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Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Squirt

Since I disappeared off the face of the earth for several months, I'm sure y'all are wondering if perhaps the newest member of our family might possibly be to blame.  And the answer is... yes and no.  Squirt is doing very well.  She's a pretty resilient child, actually.  She's also still very much a baby baby.  She's 16 months old, but developmentally she's probably closer to a nine to eleven month old.  And emotionally?  Well, emotionally she remains a young infant.

I'm still giving her the bottle.

(Don't judge.)

She's not emotionally ready to give up her bottle.  She's not emotionally ready to be out of the carrier.  She's not emotionally ready for a lot of things.  With the Tongginator, I had to force every major change, but it was... different.  With the Tongginator I instinctively knew that - if I didn't force the change (whether it be getting off the bottle at 16 months, or potty training at three, or whatever) - then we'd still be in exactly the same place six months later.  I had to make the change happen or it wouldn't happen at all.  And yes, to this day that has played out exactly as I suspected. But with Squirt?  Squirt just isn't... ready.

I know that if I give her time, she'll make the change on her own, at her own pace.

We've received great news about Squirt in the past couple of weeks.  The pediatrician finally gave us the "all clear" for her medically, after months of visits every seven to 10 days.  She's still doing a lot of the same things she did before, but they've pretty much ruled out everything they can possibly rule out except the aftereffects of severe malnourishment.  Because yes, y'all, when we first arrived home, Squirt's blood test results looked scary.  Which is kinda interesting, considering that Squirt was about 15 to 16 pounds when we met her at 11 months old, and the Tongginator was 13 pounds when we met her at 12 months old.  And that a 16 month old Squirt is now a whopping 22 pounds, just barely squeezing into 18-month clothes that engulfed the Tongginator at 22 months o.f age

Which just goes to show that weight isn't everything.

Squirt's ADH finally started kicking in last week.  ADH is antidiuretic hormone, which assists the body in retaining or expelling bodily fluids as needed.  Everything we've struggled with medically - from the severe urinary tract infection to the kidney reflux to the excessive urination to the craving of salty foods - it all relates to Squirt's body's inability to properly process food and water.  As they've ruled out anything and everything serious, and since it oh-so-slowly seems to be getting better, we are fairly sure that this all came about because Squirt's body was so severely malnourished, it simply didn't know what to do with the increased nutrition.

I'm so glad I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Because four months of interrupted sleep kills just about anyone.

Developmentally she's chugging along.  Normally they say that an institutionally delayed child should catch up by achieving one month of progress for every two weeks that pass.  And Squirt?  Well, Squirt's not there exactly.  She's progressing, but it's on her own timetable, for sure.  Her initial assessment back in July stated her developmental age to be anywhere from three to eight months old, with most skills falling into the four to five month old category.  When she was 13 months old.

She's made tremendous leaps in progress, however.

When we met Squirt, she didn't talk.  At all.  She barely cried and, even then, only under extreme duress and not very loudly either.  The Husband and I had to teach her to cry.  Unfortunately for us, the lessons took, and she can now wail with the best of them.  As for cooing and babbling, forget about it.  Instead she clicked and made pseudo-whistling sounds.  Like a dolphin.  Seriously - like a dolphin.  (Tonggu Grammy can vouch for us.)  Now Squirt coos all of the vowels (that started before we even arrived home), babbles four consonants (that took a bit longer) and - amazingly - has two English words: hi and owl.  I don't expect her to talk much beyond that for awhile because her tongue is mostly non-productive.  Most of the sounds she makes, especially her first two words, require no tongue movement whatsoever.

We're using sign language to communicate much of the time.  She uses only the signs for milk, more and all done, but it's amazing how far you can get with those.  We use an additional 10 to 20 signs with her, but she hasn't quite connected the dots with those yet.  Still, her receptive language is starting to kick in.  Which caused me to breathe a huge sigh of relief, since her blank stare and the therapists concerns about how she "approaches the world almost exclusively through her thumbs" worried me a great deal.  At first I didn't know the thumb thing was such a big deal - I thought it was cute and kinda quirky - but I soon learned differently.  Thankfully it's no longer an issue, and we're seeing glimpses of a smart little Squirt hiding inside.

When we met Squirt, she could army crawl, and she used an awe-inspiring split to sit up and to lay back down.  Now she not only army crawls, she also scoots, crawls regularly, pulls up to stand and even cruises along the furniture.  Her transitions are great, which means she no longer performs a split to sit up or lay down.  She's self-feeding and even holds her own straw cup occasionally.  It seems that it's perfectly acceptable for Little Miss Squirt to feed herself juice/water mix, but only Momma is allowed to be The Giver Of Milk.  Squirt's physical therapist is extremely impressed with her muscle memory - no motor planning issues for this girl!

She's a fairly good sleeper.  She does have nightmares at times, and needs comforting, but she falls back asleep fairly easily most of the time.  The interrupted nights came about because of the pee.  Wet diapers = crying baby.  Thankfully that is starting to change - Wednesday night was the first time she made it through the night without a diaper change.

I have so much to say about these early months, but I just don't know where the line is.  I want to be careful with both of my girls.  What I know I can say is that parenting a traumatized child was/is very different from parenting a non-traumatized child.  It's a HUGE difference.

But both of my girls are worth it, all of it.


Cedar said...

Thank you so much for sharing. So glad she is making progress and you got the all clear from the doctor. She sounds so precious! I hope you have lots of pictures even if we don't get to see them :)

Aus said...

Good morning TM - I feel like I've known you for a minute - we've been through adoption together and while we've never met IRL - I'll take it upon myself to judge!


How's that for a judgement?

You keep right on that bottle - you keep right on being the givier of the milk - if 'skin time' is what she needs she gets it - pouch around the house or where ever (and yes - facing you not away!) great!

Ya see - I'm from the camp that says - even with the healthest and youngest adopted child (from China - I'll limit this to my experience) - there is no such thing as a non-special needs adoption!

there - I said it - and stand ready to face the flames! ;)

Great to hear that squirts health is good and her body learning as fast as she is. I'll offer the thought that our first China adoption - at the age of 5 being home 3.5 years - still flashes back to some event in her past that triggers an emotional jag, sometimes like a night terror, but sometimes expressing itself in response to even the most gentle behavior correction with a crying jag. But interestingly, only with her parents or siblings - never her teachers, or peers. There's a psych study in that somewhere!

Great joy for you guys - glad to see you back and posting - thanks for sharing with honesty! Trauma DOES heal - no - it doesn't "heal" but our kids DO learn to cope with it!

hugs - prayers - and all the support we can muster!!

aus and co.

Sharie said...

So glad things are progressing. Squirt sounds a lot like my own little one when we came home. You just have to be a momma and know when she's ready for those transitions.

Elaine said...

My traumatized girl still needs lots of Mama only time and sometimes, a sippy cup of milk. She's almost 6.
No judgement here, except YES YES YES.
Be gentle with yourself too.

Cate said...

I have read your blog for years, but never commented. We adopted our daughter at 17 months of age. All of her anxiety came out in sleep issues- it gets better, hang in there.

But I am really posting because I want to give you sone support on the bottle issue. I hope you never apologize for giving her the bottle again- it is ok! It's actually really, really good. I gave my daughter a bottle until she was 3 (we always brushed her teeth after and she's doing ok dental health wise today!). It was special, intimate, important bonding time. I always held the bottle, and I primarily gave her the bottle in a special rocking chair with soft blankets, etc. We worked with an attachment therapist who specializes in sleep issues, and she not only supported
this, she recommended it.

So- keep it up! You're doing good work! If your daughter needs that bottle, then let her have it. No apologies.

Looking back now, I recognize the bonding that happened with every bottle, and how important that closeness was.

Kim K. said...

It's so nice to read updates. I've missed you but totally understand the lapse with all the "life" going on at your house. I'm relieved that she is making progress and you've received good news from the doctor. She sounds so precious! I know you don't post pictures of your precious kiddosbut a girl can dream.

Reena said...

Glad to hear that all is going well.

Gayla said...

So good to hear from you! I was seriously just thinking about you yesterday. Said a quick prayer hoping all was going well. Glad to read that it is!!!

Dawn said...

So glad you're back to posting... and two in as many days, at that!

You've been through this before so you already know this advice: Who cares what anyone else thinks? You do what YOU know is right for your little one. God gave mamas that inner voice to handle life with our children - no matter how our children landed in our arms!

Looking forward to hearing more about life in the T-house. You've been missed!

Be blessed!!!

prechrswife said...

So glad to read an update on Squirt, and I'll just repeat what the others have said--you're doing the right thing!

Robin said...

I'm so glad to hear from you again. I've missed your posts. Sounds like things are going better. You know what's best for your daughter and you are doing a great job. Our daughter was still on a bottle when she came to us (from foster care) at 13 months. My bio boys were all off bottles and pacifiers at 12 months. We kept her on the bottle until 15 months and she still (22 months) has a pacifier in bed and ocasionally fussy evenings. Every child is different and you have to do what is right for them.
BTW-we finalize her adoption in 2 weeks!

Patricia/NYC said...

First, let me say, I've MISSED YOU!
You are such a great mom to your 2 cuties!

So glad to hear things are moving along in the right direction! :)

TK said...

I dealt with a lot of those issues with our first daughter, now age 7. We continue to deal with sensory issues. She couldn't crawl.at.all at age 13 months. Within a week of being with us, she crawled. She had so many self-stim behaviors that I thought she was autistic. But I think she was so bored in her crib she had nothing else to do but click her tongue and wave her fingers in the light. Last night, ate age 7, we finally celebrated an accomplishment, she ate a grilled cheese sandwich for the first time. Nothing big to others, but to us, eating anything on bread is a big deal for her. I've become almost an expert on the food aversions and how to gradually ease in new things.
And then for our son who was adopted through the SN route, we hardly have any problems at all. Eats like a horse, and especially loves the candy!
Baby steps is what it takes, and lots of love!

Kim O

LucisMomma said...

That clicking and dolphin noisemaking reminds me of the Chinese women we met at the airport on the way out of China--some old ladies crowded around me and our DD and the women were clicking away at her. It was the Chinese equivalent of our goo-goo talk. So maybe she had the nannies do that to her.

Our DD was an orphanage baby and, even though I believe she was as well-treated as she could have been, she still has trauma issues. She turned 7 last week, and we brought her home at 10 months of age. Still grabs a binky now and then.

LucisMomma said...

PS--so glad to read you again. We had our basement go through a flooding (of septic tank waste! YUCK-O) so I know it was difficult for you. Hope the rest of the year is calm! :) Thankful Squirt healing.

Alison said...

So very glad to hear Squirt's kidney issues are improving, albiet slowly. Totally understand that writing is not on the top of the priority list right now. But I sure miss being able to check in with you in this way. Hugs!

Amy said...

I love how you are trusting your gut in knowing how hard to push things.
I have to say, I am curious about how you teach a baby to cry. Intellectually I realize it is probably by responding to needs immediately so that she is affirmed, etc., but in my head I also have this weird picture of you all pinching her or something - haha! Please tell me there is no pinching involved:)
Good to hear from you, TM!

Kerrie (and Jason) said...

Wonderful to read your update and Squirt sounds lovely.

PS: Don't EVER feel you need to justify your parenting style. 9 times out of 10 Mothers know the best for their children if they just trust their instincts. If you believe Squirt still needs a bottle you do it. Its like saying that after a certain age kids don't need hugs, OH YES THEY DO!!! Till they are 101 I reckon!

Vicki said...

So very glad you are back to share your wit...and your wisdom. Seeing your return made my day. :)

annikaabel said...

My girl will be just over 2 when we get her. I'm expecting lots of judgment when I give her a bottle but I'm also expecting her to need that. She won't go to college getting a bottle from mama.

Great to have an update and I'm thrilled to hear Squirt is doing well. Trust your instincts and to heck with anyone who doesn't have anything better to do than tell you how to raise your kid.

Paula O. said...

TM - I've been thinking about you and your family and keeping you all close in my thoughts and in my heart. Sending each of you light and healing energy.

Big hugs,

The Byrd's Nest said...

I just want to say...that I am so thankful that you are a mom that will let your 16 month old have her bottle...YAY for you my friend!!! So awesome to hold her and let her really just be a baby with her Mommy...something she never got to experience:) Sounds like she is doing very well:)

Claudia said...

It's great to hear that her little kidneys are starting to improve. You must be exhausted - medical stuff, storm / house stuff, oh, plus two kids adjusting to each other as well as your own adjustment!

Keep on giving that bottle. I still do it with mine when I can... they are nearly two and a half. Anybody who wants to judge can take a long walk off a short pier!

Kelley said...

I'm really glad to see all of the support for the bottle issue; I agree...never apologize again for being so in-tune with what your babies need. I think it's so important to let them grow at their own pace, and pay attention to all of the little cues that tell us what they need. You're doing just that, and you're doing so well!! Hang in there, and blog when you can. I love to hear from you!

La-La-Liene said...

TM - The weight issue with Emi is still a big deal for me. In a way it's a "demon" that I just can't figure out. When we brought Emi home at 17 months, she weighed 16 lbs. In a month she gained 3 lbs which was awesome and I thought she was on her way to catching up. She is now 3 months shy of her 4th birthday and is still a peanut at 28 lbs. Quite a few 2T bottoms are still roomy on her. She's fine in 3T tops and dresses. There are some 2T dresses she still fits in to which is fine by me because she can wear most of her clothes 2 yrs rather than just one. Most days she eats like a horse and then she has days where she eats like a bird - typical kid. But I'm trying to figure out how after having her home for 2 1/2 yrs, she has barely gained 10 lbs and why most of the kids adopted from China her age are near normal weights for their ages. I should be grateful that she's skinny rather than obese but I think what bothers me most is when I tell people she'll be 4 in a few months I get the look of shock and the immediate, "She's so tiny!' response. I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't start giving her PediaSure to help her gain weight.