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Adoption Blog: Inconceivable Family

Learning to Trust My New Mother Instincts

Why is it so much easier to tell the ugly and painful story of our infertility and adoption process than to talk about my amazing daughter’s life?  I guess because I don’t want to see her as anything other than perfect.  It hurts to feel like there is something not completely typical about her and that her uniqueness may cause her to struggle more than others (it already has), or to feel different in a not-so-good way throughout the rest of her life.  Well, no need to get ahead of myself.   It’s always best to start at the beginning, with her birth.

On the day that Anna was to be released from the hospital she had an episode of spitting up.  No big deal, right?  I admit I was caught off guard when everything that my husband Mike fed her came flooding from her mouth like Old Faithful.  But I was new to the parenting thing and I told myself that every infant "spits up."  It wasn’t until the doctor’s came into the room and told us that she had been doing that all night that an alarm went off in my head.  "She’s not healthy.  There is something really wrong" was what I kept hearing in my heart.   "You’re panicking. Cold feet. She’s just a spitting baby" was what my head told me.  Too much of our journey had been led by my heart and it needed a break.  So instead of listening to what might have been mother’s instinct—I couldn’t have developed one in just 48 hours right?—I decided to listen to my head and get her checked out for her symptoms, not any larger underlying cause.
Anna was sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and for the next five days she was given medication for reflux to ensure the formula was kept down.  She showed signs of improvement and we were allowed to take her home on the sixth day with a few different medications and warm wishes from the doctors and nurses, with one of the night nurses telling us that Anna was an incredibly relaxed baby who was a dream patient.  He said her temperament was something that every parent wishes for.

So what happened?  We brought her to the hotel room the first night "home" and she was quiet and certainly a dream.  But the following nights things began to change.  She cried.  And cried.  And cried.  Then I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  What happened to the baby with the temperament of gold?  It was like she was gone.  I worried that her formula was not warm enough, or if the medication was wearing off.  I wondered if maybe there were some bonding issues that would plague us for a lifetime and that the "open/primal wound theory"—the idea that separating a child from her birthmother can be a traumatic experience with lifelong repercussions—was not just a theory.  Why wouldn’t she stop crying?   Did she already hate me? Could she tell I wasn’t her mom by birth?   I hated the idea that she was frightened by the unfamiliarity of my voice.  When she heard my heartbeat as I held her did she feel insecure and uncomfortable?  

If I had known then what I know now…  Maybe she wouldn’t have developed the issues that we are now struggling through with daily therapy sessions.  Maybe we would have caught—it—it, what I am only beginning to understand and deal with now. So much so that I don’t feel comfortable revealing what it is, just yet. It: What kept her from speaking,  what kept her struggling in pain everyday.  What led her to express herself through behaviors of hitting and pushing, unable to put into words how she was feeling.

Maybe the "autism diet" and the "sensory diet" that she follows now would have had more profound impacts if we had not fed her milk-based formula since the day she was born.   The damage the milk did on her system since the very day she was born makes me cringe.  The very idea that someone so small and innocent could go through the bouts of diarrhea and reflux as she did makes me feel sick as her mother. But the biggest kicker is that I had that instinct.  I wished I had listened to that voice that was telling me there was something wrong, a deep down and forever kind of wrong, instead of convincing myself that she was just in need of a little dropper with magic medication.  I wish I had forced more testing or not suppressed that feeling of concern when doctors would later tell me that "every child grows at their own pace."  There I go,  getting ahead of myself again.

I was in that hotel room for 29 days everyday listening to her scream and watching her body shudder.  I was on edge anyway while Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and a variety of other issues were cleared up and more than once I recall feeling like I was trapped in a nightmare of my own making.  There was nowhere to go and no one around to step in and talk me from the ledge of my own fears.  Mike left on day 14 after he had used up all of his sick time for the year.  My parents drove three days from Mississippi to come to the rescue.  I cannot explain in words my emotions at seeing a familiar face as even my own reflection had become so distant in my heart.  When they met their newest granddaughter I remember my mom telling me she was beautiful and wonderful; everything I needed to hear. My dad seemed filled with a sense of relief that was audible in his tone and glowed through a fixed smile.  It would only be in later months when the dust would settle that they came fully clean about their first impression.  My mom told me that Anna truly was magnificent but that she was also had a seriousness to her that spoke of "one pissed off baby."  She was right.  Anna was angry.  Her fists were clenched tight and her brow was furrowed even as she slept.  When she wasn’t sleeping she was crying and when she wasn’t crying she was staring into space, emotionless, as if the sounds and smells of the world had shocked her out of the present time.

I was afraid.  She was afraid.  And this was how our life together began.

Read More About My Adoptive Family

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Handling yourself and child is very difficult in such situation. If there would be some other mother, she must tried to rid of her…but mother like you should be awarded for the best mom. I hope many of adoptive parents have learned allot from this article…............  Great content

By Judith Bell on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 7:30 am.

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Meet the Author

Jenna Nadeau

Jenna Nadeau

New Hampshire

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn

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