It’s been almost three weeks since we returned from Ethiopia with Katy. I am amazed every day at how lucky I am to be able to call this wonderful girl family.
It has been a wild ride to say the least. I have held off on posting because I needed to get myself together and not post something irrational and wonky. For the past two and a half years, I have scoured the internet for adoption blogs. Ethiopian adoptions, single mom adoptions, adoptees, birth moms etc etc etc. I’ve followed some amazing families through the process from paperwork to travel to home. I thought I was as prepared as I could possibly be. And truthfully, I was prepared for much of what happened. What I did not expect is to
completely disassemble have some emotional struggles.
We returned from Ethiopia a bit battered and down. Poor Katy was down with double ear infection and a bad cold. I had a bout of possible food poisoning, which is odd since I hadn’t eaten much on the entire trip. Some day I’ll post the travel blogs I journalled when I was there. Today, I’m just keeping it real. It has been H.A.R.D.
I’ll start by saying Katy is wonderful. I believe her attachment is going well. She is a happy, content kid and loves to shower me with giggles and smiles. She doesn’t yet respond to her American name (or her Ethiopian name for that matter) but learned the sign for ‘eat’ in less than a day. That girl loves to eat! What I desperately hope is that she doesn’t remember the crazy lady who couldn’t pull it together for the first two weeks of her time in America.
The first few days I was not completely a mess. We went for walks, figured out what to eat and started to get a schedule for napping and bedtime. I was ready for the transition to be hard for her. I can’t say exactly what happened but I lost it. Completely lost control. I called my neighbor (love love love my neighbors!) at 2am at my wits end. I couldn’t soothe her and I could not come down off that ledge. I was jacked up, good gravy. Sobbing and nearing hysteria. All it took was for her to come over, pick up Katy and be the calm she needed and everything was fine. Seriously felt like a complete failure at that point. The next day I packed up the girl and the dog and headed to my parents’ house where they took care of her while I slept and cried. Holy cow, I haven’t cried that much ever.
After that I lined up another neighbor (did I say how much I love my neighbor friends?) to stay with me for two more nights. Somehow having someone there, even if just for backup made it seem more manageable. Then we ran into the end of the holiday weekend and everyone going back to work and families. I made a million phone calls. Doctors, help lines, crisis lines, nanny lines. I have many phone numbers. What I needed was someone to be there, at my house, being there and being calm. I never was able to get someone overnight but my parents and friends rallied to support me in my numbness with visits and food and positive encouragement.
There is a very real thing called Post Adoption Depression Syndrome. Certainly I felt all of the symptoms at some point in the last three weeks: extreme and fluctuating emotions, depressed mood for the majority of the day with feelings of sadness, anxiety and irritation, loss of interest in daily activities, loss of appetite. One might argue that’s just the fatigue talking. That every new mother feels overwhelmed. Well count me in. I fully expected fatigue and the physical work of taking care of a toddler. I expected she would have trouble attaching. I did not expect the emotions and the trouble I would have attaching. For something I have wanted so much for as long as I can remember, I should be overjoyed to have this child here. And now after a few weeks I’m starting to feel it. But I’ve had to fake it a lot until now. Every day it gets a little easier.
What I would do differently if I could go back? I would line up overnight help for the first two weeks. I would have people around more often. It takes a village. Seriously. I can’t say I’m 100% there but I’m not sobbing uncontrollably any more. Very awkward at parties, that’s for sure. We’ve had play dates and gone on outings (not including the many trips to the clinic and pharmacy). I actually baked pies today! It’s the first time I’ve done anything remotely normal for me since before we left. Things are looking good.
One of the most surprising things about this journey is the support of all the moms I know who don’t discount my feelings and in fact can relate completely to them. I’m grateful for all the encouragement I’ve gotten and want to publicly apologize for not helping out more when their babies were born. :-)
Better posts ahead I promise. The trip was great but sensory overload and I thankfully got more pictures than the first trip. So, more to come. Right now we’re working on one hour at a time. Deep breathing to calm the butterflies and keeping busy to make the days fun. Hugs and cuddles to build up the trust for both of us. It’s all good and getting better every day.