Guest Post: Rebekah McGee
This is a sweet girl from AGCI who is IN the process of cocooning. They have only been home a couple months with their darling 8 month old boy. Check out their site for more great information.
I’ve gotten several requests for an update on my thoughts on cocooning. We have been over home six weeks now and we are starting to branch out a bit. At this point, Israel has met his grandparents (separate blog post to come!) and we have slowly begun emerging from the cocoon to meet other friends and family.
Cocooning for us meant that we kept Israel from being overstimulated. He gets really anxious in new places and around new people. There are some things that couldn’t be avoided, like doctor visits, but for the most part we kept his outside interactions very minimal. For the first few weeks we limited leaving the house. As you read in my post about what kept me sane during this season, we did get in the car several days a week to go through the drive thru or to pay bills. We took walks multiple times a week and spent a lot of time on our porch. It’s not like we were completely confined inside our house, but we knew that enclosed spaces like a store, or places with a lot of new people, would be too much for him. We spent these few weeks doing a lot of snuggling and baby wearing. The first four weeks we were home, Israel spent almost every nap strapped to me on the Ergo.
We tried to set up a routine. We still don’t have a definite schedule, but Israel knows the process of napping and bedtime because of the rituals we do (bath, lotion, noise machine, etc). We have seen HUGE progress with his sleep issues!
We have learned from his cues what he needs. Being inside the cocoon allowed us to give undivided attention to him so we could learn how to shape his schedule, what his needs were and how to provide him the security he needs. Because we were home so much, Israel developed a fast relationship to me and later a very sweet and unique bond with Will. It is because we were home, quickly responding to him, creating a sense of security and predictability that Israel has been able to bond with us so quickly.We limited the amount of things and people we were introducing to him so that he could really connect with the priorities (our house as a safe zone, us as his primary caregivers). Will and I have been the only ones to meet his needs – bathing, diapering, feeding, snuggling, napping, holding, etc. We have provided consistent care and he knows we will take care of him.
We had to make adjustments in the way we did life. I have to go to the grocery store when Will is home to watch Israel. I can’t make multiple trips to the store, so I need to make sure I’m prepared to get what I need for the week! Will is a college pastor, and our ministry is to our students. There was one day that we had an event we both needed to go to – we took turns going inside while the other person sat in the car with Israel.
There have definitely been hard moments. I am a people person and there have been times that I have felt really lonely and exhausted from my new role. I missed my friends and the ability to chat on the phone – when I was wearing Israel every nap, I never had a down time where I could respond to calls or texts. I think the first few weeks were so hard because I was so tired from all the nap times that I was wearing Israel – and then when he was awake I felt like I needed to be fully engaged all the time to focus on bonding. While this is true, I put a lot of pressure on myself and I would over analyze everything in light of if he was attaching to me. I wasn’t really enjoying every moment because I was worn out emotionally and physically.
So, we made the decision that I would go to church. I have gone to church for the past four weeks. The first three times, I came late and wore him in the ergo. Israel fell asleep immediately and napped the whole time (I would plan his naps that way). I sat in a room downstairs that had the message and worship on speakers. I was technically in the church building and I was able to worship with my church, even though I was alone (or with my friend who would sit with me sometimes). Because Israel was asleep, and we were alone in the room, he wasn’t over stimulated and the experience worked well for us. It was really refreshing for me. It also felt normal… in a time where nothing felt normal anymore! This week we went to church on time and even sat in the back of the worship room. It was a great step forward and Israel did great – he slept through most of the service! It is great to see progress and I’m sure the weeks of going to the building and it being a “safe” place with just me allowed him to feel safe when we added people to the mix.
I also decided that I needed to re-establish community again. On Will’s off day, I am meeting with two other moms for a book study. On Tuesday nights, I am leading a bible study in our home with my college girls (after Israel is asleep and Will is on baby monitor duty). These things are essential to me because I need them to feel normal, connected, and refreshed. It took a few weeks for me to be in a place where they could be re-established but I’m thankful they are now!
So now we are beginning to get our a bit. We took him to Target this weekend and I wore him in the ergo and he fell asleep almost immediately and did fine. The week before, we went in a store and he freaked out – he was overstimulated and he cried and the trip lasted about five minutes.
Last week, we attempted to go to VBS at our church. We only lasted an hour before he got very anxious, and then all night long he whimpered and cried! It was too much for him – he had been in a new place (not the same building that we had been attending morning worship) with lots of people in his face. This week, we went to church like normal and he met a few people… He did much better. Maybe it’s because the VBS trip was in the evening in a different location?
We are still figuring this out. We are not ready to start taking him to the grocery store regularly or to a sit down restaurant, but we are ready to introduce him to people that will be a part of his life. I’m sure the next few weeks will be full of reading his cues, coming home early from outings, and just constantly evaluating what is best for him. We don’t have any expectations or timelines on when “normal” will be.., we may just need to throw “normal” out and figure out “new normal”. All I know is, we are his advocates. We’re deciding what is best and how to make him feel secure and safe. Hopefully this season of cocooning will have laid a good foundation for that goal.