8:14 PM

The Honeymoon is Over

In adoption there is a typical honeymoon where the child will woo you in hopes that you will be convinced (in her mind) to keep her. Once she is convinced hat you are ready to go the distance with her the walls come down and the grieving begins. After an ideal fairy tale first day we entered day 2 and left the honeymoon.

She is grieving and reacting to sensory overload as well as teething and some intestinal problems. The result is that we hit some unexpected triggers with her. The triggers we found so far are water/washing and the train. When we trigger her she changes from her happy easy going self to a 26 pound lashing tiger cub. They will last about 2 hours and are immensely intense in her strength and endurance. Outside of the trigger zone we are seeing so many positive things; she is smart, funny, able to communicate with us, affectionate and will take redirection easily. When the rage hits she is uncontrollable. Unfortunately although during play time she accepts us both equally during rage time only mama will do. It seems crazy but although she is fighting with all her might physically it seems the only way to stop them is to hold on to the tornado she becomes and ride it out with her.

She is definitely using head banging as a coping tool. We see it in extreme violent form during the rages but also in a smaller way several times in the day for smaller stresses like a bottle not prepared fast enough or a honking horn or to put herself to sleep. During the rage her head banging will begin at her waist and launch a full half circle of wound up force into anything in its path, mostly my head or chest but also things like a window with no indication of pain. In the rages I tie her tightly to me in the carrier because my arms often fail to catch her without the fabric of the carrier acting as a sort of straight jacket. I use sensory deprivations as much as possible forcibly burying her eyes and ears into my chest and shushing and kissing the other exposed ear. In the case of the train our guide (LOVE HER, NEED HER) got us use of a small closet so we could turn off the lights and muffle the sounds. (see below For a funny story about the room.)

I know they covered head banging in class but I can’t remember what the right thing to do is. We are just going with the gut and winging it. Any moms who have head bangers your advice is most welcome at this point.

This is taking a toll on my physically, a black eye, swollen lip and bruises galore not to mention my arms and back feel like jelly. I know I am not the first mother to walk through China with these battle scars and I won’t be the last. The strength of these mothers I don’t even know surrounds me and supports me, gives me strength. The other thing giving me strength are the improvements we see in Yoyo after each rage. Her attachment and trust grows in us in leaps and bounds, so I know this is just what she needs to do and somehow it is working. No one said this would be easy, but it is helps to recognize that this is good work, with the most beautiful smile from the most precious girl as my reward.

Today will be hard, we are visiting the orphanage, a virtual landmine of triggers I am sure and then joy of joys another train ride.

I will leave you with some photos of sweet girl in her happy times although they are a false representation of the past 24 hours, the last thing on my mind during a rage would be to whip out the camera. Although that is exactly what every Hangzhouian we meet does. We are photographed constantly sometimes discreetly and often time not so much. We are a real side show.

· FFunny story about the room: After a long time on the train of raging, we were jeered and shot the evil eye by every passanger with in a 3 car radious, finally we got taken to the room since they were unable to turn off the light at our seat. I thought the sign on the door read “malfunction room” and the appropriateness of such a room caught me in the moment as unbearably funny. I think I looked like a lunatic laughing as I wrestled a screaming child into the room. Later I found out the room was really called “multifunctional room”. Fits of laughter, crazy person laughter from me again.




Tas (Theresa) Self said...

My girl was very much the same and I travelled completely by myself.
Holding her and reasurring her is absolutley the right thing to do during an episode. My babygirl screamed horribly during bedtime her intestinal issues turned out to be Giardia beware it is a horrible parasite. If she has it you all will most likely get it and it is tough to get rid of. It is extremely painful if you can get to a western doctor and see if she can be checked for parasites and given atibiotics. This is the one thing i wish i would have done in country with my children it would have made things so much easier. mostly because the kids would have been treated and feeling better asap instead of being miserable until i could get them to a docotor back at home. Sorry so long best wishes and she will come out the otherside soon I promise.

Sarah said...

It sounds like you guys had a pretty rough day. Hang in there and keep up the good work, it sounds like you are doing the very best for your little girl during this difficult time for her. I hope tomorrow is better for Elora and you guys!



P.S. I can't wait to see the next pics :)

jacky said...

Sylvia, you are an amazing person, doing an amazing job, I can't imagine all the emotions you and Jeremy must be going through. Sending you lots of love and strength...

Catherine said...

Sounds like you are doing the right things for your hurting little girl. Your heart is in the right place and your desire is to help your little tigger through this difficult time. Praying for you and for her hurting heart.

So thankful you took the time to read up on this and are as prepared as you could be.

You're doing great!!

Anonymous said...

Sending strength and sympathy across the ocean!
Hang on tight to all the positives you are seeing in your little Elora ... and good for you for noticing them under such extreme circumstances :)

Your natural instinct seems to be right on track! Holding her during her rages will keep her safe if you are concerned with the intensity of her head banging. If she calms with movement do more of it - (rocking her while sitting, bouncing up and down while standing, or giving lots of deep/firm input while rubbing or patting her back). Pay close attention to her cues - if she revs up with auditory stimulation - give her quiet. If she calms with it - give her more of it. Try to give one bit of input at a time and watch and see how she responds to it.
If you can manage a smile after a furious rage on a train you are doing a pretty amazing job. Parenting under these extreme circumstances is no easy feat.
If the head-banging continues once home may I gently suggest seeing your friendly, local OT who can help with a million and one tips.