Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bathing and bonding

I don't bathe Hayden. If Jeremy isn't home to do it, it doesn't happen. There's something about it being the end of the day, so close to bed, I have no energy left to admonish splashing, to deal with the tears that follow the water down the drain, to apply lotion.

I bathe Zeni every day. I was AND condition her hair, comb it out, and lotion her.

I was talking to some friends about it this weekend and realized that the reason, at least in part, that I do it is because I still feel somewhat like her caretaker, not her mom. I am her custodian, charged with caring for her. If I was caring for a friends child I would make sure they were bathed, fed, warm and taken care of and that is how I catch myself feeling about Zeni at times - like a friend's child. I have great affection for her. I enjoy her. I feel protective of her. I feel like I know her fairly well. But I do not yet feel the same beautifully painful love that I feel for Hayden.

I feel fairly certain that feeling is on it's way. I'm getting to know her and we're getting to know each other. I'm learning that when she has her arms out at her sides and they are shaking up and down that she is overstimulated and needs dark and quiet. I'm learning that she grunts when she's tired. That she likes to sooth herself by sucking on her index finger. That she eats up attention, she's a flirt, and she's stubborn. She likes rice cereal and sweet potatoes. She likes it when I make clicking noises, and when Jeremy rubs her hand on his beard. When she first falls asleep, she snores - it stops once she is deeply sleeping. She likes to be swaddled with her left hand free.

I love making her smile, I like throwing her up in the air and hearing her giggle as I catch her. I like feeling her in the sling, close and nestled in like a little animal. Each time I correctly identify what she needs and am able to provide it I feel a little closer to her. Each time I find myself angry at her because it is the middle of the night and she will not go back to sleep, I feel a little further away.

It's agonizing. I feel guilty at all times except when I am staring lovingly into her eyes and talking softly to her like they say to do in the attachment books. I spend about 10 minutes a day not feeling guilty.

For those of you who have adopted, did you go through this? When does it end? For those of you who have more than one child, does any of this sound like second child stuff?


jen said...

obviously...i don't know anything about the adoption piece of this.
but, second child wise...
remember, i had 9 (10) months to love her in utero...
i had an amazing love for her from the start. but i think that things really were different with my second. i expected more from her. i didn't expect that she would change "me" as much as i had with my first. i wanted her to be more of a self-soother, because i needed to make sure my oldest didn't feel left out. i needed her to be more independent. i made that middle of the night time OUR time, though. no one is there to interrupt us. it is our moment to bond without anyone else. it sucks, when i have to work early in the morning. but i figure it can't last forever.
i think you are doing an amazing job.

Anonymous said...

I completely and totally went through this with my second child. My oldest was adopted before she was a year and we bonded so quickly and I felt like her mom immediately and would go to bed every night with wonderful, sappy feelings. My second came home at 2 years 9 months and was a completely and totally different child. Much, much, much more difficult and I had a heck of a time. I remember crying to a friend several times that I just didn't love her the same way. She has now been home a year and I gotta tell you, I LOVE that girl so much. She has completely worked her way in my heart and I would do anything for her. THe feelings will come. Just keep cuddling and kissing and caring for her and you will soon be over the moon. Guaranteed!

iloveadoption said...

Don't worry about it, bonding is a process. It'll happen - loving parents always bond with their children! We got our first nugget at 5 wks old, I didn't bond with him completely for a good six months. We're on week 4 for nuggets 2 & 3, and they are aged 2 & 5 and it is taking awhile with this too. But since I've been thru it before I know it'll happen. They're MY kids. It'll happen!

coffeemom said...

Oh sure. This will happen. The love will happen. This is pretty normal, happened to me and flipped me out but then it all came together. Not in one Aha moment though, in subtle ways, over time. And truthfully, even now, there are those phases when you LOVE them, but don't necessarily LIKE the little folks/phase they are right now. That passes too. You're doing grand. Just keep doing. She's gorgeous. Enjoy all this new time, it's rare air.

anymommy said...

We've already talked and I know we will more. You are a wonderful mom doing a fabulous job bonding with your little girl and caring for both of your kids. Bonding takes time, it's a process and it has to happen for you and for her in it's own time. Human emotions aren't made to be instant.

I feel that guilt all the time, that's in part a more than one child thing, I think. So we should both take this advice, be gentle to yourself, they are harder to damage than you think!

Love you.

Robbin said...

I know that you will love her more each day. And she is very beautiful.

BTW, I think my Mom loves my brother more... he's the oldest. He thinks I am definitely the favorite. lol.


phulmaya said...

Thank you all so much for your comments! It is SO reassuring to know that other people felt this way and ended up with happy loving families. Jen - what you said about having the middle of the night time be "our time" is helping me feel less resentful (at least until the morning:) Iloveadoption - good luck and keep me posted with how your bonding proceeds! Anymommy, you helped me so much this week, and coffeemom -
"rare air" I've never heard that before but I really like it!Robbin - my younger brother and I have had the same conversation.

staceyd said...

Me again. Your the featured blogger on All Mediocre tomorrow. Hope you get a lot of visitors!

anymommy said...

Whoops! I was logged into the wrong account. It's still me and I'm still featuring you tomorrow.

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

I've never been through adoption, but I went through similar feelings with my second child.

I knew I adored her, but I felt somehow separate from her. I was going through post-partum depression, too - so who knows what part of what was the cause?

I finally fully gave myself over to loving her around her first birthday. Not that I didn't love her for that whole first year - it just wasn't that all-consuming love, the one you're talking about. It will come, in time, for both of you!

butwhymommy said...

We are going through our second adoption right now (paperchasing for Ethiopia) and I always worry about this transition. With Bunny the transition was easy. I don't know why, it just was.

But I know that I love Turtle even if he is not born yet. He is my son, no matter what. And I can't wait to meet him.

Maura said...

I came to you via AllMediocre and, as I'm one of the few non-mommies there, I'm afraid I've got no advice on the bonding front.

But Stacey was right and that's such sweet picture you've got there! And it sounds to me like you've got your heart in the right place, and I think that's what matters most when it comes to these things.

Anna See said...

Here from All Mediocre! :)

I did not adopt, but my friends who have tell me what you are experiencing is not unusual.

As far as first kid, second kid: I sometimes, ok often, think of my first kid's needs first. My sister and I both notice this about ourselves. She and I are generally shorter and less patient and understanding w/ our 2nd kids, while simultaneously putting more pressure to perform on our first. Delightful.