Monday, August 19, 2013

What would I do differently if I knew what I know now?

I was talking to some girlfriends this weekend about my adoption and parenting journey as a single momma and it got me thinking - if I knew what I know now - 10 months in - what would I do differently? Here are a few things specifically regarding adoption related things in the first few weeks and some travel things. This is not a list of actual parenting things I would change - that would be a much, much longer list:) Maybe this short list of simple things that I'd do differently early on will help a new adoptive momma - single or not:)

1) I would just let him sleep in my room with me from Day 1. 
Instead I had this plan to hopefully transition him into his own bed as soon as possible - which involved us sleeping on the floor on an air mattress in his room from the first night we came home and for the first month or so after that. It then transitioned to me putting him in his bed once he was asleep but me still on the air mattress and yet every time he woke up (which was 4 or 5 times a night) - he'd climb back out of bed and back on the floor with me. And then that transitioned to me putting the air mattress away and then I was rocking him to sleep in the rocking chair every night which wasn't the most comfy for him or me and tended to take a while and be pretty frustrating and then put him into his bed once he was all the way asleep. And then I would go across the hall to my room and sleep and he'd wake up and come in with me like a few hours later. A few times I tried taking him back in his room and rocking him to sleep and putting him back in his bed but that took awhile and he'd still wake up again and come in with me anyway. It was a lot of interrupted sleep for both of us. I was very very very much wanting to sleep by myself again. But the reality is - it's not happening and I can't force it to happen. A few months back - my friends gave us a twin bed and frame and that helped a ton cause I could just lay down in bed with him until he was asleep and then slip out. I usually fell asleep too until like 12 or 1 am - then I'd get up and go in my room and then a few hours later - M would come in with me. Still pretty interrupted sleep.
It wasn't until our July trip to Michigan when we slept in the guest room at my mom's and aunt's houses that I finally just realized it was the best sleep I had had in months. And Mihretu too. And it was that aha lightbulb moment - "why the heck aren't we just doing this at home?" "Why am I trying so hard to transition him into his own room? It's not like he's still going to be sleeping with me in middle school (at least I hope not)!" And so when we got home from our trip, I asked him if he wanted to sleep in mommy's room and we started doing so ever since. It's working way better. I still miss sleeping by myself, I'm not gonna lie. My back hurts pretty much every day cause my little 4 year old moves a lot, takes up half the bed and usually it leaves me with a little sliver on the edge. I move him over often in the night if little feet are kicking my ribs or head but he usually ends up with an arm across my neck or a head on me or feet poking me somewhere. But it's still better sleep than we were getting.
If I got to start over again - I would just have him sleep with me in the first place. And maybe I would have bought a queen bed before he came home:) ha ha

2) I would have asked for help right away. In fact, I would have asked for someone to come stay with me for at least the first week or two. I was so over the top in my "no one else can help me because of attachment" thinking that I took on more than I could handle well. And therefore, I didn't handle it as well as I had hoped and that sent me into somewhat of a depression cause I just felt like an awful version of myself. I certainly didn't feel like the patient, giving mom I expected to be. I was tired, I was overwhelmed. My child was screaming bloody murder anytime the dog was near. Even just a hand with the dog so I didn't feel like she was totally neglected would have been a Godsend! If I could do it again - I would ask someone in my family to come stay with me those first few weeks. Not so that they could bathe him or feed him or do the attachment stuff - but just so that someone else would be in the house to understand what was happening and me to be able to talk about it with someone who was there witnessing it. And like I said, to help with the dog. I felt horrible that Auty wasn't getting any attention and had to be sectioned off in our house by a baby gate. That was really hard.

3) I would have had the dog at doggy daycare for at least the first night and possibly several nights. It was too much - especially that first night when we got home at 8 pm after 40 hours of travel and I was left by myself with my precious dog and my new son and the immediate response was screaming and a very stressed out all 3 of us. My goodness, what was I thinking? We survived though and a month later - Mihretu started to even like Auty. Another month went by and he loved her. She didn't love him though so my heart broke when we surrendered her back to the adoption agency I got her from. She was just so anxious around him. I still miss that fur baby.

4) I would have brought a stroller for the pickup trip. This one is just a travel tip really. I thought M would hate a stroller or being strapped into anything. I thought it would be too much to carry, especially if he didn't really want to go in it. So I brought my super awesome Ergo carrier and left the stroller at home. My goodness, I about killed my back in that decision. Even if he hadn't wanted to be in the stroller - it would have been helpful to put everything else I was carrying over the arms of the stroller or in the part where you sit like I do now when I travel. If I could go back, I would have definitely brought that stroller. The connection in Frankfurt, Germany was killer. I swear you have to walk like 2 miles from where you get off to where your next flight is. And there's no tram for the most part and there's these escalators and sections with these weird metal barriers designed to keep you from taking the carts you can rent up the thing - but it also makes it horrible to get your bags through the small entrance onto the thing. I hate that airport. And that brings me to the last thing...

5) I would have paid extra just to NOT have to fly through Frankfurt, Germany. Worst airport ever to connect in if you are carrying a lot of bags and/or a child strapped to you. I literally broke down in tears in the security line because I felt so physically fatiqued that I thought I might collapse. You don't really get to work up the muscle gradually when adopting a 30 pound child either - it's hard on the back. Especially when all you brought to carry him in was something you wear on your body.

And that's my list. Not too bad really. Not that much I would change. I'm so thankful that every day and every month things get a little bit easier and I figure out this parenting thing a little bit more. God is faithful - He meets you where you're at. And sometimes it takes awhile to find your way. Hold tight to Him and you will:)


  1. I have a longer list of things I'd do differently with my first months of being a mom, Autumn! Sounds like you're doing a great job at being a mommy. :)

    1. Oh there is a LONG list of parenting things I'd do differently but these were meant to be specific to adoption things I wish I had done or not gotten so hung up on. In regard to discipline and patience and just figuring out what works for Mihretu - I have more things than I would want to mention that I wish I hadn't done. God gave me a child whose name means Mercy and thank the Lord - His mercies are new everyday.

  2. Great list!

    Friends who adopted internationally put a twin mattress on their bedroom floor for their daughter to attach and feel safe the first month or so home. It might be an idea for a next step for you two. A way to sleep solo but depending on the layout of your room, still practically side by side. Just an idea.


  3. Thanks for your comments, Autumn. I know I am late the the game but I am reading your blog in chronilogical order. I am a single-never-married-no-kids 43 year old woman considering adoption. I currently live in China and would like to adopt her and parent here for a year or two. Your blog is very helpful to me and I like how you keep it real and talk about your struggles. You are mentoring me in a very valuable way - I read lots of adoption blogs but yours really fits my situation. Thanks for writing it.



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