It is hard to look back and realize we have only been home a month. We have been through so many ups and downs already, it feels much longer. Fort is really making progress, but it has been with great effort and not without some cost. I don't know if this will hold true, but it feels like we have turned a corner. It makes me nervous just to think it, as if I will jinx it somehow.
Week three was pretty hellacious. Fort turned into a tiny terror- I never knew when he would erupt. I basically got through it with the knowledge that at the end of the week he had appointments at the International Adoption Clinic in Columbus to see a gamut of professionals: including a pediatrician, speech therapist, nutritionist, developmental specialist, behaviour specialist, and last but most important to me- a psychologist. And even though I don't have another appointment with her until November, just knowing she is there and that I can call her or write down my questions, gives me an immense sense of support. We found out he had a double ear infection and scarlet fever, and no doubt that was responsible for, or at least contributed to, his insane fluctuations in behaviors. Of course, there is no knowing. 10 days later, he has finished his antibiotics and is doing so much better. Is it because he's well or because of what he's absorbed these past 10 days? Will I ever know? Does it matter? Not really.
That week, I told my husband I felt like Annie Sullivan, the teacher of Helen Keller. There is a famous scene where Helen is a child and eating with her hands like an animal. Annie puts a spoon in her hand and Helen throws it. Annie replaces the spoon in her hand and Helen throws it. This continues, and the teacher quietly asks Helen's parents to leave the room. When Helen realizes she is alone in a confined room with Annie she turns into a feral child. Annie never breaks, never tires, and eventually is successful. Helen eats with her spoon. But of course the real "win" is Helen learns to trust and listen to Annie. I retell this because I love that scene, but it was quite devastating to reenact. I am not kidding, Fort seemed like a wild child- biting, kicking, pinching. He hit and grabbed during his sleep; he screamed when he was waking up- although I couldn't even tell if he were awake or asleep. I sat in his room with him the entire day my kids were at school and had to have a friend pick them up from school because I had not been able to calm him. I tried everything. Was he in pain? I gave him Tylenol- you would've thought I was poisoning him. He spit it out, and it was all in his hair and on both of us. He had to get it washed out, so I started to get him ready for a bath. He fought like I was going to dip him in boiling oil. I brought him into the shower with me to try to reassure him, but there was no calming him. When I tried to get him dressed again, he screamed as loudly as the first time. I finally got him to calm enough to get in the car, and I drove around for 45 minutes - to give him a chance for him to fall asleep if he needed it, and to give myself a break so I could stop shaking. I felt like such a monster. I had to pull over while driving because I was crying too hard. I didn't want to talk to anyone and I didn't think I could get through another day like that. The psychologist appointment was like a handhold to sanity and I was clinging to it with all my might.
And this week. What a difference. Have we turned the corner? Or is the other shoe about to drop? I don't dread the days like I did last week. I'm not snippy with my other kids, who are just so over me disappearing for hours to manage Fort's meltdowns. I feel like Fort understands a lot of the rules, and has acquired enough English to talk about his temper tantrums. He now knows words for feelings, and he is proud when he has had a day with no crying and being "like a big boy". I know better how to manage and read Fort's moods- that there is silly and there is crazy but crazy silly is just a step away from losing it. The last full on tantrum that he had was a week ago today, and all other issues have been settled under an hour. Steve and I continue to have amazing support and communication since the whole thing began, unlike the way we lost it for a little bit after the twins were born. I feel like keeping honest keeps my friends closer to me and this experience- it helps me feel less like I exist in a bubble. I'm usually open and direct, but pretty damn private, and this has forced me to reach out, not just for me or for him, but for our whole family. And it helps. It really does.