Tuesday, March 9, 2010

One Month Home

Charlie has been home for a whole month. Like with all things, in some ways it seems like forever, and it seems important to me as his mother to reflect on how short it's been, how fast it's gone, and all that's happened to my son in the 6 weeks since I first met him.

One day he woke up in the home he'd always known: a crowded, dusty orphanage. He was held and fed by the nannies who always cared for him and his 25 baby roommates. Then, all of a sudden, a woman came down, picked him up out of his miniature crib, dressed him in unfamiliar clothes, and marched him and three of his roommates out into the sunshine, where he was plunked into new arms.

He didn't cry. He stared at us, and appeared to be simultaneously confused, blinded by the sun, and interested in what was going on. He didn't cry for 2 days, just stared at us and enjoyed the attention. As the shock wore off, he woke up more at night, waking up between his new parents, who were sharing their bed with a child for the first time.

In the following couple of weeks, he spent hours on a bus, got stuck with needles, flew across the ocean, met his new siblings, got placed in a new crib that probably seemed enormous, and had to start eating vegetables. America - his new home - was a freezing place and everywhere he went he had to get strapped in a car seat and bundled in blankets. Where was the sunshine now?

I feel like the mother of a 6 week old baby - beyond tired, beaten down by sleeplessness, and thank goodness you started to smile just now or I couldn't go on. Charlie's been smiling for the duration of our time together, and his friendly nature has gotten me through many a weary day. His smile, though, has changed, become new in this last week. It's gone from a charming, attention-grabbing smile with which he greets new people (the smile we knew for the first several weeks) to a familiar, peaceful, content, joyful smile that seems saved just for us. I could live off of that smile alone (well, plus diet soda and baked goods).

The nights have turned a corner, and not a moment too soon. For weeks we were getting up several times a night and there were periods of screaming at night-time, exacerbating all of my mothering insecurities. My familiar, stand-by tools of motherhood (breastfeeding and cry-it-out) weren't options to get me through the middle-of-the-nights, and I was getting a bit stressed.

Big sigh of relief - things have calmed down. He usually wakes once before we go to bed for a snuggle and once in the middle-of-the night for some milk and peaceful rocking. Once I drag myself out of bed, I actually enjoy the quiet moments... I play solitaire on my phone to stay awake, dragging myself further into a severe iPhone addiction (which I've sadly passed on to my 4-year-old) but that's another post for another day.

In my most frantic moments, other Rwanda adoption mamas have been my voice of encouragement and perspective. Sometimes because they're struggling more than I am, sometimes because they've made it to the other side, and sometimes just because they get why I'm not going to let him scream at night just so I can sleep, and always just because I trust that they get it.

The most valuable piece of advice that I've been letting sink into my heart is the idea that two of them have passed on to me, via blog comment and email, that there is a cost to being this family. Some days it costs me my blog/email time, or a work-out, or time to take a shower. They shared this with me in love, I think knowing that I would instantly agree that any price for being OUR family of five is worth paying.

Every child added to this family has taken a bit of my free time, my independence, and my previous pre-kids identity. It hurts each time, and I would be lying to say it doesn't.  But of course it's more than worth it - I love being the mommy of each of these cuties and I love our family of five, and there is not a price I would not pay.


Connie said...

LOVE the family photo. Can't wait to see you in a few weeks! (and Charlie, of course!!)

Christina Marie said...

you do not look like a tired mom in this picture, so cute! you have actually passed down your i phone skills to T as well :)

-Isaac said...

what a family, love the pic!

Julie Thompson said...

Susie, I love this post. Thanks for the honesty. My husband and I just found out today that we have been approved to adopt from Rwanda from AWAA. I had seen your blog before, but was actually referred to it again by an old friend of yours, Dawn Shields. She is in a bible study of mine and suggested the blog when I said we were adopting from Rwanda. I had no idea the first time I read your blog that you lived in the same area of Ohio! We live in Oakwood. I'd love to meet you some time after your life settles. Charlie is adorable!!
Julie (thompsonwriting@att.net)

DrMommy said...

What a great post. The last paragraph, about the cost, is true of all mommies (adoptive and natural), and I really appreciated that honest statement -- there is a cost, and it does smart a bit. But it is all so very worth it.

DelhiBound said...

amen to ALL of that!

Allie said...

Thanks for sharing all of this. I really love that thought: there is a cost to being this family. Thank you. I love the pictures as well!

Suzanne Watson said...

I love this pic and I miss you guys! Especially little Charlie!

Lori said...

Thanks for your wisdom Susie. I'm going to tuck your advice away for the future when I shall surely need it.

busylilgal said...

What a beautiful family!