This post is overdue. I have been waiting until the time felt right to write about rocking with my sweet girl. "The Rockin' Mama Challenge" was just the nudge I needed to start to commit to rocking together. We had been rocking from the beginning of our arrival home, now just a year ago, but I wanted to take it to the next level.
A year ago, Tessa had difficulty making eye contact. She didn't want to be held close and would feel restless. There were times she would fall asleep in my arms out of exhaustion, but not from being soothed. More than anything, she would want to suck her thumb and look away. I could feel her distance, I could feel her pain and my heart was breaking.
The thumb sucking was a big sign to me that I needed to teach her that I could soothe her. That she could trust me to care for her, meets her needs, make her feel at ease. The thumb sucking was so habitual that when she came home she wanted to suck her thumb so much that she would take a spoonful of babyfood and then insert her thumb. It was the only mechanism she had to soothe herself. Rocking became apart of the process of building the trust, growing our attachment and ultimately letting go of the thumb.
There were times when we rocked that I would tuck her left arm away so she would be unable to get to her thumb. I would distract her from her thumb with "itsy bitsy spider" and the same songs over and over.... "you are my sunshine", "I love you yes I do, "Rainbow connection", and "night, night, Tessa..it's time to say night, night". She began making eye contact, smiling, listening more and more. Sometimes if she looked away I would stop singing and then as soon as she re-engaged eye contact again I would happily start right where I left off. Over time, this became our special routine, so much so that now she will say "more, more" when I stop. more...more, and so I go again.
This photo is a self-portrait with a mirror...see the camera on our rocking chair? The mirror on her closet is perfectly positioned across from the rocking chair. I can't tell you how many times I was able to make eye contact with her through that mirror when direct eye contact was too much for her. I could watch her and she could watch me. The mirror is such a special part of our rocking that we so enjoy.
She will be all snuggled in, watching "us", we will watch each other.
Tonight I am certain I wanted to write this post because Tessa didn't once reach for her thumb as we rocked. Tonight she snuggled in tight to me ready to start rocking....it was the best feeling.
We rocked, looking at each other in the mirror.
Then she leaned back into the side of my arm to look directly in my eyes and said song, song.
I sang all of our songs, she listened, watched, smiled...she then said, "more, more".
Later she closed her eyes and began her little squinting game. She peeks out of her eyes just a bit to see if I am watching. This fun little game that she has created. I smile big every time I see her peeking out at me. She has the best little, happy, content smile coming back at me as she squints her eyes.
We keep rocking.
The squinting game turns to sleepiness. She still hasn't wanted her thumb.
She falls asleep in my arms and is calm, content....and so am I.
And I say..."more, more".