Sunday, December 16, 2012

Shell Shocked

We are home, and for that I'm thankful. It was a long journey home made all the more challenging with a sick husband and a daughter whose tummy still wasn't too sure about what to keep and what to get rid of.

It seems we were only home and awake for a few hours before the news of Newtown CT. We're still trying to process our trip to Ethiopia and the monumental things that happened, so I'm having real difficulty trying to process the madness that happened in that school.

We stepped forward to offer a child a safe and happy home. We promised Wynray's birth father to keep him safe. That promise seems so empty now.

I can't seem to stop crying.

Yesterday we made an attempt to leave the house as a family. I didn't want to be caught getting shot out of a cannon again without bottles and formula for Wynray so we went to Buy Buy Baby. I knew it would be overwhelming with all the choices, but I didn't want to have a repeat experience of needing to leave in less than 24 hours and have to make uninformed decisions about how to feed Wynray in Ethiopia and our journey home. After being in Ethiopia for the last two weeks, coupled with the fact I exclusively breastfed Kysa I was basically overwhelmed to the point of indecisiveness as I stared at the floor to ceiling displays of bottles, pacis, and formula.

I asked for help and the sales lady started asking me questions I just couldn't answer. How much formula was Wynray getting a day? Had he started solids yet, because you KNOW he should have started solids at 4 months. Is he allergic to latex? What kind of formula is he getting now...probably Enfamil, right? What kind of nipple is he using? Is he a slow nurser or fast? Colicky? Is he sleeping the whole night?

The nice lady meant well, but I don't think she was prepared for me to get teary and whisper repeatedly "I don't know, I don't know, he's in Ethiopia..."

The language barrier with the nanny at the care center made it difficult to get really specific information. Any question about specifics was brushed aside saying we'll tell you all about that when you come back. We also got a lot of " problem. He eats, sleeps, are lucky."

Tending to not want to rock the boat, not to mention the fact that the nanny had her hands full and I didn't want to be in her way, I didn't press on the details and just focused on being present with Wynray.  Now I wished I'd insisted on knowing. While we spent a couple hours a day with Wynray for several days, it just became painfully obvious how little I know about my own child. Suddenly he seemed so far away, suddenly I missed him terribly.

Then I got the pity look from the sales lady, and she asked me if I needed help picking out diapers, because clearly I was over my head with this parenting thing.

For the last three mornings Kysa has gotten up at 4 in the morning, full throttle, and asking for a snack. This might sound crazy, but this time with her waaaaay before sunrise, snuggling, nibbling on toast, and watching Christmas movies has been the one thing that has kept me from disconnecting.

There is so much to process, and I'm not sure how to begin doing it....
But for now my little girl needs someone to make her more toast. I can do that, and I'm grateful.

Our prayers are with the families in Newtown CT.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti-hi


  1. Hi Allison,

    The past few days have been so full of grief. I can't imagine landing home from ET to this tragedy. I feel like I am barely coping and that is without jetlag/emotions of meeting my child!

    Our son was a toddler when we went to Ethiopia (we stayed 3 months between court and Embassy b/c it was during the slow down) but here's what worked for us and what I would do again for any child who was bottle feeding.

    1. The Playtex drop-in nursers are amazing in ET b/c you only have to worry about sterilizing the nipples (we took 2-8oz and 400 liners) and then had a 3-pack of basic Nuby bottles for when we got home.

    2. They typically use very fast nipples in ET (when you are in an orphanage with a bunch of kids you want to feed the kids as fast as possible) but that's not always for the's cheap and small so we took 1 package each of slow, medium, and fast (I can't remember if there were 2 or 3 per package). B definitely preferred the faster ones, but we worked our way to slower by the end.

    3. For formula, most orphanages seem to use Enfamil. We took the Target formula that is "the same as Enfamil" as well as Baby's Only. Baby's Only is what B liked and even with the rice/arsenic debate that brewed this past year, I think it's the best option for my child/children and would use it for my child in the future before any other formula product.

    4.It's ok, no need to stress. You can get formula in ET. It's a little more expensive than here and not quite as good, but you will be able to feed Wynray:-)

    Hope that the next few weeks go quickly and you are home with Wynray soon!

  2. Thanks so much for that! YOU ROCK! I stocked up on the liners, and some of the faster nipples. How did you sterilize the nipples in ET? and on the plane? I feel like such a doofus because my bio daughter nursed on demand and I never had to to worry about measuring formula or sterilizing anything!! This is new territory for sure!!

    Fredrik and I are swinging between being numb and heartbroken.. We miss our boy, and we mourn with the rest of America. He went back to work today, Kysa back to school. There is an attempt to return to normal routine. But my heart was in my throat as I hugged them goodbye this morning.

    I know we'll get through this. We hope the days go quickly. Thank you so much for your advice and words of encouragement!!

  3. We had a small tea kettle at our guest house, brought the water to a rolling boil and poured it over the nipples in a small dish.

    Something that helped us to remember when we were feeling overwhelmed when we first had custody of our son and were living in ET (and it seemed to be a common theme among all the parents at our guest house) was to do our best but when we started to feel crazy to remember "my child has lived x months/years in ET with non-sterilized water, subpar formula, no diapers, and limited care. He is a fighter, he is a survivor, I am doing the best that I can to take care of him."

    It is such an amazing adventure becoming a family through adoption. I wanted to soothe all my child's pain and sadness and loss and sometimes that came through in obsessing over the right formula or cloth diapers or whatever. (seriously, I became hard core obsessed with cloth diapers during the wait from referral to court...) but it takes time for healing to happen. Being there, loving him, holding him, feeding him (even if it is the sugary, no probiotic formula that you find most often in ET)it will be amazing for you all.

    I posted a lot about attachment, life in ET, and our first weeks together on our blog: (the posts are probably in the fall/winter of 2011).

    Off the top of my head: Shoa Supermarket and Black Lion Pharmacy both have decent formula and once kids turn 1 in the orphanages they usually get powered milk, called "Nidal" or something like that. The Korean diaper wipes in the white and red package are the best available wipes by far, and you can get huggies and pampers in smaller sizes easily, but they are really hard to find in size 3 or larger.

  4. Ah yes, rIght! We made Mac'n'cheese with those kettles for Kysa. Such excellent points, those kids are survivors, but we want so badly to comfort and do everything right and make up for lost time.

    Great to know the other details like the supermarket and pharmacy! I'm am also one of the cloth diaper obsessed, but at least I've road tested them with Kysa ;-)

    I'm also acknowledging it's much easier to obsess about formula right now instead of admitting my son is on the other side of the planet and processing the CT tragedy.

    Thanks again for this wealth of info!!

  5. Playtex Drop-Ins are the best for travel! We use glass bottles now that we are home, and simply donated the Playtex bottles and extra liners once we got back. To sterilize our nipples in ET, we weren't always able to get boiling water in a pinch, so we used bottled water and anti-bacterial dish soap to wash , then rinsed with bottled water as well. We took the big cans of Earth's Best formula, and I feel like that made it simpler, just having fewer items to pack because there was more formula in each container. One other recommendation I have is to take plenty of burp cloths and wipes. We used the aden + anais burpy bibs, and I can't recommend those highly enough - way better coverage as a bib than a standard bib, plus it's a burp cloth as well! We only took 2, and I wish we'd taken more since they didn't dry quickly in the cool dampness of the Addis View bathroom (maybe 5 or so).

    One more recommendation, for when you arrive home. If Wynray prefers his bottles warm, the Baby Brezza kettle is awesome for keeping water at the right temperature. When you're jet lagged, being able to have a bottle at the right temp without really thinking about it is so helpful, plus the formula dissolves better in warm water.

    Best wishes for a short time until you travel, and a safe and smooth trip home with your son.

    1. Thanks much for that advice! I think the lady at BBBaby did steer me in the right direction..I stocked up on the Playtex Drop-Ins. It's reassuring that they worked for you. I'm a huge fan of the Aden +Anais burp cloths too, but probably wouldn't have packed our "nice" ones, but will rethink that now.

      Keeping Elvie and your family in my prayers! So hopeful for her upcoming surgery. Wishing you all peace, ease and comfort in the weeks to come.