Thursday, January 29, 2015

One Year

One Year.

One year ago today I walked into a large orphanage and was unceremoniously handed Jo.  The worker carried her facing away from her body, like an object she was moving from one place to another.  She was handed to me and i felt....numb truthfully.  I dressed her and tried to snuggle her, she didn't smell all that nice but she seemed happy to be being held.    We made the long drive back and i fell asleep after making sure that Aunt Lindee would keep an eye on her.

The time in country went both slowly and quickly, but that numb feeling didn't really wear off.  I was sad to see her banging her head or rocking, but it was more a sadness for "any" kid that you would feel if you saw them having those behaviors.  The flights home were much easier than i thought, and my heart started to thaw when we were on the long flight.

Jo had a bad reaction to us trying to lay her down for a nap and put a seat belt on her.  She silent cried big fat tears and Lindee and i both cried along with her.  What in the world had been done to her?  What had she been through?  In the customs line a very nice woman asked if the girls were twins and then told me how cute they were.  Unfortunately for her, i then burst into tears and cried onto Deb's shoulder that i was SO glad to be HOME.  Poor lady.

The first weeks and even the months were such a blur. Learning to care for both girls at the same time left me feeling (and looking i'm sure) like a zombie.  Learning that i couldn't "fix" 3 and 7 years of neglect and worse in a month or two was hard.  Intellectually i KNEW that. But my mother's heart yearned to wipe the slate clean and fill in all those holes with my love.  Love isn't always enough to fix every wrong.  

I don't remember exactly when i went from feeling like i was babysitting or still kinda numb to complete and utter adoration for Jo.  She was so desperate for any attention and kind word.  She would have gone home with the mailman if he offered.  Anyone would have done.  Anyone who would hold or seemed nice was fine.  We cocooned and did lots of holding and playing as she would allow.

She is sneaky.  She just climbs into your heart and one day you realize that your morning is complete until she is awake and gives you her "wookie" greeting and a big hard squeeze.  When she is at school sometimes i am so busy that i don't think of her and then when she gets home my heart seems to sigh b/c all the sudden it is complete.

She is naughty.  She delights in throwing things on the floor that you are trying to use and then grins or even laughs outloud  when she does it.  She knows her name and responds when you call for her.  She knows i am mama and prefers me over all others.  She no longer goes to any random person and begs for affection.  She still likes to be affectionate with others but is very firm in her belief that i am mama and that is where she wants to end up.

I often say i have no idea how she survived in that place.  How her sweetness was not just crushed out.  She has so much love to give.  So much joy.  I know others look at her and see how delayed she is, and i guess she is.  But i look at her and see a survivor.  I see a child who never gave up on life.  Who never gave up hope.  Her middle name is hope b/c we knew she held onto hope waiting for a family for 7 long years before we found her.

Happy year anniversary sweet girl.  We are blessed to have you in the family.  Now until forever.

Oh yeah, that sad kid i brought home?  No longer exists.  Tonight she called for mama when I had been playing with her and then went to pick up Lanie.  Take that every single person who didn't see her worth.  Who left her alone and afraid for years.  She is amazing.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

old friend

Hello old friend PTSD.  I was hoping you were gone for good, but alas, it was not to be.   I often forget that these horrible reactions were such a normal thing when the girls first came home, and it always SHOCKS me when they pop up out of no where.  

 One of my girls had a PTSD reaction to me trying to give her a new medicine today. I had put my hand on her mouth to try and get her to open and her eyes flashed fear and she started silent SOBBING and rocking, shaking. In that moment, all i could think was Curse words.  Curse words for every single person who hurt her and made her freak out b/c i touched her mouth and had a spoon in my hand. 

Sadly, when we first brought her home, these reactions were a normal thing.  It hasn't happened in months though, and i just forgot.  I forgot i shouldn't touch her mouth when i have utensils in one of my hands.  B/c she is afraid i will hurt her, or shove food in her mouth.  She just reacted.  She didn't see mama, that person who always holds her gently and never ever EVER forces her to eat or is rough with a spoon.  She saw a spoon coming towards her and felt a hand on her chin (gently) trying to get her to open and i'm guessing she was remembering a time when that happened and didn't end so nicely.  

She cried, i cried.  I know why she was crying, b/c she went through horrible things in her young life.  I cried, b/c she is my baby.  And i wasn't there to protect her.  I didn't do what parents are supposed to do, keep her safe.  It kills me that she went through everything she did.  It makes me feel physically ill to think about it.  And then i FORGOT, and i scared her.  I could not have felt worse.  We cried together and i promised her once again, as we often do, that no one would hurt her anymore.  No one would make her eat if she didn't want to.  No one would be rough with her.  No one would abandon her in a crib for years at a time.  I whispered in her ear that mama and daddy loved her, and we would protect her forever.  

I can't undo the damage that was done.  In that moment, i felt like i couldn't even help her move forward, all i could do was hold her while she cried.  A friend mentioned to me that sometimes we just need to love them in it when there is no through it, and it really hit home.  I don't now if she will ever move "through" that trauma, but i can sit and love her while she is in it. I can show her with words and actions that no one will ever be allowed to treat her like that again.  Maybe it is enough.  Sometimes i feel so inadequate to parent these children that have been so hurt by what life has thrown at them.  I worry that i'm not doing enough, or that i'm doing it wrong, or that someone else could do it so much better.  

When people accuse me of being a "child collector" or ask why i'm not "done" yet well this is why. B/c you know what? My life would be EASIER if i didn't have three disabled kids. Of course it would. We wouldn't have a zillion doc appointments or hauling non-mobile kids around or all day therapy and a million other things i do with them every day. But life wouldn't be easier for THEM and they are who matters. 

I can't undo the damage done. I don't even know if i can make it better. I can only weep with them. I can only promise that no one will ever hurt them again. I can only be there when they need me. I pray most days to just be enough for them.  All i can do is pray to be enough for them.  All of them.  These little lives i have been entrusted with.  The ones i promised to protect and love and help.  I hope it's enough.  I hope they grow up and know we did all we could, all we thought was right.

I hope when the boys get home, that i have learned through parenting my other hurt children, and that i can help them try and heal or just get down on the floor and wallow with them.  Either way really. As long as they know i'm there for them.  

Random fundraiser for the boys :)  We are selling these T-shirts!  World Down Syndrome Day is coming up in May, and both of these shirts would be great for it!  Or awesome for any random day of the week too!  Take a peek and help us bring the boys home!  (unisex shirts, women's shirts, t-shirts, and sweatshirts available at the links!)