Thursday, May 10, 2012

The SWI Visit Part 1

We are very glad we were allowed to visit the SWI.  The road to Yugan is now a very nice paved highway, so it only took us about an hour and a half to get there.  We left at 8:00 a.m and were back in Nanchang before noon.  In addition we'd gotten a little lost in Yugan so the assistant director of the SWI met us and directed us to the gate.  

As soon as we got there Sweet Pea's Ayi swooped her away...and I swooped after her.  I wasn't sure if I was allowed to go every where, but I was following my baby no matter where she went.  Maybe I shouldn't have let her hold her, I'm not sure what attachment therapy would say, and Sweet Pea actually didn't seem all that pleased with it, but she wasn't crying and I knew I had forever with Sweet Pea and this woman did not.  She clearly loved her.  All through the hour we were there she would randomly tear up causing me to tear up and Sweet Pea to look at both of us with curiosity.

The first place the Nanny took Sweet Pea was the kitchen.  She pulled out some steamed buns and was about to feed her.  But my guide and the assistant director told her she'd already eaten and we all moved to the director's office.  They gave us each a bottle of water, though I was the only one that took mine and drank it.

We sat awkwardly staring at each other on very nice couches.  The SWI is under renovations and apparently the couches were the first thing.  Then I asked about seeing my friend's daughter and the room of another baby who had already gone home.  After much discussion I did not understand the answer was yes.

By then Sweet Pea was starting to fuss a little (still in her Ayi's arms.)  They asked me if she was tired or hungry.  I said, probably both.  Since we were out of rice cereal and she hasn't been terribly fond of the bottles we've given her...she's drunk just barely enough really in this heat...I asked if the Nanny could show me how she prepared a bottle and away she went.  Up to flights of stairs to what I presumed was the Nanny's room and Sweet Pea's old room. (I was wrong.)

There was 4 little cribs, 4 baskets with babies in them, a full adult bed, and a little sink/bathroom area.  The Nanny rinsed out Sweet Pea's old bottle and made up a bottle the consistency of paste as had been described before.  At this point my guide and the assistant director of the SWI, Oak and Huckleberry had caught up so we continued down the hall to visit my friend's baby's bed.  Then we moved on to visit my other friend's baby.  It is possible that at this point all the Nannies in the building were following us...not really, but there were a lot of women around.

And I took a lot, a lot of pictures.  Then I realized I had not taken very many pictures of the room I thought was Sweet Pea's so I asked to go back.  At that point my guide looked at me blankly.  Then she said, "Did you not know that Sweet Pea did not live here?  She lived in her Ayi's foster care."

So I don't know whose room we went to make up the bottle in, but I have pictures of the 4 cute babies living in it.  

While taking pictures of my friend's baby, the Ayi fed Sweet Pea her bottle.  She asked if she could cut the nipple so the paste would flow better.  We said sure, but once she did it all the other ladies said, no, too much and made her swap to a different not cut nipple.  So while we have the bottle they gave us with her, we now have a different nipple top.  Perhaps not an important distinction, but a detail I want to have right for her later in life.   

When Sweet Pea had mostly completed the bottle, the Nanny handed her to Huckleberry.  Sweet Pea did not like that and started to cry in earnest, so I took her back and kept her from then on out.  She seems to have a marked preference to be held by me now which I think is a great step on the road to attachment.  My back does wish I'd strengthened my muscles by lifting 20 pound bowling balls, though.  She is so short and wide there is no good way to distribute her weight.  Even the Ergo can't quite do it.

Anyway, a few more good-byes and some tears and our guide thanking the Nanny for us and handing her some money, we got back into the van with the Assistant Director.  (We also met the director of the SWI, but I confess I was mostly just watching my baby like a hawk or taking photos.)  Sweet Pea fell asleep almost immediately so I was able to transfer her to Oak and take pictures myself at her finding spot.  Then we dropped the Assistant Director back at the SWI and went back to Nanchang.  Apparently we were supposed to have lunch with them, but because of the construction they told our guide to take us out in Nanchang and send them the bill...which she did.  It was an excellent meal.

So those were the details of the day.  I'll share the details of the SWI and the countryside when I have time to sort through the pictures.  Most of the emotions of the day are for Sweet Pea.  But I will say, it went really well, we are glad we went (if for no other reason than just to learn that she was in foster care), and while Sweet Pea slept all the way back to Nanchang, this afternoon she was very happy and playful...if a little more attached/clingy to me.  All together it was a positive experience.  We are all glad we went.

Okay, I'll admit, the paved road and air conditioned mini-van nicer than mine at home helped make it good, too.


No Greater Love said...

Phew. I am glad to see a post. I've been thinking about you so much. ;) I am so glad you were able to visit. So glad you were able to document this all for Sweet Pea. What a total blessing! Can't wait for pic's. But am soooooooo happy for the words. :)

Catherine said...

What a gift these words and remembrances will be for Sweet Pea some day!! Thank you so much for documenting them for her...heh, and for us! :o)

You mentioned Sweet Pea's Ayi picking her up and wondering about attachment. I've heard this is the one time that it might actually be good for someone else in the first months, to hold your baby. This is a person she knows and trusts. As much as you were watching Sweet Pea, SP was paying attention to you too. I'm guessing she knew where you were at every single moment. The fact that you were following close and interacting with her Ayi is a good thing! It allowed her little brain to bridge a gap that may have been missing due to the trauma of transition day. She was able to see the person she'd trusted for all these months, happily interacting with the new person (her forever Mommy) that she is just now beginning to build a trust relationship with. Seeing the two of you together in a positive way and then the person she trusted from the past passing her to someone she currently trusts is a HUGE piece of the puzzle that not many have an opportunity to offer their child. You did great Mom!

From what I was told, this is the one and only time someone else should hold your baby (with the exception of Baba and siblings) for a long time.

I kept my DD in a carrier for the first couple of months home and yes, offended some people when I would not allow then to hold her but, my responsibility was to my DD and building her trust and attachment. Even now, home 2 1/2 years, when we're having a rough day, back into the Ergo she goes and it seems to 'ground' her and remind her that mommy is still here for her...always. She still loves her Ergo! I get some strange looks carrying my 3yo around but I don't care. She is my heart and I am responsible to her, nobody else.

SO happy you had this opportunity to learn more about SP (especially the part about Foster Care) and also thrilled for SP that she could see her Ayi and Mommy together...and it was a good thing! A huge blessing for all of you!!

Nancy said...

Oh so glad you got to have this visit and get the pics. Now you can pass it on to her when she wants. And SOOO glad the transition back to you was an uneventful one and peaceful. Ours was not.
Catching up,