Aside from the obvious r&r I’ve been taking here on the blog we had a little family r&r the other week at the beach. Yep, we packed up the family and drove four hours south to the sunshine, sand, and fun. Well the girls and I did at least because we were tagging along with Michael Luke for a physical therapy convention… so he spent most of the time in meetings.
Our trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time though. Our time at the beach marked two months with Esther. Two months can seem like a long time. Newborns change drastically in two months. Some are even sleeping through the night at that point (thank you Noah). Esther is no different really. She has changed so much in the past two months. She smiles and laughs a lot more now. Her anxiety levels have gone down… not gone but they have decreased. She is also coming closer and closer to sleeping through the night but like newborns who have only been in their home two months she still gets totally freaked out when she wakes up in her room in the middle of the night. We are moving forward though.
One of the steps of moving forward that we were warned about and that we knew would come was grieving. Esther did some grieving in Hong Kong… especially the days immediately after she became ours but nothing like what we experienced the week leading up to our beach trip. You see, Esther left some pretty important people back in Hong Kong. She was loved and she loves them. One of the is her Kai-ma (God mother in Cantonese). I hope to share more about this amazing women later this week but in the meantime it’s enough to know this woman was like family to Esther. Family that she can’t see, or hug, or play with anymore. Family that in her mind was practically dead. Family that she missed.
It just happened one day out of the blue… she started complaining of her stomach hurting. I figured it was a stomach bug because it had been making its way around town so I didn’t think too much of it besides preparing for the worst and applying peppermint oil to her tummy. Later in the day her energy level dropped and her Chatty Kathy self practically silenced. That got my attention and let me know she was for real about not feeling well. Then later that night she started running a fever. Mostly around 101 but climbing past 103, and hanging out at 104 before coming back down. At this point we knew she didn’t feel well but didn’t know what to do besides wait for the virus to hit. So we gave her some medicine and applied more peppermint oil to her to help bring the fever down.
The next morning her fever was gone but she was barely moving, still not talking much, and not eating hardly anything. Most of the day she laid on the couch and was content with me just holding her. She was not content with me stepping out of the room to do anything else. So housework and cooking sort of came to a standstill because we all know that the “Mommy” part of the job comes first and thankfully my husband insists on it being that way. We repeated the same thing for another day. Barely moving, fever rising at nighttime and then back down by morning, and in my mind waiting on the stomach bug to rear its ugly head.
Like any three year old sometimes she has a hard time finding the right words to express herself. By the third day Esther began to say, “Mommy, I’m scary.” With a little probing we discovered that she “was scary” because she missed her Kai-Ma. She missed Hong Kong. And occasionally she would tell us she wanted to go back. Not in the I don’t love you or want to be with you sense of “go back” But in the I miss everyone who used to be in my life and want to see them again sense.
At this point my heart broke becauseI realized that it had been almost two months for her without seeing or hearing from Kai-Ma. In her mind, why did we have her and why couldn’t she see the ones she loved. So we begin to talk to her about how sometimes when your heart hurts your tummy hurts too. We told her that even though Kai-Ma misses her and loves her Kai-Ma wants her to be here in our family and Kai-Ma wants Esther to be happy. We begin to try to explain to her that in August she can talk to Kai-Ma again. (We are allowed to talk to her once the adoption is finalized… but how do you explain that to a three year old!?) We also read and talked to her about adoption. About her birth family. Mother’s Choice. And how God had a plan all along for her to be part of our family. I can’t say how much she understood but she definitely enjoyed talking about Kai-Ma. By Sunday we declared it an “oily” day and diffused Valor, Stress Away, and Joy and applied Tranquil to her throughout the day. We did this for a couple of days and kept talking to her about Kai-Ma Slowly she began to perk up a little each day, reaching her normal self seven days later… the day before we left for the beach.
So you can see why the beach was a welcome retreat at this point.
Here Esther’s anxiety almost completely went out the window.
The girls hardly fought because there was plenty of sand and waves to go around.
And for once I got to sit and read for a little while.
It was what we all needed. R&R.
P.S. Esther still has times that she is sad or “scary”. Which in the mind of a little three year old that has been completely transplanted half way across the world what part of that is not scary? We tell her that’s it’s perfectly fine to miss the ones you love and talk about getting to talk to Kai-Ma again. I hope Kai-Ma is prepared to talk for about ten hours in August because Esther has a bunch of stuff she wants to show her and tell her about. We are also talking pictures to show Kai-Ma. This has been great therapy for Esther. Even though we can’t talk to her yet it’s something she can do in anticipation of her.
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I am sure it has been a hard adjustment for her, but it sounds like things are going so well! And it looks like you guys had a great time at the beach!
Thanks,Kelly. Even though the road before us is long we have definitely come a long way. I can’t imagine what must be going through her little mind.