Monday, March 30, 2015

"I Don't Like Her"

It's funny, we thought that completing an overseas move while I was on bedrest (buying 2 cars, moving homes, registering folks for school, drs. appts, setting up the household) was about as stressful as it could get.  

The winter of 2014 heard about that and it LAUGHED IN OUR FACES.

I don't think any of us were under any grand illusions that Joshua would be a huge fan of baby, but things were harder than we thought they would be.

This illustrates nicely Joshua's meeting baby A for the first time. "What baby? We don't need a baby!"

Remember how I mentioned in the last post that while I was on bed rest, I didn't do much caregiving for Joshua for about 3 months? Tack on another couple weeks postpartum, and we'd had quite a break from each other. At that time we didn't fully realize how important quality time is with Joshua.  Because he doesn't know how to engage and communicate with people, WE have to be very diligent to be in relationship with him.  You have to really work at it.  And a lot of the time it looks like you are standing there talking to a wall that gives you no feedback.  But if you're not in there, plugging away at it every day, your relationship will really fade with him.  And then he REALLY won't give you the time of day.  

Joshua was probably really hurt.  Not just that, in his mind, Mommy hadn't been spending much time with him, but then on top of it she's holding someone ELSE all the time now.  And I knew he was mad at me, but also, if he could have talked, this is what Joshua would have said,

"I don't like her."

"Her" being new baby sister A.

While I began working to repair my relationship with Joshua, I had to hand A off a lot to Joe, my Mom, or the bouncy seat.  And even though Joshua and I eventually got back on good footing, he was still not pleased with baby.  And thus followed some of the darkest times of our life.  

Truly, I'm not sure I'll be able to adequately describe those months, but I can give you a snapshot into my day.  This happened too many times to count:

I would be home alone with all 3 kids.  Between illness and snow days last winter we spent A LOT of time in our small place together.  It would start like this: Baby A would sneeze or make some other small noise.  Joshua would go from completely calm to an ALL OUT SCREAMING tantrum within a second.  And here's the problem with Joshua's tantrums: 8/10 times it involves head banging.  As in, he throws himself on the floor, crawls off the cushy area rug (stinker), and proceeds to bang his head AS HARD AS HE CAN on the floor.  I run to him to stop his head banging.  By now, Baby is upset and crying.  I leave Joshua, grab her and take her upstairs so that he can't hear her and put her in a safe place.  For the next 20-30 minutes I rotate between upstairs and downstairs to make sure everyone is safe and hopefully calming down.  Of course, Baby A at any moment may get upset, because she's a baby after all, and the whole cycle will start again.  Joshua's trying to hurt himself and will continue until baby is quiet.  But which child do you grab first? 

On an anxiety/adrenaline scale from 1 to 10; 1 being completely chilled out and calm, 10 being that feeling you have when you have a near miss with a semi-truck; I lived for months at an 8. Months. Just thinking about it right now makes me a little ill.  

And then, while this is going on and on, I was trying to continue to make Joshua feel very special any way I could because I couldn't explain to him verbally about his new sister and my love for HIM.  And to be honest, this was exhausting.  I clearly remember telling Joe that I just wanted to go off somewhere for a week with Baby A to get to know her and spend time with her.  Much of the time I felt like I wasn't able to enjoy her because I was worried about Joshua watching us. And it was probably magnified in my mind (and hormone-filled body) because I knew this was most likely my last baby.  

But we just kind of hung in there until it got warmer and Baby A got older.  I went to counseling, our Moms visited, our small group prayed, and then one day, at our prompting, Joshua gave Baby a KISS.  

KATIE BAR THE DOOR (Shout out to Dr. E), I texted just about everyone I knew and told them. And it was so sweet for our friends and family to rejoice with us.  

Sure, 20 minutes later her was mad at her again, but it was a sweet little glimpse into what could be.  

Tonight, almost exactly a year later, Joshua showed lots of excitement when she got into the bath with him.  They took turns splashing and giggling and he was gentle with her.  This is a very recent change for him, but like I've mentioned before, A has always thought Joshua hung the moon, so she is more than ready to play with this brother.  

And lest you guys think that surely I'm running out of topics to discuss by now, sorry, I'm just getting started.  

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