7.25.2014

Nanny in the house

I never really saw us as nanny people. That very word seems so pretentious and conjures up images of an uptight, elderly fussbucket who caters to rich families and spoiled children.

However, I'm changing my tune.

After four months off of work, it was time for me to go back to the real world. But Little Brother was clingy and still a little scared. We were concerned (OK, mostly I was concerned but The Man went along with it) that it would be too much for Little Brother to go to the preschool that Little Man attends. Although there are two regular classroom teachers, many other teachers rotate through the class for break times, and the two teacher's schedules don't align, so he could have a different set of teachers each day.

He's a sensitive kid and scared when just one of us leaves the house. So I figured that when both of us left, and he was in a strange place, it might just be too much for him.

Our friends have had a nanny for a few years and rave about it. So we decided to go for the nanny option too. I haven't regretted it for a minute!

We found our nanny through Care.com. She's a sweetheart! She's a college student and works with autistic kids. Patient, kind, and gentle. All the things our boy needed.

Because we haven't been together very long, I was a bit freaked about leaving him with a single caretaker, fearing that he would attach to someone else. But he's a loyal little guy. And I don't think our attachment has waned in any way.

His first few weeks with the nanny, I stayed close to home, occasionally running a few errands. I wanted to hear how she interacted with him and see how he responded to her. She did a great job of redirecting and occupying him. She handled his throwing and hitting well (though one week she did have a large scratch across her forehead).

After the initial first few days I tried leaving the house for a few hours at a time and built up the duration over a week. He really struggled and very upset while I was gone. Boy, that was really tough to leave him. He would throw himself at the door as I walked out and screamed the same frantic way he did when he left his foster mother. 

Knife. To. The. Heart.

Friends were super helpful with supportive phone calls at this time and making lunch dates. Thank goodness because all I wanted to do was go back home! 

He did get a little fearful of the nanny for about a week. As soon as she came in the morning, he'd run to us and start crying. He knew what was coming and he wasn't happy about it.

It's been about 4 weeks now and he's doing really well. He no longer cries when she arrives, and though he cries a little when we leave, it's fairly mild and short-lived.

He's just gotten to the point where he's started laughing with her and being silly. She would arrive in the morning and see him happily interacting with Little Man, but when we all left he grew very serious. He's finally started giggling with her and she loves it.

When I come home, I hear his happy screams as I get out of my car. He runs to the door and climbs up on me, patting my chest furiously and babbling. He then turns to the nanny and waves good-bye, as if telling her "you can go now"! Such a great welcome home!

Each morning she comes in and it's great to have an extra set of eyes and hands while we get ready in the morning. She will immediately change, dress, feed or occupy Little Brother, and keep the brothers from causing too much chaos as we try to get ready for work.

Honestly, the most challenging thing I've found about having a nanny is keeping our house clean. I've become a total house nazi and keep a schedule of cleaning on the fridge. This isn't cleaning that the nanny is doing. It's the cleaning WE are doing because the nanny is there! Ridiculous, I know. 

What makes it even more ridiculous is many people have their nannies do the housecleaning while the babies are asleep. Guess I didn't think that one through too well. We just asked our nanny to unload the dishwasher each day and load up our breakfast dishes and those she uses throughout the day. That's a big help. But lesson learned for the next nanny we hire.

The only down side to this is that our nanny is a college student and will be returning in the fall. Which means we have to decide whether to hire again, or to send him to preschool. 

Sigh.

7.08.2014

Three years a family!

Starting our life together. 5/10/2011
(This is a catch-up post. Our family day with Little Man was May 10. I'm only a few months late which is pretty good for me lately!)

*****

Family. Before Little Man came that word only referred to The Man, myself, Gus the wonder dog and our kitties.

But now it's much more. Three years ago our definition of family was revolutionized when a quiet boy was placed in my arms, sitting stiffly in my lap during our taxi ride away from the adoption agency.

I think back to that baby---that stranger who I called my child. I remember how he behaved then, small indicators of his amazing personality that would soon be revealed to us.

How he clung to a bottle and shyly shared his first laugh with us. An open mouthed belly laugh.  It was the sweetest thing I have ever heard.

I remember the guarded look in his eyes. And how he didn't cry. How he kept his feelings bottled inside.

How he babbled and sang when alone in his crib.

And how he watched everything we did very carefully. And then tried to repeat on his own, getting frustrated when he couldn't get the exact same results. He'd try again and again, the absolute definition of determination.

He's still all these things. And of course, so much more. He's a child of extremes and intense emotion. Whatever he's feeling is all consuming for him, (and for those around him as well). He's incredibly physically gifted and one of the most agile children I've seen. He's smart. Sassy (which isn't always a plus). Courageous. Compassionate. Observant. A challenge. A mystery.

He is the leader on this great parenting adventure. Of course, we are the adults, but he is the leader. We follow him through it's twists and turns. Try to figure out how to help him stay on the path. He is forgiving of our mistakes and missteps.

From him we learn more about ourselves---how we react when pushed to our limits; how we need to find more self control; to realize that we really have no control at all; to figure out how to love something and let it go at the same time.

He's a tiny dynamo who inspires me to be a better person, shocks me with his joy for new things, and awes me with his ability to express his emotion completely. He's likely to be my life's greatest challenge and he's definitely my life's greatest adventure.

I can't believe it's only been three years together. And I'm thankful that we are family.

7.05.2014

Catching up

Wow.

I have no idea where these past months have gone. Wait...yes I do. They've been spent changing diapers, fostering a sibling relationship, trying to carve out some time for me, finding a nanny, returning to work, struggling to stay ahead of the never-ending laundry. You get the drift.

So, here we are, nearly four months post-placement and we are surviving! Sometimes I even think we are thriving! The boys get along (mostly). We are getting onto a solid schedule (usually).

We took another trip back to Washington state to visit family. This time Little Brother did much better with the flights! Yay! He also seemed to handle staying away from home easier and understood that it was a temporary thing.

We've completed two of our three post-placement visits with our social worker. And at the end of the month we'll have our court date to formally re-adopt Little Brother in the state of Wisconsin. We have to do that to get our state issued birth certificate. Sort of a pain considering he's already a U.S. citizen and legally ours. But that's the process for you.

We received our Certificate of Citizenship. It's so nice having this step of the process completed automatically. It's one benefit of the recent changes in Korea regarding international adoptions. However, the downside (must there always be a downside??!!) is that the COC is in his Korean name and we'll have to resubmit to get it in his American name. More paperwork. More time. More money. Sigh.

As for family life---Little Man has probably struggled the most through all this. He's had some potty training set backs. Expected, but still frustrating for us. He's pretty good about dealing with his new brother overall and is very forgiving when he gets hit or scratched (which is often). I'm so impressed with this! Little Man is an incredibly emotional kid so I figured he'd be completely out of control when these things happen. But he seems to take them relatively in stride.

The biggest surprise with his was the change in his sleep patterns. He's always been a rock solid sleeper and slept through the night for years. Until now. I'm sleeping in Little Brother's room and Little Man has taken to getting up in the night and crawling in with Daddy. He's never slept with us before so this is a bit of a surprise, but we've allowed it with all the huge changes in the house.

Ah...sleep. It's sorely missed. Little Brother is not as good of a sleeper. One night I started counting how many times he woke up crying, needing a change or wanting a bottle. I lost track after 17. To say I'm exhausted is an understatement. We've tried breaking some habits that were inhibiting his sleep but it's still a daily challenge.

The lack of sleep wasn't a huge issue while I was off of work. But after four months, I finally returned. This week was my first back. Tough to be away from Little Man and I miss our daily routine. But sort of nice to be around people all day who can feed themselves and don't need diaper changes.

We decided to use a nanny instead of sending Little Brother to preschool with Little Man. He's much more fearful than Little Man was and our hope was that staying in his home each day would ease his anxiety when we are gone. He also needs the consistency of caregivers and at preschool there are 3-4 teachers in the classroom each day. So...we hired a nanny. Which has it's own set of challenges. Mainly that we needed the house to be clean enough for someone else to come to it! We found a nice girl who is compassionate and gentle. Little Brother really struggles when we we leave each morning and throughout the day. I make sure I'm the first out of the house each day or else I'm a puddle of tears listening to Little Brother's wailing as I head out the door.

There's another huge change ahead for us. I'll fill ya in more on that shortly. I'm still working through a lot of feelings about it because it seems we've had one giant change after another lately. But I think it's gonna be good for us. Fingers crossed.