I apologize for the delay in posting but to put it lightly, month 5 was a hot mess. Oh my, did it kick my butt. I went from having some real hope that Luca would finally be sleeping consistently through the night…to wondering what in the world I may have done wrong to cause such a huge step backwards suddenly. Out of nowhere, Luca started waking up multiple times each night in hysterics. Crying for me…no I digress, WAILING for me. Wanting to sleep in our bed, wanting me to hold him more than usual, sing to him over and over and over again. You get the picture. We tried everything from napping him, not napping him, making his bedtime earlier, later…whatever you can think of…we did it and failed miserably. It was really hard.
I started to lose my mind and patience. I felt really alone, especially when people would try to tell me that all of this was “normal” because as ‘normal’ as it may be for some…this was so new to me and really didn’t feel normal in any sense of the word. The more I heard that word, the more lost I was and I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. I know it was said to me to make me feel better and most of the time, it actually did. But maybe it was the lack of sleep that finally caught up to me…because I started to feel more sensitive than not. I yearned for normalcy, so what was wrong with me? Wasn’t it a good thing that friends/family finally considered us to be just another mother/son duo rather than a family still adjusting? It took me a while but I finally realized what it was. It’s because our definition of ‘normal’ isn’t necessarily the same as others. There are so many similarities but there’s also a lot of gray. Basically I have a six month old, who is the size of a three year old…and I think once I held onto that realization, I started to feel like I could breathe again.
Fortunately, going into month 6 of becoming a family…Luca’s sleep has started to take a turn for the better again. It’s only been about a week but his crying has stopped in between wake ups and he’s sleeping in longer ranges through the night. Somehow he still ends up in our bed and wakes up at 5:30am each morning, but in the grand scheme of things…I’ll take it! Through all of this, we decided to enroll Luca into preschool part time. I needed some time to just feel like a human being again. Luca seemed excited about the idea as well. It’s all happening six months earlier than I originally planned, but timing felt right. We spent all day yesterday preparing for his first day of school and as excited as I was that I could take a shower without Luca popping in to check on me every few minutes, preparing for this day brought back so many emotions. As I was explaining to Luca about his schedule at school, I noticed he began to get into his head.
L: Are you going to stay there with me?
Me: No, but I will pick you up as soon as nap time is over.
L: I don’t want to sleep there.
Me: You’re just resting for a little bit. When you’re finished resting…I will pick you up right away.
L: What is in my bag? I’m taking it with me?
Me: It’s just a small backpack. All of the kids have backpacks for school. Don’t worry, I will pick you up as soon as school is finished.
This conversation happened a few times throughout the day. But it was a conversation that was all too familiar to him, so I knew why he kept asking. I witnessed his foster mom say something similar in preparation to Luca coming home with us. It’s reminders like this that help me remember how far we’ve come in bonding yet how complicated factors of adoption can be. I think that’s been the biggest challenge of it all: trying to figure out what is just typical toddler behavior vs. what behavior stems from our adoption journey. Packing bags has always been a trigger for Luca. I saw this when we took custody and eventually had to hide his suitcase because of all the stress it caused him. I saw this when we packed our bags for a sudden trip to the east coast due to a family emergency and he cried quietly on the way to the airport. And I saw this when the hubs moved our suitcase from the garage the other day and Luca kept questioning why it was in our home. As a three year old child who is entering a new chapter, yet not fully understanding what is going on…packing something as little as a backpack and nap-mat can bring back raw emotions from the past. Sure, maybe I overthink things sometimes but I’ve come to know Luca fairly well and this was not just a simple conversation we were having. I’m sure going into the unknown of preschool today was extremely tough. I promised him over and over again that he would meet new friends and have a great time, but most importantly…I am just down the street and will be back to pick him up in just a little bit. “We are a family. I’m not going anywhere.” This has been our mantra since day one.
I pray that Luca will not have to worry or over-think things when new chapters come along in the future. But the reality is, he will and as his mom…so will I. Adoption, although it is not necessarily abnormal, it is complex. Before we started this process, I didn’t think about how adoption could be a lingering topic that may never go away. I honestly thought that once we bonded initially, that would be it. But I quickly learned that from the initial adjustment and bonding, there will also be questions like in his teenage years and wondering about details of his story…to when Luca hits that age of possibly wanting to search for his birth parents…and even into his adult years when filling out medical history forms or starting his own family…the adoption factor will come up. And I never want him to feel lost when they do. But overall, I want him to know that all of these feelings he may or may not have are more than just normal…they are valid.
When I picked Luca up from preschool today, his teachers told me he did really well. But as soon as we got home, it was evident how upset he was. We had a hard time today, which I anticipated and know is even very typical with parents of bio children after the first day of school. But when I finally got him to feel a little more relaxed by putting him in his carrier and taking him on a walk before bedtime, we had a conversation that I will hold dear to my heart. Within five minutes of stepping outside, Luca-bear fessed up to me that he was “a little scared” and “a little sad” at school today. I comforted him and let him know he didn’t have to worry anymore because now he knows what to expect so there won’t be any surprises. We got through the first day together and I reassured him once again by saying, “I came to pick you up when I said I would, right?”
He started breathing a little deeper and I figured he was about to fall asleep. But before completely knocking out, he said the sweetest thing that I was not expecting in the least: “thank you.”
I cried all the way back home. And I’ll be the first to say it…yes, these emotions were definitely normal, but oh my goodness did I look crazy! XO.