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Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Momma Kangaroo

Just so y’all know, I’m not being contrary by refusing to blog this past week.  I know many of you stuck with Our Little Tongginator’s endless inane blog posts these past three years just so you could follow our trip to China to meet Mei Mei.  I wish I could share more of our day-to-day life with you during this tremendously amazing, difficult, awesome transition.  But I can’t.

Because I?  Am now a kangaroo.


And if y’all didn’t know: kangaroos can’t type.  Or at least they find it extremely difficult.  Several of you asked how Mei Mei is transitioning. I am here to assure you that Mei Mei is eating beautifully.  While in the carrier.  And she sleeps beautifully.  While in the carrier.  These past seven days, she’s progressed to playing on the bed – outside of the carrier – for short spurts while her adoring fans gather round to watch.  And by adoring fans, I mean me, the Husband, the Tongginator and Tonggu Grammy.

We have learned more about Mei Mei’s orphanage over the course of the past week.  Some of our previous information was spot on, some was incorrect and many gaps are now filled.  During her first year of life, Mei Mei lived in a baby room filled with 19 other babies and one of two caregivers (working the day and night shifts, respectively).  The children did not leave their cribs unless or until they learned to walk.

Mei Mei doesn’t know how to walk, y’all.

Which means she rarely left her crib, if at all.  (I don’t know where they changed or fed the children.)

Hence my kangaroo status.

Mei Mei appears to have very few sensory issues, all things considered.  She does become frightened/ overstimulated easily, but she gains comfort from my presence.  She is quickly learning to eat from a spoon.  The nannies informed me she only ate from a bottle, so I’m amazed she’s eating baby food after less than a week with us.  She also – just yesterday – learned to grasp a toy for the first time.  I don’t know that she’s ever had access to toys before.  (The toys in the orphanage playroom were covered with a coat of dust.)  Mei Mei army crawled in the Swan Room yesterday, using only her arms, with her legs dragging behind her, while housekeeping cleaned our room.  I think Mei Mei probably knew how to do that before she met us, but she hid the skill from us for the first week.  She also started babbling yesterday, but – again – I believe that was a skill she tucked away from us while she grieved.

Not that her grieving is over.

Because it’s not.

But we have turned a corner.

There is a tremendous difference between Mei Mei and a baby Tongginator.  I’m sure quite a bit of it is due to personality, but some I believe stems from their living situations within China.  The Tongginator was in foster care, so she went from one home to another, for arguably no real reason.  We didn’t ask for a child from foster care, but that’s what happened.  With Mei Mei, it’s almost as if she knows a good deal when she sees it.  Yes, the orphanage was her family.  Yes, she deserves to grieve that.  But a ratio of 20 babies to every one caregiver… you can’t tell me that’s better than a loving family.

You just can’t.

We haven’t been able to see the sights around Guangzhou all that much.  It’s not that I don’t want to experience Chinese culture, or that I want to hide out in the White Swan Hotel.  It’s just that Mei Mei hasn’t been capable of it yet.  We’ve done only adoption-related appointments and meetings.  Never fear, though: the Tongginator has experienced the whirlwind that is Yun Tai Gardens and the Pearl Market and the museum and on and on.  Either Tonggu Grammy or the Husband has gone with her for every trip.

Mei Mei and I hang out together in the hotel.

A momma kangaroo and her joey.

Which is why I haven’t been posting all that much.

(You know, cuz kangaroos can’t type.)

47 comments:

Brazenlilly said...

Wow. Is that you? You have great arms. And MM has adorable feet! And wow. Praying for an easier-than-expected transition for all involved!

Logical Libby said...

You sound like a very happy kangaroo. Enjoy every minute.

Jamey... said...

My eyes filled up with happy tears for you when I saw that picture of you and those beautiful little baby legs. I cannot wait to hug you.

lmgnyc said...

You have amazing insight into the nuances of early care and the affect it has on our girls. Thank you for taking the time to type this out and sharing this with us.

I think you are amazing for sacrificing your time in China-- instead of going out and seeing sights and shopping for trinkets you are doing what's important---taking care of your daughter. You are truly amazing TM.

Kristin said...

We adopted Abby at 19 months. She could not walk either. When we met, she was so traumatized, she appeared autistic. But after a few days, she opened up, little by little. She barely moved while we were in China; even at night. I could lay her in bed and she'd wake up in the same position the next morning. Scary stuff. But within a few days, she was eating better, thrashing about, trying to walk (love those squeaky shoes). We had a hard time getting her to eat. Mommy had to be there or there was no eating at all....

I know things are tough now but you hanging with Mei Mei is a great thing. We did that as much as possible with both our trips.

Blessings to you all!

supergrrl7 said...

Wow, Meimei sounds just like our L. 14 hours a day she was in that Ergo, and never-ever-ever was I even allowed to lean on a wall while carrying her or else she would scream like a crazy person. We were sure L couldn't even sit up, never mind doing anything else that first week. The second week, she started to let me at least sit down while carrying her. That was a huge improvement.

I remember how very very hard that was. You should totally crack open a beer after Meimei goes to sleep.

AmericanFamily

Elaine said...

Our two girls had the same living situations. First was in foster care, the second in a crib for 8 months with an even worse ratio of caregivers to babies than MM.

The experience was very different with each. Once our youngest caught on that I was around for good, she grabbed on for good. She didn't know how to be held - never really molded to my body when I carried her - but she hung on for dear life with all the strength she could get into her grip. She still does under times of stress. We are more like a mama monkey and her hanging on baby than a kangaroo, but I do so know what you mean.

Blessings to you and to sweet MM. And the rest of the family too.

And yeah, a loving family IS better. Don't doubt yourself on that. Ever.

Sandra & Steve said...

You're doing what you're supposed to do, love your new baby. She comes first with the rest of your family, no apologies necessary. Nice of you to explain so nobody worries that ya'll have fallen off the planet or anything but in a way you have, its all about the meeting the little ones needs, of course! Congrats!!!

Mahmee said...

Baby feet! I love the baby feet!
Our PSparkly (adopted from a Guangdong orphanage at 11 months) also moved right to solid food while we were in China. Out went all that time doing 'make your own baby food' research. And she LOVED stuffed animals because at the orphanage...nada, zip, zilch. And I understand why. Looking forward to hearing more about your MeiMei and TG adventures. Happy travels.
M.

Carrie said...

Keep holdin' that baby! It's the best way you could spend your days - whether in China or here! So happy for you... and praying for you as you soak up every moment with your family.

The Drinkwaters said...

It sounds as if you are putting Mei Mei's needs first - kudos to you! It is also nice that TD and TG are getting time to spend one on one with the Tongginator. Please make sure to take care of yourself as well.

Annie said...

You told me once, "never apologize for living life." So now I give those words back to you!!! Sounds like you are doing what needs to be done! Mei Mei's CWI sounds a lot like Lizzie's.

Cedar said...

Thanks for taking time out from being a kangaroo to share with us, your adoring fans, I mean loyal followers. LOVE hearing every little piece I can.

amanda said...

It sounded like you were saying that you were unable to put her down because that was a totally unfamiliar thing for her, but what I was struck by was the notion that it's also totally unfamiliar for her to be held and loved so closely. I know I would definitely chose that over playing on the hotel floor. Although I know those babies get heavy no matter how good your carrier is. I'm so happy Mei Mei has a mama to hold her close today. So happy to hear you all are together at last.

Aus said...

Hey - we get it!! The only time we managed to type was when they finally fell asleep!!

Pleased 1) to see you using that Ergo and more pleased 2)that you have Meimei pointed the right direction!! What she needs most right now is what you are doing!! And GZ being roughly Key West Fla here in the US - it's probably ugly hot out there anyway!!

Glad to hear the corner has been turned - the rest will take care of itself - and I bet TD could type....to quote another blogger we both know....I'm.just.sayin.! ;)

hugs - happy for you guys -

aus and co.

LucisMomma said...

So thankful for baby carriers, and for this smoother transition.

Our DD was also an orphanage baby, and she also knew a better deal when she saw it. :) Your description of that was spot-on with our experience.

Praying you all home.

PS--if you didn't already have the Mei-Mei name for her, Joey would be a good nickname.

Jennifer said...

It is so heart warming to see you love on this little one and grow your family with her... I'm glad the guest post thing didn't work out. No one really wants to read anything other than what you are sharing about Mei Mei anyway!

LaLa said...

Same here...Annslee was in foster care and she felt kidnapped I presume (as she should) while Coby was in an orphanage like Mei Mei and was in his crib. At 11 months old when we got him he was strong though..he had been walking those rails : ) He too knew a good thing and when we picked him up he grabbed Mark's tie (in Vietnam you must dress up for your Giving and Receiving ceremony ) and didn't let go. He had no idea who we were but we were holding him so that was enough.

I hope things continue to go well : )

Kim K. said...

I completely understand Kangaroo status (been there, done that) and you don't have to apologize. I'll take whatever posts you can manage. Thinking of you and wishing your family continued blessings!!

Gabe said...

First of all, loved Daddy Tongu.'s comment about your beautiful new daughter. . .so loving!

Little Mei Mei is lucky to have a mama that is willing to look at the differences in her daughters from the very beginning, instead of trying to make the exactly the same!

It is a constant challenge to let them be themselves! You are off to a great start!

Beach Mama said...

Hang in there! It will only last for a few years! Mt first daughter was 10 months old at adoption. I literally wore her for 3 years in a HipHammock, It is amazing how Kangaroos can adapt to doing everyday thubgs while having a child attached to them!

Football and Fried Rice said...

I'd rather be a kangaroo than a blogger - ANY day!!!!!!

Debby said...

So happy for you and your family. I hope Mei Mei finds her new life is so much better really soon. Poor baby. I am glad that she finds comfort being close to you.

kitchu said...

you are an incredible mom. i know it isn't easy- but you are doing the right thing for her. we saw more hotel than China too :) baby steps.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Things like things are going as well as can be expected......... and you are a terrific Mommy!! I have to agree with Sara, I would much rather be a Kangaroo than a blogger...... Keep hopping along with your beautiful baby in your pouch. I am so very happy for you...... just catching up here on your last few posts. It is almost surreal to "see" her with you......after all these years!!! God is good.....and you got the baby meant for your precious family! enjoy every moment~

xoxo,

Lisa

snekcip said...

Loving the pic of that baby in your arms!!!

Patty O. said...

Wow, I am so glad that things are going well for you, all things considered! It looks like Mei Mei is definitely bonding with you, which is great! I'm just thrilled you have her! You finally have her in your little family! Hooray!

organicnerd said...

I agree with whoever posted about those baby legs and tears when I saw them. Just your brief mention of the time she spent in her crib added to those tears. So be a kangaroo as long as you need to!!

Beyond Normal Limits said...

but this Momma Kangaroo is pretty adorable

Sharie said...

I know Amelia and Mei Mei aren't from the same orphanage, but the more you describe it, the more I think they were in such similar environments.
The director of her orphanage didn't allow toys because they spread germs too quickly and staff barely had time to feed the kids, much less clean toys.
No food at nearly 10 months, but no food issues for us (thank goodness)!
Amelia would be a monkey in the hotel room and the pool, but shut completely down every time we left the room in a group. I spent a lot of time sitting in a little shop with the shop owner and her son who was the same age. After we went to the orphanage though she really came out of her shell.
Good luck. Lots of prayers coming your way!

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh...oh, oh, oh. Bless your heart!! I was thinking about you this week, coming home with your Big Little Girl. I looked around my house, and I saw all of the things that I would need to babyproof if a big little one was coming home with me.

So glad that little MeiMei is comforted by you, and comfortable with you! Hugs to you all!!

Michelle R Photography said...

Enjoy your time with your new little "joey." So happy for all of you!!!!!

Sarah said...

Hoping Mei Mei soon realizes how blessed she is to be your little Joey... what a precious picture of those little legs.

Mia's Mommy said...

As someone who just spent a great deal of time in the heat of China also with a little furnace strapped to her chest, I feel your pain .. and your joy. I didn't want it any other way either. Good for you, momma!

Kiy said...

NOT that you will have time (right now) to read comments, but I wanted to toss one in too.

I've been thinking of you guys, wondering how it was going. I'm so happy that MeiMei is able to find comfort with you, and that she is slowly putting down her shields for you. Good luck, take time for you, enjoy these magical days!

planetnomad said...

LOVE those legs! :) So happy, always, to hear from you. And no worries, since I am barely online these days myself.

t~ said...

What a beautiful journey. Mei Mei sounds just like my EG. The pouch was her security. It eased her trauma and she literally lived in 20 hours a day.

I listened to Taming the Tiger while it's Still a Kitten and remembered them saying to pouch at least 6 hours a day and I thought in my head, "there is no way possible I could pouch that long with 3 other kids to attend to"...little did I know how much my daughter would NEED the pouch. After we got home for the first 2 months, I remember thinking, "IF ONLY I could get her to be pouched only 6 hours a day." We were able to start with small transitions around month 3. I think it took a full 3 months where she would even let Daddy hold her. 2 years later, I wouldn't have changed a thing. She is confident, happy, secure and adjusted.

Enjoy your time there, it's such sweet sweet time.

Catherine said...

I love reading about Mommies (and Daddies) who know what is best for their child and do it at any cost. My DD has been home for 19 months now and her pouch is still in our car and used from time to time. It's her safe place and I wouldn't change that for anything. Mei Mei is blessed to have such an amazing mommy!

Bell said...

The kangaroo look fits you. What a wonderful picture.
Happy to see that Mei Mei feels so secure with you.
Wishing your family all the best!

mumma to many said...

enjoy this time because all too soon Meimei will be running to catch up with miss T!

the_blissful_mommy said...

Eat it up with a spoon, sister. *love*

Cavatica said...

Sounds like things are going well for the mama kanga and her joey.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

It has been a while since dropping by... glad to hear that all is going well, considering... gotta love the White Swan... hugs to you

Joan said...

We just got home from China today... I hope your family is able to get over the time difference quickly. Congrats on Mei - Mei!

Jaggerfan1 said...

Awww, I love babies, they're so cute!!!

I was wondering if u get a chance, to email me a list of people u would either date or marry at hughjackman18@yahoo.com because I'm thinking about making my next post titled Marry or Date. There's no rush on it. I just want to do a blog that everyone can comment on, do something universal that everyone likes.

Alyson and Ford said...

The best thing you can do is hold her close and take her in your arms everywhere - you are doing great (I know you know all this).... just so happy all is going well. Congrats over and over!

Alyzabeth's Mommy

Chasing Dreams Photography said...

Lookin' good!!!!!!! : ) hope you got my email...I responded to yours : )