Wow! Ivelina has been in our NC home for two full months. She has dramatically altered our routines, our priorities, our hearts, and our energy bill (ha!). We cannot imagine our little home without the bundle of spunkiness, sneakiness, and laughter that is Ivelina.
I posted a looong time ago about our plan for attachment. We had a plan that we held loosely. We knew that we had a few pretty strict boundaries in our attachment plan, but we also had many gray areas that we knew we would just have to "wait and see about." You can read my post from June here.
This post is a little update on our bonding and attachment progress.
We aren't going anywhere
One of our guidelines was "No Daycare or Babysitters" and I'd say this is going very well. Jeremy and I working opposite schedules is a blessing in this particular area. Ivelina so far has never been without one of us in charge. We think this is great as she needs ample time to get used to that fact that we are a constant in her life. We are not just two random passing care takers that may or may not abandon her. We are not going anywhere (not without her at least).
I went back to work part-time soon after we arrived home with Ivelina. Jeremy went back to his full-time work schedule as well. Normal toddlers cry when their mama or daddy leaves them to go to work, but not our Ivie. At first when it was time for one of us to go to work, she didn't even notice. It really meant nothing to her if one of came or went because she wasn't attached to us emotionally at all. After two months, she is now beginning to notice when we come and go, and she sometimes shows emotion over it, though she doesn't cry. We make a point of telling her, "(insert mama or taty) is going to work now. (He/she) will be home after (insert daily activity). Do you want to give (him/her) a hug and kiss?" Occasionally at night when I am lying with her as she is falling asleep she will ask if I have to go to work the next day. If I have to answer yes, she usually makes a sad face and says (translated) "Taty will stay here." I say yes and she seems happy and relieved to know that one of us will always be here with her. Some days she asks about me when I am gone in the morning, some days she doesn't. It's the same when Jeremy is gone at night.We are very thankful that our schedules have allowed us to always be with her and we are glad that she is getting accustomed to us going places but always coming back.
Sleeping arrangements have changed for us over these last two months. Ivelina began sleeping beside our big bed on a little children's cot that Jeremy's mom gave us. That thing is wonderful by the way! I would sit beside her and rub her back or hold her hand. After one month, she started to point to her big bed at night which is in her bedroom. So, we decided to move the little cot into her room. She has been sleeping in her room, which is right across the hall from our room, for a month now, and she is doing very well with that. She is still on her little cot for now. One of us always stays with her until she falls asleep. She occasionally has night terrors, and I am quick to get in there with her to comfort her and get her back to sleep when she does. Many families choose to co-sleep with their little ones. While I'm sure this is a wonderful practice for bonding, it just wasn't quite right for our particular situation.
Ivelina has always had a very hard time falling asleep. Some nights we could tell she was so tired, but she would toss and turn, kick her legs, and shift around for more than an hour before finally falling asleep. So, we are now using Melatonin to help her get to sleep. It works wonders for her, and she usually sleeps 10+ hours a night (most nights without interruption). Her night terrors and decreasing as she is becoming more and more secure in our home.
Another one of our attachment guidelines was "increase physical touch." We both have found different ways to do this. Sometimes it is intentional, but some of it has just happened naturally.
Taty's Physical Touch Activities:
- "spider hands," which is basically a wild and crazy tickle fest
- "luka" This is the word Ivie uses for a swing. This involves him picking her up by her arms or legs and swinging her around. They do this out in the yard all the time.
- "Conche" This is Ivie's word for horse. Basically he gets on all fours and she rides on his back and directs him which way to go.
- Hugs + kisses
- Holding her while they go down the slides
- Letting her chase him at the park and chasing her too, which usually ends in Jeremy picking her up and twirling her around.
- Occasionally giving her a bubble bath and doing the nighttime routine
- Reading books side-by-side on the couch
- Engaging in fun play with whatever baby dolls, blocks, or stuffed animals she has out at the time.
- Night time routine: I usually do bath time, which involves a lot of touch. This involves me soaping her up, rinsing her, shampooing her hair, putting lotion or powders all over her, dressing her, brushing her teeth, and drying/brushing her hair. Ivie typically enjoys the nighttime routine.
- Painting her toe nails
- Sitting beside her reading books
- Spoon feeding her sometimes when she is having trouble with a certain dish.
- Taking walks together, holding hands at times
- Sitting close watching her favorite TV shows or Youtube videos or movies
- Taking care of her boo-boos by washing them, adding ointment, and applying Band-aids
Getting out of the cocoon
We are slowly but surely introducing Ivelina to new people and places. With people, we are still mostly focusing on her meeting and getting to know family members. In the beginning, everyone was mostly coming to visit us, and that seemed to go over pretty well. Now Ivelina has been to both grandparents' homes, and she enjoys taking little trips for a visit. We do allow her to give hugs to our family members. Occasionally she will want to hug or talk to some random person, but we are always close by and I explain to her that we don't need to hug or talk to every stranger. She has met most of our neighbors, and has played with a few neighborhood children. I remember when she first cam home, she would just run into a neighbor's yard and start climbing on their toys. She has quickly learned that each family has a home and each child has his/her own toys and we have to ask or be invited to go into their yard to play.
Regarding places, Ivelina has been to eat at Dairy-O and Chick-fil-a. We haven't tackled a restaurant with wait staff and wait time for food yet. She has been to the grocery store a few times. The first time was just to pick up one thing. The second time was for one thing. Then, all three of us went for a full shopping trip just the other day. Ivie sat in the cart and loved looking at all the different foods. She oohhed and aahhhed all over the store, especially when we rolled past all the ice cream!
She has also been to the library. We have actually gotten into the routine of going every Saturday morning right when they open. She loves it! She went to the consignment store with me to drop off some stuff, and she went into Staples. She went to work with me just so I could make some copies and she met a few of my co-workers. She of course loves the park too! She gets a little nervous when we drive on the main highway because it is so stinkin bumpy where we live. She gets scared of the bump-bump, bump-bump sounds. She also doesn't like riding in the car at night, which she has only done twice. She thinks the dark is a little scary. Just today Ivie went on her first hike at the lower cascades @ Hanging Rock State Park. Fun times!
|We were ankle deep in cold water and Ivelina was hanging on to me for dear life!|
|She was a bit hesitant of the steep steps, but Taty held her hand to help her. She did great!|
We have not tackled church still. Jeremy and I are taking turns going each week. We honestly don't know when Ivelina will be ready to attend, but we sill think it will be a while.
We have learned quickly that Ivelina is much more pleasant and compliant when knows what to expect. She will do almost anything happily once she gets into the routine of it. She knows when certain things are supposed to happen and she reviews that with us all day. She even likes to review with us what will happen tomorrow. Routine and predictability are so important to her. For that reason, most of our days are the same, but she does well with interruptions as long as we give her a heads up. Here's our basic daily routine:
Between 7:30am - 8:30am: wake up, used the bathroom, get dressed, straighten the bed, wash face/hands, eat breakfast
8:30a.m.-10:00a.m. - supervised playtime with blocks, Play-Doh, stuffed animals, Legos, coloring books, or puzzles. She is not allowed to get toys from the garage during morning play time. I'll explain later. Mama or Taty are playing with her during this time.
10:00a.m. - bathroom trip, then take a walk in the neighborhood with either Mama or Taty and the dog. Come back home and ride the trike.
10:30a.m. - snack
11:00 a.m. - 12 noon - More play time. Sometimes we encourage her to play independently. Whoever is home starts fixing lunch.
12:30 p.m. - bathroom trip, lunch, right now the three of us are usually all home for lunch because this is the time I arrive home from work.
1:00 p.m. - 2:00p.m. - bathroom trip, nap time. Ivie gets to choose one toy from the garage to rest with. The rules are she doesn't have to sleep, but she does have to stay quiet and stay on her bed. If she is not quiet, the baby doll gets taken away. She is very used to this routine, and doesn't balk at all about nap time. She actually naps about 50% of the time.
2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Ivelina gets to choose one group of high-interest toys from the garage. These are the toys that make a huge mess and these are the toys that she typically displays obsessive behaviors with: the wagon of baby dolls + accessories, the box of doctor stuff, the tub of Barbie dolls, and the bag of My Little Ponies. She has free play time for 2.5 hours. This play time used to be incredibly obsessive. In other words, she would stare at a baby's eyes in a trance-like state or just pretend cry for an hour. Ugh! We realized that her play was a little more negative when she had free-reign with so many toys, especially the baby dolls, so that is why about a month ago we limited them to after nap time. If her behavior goes downhill, we put the baby dolls away and do something different.
4:30p.m. - clean up and choose one toy to keep out while we watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
5:00 p.m. - Bathroom trip, then watch Emergency! (her favorite TV show). I watch some with her but also cook dinner during the hour.
6:00 p.m. - dinner time. When we finish, she can play with her one toy while I clean up the kitchen.
6:45ish- take a walk and/or ride the trike outside
7:30-8:30 - nighttime routine: take Melatonin, take a bubble bath, use lotion or powers, PJ's, dry hair, brush teeth, dry ears, body spray, choose some books to read on the couch with either Mama or Taty, watch a Youtube video of babies (only if her behavior has been really good during bathtime), and head to bed with her nature music playing and her swimming fish nightlight on.
That's our day! Of course, on Fridays we throw in a park visit and on Saturdays a library visit. Occasionally, we head to visit a family member or family comes to visit us. We save most of these trips for after nap time. It's working pretty good for us so far. Our next big transition will be the transition into a home school routine. I'll be blogging more about that later.
Two things happened recently with Ivelina and myself that I thought were sweet and really good signs of attachment. 1.) She and I were walking around the block when a man pulled out into the road several yards behind us on his riding lawn mower. Ivie was immediately frightened, but she bolted to my side and grabbed by hand tightly. I told her it was ok, and explained to her that the man was nice and told her what his name was and what the mower was doing. She has since then sat on a riding lawn mower and is not quite as scared now. I thought it was great that she grabbed my hand when she was scared though.
2.) The other Sunday morning it was my turn to stay at home with Ivie while Jeremy went to church. It was rainy and dreary outside, so I suggested that we watch Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. We cuddled up on the couch with Ivelina under her weighted blanket to watch the harmless Disney movie. I never realized how creepy that Disney movie was until I was watching it with Ivie! When the queen was mixing up her spells and shrieking and turning into the old hag, Ivelina inched closer and closer to me and finally threw her arms around my neck and held on tight for the entire hag scene. She was practically climbing on me, and I was happy to hold her. She wanted to keep watching the movie. Then at the end, good grief, the dwarfs are chasing the hag up a mountain during a lightening storm with their pick axes raised, and she basically falls off a cliff and dies. Despite the creepiness of that movie, Ivelina enjoyed it and held onto me during the creepy parts. Thanks Disney & Grimm for helping aid in our mother-daughter bonding moments. lol!
Two months home and she is a different child than she was when we picked her up at her orphanage on June 5th. Adoption has been a messy and beautiful thing for all of us!