So... last week came and went. To be blunt, it sucked. (Please forgive the language if that's more harsh than you are used to.)
Kaylee had been gone all weekend, and we met the new family in front of our Attachment Therapist's office to take her back for a few days. They reported that everything went great (other than they were very tired, as all new parents of babies are.) We then took Kaylee in to our children's appointments with us, where our therapist made a point of processing her leaving with all of the children, including giving them permission to be mad at US... which I wouldn't have necessarily thought of. Deep inside, children have this "magical thinking" that the adults in their lives should be able to prevent all bad things from happening. So by discussing that it was OK to be mad that we couldn't make her stay (despite them knowing we tried our best, which he also confirmed with them), he guided their thinking more toward what a normally attached child might be thinking - which is that their parents can ultimately be trusted, even if sometimes they feel let down. And we'll love them even if they get mad at us!
Kaylee is generally a happy, easy-going baby, so she wasn't inconsolable or particularly fussy after her weekend away... but she was noticeably different. She reacted much like she does to birthparent visits, but more extreme - more active (almost "hyper"), wants up, wants down, wants to get ahold of magazines and shred them into tiny pieces. She was more clingy at bedtime, to the point where I finally let her come to bed with me until she fell asleep (seriously... in light of the upcoming change, I didn't figure I was going to be starting any bad habits!) She woke early, and I again, brought her to bed with me, where she settled down fairly quickly and fell asleep on my arm for another hour or more.
The next night she slept better, but was rougher, particularly for Brian. The things that made him emotional were all the "lasts" - the last time he put her jammies on, the last time he made her a bottle, the last time he buckled her into her carseat. Those were the times that made him realize how much he was going to miss our little Kaylee.
The children handled it each in their own ways... one seems to be trying to instigate tears by being overly sappy to the point of fake, and that's irritating. But they obviously all miss her. Wednesday after lunch, we loaded her and the rest of her belongings into the van, let everyone say their goodbyes, and I drove her to the meeting place by myself (again, in front of the therapist's office.) I broke down into tears a few times on the way down (even more on the way back), and I was seriously bummed that although I arrived early, they were already there. I thought I'd have a private moment for a goodbye of my own with her out of the carseat. No such luck. We hung out talking for a bit, I gave her a last hug and kiss (or 12), and they left.
And I walked into the therapy office. I had an appointment with a colleague of my children's therapist... for me. This last few months has been rough (I mentioned on the blog my increasing struggle with depression) and Kaylee leaving was the last straw. Since there was still about 20 minutes until my appointment, I sat down in the waiting room with my Kindle to read. Not a minute passed before my children's therapist came out and invited me into his office, which was very kind and a great relief to fill the time and debrief a bit. He was very sympathetic, since he's seen this happen so many times - the state moving a child against their best interest. My favorite exchange of the meeting:
Mr. Therapist: "This just makes me so angry, I want to go, like... burn down a building or something! But I don't suppose that would help anything."
Me: "No, it wouldn't. But I APPRECIATE the thought!"
It was vindicating to know this therapist who has come to know our family so well over the last couple of months was so authentically upset over what we and Kaylee have been put through. (And no, I don't think he's a pyromaniac or anything! No buildings are in danger.)
He introduced me to my new therapist, then excused himself to meet his next client. My new therapist was pretty amazing in her ability to ask just the right questions, then sum up your responses insightfully. She was also that perfect blend of understanding and forceful. Unfortunately, I get the distinct feelings our beliefs (religion, faith) are quite different, so tempering her help with God's truth will be a bit of a juggle.
Her first instruction... I needed antidepressants, and soon. (So I made an appointment with my doc the next day, who wrote me a prescription for Celexa. I'm easing into it, but it will take several weeks to kick in.)
Next: I needed to not go straight home that evening. I needed to stay away from the drama of my attachment disordered children and give myself permission to grieve without taking care of them that night. So I went to Renee's house. (Feel sorry for her - I stayed way too late and just kept crying!) It was perfect providence, though - she pushed me to call our pastor and talk with him (especially considering the faith differences with my counselor) and I met with him the next day - again, exactly what I needed. Got some greatly needed direction.
Third: The therapist said I needed to treat Kaylee leaving for what it is... like my baby just died. (Because to our family... she's gone in the same way.) She said I needed to ask a friend to hold me while I cry, and ask for support - meals, cleaning, laundry, childcare. This one... not so easy. Not for these types of things that I know I can do for myself if I just push a little harder.
The tears are still coming everyday. Often several times a day. When I see a piece of clothing or toy of hers that accidentally got left behind, the empty crib (I've disassembled it now), or even just sitting in my livingroom or backyard... it's like I can see her sitting there, playing, and I lose it all over again. I miss my baby. I ache to hold her.
And her last main suggestion: I need a break. I needed to get away by myself, and stare at a river or an ocean or a mountain and be alone and think and grieve and figure out what I want or need. At first this suggestion seemed way out of reach (Where in the world would I get the money for a hotel? Why would I put myself at the mercy of scary people with bad intentions by travelling alone?) Then I remembered. I already have a beach to sit on. And it doesn't cost me a thing (except ferry money and groceries.) My great grandfather bought a piece of beach-front property on Lummi Island (near the San Juans) many years ago, and the family has made it available for all of us to use. I called my grandma and she said the cabins were empty this weekend, and gave me permission to use the property. I talked to my husband and my mom and figured out that if I left when Brian got off work on Saturday, he'd be home Sunday and Monday, my mom was willing to take the children overnight after the fireworks on Monday, and I could pick them up Tuesday morning before we head down to our next (theirs and mine) therapy appointments. At that point there was just no reason NOT to do it. Oh... and we know both neighbors on either side of the property - so there was a certain level of protection in case of emergency, but neither are pushy or would interrupt this alone time.
I've spent a lot of time on the beach, reading, thinking, listening to my ipod, as well as some time in a lounge chair in the sun near the cabin. I'm getting some much-needed perspective, and a break. And I'm only halfway through my time. (Oh, and the food I brought myself is pretty terrific, too. Lots of fresh fruit, artichoke dip, fresh tortellini, fresh green beans, deli meat... too bad I don't have much appetite).
And our pastor gave my a great tag-on to the counselor's questions I was supposed to be asking myself.
"... in light of my relationship with Christ." Perfect.