Attachment…4 and a half months later

July 31, 2010 at 10:28 am (Uncategorized)

I figured I should share a little about attachment and development. To be honest, our children are doing much better than we thought they’d be doing by now. Both of our children have lived through unbelievable trauma so we decided before we left that we would work on attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is not easy, but we are both very happy that we have been so diligent it with it throughout these last 4 and a half months. We truly believe that all of our efforts have been worth it.

When we brought them home, Ekaete used to self-soothe and rock herself a lot. She never held out her hands for us or looked for us when she was upset. She was quite cuddly right from the beginning and I think part of that was personality and the other part can be attributed to our scare in the hospital. She squeezed our hands the entire time we were in the hospital and when we finally able to hold her, she didn’t want to be put down. We also spent several days and nights with her in a barren room and nothing to do except stare into her eyes, talk to her, and touch her and I think that wound up really helping us out in terms of attachment. We noticed about 6 – 8 weeks after we brought her home that she was no longer rocking herself and had finally learnt to reach her hands out to us when she wanted us to pick her up or when she needed something. We noticed that she started making strange (e.g., burying her face in my chest, squeezing us tighter when we were around others) about a month ago. Shortly after that, we decided to let people gradually start holding her. She definitely knows who mommy and daddy are and often cries for us or reaches for us when others are holding her. Initially she basically refused to let others hold her, but she is becoming more comfortable with it as time goes on. She continues to reference us, reach for us, and prefer us so we are very happy with how things are going in terms of attachment with E. She’s also started crying when I leave the room, which is kind of annoying for both Brendan and I, but also a good thing in many ways as this is quite typical of children her age. Brendan is amazing with her and is always able to get her distracted and giggling again within seconds. Sleeping…ughh. She still wakes several times in the night. We start her off in her crib and some nights go better than others. Sometimes she will fall asleep in our arms and sometimes she falls asleep in her crib, while we sit in the rocking chair in her room. Often times she wakes as soon as we take a step out of her room and begins her screaming rant. We’ve recently started letting her cry a bit and have discovered that our stubborn little girl will not let herself to fall asleep until we cave, even if that means screaming off and on for several hours. By caving, I mean pulling her in to bed with us. We generally pull her in in the middle of the night and then she sleeps quite well, with one hand or foot on me basically throughout the night. We’ve debated about what the “right” thing to do is and I am open to advice, but I will likely continue following my gut and doing what I feel is best for her based on the reading that I’ve done and my instincts. Our biggest issue with her continues to be around food. We are both a little surprised by this one because she was so young when we adopted her, but it is definitely there. She still panics when there is food around and will eat and eat and eat and eat. She screams and cries if I am preparing meals and there isn’t something in her mouth. This has improved in the last 4 and a half months and we actually do have some “good” meals now, but this is definitely still an issue she is having to deal with.

Andikpeme….where do I start?? We have certainly been through some challenging times with our little man. Although all of us had an immediate connection right from the beginning, A. engaged in a lot of mommy shopping type of behaviours. When people would come over for a visit, A. used to ask to go with them. He would very cutely try to hold their hand and flash that charming smile of his, drawing all of the suckers in before we could say “Attachment”. We always tried to pick both the kids up when people would leave the house, but naturally A. never wanted to be picked up. So we decided to switch up the routine and we’d say good-bye to people at the door and then we would race to the window to wave good-bye again. A. really enjoyed this and it also gave us a quiet opportunity to talk about how our family lives in our home, we will be together forever, etc. A. no longer begs to leave with others, but he still likes running to the window to wave good-bye. He used to seek affection from other adults, whether he knew them at all or not. We were very strict with people about showing him any kind of affection because it was very apparent when others would touch him (e.g., reach out and hold his hand or rub his back momentarily) that he immediately would seek more affection and attention from them. He would then start avoiding eye contact with us, stop listening to us, and so on and this eventually would lead to a meltdown since we really needed to help him with self-regulation. It’s hard to not allow these kinds of behaviours to raise your stress levels since we knew exactly where it was headed, but we eventually got pretty good at preventing the vicious cycle from starting. Thankfully, when people did cross the lines/boundaries that we had set for him, they usually were able to see the consequences of their lack of respect actions and would be more careful not to do it again. I say usually because there are ignorant people who feel good about themselves when a traumatised child seeks attention and affection from them over their parents. We just try to avoid those people and talk to A. about what our expectations of him are and what he can do when he wants attention. We also noticed that the same challenges would occur when A. played with other adults (e.g., on the ground with an uncle playing lego, kicking a soccer ball with one of them, etc.) We decided that the best way to manage these situations was to make sure that we are involved in the game so that we are constantly “interrupting” the connection with that person and bringing him back to us through eye contact, touch, giggles, and so on. This strategy worked really well and although we were tired of constantly playing and would have loved to take five minute breaks and just watch him play with someone else, it just wasn’t working. Thankfully, we no longer need to be so diligent with this. We can allow A. to play with others now and rather than escaping away with them, he will call us and ask us to watch or join them. When we are out, if he is hurt or needs something, he always comes to one of the two of us now. He initiates cuddling, hugs, and kisses with us all the time. He also started telling us he loves us spontaneously a few weeks ago. It is so wonderful and genuine…it is truly amazing! The first time he did it, he and I were running around the living room, playing a silly game. I had to come start cooking and encouraged A. to keep playing…he came running up to me, gave me a huge hug, and proclaimed, “I love mommy!” He continues to do say this all the time, not out of routine, but as a spontaneous thought. Amazing!

He is now sleeping much better and usually sleeps through the night. We had to go out of town for my brother’s wedding and he woke up screaming in the night there, but generally does not do this at home anymore. And food….ughhh. A. is also obsessed with food. He can eat and eat and eat and eat. He requests food 100 times a day and basically plans his day around it. We do not want him to get into the habit of overeating so we do have to cut him off at every meal/snack. Thankfully, he will eat healthy food so he eats lots of fruits and vegetables. He is not hoarding or doing anything along that line so we will continue doing what we are doing and pray that with time and consistency, food will no longer be a huge issue for our kids.

There it is. Our kids are doing amazingly well! We have seen so much progress with them and are extremely grateful! There were days that I was left in tears and staring at the clock waiting for Brendan to get home from work, but those days are gone. I am no longer dealing with two screaming out-of-control children, there are no new dents in our walls, and our children know who their mommy and daddy are and they want to be with us! We also continue to be grateful for the fact that we were immediately attached to both of them. We have been very blessed and will continue to work away, grateful for all of the progress, growth, and love.


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Some funny things heard around our house…

July 22, 2010 at 9:08 pm (Uncategorized)

Our kids absolutely crack us up! Ekaete is constantly making silly faces and doing very silly things. Her dad is convinced that she is trying to entertain us, but I’m not entirely convinced. Either way she provides us with a lot of laughs! Her brother is just as funny. Here are a few conversations we’ve had with him in the last few weeks that left us in tears.

Andikpeme and Brendan were in the backyard working on something (as usual).
A: “There are many many bugs, daddy” (Bugs are a constant cause of aggravation for our little man)
B: “Yes, there are many bugs outside, A. If you don’t like them, you will just have to go inside”
A: “Oh no daddy. I like the bugs. I really really like the bugs”
Daddy had to explain that the expectation was not that he really liked them…just that he was able to tolerate them.

A: “Is that Jesus?” (In a very loud voice, while pointing at the unsuspecting bearded man sitting beside Brendan in Church)
B: “Shhhh, no buddy that is not Jesus” (trying not to laugh out loud)
A: “Well what is it then?!”

A: “What’s that?” (Pointing at the cheez whiz on the dinner table…I know…I cannot believe I bought that awful stuff, but that’s a whole other story!)
B: “It’s cheez whiz”
A: “Jesus?”
B: (laughing) “No cheez whiz”
(B. and I continue with our conversation)
A: “Meow Meow”
Me: “What are you doing?”
A: “Jesus says, ‘Meow'”
B: (laughing again) “No he doesn’t. Jesus was a person”
A: “A person?”
B: “Yes a person, a human being”
A: “Was he a police officer?”
B: “No he was just a good man”
A: “Can I shake his hand?”
Me: “Some day”
A: “Ok, I shake his hand on Sunday”
Me: “Not Sunday, someday”
A: “Ok mom, I shake his hand on Sunday”

Where does he come up with this stuff?!

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