Sunday night, the 20th
Finally, after the tumultuous events of the last couple of days, a quiet moment. An opportunity to re-connect with my tiny girl.
I lift her gently from her bed, tubes and wires trailing from her fragile body, and position her carefully on my lap.
She arches her body, twists in my arms, crying as loudly as her weak body will allow, clicking the joints of her hips, chewing on her own wrist in her rage.
My hand lies softly over her. She pushes it away.
My tears overflow my eyes and drip onto the blanket that encircles her.
She wants to get away from the scary intensity, back to what she knows. She wants her bed.
My heart throbs with the grief of seeing her pathetic attempts to comfort herself.
She herself is all she had for so many years. Hands, fingers, feet, mouth, head, hair.
My heart longs to reach through her shell.
She doesn’t need to protect herself, medicate herself, comfort herself.
The law has been satisfied. The ransom has been paid. All has been done. It is finished. She now belongs to us. We are making sure her needs are being met. She has no need to fear. She has never been more secure than she is right now. I am here; I will be here.
I yearn for her to trust that I am staying put, and that my presence means that her needs will be met in full.
But she has no idea of all these realities. She doesn’t yet know that she needs what I have to give.
She turns from the abundance I have to offer her, and goes back to her own pitiful obsessive efforts to make everything all better. Fingers fluttering in her peripheral vision, tapping the sides of her head, over and over again, all day long, sucking her own tongue, chewing on the corners of her lips, tap, tap, tap, flutter, flutter, flutter, flutter, chew, chew, chew, overdosing on food, self-medicating with chocolate, Starbucks, and retail therapy, eat, eat, eat, shop, shop, shop, escaping into mind-numbing entertainment, reassuring oneself with the contents of one’s financial portfolio, tap, tap, tap, flutter, flutter, flutter…
She doesn’t yet understand how to live as a child who is free, safe, and loved.
I expected steps forward and steps backward. I know that she will not be stuck here forever. But it is hard to see. It is heartbreaking to see, heartbreaking to know the reasons why.
And my heart breaks for her all over again.
Monday night, the 21st
She has figured out the routine. She knows when someone approaches her if they like and value her or if they are just awkwardly gawking at what they consider a freakish curiosity. Interestingly, she and I agree in our assessments, but my outward reactions are more civilized than hers.
She knows what the alcohol on the heel means, and responds appropriately, as she does to the electrocardiogram stickers, the diaper changes, and the approach of needles.
She is braced for pain, and doesn’t understand that it is necessary to accomplish a much greater good in her life. The greatest good that has come into her life thus far. This pain will not harm her; it is a good that will free her to grow and gain in strength and skills.
But she doesn’t know this, and resists it with every bone in her body, her cry growing louder each day as she gains energy.
She doesn’t have much energy left over for other interactions.
Tuesday night, the 22nd
She has been increasingly fussy due to the, uh, the deleterious digestive effects of her formula. They start her on Colace. I think, and eventually say–we didn’t have this problem last week. Breastmilk works better. She can tolerate a bolus of 5 cc’s of breastmilk if she can tolerate a bolus of 7.6 cc’s of Colace.
She is hyper-aware. She doesn’t miss a thing. She is having trouble falling and staying asleep, afraid of the results of a perceived loss of control.
Wednesday night, the 23rd
She has received a PICC line. No more pain for Katie. But she doesn’t realize this yet, and she fusses all day. She definitely does not approve of the no-no, the wrap that protects her PICC line site and keeps her from messing with it.
She lifts it up stiffly and looks at it over and over…
I. do. not. approve. of. this. arrangement.
The Colace still hasn’t kicked in. She is still uncomfortable. Just cranky and uncomfortable all over.
She doesn’t sleep a wink all night long, and cries loudly at regular intervals, compulsively chewing on her wrist. Sometimes she forgets about the no-no on her right arm, and bops herself in the face with it, trying to get her wrist to her teeth. That left wrist is putting in overtime.
Every time, I gently draw her hand away and wipe her wrist dry.
Thursday night, the 24th
This morning she sees the rest of her new family. It is pretty much unanimous–she is tinier than the photos had led them to believe.
[I miss this Verity-cake something fierce, and a few hours was not enough to get my fill.]
Katie takes them all in, delighting Laura and Jane’s hearts by warming up to them right away and making her silly sniff-face.
“We’re your big sisters, Katerina!”
She remembers Daddy and rolls toward him, giggling with happiness.
Today, Katie does much less fussing. She finally begins to relax. There has been only comfort for many hours now. No pain.
She feels safe enough and strong enough to roll about and begin to explore her space.
Toward evening, she begins to show signs of boredom, and I hunt down a few more toy options.
She is beginning to feel the need for my presence, but at the same time she fears the intensity, fears the unknown, fears her loss of control. She thinks she knows what she needs most, and she thinks that her pathetic little orphanage habits will fulfill those needs. She pushes my hand away and flutters her tiny fingers softly at her head. Just a little more, and I will feel better…
Yesterday and today, she tolerates being held on my lap, waiting, for about five minutes before she melts down.
Friday night, the 25th
Oh the joy–she fusses if I must go away from her bedside.
This morning, when the doctors make their rounds, and I leave her side to stand in the doorway, she keeps her eyes on me and cries loudly. One of the doctors queries in surprise, “Is that her?” The day we picked her up from the orphanage, her cry sounded like a little kitten’s mew.
Today she tolerates being held for twenty minutes before she begins to fuss.
Tonight she falls asleep with my face hovering next to her cheek, my breath falling on her face, her hands resting quietly.
Saturday evening, the 26th
I have spent every possible hour this week sitting next to her bed, simply being present. If she needed care that a mama can give, I have given it to her. I take special joy in giving her a clean [size one!] diaper, knowing that never again will she lie wet and dirty for hours, waiting for her daily diaper change. If there has been pain this week, it was administered by another hand, and my face was there for her to look to for reassurance. She has gradually tolerated more and more comforting from me throughout the week.
She is still wary of my hand, and still automatically pushes it away as soon as she deems it threatening her comfortable space. She always knows exactly where it is.
[Just look at the beautiful roundness! She is now 5 1/2 kg!]
On this morning, Katie relaxes when I brush her teeth and wash her hair. She smiles and laughs when I give her a dry diaper, bathe her and dress her in a clean gown.
She sits quietly for thirty minutes before she begins to fuss for her bed.
This afternoon Katie and I receive some very welcome company. I lift her gently from her bed, tubes and wires trailing from her fragile body, and position her carefully on my lap.
After two peaceful hours, it is past my pumping time, and I lay her back in her bed.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
She will get there.
Someday she will come to me when she is distressed instead of turning to her own pathetic devices.
Someday she will know how to live as a child who is free, safe, and loved.