow she will look up at me with those huge baby blues with an expression that says, "I love you. I need you," and that will make all the tears (of both of ours) worth it.

What am I talking about? I don't even know. Sleep deprivation is talking here. Just know that I've been thinking about you and I know that you are already a wondeful mother.


Anonymous said...

Little Jarrah, or should I say big Jarrah...is soooo adorable! We are so happy for you both, and Jarrah! Don't fret about all the new and interesting things your experiencing...it's what makes having a baby fun! Really. Congratulations on becoming parents, you're are both blessed, and will have many exciting days ahead of you. We can't wait to see the first play date with Jarrah and Joy here in San Diego!

Take care, see you soon,

Ben, Debbie, Taylor & Zach

Anonymous said...

She is darling! You are doing great! This is a big change for all of you and it is a process. Be kind to yourself, get as much sleep as you can, and know that it is only going to get better!
Julie G.

Anonymous said...

Beloved friends, Mom and Dad:

You just keep showering love on Jarrah and on one another. When you can't take one day at a time, take one hour or one minute. The time for sleep and peace will come, I promise you--even if you have to take it in smaller doses. Be gentle with yourselves--as gentle as you are with her, your daughter.

If she could know already how happy she will be living with you, if she could know already how beautiful you both are, how loving, how kind, how smart and supportive, how generous of spirit and energy--she would rejoice now, as she will the rest of her life, in her new parents. Of course, she will grieve for her farewells, but how lucky she is: she is going home, which will become the place of her comfort, and to her family, which will be her haven of love. And so are you both.

Sending you love and light.

Anonymous said...

Sam and David,
Sam--your honesty and love are clear and piercing--patience is so hard--we all struggle with it--I mean it. Hannah's been so tempermental the past few days--and that's nothing like what you are experiencing. Your perspective and sympathy for Jarrah's transition are incredible. David--words cannot describe how I admire you. I'm so proud of you both.

Jarrah has quite a spirit. I cannot wait to know her. I hope you all get some sleep. Thinking of you with so much love! syn

Anonymous said...

Oh Sam and David, what a very hard day! And experience for all three of you. We are thinking of you and know that even though you may have expected this, the reality has got to be exhausting. We are sending our best thoughts and prayers your way for more peaceful days ahead. And although this is hard, I am happy to hear she has such a strong spirit - that's your girl for sure!