I was digging through some of old drafts today. And I found this.
I guess I never published it because I didn’t finish it. I wrote it when I was in China and, things were a bit *ahem* crazy then.
But now – well, things might still be crazy, but it’s a different crazy.
A comfortable, predictable crazy.
And, in reading what I wrote just 3 and a half months ago, I realize just how wonderfully far our girl has come.
Written on August 2, 2011:
I want to get a few things down because, to be completely honest… I forget stuff.
And I don’t want to forget where we are right now, so I can look back and see where we’ve been.
And in an effort to capture where Poppy is right now, I hope to lay it out here… all that I know of Miss Poppy.
If Poppy were a book, I would be, admittedly, on page 2. I know so little, even after spending 10 days with her. But I want to share what I do know, where Poppy is now in my mind, and my impressions of her sweet self.
So here goes.
Poppy is shy. Painfully shy, it seems. Combine that with her fear of strangers and having to leave everything that has become ‘home’ to her, this must be like a living nightmare. And if I didn’t know what life was like for children in orphanages, even good ones, this might be unbearable. But I do know. And an orphanage is no place to grow up, even in the best of circumstances. So we press on. It seems that she received relatively good care, but that she spent a lot, a lot of time by herself in her crib. She is more delayed than I had anticipated, even though I was expecting some delays. She is from an orphanage that partners with Half the Sky, but even so, it is clear that she was institutionalized.
She struggles with eating. Wow, does she struggle with eating. And it is a nagging fear that we aren’t getting nearly enough into her in a day. It’s exhausting just trying to get food and liquids into her – seems she took a bottle with a huge hole in the nipple for 99.9% of her nutrition up until now. We were told that she took a bottle with formula and rice cereal twice a day, and additionally had three meals during the day – noodles, congee and vegetables. Uh, I don’t think so. Sweet thing cannot chew at all. She gets something in her mouth that she likes and she works and works… sometimes it goes down, but most times it just comes out as a chewed up mess. We have found a few things that she can actually eat (some baby cookies, egg yolks and, as of yesterday, a few french fries) but other than that, it’s a lesson in frustration trying to feed her. And congee? No way. She gagged on it the first day and won’t even venture to try it again. So we’ve tried to stick with what she was taking, at least to get over the hump here in China. But the rice cereal/formula combo I just cannot seem to get right. So she refuses. And we then have to try something, anything else, failing much more often than succeeding. We’ve been so grateful to have the ‘baby tea’ that the SWI gives the kiddos on hand here, it seems the only thing she’ll drink regularly.
She has no idea how to feed herself, which is fine, I know she’ll figure it out, but surprising. In fact, she seems to not be very skilled at using her hands at all, even taking into account that she is missing fingers. This all might be due to all she has endured as well. She usually cradles a toy or favorite object with her little hand, and then uses her right hand to “do” things. But if I give her a cookie, she seems to want to hold it, but doesn’t try to eat it. If I push it to her mouth, she will eat it, but it’s almost as if she hasn’t had any opportunity to do this. She is improving by leaps and bounds in this area though – last night she was all over my french fries, feeding herself one by one – but this is most definitely a newly acquired skill.
She can’t drink out of a cup and she can’t drink out of a straw. Thank goodness I brought bottles and a sippy cup. She prefers the bottle, but now, since she refuses the formula/rice cereal, she just gets tea in her bottle. She can feed it to herself, but she happily sits on my lap and allows me to hold it for her. So I do. I think it’s an important part of bonding to spend that time together, as much as possible, so while we have been here, I’ve made it a priority to feed her all I can, bottles included. I am hopeful that she can master a straw soon, geesh… as an almost 2 year old, we are spending an awful lot of time and energy on bottles. But I have decided to leave the nipple holes as they are, not cutting them wider, because I want her to strengthen those muscles in her mouth. I am hopeful that this will help with her chewing and swallowing issues, and that she’ll be able to eat more substantial things in the near future.
She is easy going. Goodness, she really is. She cries, oh yes she does, but it’s usually over just wanting to be held. She can entertain herself for hours with a few stacking cups (she has just started playing with these in the last 2 days, but YAY, she is playing!)… in fact, she did this last night when I
passed out took a nap yesterday for 1.5 hours. I woke up and she was still right next to me, contentedly playing with those cups. Which is good, and easy. But it makes me sad, too. I wonder how many hours out of how many days she’s had to lay alone, trying to entertain herself. Thankfully, her days of being alone are over. My kiddos at home cannot wait to smother Miss Poppy with all the attention she can stand. And then some.
She does relatively well with eye contact. On a limited basis. I really think that much of this has to do with her fear of strangers (me) and all she has been through in the last week, more than any attachment issues. She will look at me quickly and then look away because I think it’s overwhelming for her. And I get that. She seems to make deep connections with people (I believe that shopkeeper that made her smile reminded her of someone she loved) and that she is slow to warm up because she quite aware that I (and 99.999% of the rest of the population) are most assuredly not that someone special that she knows and loves.
Hopefully, in time, I will be one.
Three and a half incredibly long and somehow ridiculously short months later.
Poppy is remarkably different.
Here are a few pictures I took today.
Spur of the moment.
In her too-big Gap sweatshirt because her hands are always cold.
Hanging on to a band-aid that she will insist I apply to some invisible boo-boo.
And looking so incredibly at home.
Oh, sweet Poppy. We are so very happy that you are home.