Monday, July 18, 2011


How do you tell if a baby is grieving?

That's the question I've been asking myself the past few days. I think Lily is grieving her losses, which is very natural, but it's hard on this Mama who feels a bit helpless.

So why do I think Lily is grieving?

Well, she hasn't smiled much in the last week. She wasn't smiling a lot to begin with, so this is especially hard for me. There is a reason I don't have any good pictures of her smiling: she doesn't. Her self-soothing behaviors have gotten more destructive. We took her out of the crib because she started banging her head so much. She's been scratching at her ears constantly and they are bleeding, inside and out. She has scratch marks all over her face. She's been a lot fussier.

To be fair, she also isn't feeling well. She's had a fever on and off since Friday. Her nose is stuffy and snotty and she hates it being cleaned. Sometimes I feel like all I do is torture her! From one form of torture to the next...sigh.

Anyone reading this have any insights? Been there, done that? Wisdom, advice? Or just words of encouragement? I can use all of those things right now.


Jolene said...

Have you ruled out ear infection? My little one is 17 months and has had strep throat 2x in just 6 weeks...we had NO clue until she was miserable it just hit her so quickly. Double check the ear thing!

Also, lots of holding time. I know that's easier said than done but glue your bottom to a chair and hold/rock! Tough phase right now and my prayers are with you!

Lord hold this little peanut in your hands and heal her physically and emotionally. Give her rest in her parents arms and in yours as well!

The Lord Bless you all!

Jess said...

I should have mentioned this in the post: We were at the pediatrician on Thursday, got her all checked over, and she is taking Amoxicillin for any infections. So at least that base is covered!

CareBear said...

Poor baby. :( Regarding the ears, I know another mom who had the same problem. She used a Hannah Anderson baby pilot cap to cover her daughter's ears so she couldn't scratch them. Here's the link:
Found some other colors at Kidbean:

Hope that helps.

CareBear said...

Maybe try a Pack-N-Play for sleeping so she can be safe and can't hurt herself.

Kelli said...

Yes! Babies do grieve. It's a lot of changes to take in. Your sounds are different from Ukraine sounds, and your smells are different. Things here might be softer and fluffier -- all of which are good, but different. She'll need a little time. I do think being sick is making a huge impact on it and maybe highlighting it more than you would have otherwise noticed. Just remember to do all the things that encourage bonding: good eye contact, lots of touching, singing, playing, cooing. Thankfully, babies adjust fairly quickly to comforting gestures. If you want me to research it for you, I can.

littlelola said...

As mentioned the Hannah Anderson Caps and a pak and play so its soft and she cant hurt herself. You might want to message nogreaterjoymom and see what she can tell you. She had the same issues with her little one/

Dianne said...

This isn't baby-specific, but may lead you on a strategic path for responding to Lily's self-soothing behaviors:

Also, please leave instructions for feeding Neko this week.

Sarah said...

I don't know alot about grieving in children but I can imagine it's a huge change for all of you! It will take time to adjust. In the meantime I would keep smiling at her alot (which Im sure you are!) and give her lots of cuddles. Im sure things are going to get easier with time. You have given her such an amazing gift.

AddingOn said...

Alanna stimms so much more when she is hurting. The fact that she is sick and there is so much sensory overload, I'm sure that is contributing to it.
As far as the not smiling, Alanna didn't know how to smile or laugh either. A huge part of our bonding was sitting with her facing us on our laps and doing songs with hand motions, such as the itsy bitsy spider, I tap my fingers down her face for the rain, and crawl my finger up her cheeks for the spider, she looks forward to that and smiles when it gets to those parts. Also, massage has helped, it gives them that sensory input they are looking for. Alanna sits in front of me and I firmly squeeze, working my way from her toes up. And I say the body parts as we go, feet, legs, knees, thighs, then fingers, arms, elbows, shoulders, then I end with something that makes her laugh like, a tickle on her belly. She loves it and even requests it sometimes by sitting in front of me and sticking her foot up. Believe it or not Lily will laugh and smile one day, willingly. It does take time, but when they do, it is sooo awesome!!

Stephanie @ Ralphcrew said...

You've received lots of good advice here and I've got nothing to add. Maybe just to agree with those that said the self-injuring would likely ramp up if she were feeling sick. Just wanted to say "hi!"

Rachel said...

From my experience with Keziah, when she is sick, there isn't much smiling. Lots of sadness and discomfort. You can't beat yourself up over this.

As your friends have mentioned earlier, it may be an ear infection. I know you said that she is taking Amoxicillin, but don't be too quick to assume it's working. Keziah was on Amoxicillin for her ear infection and it DIDN'T work. She went through 3 rounds of antibiotics and suffered an allergic reaction before it finally cleared up. I had a super sad baby for over a month due to her extreme discomfort. The fact that she's specifically "attacking" her ears should be a heads up that things might not be working. Also, ask your pediatrician about numbing ear drops he/she can prescribe for Lily. They work wonders in providing relief!

While Lily may be going through a big adjustment, I'm hesitant to think that her behavior is in grievance over a loss of familiarity. I guess I say this because it doesn't seem that her familiar setting was all that caring. What she has now is certainly better than her old home.

As a mom, you need to be patient and remember that you're not going to always know the perfect thing to do to comfort your child. I have known Keziah her entire life and I still to this day have moments where I have NO CLUE what she needs.

Are you trimming Lily's nails frequently? I have to do this for Keziah every other day. It's an awful experience because she never sits still, but it has to be done. Do you have nail scissors rather than clippers? I find the scissors to be MUCH easier.

How does Lily do with baths? When you find that she is being particularly self-destructive, have you tried just simply giving her a warm soothing bubble bath? It's an excellent time for her to learn and explore and a naturally relaxing experience. It has always seemed to help Keziah, and I know with several of my friends they have had the same result.

Walks and baths have worked the best for me.

Oh, and cleaning a baby's nose is ALWAYS a torturous process. You need to realize you're actually helping her, not torturing her.

Have you tried saline nose drops? They work wonders for unclogging a babies nose and making it easier to loosen mucous to suck it out better. I recommend "Little Noses." You can find it on the right side of the baby aisle in Kroger when facing the back of the store.

Good luck, Jess. Hang in there. There are a ton of us moms out here that know what you're feeling right now!

Lindsey said...

Hi Jess & family!!

We don't know each other, but my husband and I are following your blog as we pursue our potential adoption journey through Reece's Rainbow! We also don't have any biological children and are followers of Jesus Christ!! Your story and journey has TOUCHED US AND INSPIRED US MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY!! Your faithfulness to our Lord and selfless act of bringing your beautiful daughter home brings us to tears of joy!! ;) That and you and your husband had FATIH to step out and embark on the UNKNOWN to give a child a life she may have never had!

God never promises the road will be easy, but He is with us ALWAYS!! I can't imagine what you are going through right now as Lily is adjusting/grieving, but the Lord's unconditional love, care and support for her through you and your husband will be such a GIFT in her life!!! Please know that even though we have not ever met in person, we are lifting you, your husband and Lily up daily!!!

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Philippians 4:6-7

Love & Blessings in Christ,

Lindsey & Justin Newman

PJH said...

I hope Lily is feeling better after getting some medicine and know that ear infections and teething can cause babies to not be themselves. We use these things called "Boogey wipes" from Target to help with the nose. Good luck!!

Amber said...

I'd take her in and have her ears checked again, like some said above. Those can make a child MISERABLE and like others said, amox never worked for my first child. We always had to go to something stronger. Mama's instincts are usually right! But, I think you are right, she is probably grieving too. I think the others had great advice.

amanda vigale said...

Yes I do think babies grieve even though Lily's former home was not the best of places it was the only home she had even known and good or bad it was safe for her, babies have no idea that being adopted and flyig across the world is a good thing, yes in time she will but not right now. We adopted a 10 month old baby from Kaz last year and when we came home he went through a really hard time and as a mother nothing is harder than seeing your child and nor being able to help them , time is a wonderful healer also I read Lily loves the Ergo carrier so did Ollie and I carried him all the time in this to help him feel safe and to help with bonding, when I think about it now it made perfect sense yes I believe Lily is grieving she has been taken away from everything she ever knew, but it will get better but it takes time and alot of hard work but oh so worth it in the end, please feel free to email me I don't have all the answers but have been in your shoes,and even though I had read about babies grieving I never thought it was as real or as hard as it was, hang in there Lily has 2 great parents, you are doing a great job!!!!

Kellan's momma said...

I didn't have time to read thru all the comments, so hope I'm not reapeating, but do you follow this blog? I know they just in the past 2 months brought their little girl home and have had some stuggles that make me cry for them, as I do you and Lily. Check out her "stimming makes me sad" post. I hope this helps...Prayers to you all.

Kellan's momma said...

Ok I just glanced thru some comments and see the blogger I mentioned left you a comment! Lots of good advice, I would add that a battery operated nose sucker (medical term!) is awesome is creating less discomfort than a bulb syringe. Graco makes one that I bought at walgreens, and it really does work well, esp with saline drops first, which Kellan hated the regular drops, so I found a fine mist, funky looking device, made by an ENT, also at walgreens, that he hated much less! Hang in there!

Jo's Corner said...

Okay, one more suggestion. : ) Lily has been over-dressed all of her life. I wonder if she's feeling insecure/unsafe in just a top & pamper?? Her body is used to more clothing (even though it IS crazy hot outside!). Maybe try a light sleeper for comfort. She could also be chilly from the cold/fever, not to mention the heart issues. I'm gonna say lots of Prayers for Lily and her Mommy and Daddy! Feel better! ~ Hugs ~ Jo