October 14, 2010

Measuring Progress

This morning, my mom and I took Miles to the hospital to get tubes put in his ears.  I always fear doctor's appointments.  It has always been a trigger for Miles.  I have nightmares about the last time I took Miles for an MRI, and just thinking about that potentially happening again, makes me want to run for the door and give up.  BUT today, the boy was golden.  He was delightful at the hospital.  He was as sweet as pie to the nurses and he worked the room over as usual, but he clearly knew that I was the one there to protect him and be there for him.  He looked for me when I went to the bathroom.  He reached out for me when they brought him back from surgery.  He asked for food instead of wailing and screaming to communicate his needs.

I know that the very nature of trauma and attachment disorders ebbs and flows.  That while today we are on top of the mountain, we could be back in the valley in a matter of minutes.  But 4 months ago when Miles had surgery for the first time, there was none of the mountaintop experience.  He had zero trust for me.  Just the fact that he wanted me and trusted that I would be there for him shows me that he is making progress and that the 6 hours of therapy we put our life on hold for every week with him is worth every precious minute.

I see healing in his face.  I feel healing in his kisses.  It is not always easy.  Sometimes I can see in his eyes when our attachment therapist has him hug me that it hurts him.  That he does not want to give up the control he has in the relationship.  He doesn't always want that intimacy.  It is intense for him.  But then there are days like today, and I know that the boy is healing.  He is working through the big feelings.  He is struggling to get there, but I know that he can do it.

Just having that hope, makes my reaction to his "issues" so much different.  I find that I have more patience with Miles.  I am getting better at understanding his needs and reacting appropriately.  I am learning which battles to fight with him and which ones to let go.  My reaction is directly feeding his.  Does this mean that I don't get frustrated and yell and scream and pout and throw a fit and whine about why things can't just be natural and easy?  Hell to the no!  I get an A+ in fit throwing!  But I am doing it less and less as we've gotten some help from some great professionals.  And the more videos I watch about theraputic parenting the easier it gets.  And the more I read about ways to help my son thrive inspite of what he's been through instead of fighting to change what he's been through, the more we connect.  Knowledge is power in attachment therapy.  The more we understand our children, the better equipped we are to help them.  If I have learned anything about theraputic parenting it is that it goes against every instinct you have.  With my other (biological) children I worked so hard to help them acheive independence.  With Miles it is just the opposite- trying to teach him to be dependent and trust that others can meet his needs- that it is okay to love.  That is no easy task.

I found a video on my camera the other day and I have watched it over and over again.  I think it speaks volumes to the growth that is happening in our family.  If you watch it, you'll probably think that it is very normal: kids are playing in the back yard, dog is running around, nice fall night.  But it was not that long ago that normal at any level could not be found in our home.  It was not that long ago when all of our children couldn't play together without Miles bullying the others.  It wasn't that long ago that just hearing a dog bark sent Miles into a panic attack.  It wasn't that long ago that the little boy climbing a ladder all by himself was too weak with malnutrition to pick himself up off the ground if he fell down.  Millions of miles to go, but millions of miles we've already trudged through.  Progress.  It is a beautiful thing. (Someone remind me of this next time we are at the bottom of the pit!)

P.S.  Miles' surgery was very successful!  No problems at all and he is expected to regain all the hearing he has lost as a result of potentially 2 1/2 years of chronic ear infections.   YAY!  Plus- he just looks super cute in his teeny tiny hospital gown. :-)

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