Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week 3 Recap and Progress

I can't keep up with the daily journal format, and you probably don't need all that detail, so here's a very general summary of the highlights. Hurray for brevity and ease!

It continues to be daily bits of progress in one area or another. One day she seems to do better in the car, meaning less self-soothing rocking, the next day she is calmer about playing on the floor, the following she might stand independently for a few seconds. I think if I were just watching one specific area, I would be thinking nothing were happening, but across the board it's constant progress. This week, her general comfort seems to be slowly but steadily increasing. We've noticed that she perks up when she comes home. She becomes more verbal, explores and plays better. Out of the house she sits in our laps or stays in our arms and becomes easily discomfited by noisy groups and lots of talk. She handles it like a trooper, and she seems less bothered by dispersed groups as in stores or restaurants, but she is visibly and notably more comfortable at home. She is less upset by me taking off her shirt, although she still hates it when Nick does it. Bedtime continues to get easier in tiny increments, but naptime I am not sure about. She flinches less when I touch her face and she seems less jumpy in general.

There are things that, of course, we are looking for in her development. I've been re-reading "Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child" by Dr. Patty Cogen and, while she shies away from an "ages and stages" approach with these kids, she points out some phases of adjustment that are helpful to watch for. We're not yet sure that we are seeing preferential clinginess (wanting Mom and Dad only to hold or care for her) because we really don't give her the chance to cling to others, but she did go to a friend briefly this week and very quickly wanted to go back to Dad. So perhaps we're on the right track there. The big development this week was pickiness with food. All of a sudden, she's the pickiest eater ever. Part of it, I think, is the thrill of being able to say no to something. I figure she didn't have that before. Part of it is probably the abundance of different foods. She's realized that, if she says no to a particular food, another food will quickly appear. I also think some of it is her growing hair. I know, it sounds silly, but her hair is growing out a bit and when she shakes her head vigorously it sort of swings and I think she likes it. It's the swishy skirt effect. All girls love the swishy skirt.

One of Dr. Cogen's other big issues is eye contact. Kids from an orphanage setting are notoriously bad at making eye contact, and it's an issue of control and of connection. Eye contact is very personal, and most of these kids have never had it. Well, our daughter is blind so initially I was tempted to write that whole issue off. I have since realized that, although she is essentially blind, she has her own version of eye contact. It's basically being face to face in close proximity. Sort of nose to nose. When she is in your arms and she turns her face towards yours, that's her way of sharing personal space and connecting. I try to keep an eye on her general willingness to do so, and it seems to be increasing.

I've also noted some really great interactive play. She will sit in one of our laps and play with a toy and she even hands things to us and tugs on us to do certain things. Also, during her water play in the sink she actually took hold of my hand and started splashing it in the water. So that seems, to me, to be a great start in that direction.

It's so hard, though, to gauge her progress. Some of the things that seem positive at first wag could be negative from another light. For two parents with aching backs and a mountain of chores piling up, it seems great when she plays alone for a bit. But if she's not checking in during the playtime then it's not good for her attachment. If she seems to cling to us, we celebrate. But if she clings too soon it may just be an indication of her deep fear of further change, not of any real bond with us. Right now it seems as though there's no way to win. And the sudden food pickiness is supposed to be a good thing, but it doesn't feel like that when you're on the sixth food option in one sitting and she shakes her head again.

Suffice it to say, I've had to redefine my concept of progress. First, I've had to drop the idea that it would be like landmarks on a road trip. "Ok, here's the junction of 25 and 70, so I must be going in the right direction." Second, I've had to set my sights for generally heading in a roughly positive direction. I feel like I'm driving to Rhode Island with no compass or map and directions that go sort of like "Head East-ish and keep going until you get someplace nice."

No comments:

Post a Comment