Wednesday, February 3, 2010

healing Eme's heart

My girl is the beginning of every morning and the end of every day.
I've learned more about being a Mom with her than I have in all my 13 1/2 years of motherhood. Adopting a child is so different than giving birth and having your baby in your arms from the moment of their first breath. My boys never had to question if Mommy and Daddy were for real, if we were permanent, if we would leave and never return. We have worked very hard to heal the hurts of Eme's heart, but sometimes, things pop up out of nowhere and we have to be on our toes, ready to read more into a situation than we care to.
Eme woke up from a nap last week in a total defunked mood. Out of nowhere.
She woke up crying, sobbing in fact and my first thought was to let her cry a little longer because her cry didn't sound like it was 'awake' and I thought she needed to go back to sleep. But then I remembered that I am not parenting a child without special needs, she needs me now. As I was heading her way, she came out of the room with her favorite *Glinda* blankie and just stood there. Her eyebrows were crooked and I swooped her up for the longest hug ever. I held her for over an hour and she didn't move off my chest. She was awake. She held her head low and wouldn't look in my eyes. Daddy came home and she wouldn't acknowledge him. She was in her own world and it wasn't a happy place. I 'repouched' her in the ergo and there she spent the rest of the evening, happy as could be. We took a walk, visited a neighbor to pick up W and she never for one second fought to get down. She was safe and calm and happy to be strapped as tightly to me as she could be.
What was going on inside her little head?
This is a tough gig for sure. To have 3 biological children, I can say with 100% certainty that parenting an adopted child that comes with a history at 15 months of age is completely different. I still work to prove to her that we are forever. This Mommy and Daddy will ALWAYS come back. She struggles and my heart breaks for her and all that she has been through. It is a different way of parenting, just like it's a different way for each child that I have. They are all different with different needs. Eme NEEDS attachment parenting, it is me being conscience of what she has missed and needs. It would be soooo easy to just lump her in with the 'normal' way we have always parented, but parenting is not a one size fits all thing. I am plugging the holes of what she has missed out on as well as growing her up to where she should be, while making sure her emotions are in check. It's a constant walk across the 4 inch balance beam.
This upcoming week we will diving into Neurol0ogical Re0rganization and hoping to help heal things from the inside out. I long for Eme's heart to be in one giant piece, but I think we have a long way to go before that is possible. Don't get me wrong, we've made lots of progress, but we also have a long way to go. What took 15 months to hard wire into her little being, will take us a lifetime to undo and I will do whatever it takes to heal her heart.
I have concerns that Eme's pain threshold is way to high. For example, she can hold an ice cube in her hand until it melts and never feel a thing. Her hands don't feel cold, which scares me because if she touches a hot stove, will she feel hot?
Eme's crawl was horrible and she still can't crawl.
She can't march. She will march by lifting 1 foot and stomping it.
Her hands and feet do not do cross patterns.
Her back is completely flat which means she had NO tummy time to grow the muscles and stimulate the brain.
She doesn't lift or climb with her knees, she just hikes her foot up over whatever and goes for it, some would say she is super flexible.
She gets very annoyed when you put her on my yoga ball, it causes her to use unknown muscles.
She walks/runs with both hands behind her.
She rubs her fingers together, as if she is rolling the skin off the tip of her finger. Self soothing? Anxiety? Don't know.
These are just a few to name that make us go 'hmmm'....I'm curious to see what a professional says and how we can better understand how to help our girl.
She missed a lot in her first 15 months of life, so now we will spend the time needed to relearn, retrain and repeat all that she needs to make the proper neurological connections.
Just look at her...she's perfect. She's my girl.


Sarah said...

Our daughter's physical therapist recommended x-like motions and circling moving her while she sits on a yoga ball. She hated it too. Things got lots better when the physical rherapist had the idea of singing "The Wheels on the Bus" song while we did the exercises. Now our daughter thinks it's play time to balance while sitting on the yoga ball. Music made such a difference!

Lindsay said...

Hannah hated all her physical therapy stuff too.

Hope you find answers to your questions at your NR meeting.

Sandra said...

She really is beautiful, Tracy. I wish I had known more about this attachment parenting when Tahlia first came home. Looking back, she really needed it. I agree with you that parenting an adopted child is different, even though I never had biological children.

Good luck at your meeting. I hope you find some answers.

dawn said...

We had to teach Lily how to cry! She has the potty scars and a few others, the worst being a large burn on her bottom. Never cried if she fell and hurt took alot of work
. She cries now and has a very gentle heart and "normal" pain threshold.
Lily processed her grieving by shutting down after her initial sobbing. But she bounced into her new life unlike her sister but the pain threshold scared us. She had ear infections in both ears, sinus infection, and a chest infection with bronchitis when we got home and wasn't even crying.
Thankfully you are educated and Eme will be guided through her healing by someone who understands.

Suzie said...

Lucky for Eme that you recognize these issues and that your family is willing to go to the ends of the earth to help her. She is a beautiful child and has already flourished so much in the short time that she has been home with you. Good luck and thank you for sharing your happy times as well as your struggles with us.

Diana said...

I wish I had know all of this when we adopted our youngest. I read all of this and I know I made so many mistakes with him. He is now 12 and I know some of his "personality" is from his first 14 months in Korea. I do know he was in a WONDERFUL foster home but he still "lost" the only Mom and Dad he knew.
I love these pictures of Eme..

Lacie said...

First off, Eme is gorgeous, and I agree with you, she's perfect. Your new digi-scrap page is awesome. I love the quote on the page. (Of course Eme's pics are the highlight, though!)

I wanted to thank you for sharing all of this. Even though I am not parenting an adopted child, I can appreciate the information that you are sharing, as I was raised with my foster sisters who were my bio cousins. I can remember a lot of what you are seeing. I also think that the way you describe what you are seeing in Eme will really help others who are parenting adopted children. I think it's brave and inspiring that you are choosing to share this journey. We can all learn a lot from you about living and loving.

Thank you!

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Eme is lucky to have you guys as her family..
She will have the best of love..
Have a great weekend..

Wendy said...

Can I just say that it gives me great comfort to hear you say, as an experienced mother, how different it is to parent and adopted child? As a first time mother to an adopted child, I don't have anything to compare to trying to raise my daughter. She was rough on me for the first 1 1/2 years that we had her. Things are just now getting better. But mothers who don't have adopted children just roll their eyes at me and say it's all normal. WHATEVER!!!! Thank you for saying that our adopted children are not the same as our biological children when it comes down to it. I NEEDED to hear this tonight.

Alyson and Ford said...

You are doing so well with her!
I thank you for writing many of the things we are going through but have not put out on our blog. Everyone looks at AA and sees her outside beauty while we deal with all the other "hidden" stuff that goes on. In addition to your list of things "wrong", another example is that AA would fall flat on her face; she didn'tknow to put her hands out to break her fall. It was so heart breaking as we didn't recognize it until her third fall. We have taught her so many things she missed being in the orphanage for 24 months. We have not taken her to any special professional help, so will be interested to hear what they say about your daughter. Thank you again, it was like a weight off me hearing some of the same issues we have.

Alyzabeth's Mommy

~ Alison n' Mali~ said...

Now that M's older, I am able to see that the ugly place her mind wanders to sometimes is completely out of her control. I don't think it's about what she's actually thinking - it's a little piece of her trauma that sneaks up on her. & she doesn't even understand it. She just feels it. & often it takes a while for her to get back to a place where she is cozy. All you can do in the meantime is exactly what you did.

Prepare for an interesting evaluation - B (NR) has an amazing way of analyzing all this,giving you a plan, and reassuring you that Eme will be fine. B/c she will be. & Mali will be, too. They've got some of the best Mom's going . . . =)

Shari U said...

We experienced many of these same issues with our Abby who is now 7. The not crying when she got hurt, her hyper-vigilance and her terror of being left alone were probably the most heartbreaking issues for us. I'm so thankful I recognized right away that I was going to have to be a different mom for her and that it would be my job to anticipate and meet her every need. It's been a long road, and it now brings tears to my eyes when I see her on stage dancing at her ballet recital or see her running into her 1st grade classroom. It's hard work, but so rewarding. I'm glad you are able to recognize Emerson's "special needs" and that you can take the time to hold her, keep her close to you and figure out what you need to do to heal her heart and spirit. Best of luck as you continue this journey with your precious daughter.

Glinda said...

I am honored that she continues to find comfort in her *Glinda* blankie.

I am in awe of your intuition and capabilities as a mother...I soak up every word like a sponge, storing it in my soul so that my reference library will be up to date and ready for me when I need it.

To say thank you to you just doesn't seem adequate...

Colleen said...

T....You inspire me. Thank you for being so honest about everything that Eme is going thru. Lately we've been seeing some issues that I thought we had conquered.... and now I think - well that was plain stupid of me to think anything was "conquered". This is an ongoing process. The good, bad and ugly. Right now we have some ugly stuff to deal with, and it just plain sucks when other people don't get it, choose to ignore it or don't support it. You are a wonderful mother, and Eme is flourishing, and will continue to. Keep me posted on how everything goes. I am thinking its time for H to get some NR time...

Anonymous said...

yes...a bootiful girl with a good Mommy :)

Ani said...

How wonderful for Eme that you recognize the need to parent her in a way that meets HER needs, regarless if it comes naturally or not. The fact that you are hyper aware of her needs and potential needs is a step in the direction of healing Eme's little soul. She is such a beautiful child, and she has a beautiful and devoted family.
Thank you for your honesty.

Daniella said...

Eme is so beautiful!!! Good luck with everything this week.

Janet said...

Totally bawling reading this. Adam has awoken from a sleep and been absolutely screaming. When we were on holidays, he went nuts on night and started screaming and running around the room. It took a lot to calm him down and he was hitting us away and trembling, like we were going to hurt him or something. I was SCARED. He hasn't done this since last summer, but I often wonder how often he goes to his "dark place". All I know (and I feel like it is never enough) is that we love him and want him to feel safe and secure. ANd to know that we are always there. Time, I guess, will be the great healer in this case.

Sounds like you know just what to do with Eme. I really wish I could put Adam in a carrier...but he's 65 pounds. :-)

Georgea's Mommy said...

She is sweet perfection & you guys are AMAZING parents. I continue to learn so much from you, and Georgea is the beneficiary.

Much love & big hugs to you and your Emerson Grace,

Amanda said...

I'm a lurker. I've been lurking here and there for quite a while. I just wanted to come out of lurkdom to tell you that you are doing a great job! I love your writing style and your honesty - it is like a breath of fresh air... Your family is beautiful!


Ellie said...

Great post - you have a gift :)

My daughter (home 23 months) woke up this morning in her own bed, she didn't notice me as I watched her walk to the stairs and go down. It was the first morning I remember her not crying hysterically when she woke up. a wonderful milestone. Eme is doing so well and using the ergo is so wonderful for her. keep it up, she's knows she is loved!

3 Peanuts said...

She is so beautiful and so are you T. You are a GREAT Mommy. You are so smart to think/look/examine it all and give her exactly what she needs. Not all parents do that.

We too parent Kate very differently than the boys. I always tell people that the boys were born trusting and loving us but we had to earn Kate's trust. Now that she has been home for 3 years (and she was so young-10 months) when we got her....I do think she completely trusts us and her love.

Kris said...

wonderful post Tracy. you are an amazing mom with one amazing little girl.