Yesterday we "celebrated" 30 days as a family of four. Our celebration consisted of... well... nothing. Troy worked, Aiden was at daycare, and Ethan and I slogged through our day. Aiden no longer gets naps at daycare, so by the time I pick him up, he's already a little "zoned out." He and Ethan did play well together out back for about 45 minutes, though, which is nice. We ate sloppy joes / barbeques / taverns (whatever you call them dependent upon which region your from) and green beans. Shortly thereafter it was bath time for the boys. They did get to watch part of Wall*E, Aiden's choice, and eat some popcorn before bedtime. Ethan was ready to sleep earlier but was out by 8:00, and Aiden was asleep before 8:30. How's THAT for a huge celebratory day and night. That is, though, pretty much our new normal.
In our new normal, Ethan is starting to attach a bit. Bonding would be too strong a word, but we are making progress. Poor kid. What option does he have? He sees my ugly mug pretty much all the time. We figured that in the past month, other than nap time and bed time (can't count showers because he is often a witness to those - *SIGH*), Ethan and I have been separated for a grand total of about 10 hours. So we're starting to experience some signs that maybe he'll bond eventually. He no longer always actively seeks out other people to hold him when we're out in public. That sounds minor, but in the beginning, he really parent-shopped to an alarming extent. That's not to say he wouldn't now still leave with a stranger, but he's starting to seem content to be with us more frequently. In some instances, Ethan will actually "fuss" or whine when he doesn't know where I am and even cry if I leave the house -- to walk into the garage to get something out of the freezer. Conversely, if he's the one leaving me, he's usually fine with it, so I don't want to read too much into the tears-when-I-leave scenario. He asks me to hold him a lot now, too, and likes me to give him his bottle and sing a few songs to him at nap and bedtime. Fortunately, he still goes to sleep very easily. Rock, bottle and a couple songs, put him in his crib still awake, and he'll gladly fall instantly to sleep and stay that way for about 11 hours -- with a 3 hour nap in the afternoon! He does cry out a couple times each sleep period, though. AND, in my usual cynical / pessimistic way, my concern about his sleeping is, "Is he realizing that this is it? He doesn't get to go back? He's stuck with us, and his coping mechanism is...sleep and not have to deal?" Troy, Mr. The-Glass-is-Half-Full, wants to believe that he's finally comfortable and content enough to get the sleep he needs. Who knows? Also, you'll note that in most of these attachment circumstances I've indicated, I have used the first person pronoun "I". Troy is obviously having to teach and coach and is gone all day and into some nights. This is making attachment and bonding more difficult for the two of them. This has been so much more challenging than with Aiden who attached almost instantly to me, and attached to Troy by the time we got home. Our bonding will be hard-fought and hard-won, but it will be won! And once forged, it will be unbreakable.
This little guy has an impossibly happy nature and sweet disposition. He is pretty laid-back. Of course, this may be part of the issue. Maybe it's not all trouble with attachment; it may partly simply be his nature. He's friendly and outgoing. It's possible that some of what I've interpreted as disinterest, dislike, lack-of-bonding is merely his nature. Some of. There is NO doubt that we are still working on building our relationship. Working on getting him to trust us and not see us as just another set of caregivers. Interestingly, we have also noticed that a lot of his manipulative ways have stopped. We don't see the hands-behind-the-back-head-tilt anymore. We no longer witness the hands-together-quick-double-bow accompanied by his huge grin and wide eyes. This is also a good sign; he is quitting some of his orphanage-learned behaviors.
Do we still have issues? Absolutely. Are we seeing positive developments? Absolutely! There are still many more challenges to face. Aiden is still hurting and has such a soft heart that he's struggling to handle all the changes. He is also continuing to lose his hearing. We have a CT scan and another hearing test in October. My heart breaks for my baby. And it makes this whole situation for him even more difficult. He can't communicate his thoughts and feelings to us and we are having a hard time explaining things to him. It is gut-wrenching. We ask for prayers that Aiden finds peace with his new brother (whom he DOES love but is also jealous and sad about) and that his hearing does not progress to total deafness. We are praying for a miracle but also that if it is God's will that He give us the strength, peace, and understanding we need to get through this. Most importantly, we pray we get through this with two boys who are well-adjusted, happy, and know they are loved!!