Another interesting thing about all six kids is that they did not show a preference for just one parent. This happens most of the time, and the mother is usually the one they latch on to. Sometimes the children scream at the mere sight of the father, and it can take months for the child to accept him. All six spent most of their time with their mothers, but would not freak out when held or cared for by their fathers. Strange bunch those six.
P really surpassed my expectations on that day and since. The only question he asked me was, "How do you tell the front/back of the diaper?" Easy breezy, the diaper size and the tapes are in the back. I thought he'd have more questions but that was it. He got into diaper changing, and overall care, like he had been doing it all his life.
Although I took a long hiatus between my children, I have been dealing with little ones since I was eight. Due to my work, it's not unusual for me to take a child I have never seen before, in usually stressful circumstances, and just meet their needs. Just be handed a child with no belongings and no knowledge about their likes, dislikes and medical history. It has been a refreshing change for me to take SS to the doctor, my child. The things most of us take for granted. Of the twelve parents, nine had never parented before. That is quite a shock to the system, and most had very limited experience with miniature adults. Anyone who can parent under those circumstances has my respect. I don't tell P often enough how much I appreciate him, and all he does for us. Also, I know it must have been hell on him to let me do most of the holding. He put his needs aside, because he knew I'd be the one staying home with SS, and we both needed that time. I'm sure he was über glad when we got to Guangzhou, because it was humid and sticky.
Now the reason for this post. I made a big mistake that day and I'm still not sure why. Against everything I knew and we had discussed, I gave SS a bath. I gave her a quick bath in the sink of the hotel bathroom, in that hour we had between meeting and returning to finalize the adoption. It was a mistake because SS had just gone through a traumatic change. SS had the proverbial rug pulled from under her, and it was my responsibility to keep things low key. In hindsight, I think I really wanted her nanny to see her fresh and wearing a pretty dress. Since I hate dresses, I'm chalking that up to temporary insanity.
P brought it up about a week later. He told me how surprised he was when I took off her clothes. We had planned on keeping her clothes on until that night, and then just use a wash cloth to freshen her up. I felt awful when he told me that "there was nothing loving about that bath, it was clinical." OUCH. I asked P how come he did not stop me. He said that it was something I needed to do... "You just went into your professional mode and did what you do. I knew you were going over her body, looking for injuries, scars, Mongolian spots, and anything of concern." Double OUCH. I cried upon hearing that and the guilt is still there. P spent seven years listening to me do on call work from home. The last two years, I would be on call at least twice a week. That is why I am here typing this. That is how we socked money away for the adoption. P has never "seen" me at work due to confidentiality, but he knows the difference between my regular, goofy self, and my "robotic" self.
When I told my mother (Abu) about this, she did not get what was wrong. She said she would be disappointed if I did not do what I did. This is the woman (a nurse for over three decades) who prior to JJ's birth, coached me to make sure "to count all fingers, toes, make sure his limbs are OK...," and then went over things to look out for. Although we are polar opposites, we have one thing in common. We get bent out of shape over the smallest things, but when something grave occurs, we suck it up, and go into a eerily calm mode. Just take care of the crisis, fall apart later. Not sure how I feel about this side of me, but too late to change. One thing about Abu, she is pragmatic, but she does have a heart. A big heart that loved SS from the moment we informed her about our intention to adopt.
Until now, other than P and Abu, I have only discussed this with D, a former coworker. It should not come as a shocker that she also did not see a problem. Sweet D assured me that she would do the same. I guess sometimes what we do shapes who we are.
See that's the thing about our kids. They are not garden variety children. Our children come to us with so many unknowns, lots of emotional baggage, and a big old serving of trauma. It is important for us to make their transition as comfortable as possible. One adoptive mom I follow said it best. She said her daughter came to her in one intact piece, but broken into a million pieces inside.
After the bath, I asked P to make a bottle. When he opened the formula can, the powder flew all over the place, including his face and clothes. It was the first time we heard SS laugh. She thought her clumsy Baba was hilarious. Thanks P for balancing things out.
Guilt trip aside, a few decisions that we made paid off. I can't say enough how important it was to carry SS in the Ergo. That forward facing time was essential to our bonding AND kept strangers from touching SS's face and torso. Forgoing our comfort in Guangzhou and not using a stroller was also a good idea. SS was facing us, not every passerby. We also placed SS's clothes in a Z*ploc bag. We have not laundered her clothes and we probably never will. I like to have that first time we ever saw her smell preserved (whatever much is left). We have used the clothing twice for comfort, when SS was having serious night terrors, and it helped ease her anxiety.