Bunny Love

October 13, 2007

When we got that memorable referral phone call telling us about our sweet Mei-Mei in Taiwan, Noah and I went shopping. We found a cute little pink bunny with a silky blanket attached to it.I slept with that bunny until we traveled to Taiwan (one of the things recommended for enhancing attachment) and we placed it in Camille's crib on her first night with us. Since that night she has always slept with her pink bunny. A few months later Camille received a similar bunny blanket, which quickly became known as the yellow bunny. Those two bunnies have traveled the globe, have been well loved on a daily basis, been through countless washings, and have been the source of tears and panic when we couldn't find them.

I spent most of this past summer searching for a "back-up" bunny in anticipation of preschool and the awful chance that one of the original bunnies might get permanently lost. I finally found one. Not identical but very similar. A few weeks before school started, we attempted to introduce the new bunny into the family. This did not go well. Camille initially seemed to think the bunny was cute and would carry it around the house, push it in the stroller, and act cordially towards it. But at night time she became hysterical if the new bunny was in her crib. She would scream, throw it out of the crib, and not stop crying until the bunny was removed from the room. She started school and brought her "pink" bunny to school for the first few days. And the bunny did not leave her arms during those first school mornings. The bunny came home full of snacks, sand, and mud and was a big part of the smooth transition to school. Until the dreadful morning when I realized I had left the pink bunny at home. I happened to have the new bunny in the car and since that day that bunny has officially become "school bunny". School bunny is a very important part of school, but she does not sleep in the crib and Camille never asks for her at home except in the mornings when we pack her school bag.

And now there is another bunny in our house, "Nana bunny". Nana brought a new bunny with her earlier this week. As with school bunny, the attachment process is on-going. "Nana bunny" has worked her way into the daily nap, but she is still not allowed to sleep in the crib during the night. Camille's attachment to her pink and yellow bunnies is strong and deep. I was foolish to think that I could ever truly have a "back-up" bunny for those two magical bunnies. I hear her talking to them each morning in her crib. She feeds them, she attempts to put diapers on them (not easy on silky blankets), and she holds them close to her face while sucking her thumb and nodding off each night. It has been interesting to watch her react and relate to the newer bunnies.

Attachment is a complex thing...it is smells, tactile sensations, shared experiences, love, tears, time, it is conscious and unconscious work,and many other magical components. During social work school and my early work experiences, I did a lot of reading on the subject. I attended workshops specifically focused on attachment. I worked with families struggling with serious attachment issues. During my pregnancy, I started to think about attachment in a more personal way as I prepared to become a mother. I dreamed and day-dreamed about my unborn son, I kept a journal, and read tons of parenting books, but nothing quite prepared me for those first few months of extreme exhaustion and extreme emotions. I would often just stare at him for long stretches of time, blown away by his perfection and his miraculous existence. I felt overwhelmed with love, anxiety, and the huge responsibility of being his mother. And then as we began our adoption journey, I began a whole new level of preparation. Paperwork, internet searches, adoption groups, and lots of time for waiting and worrying. I again attempted to prepare for another unknown experience. And again nothing quite prepared me for the flood of intense feelings. The surreal experience of having a child suddenly placed in my arms, my pounding heart, those dark eyes studying me, my tears of joy soon to be followed by tears of sadness while watching her birthmother kiss her good-bye....nothing can truly prepare you for these things. But Camille's attachment to her bunnies is my first real experience of observing attachment in action. Even with my own children, I felt so immersed in the dance that I couldn't really step back or track the process as it happened. Now I am seeing it with the bunnies and my sweet little girl and it makes me smile.
Ann said...

I just don't know what to say to this. Since I haven't experienced the attachement of a child yet, I was just glued to what you wrote...thinking about what it will be like, making notes...and well, this was just beautifully written!!

Amy, Ryan, Aidan & Lauren said...

Wonderful post, Lucia! That is just beyond cute that the pink bunny helped so much with Camille's transition to school and that now she has a special school bunny. What a sweetie.

dim sum, bagels, and crawfish said...

I just recently came across this very well written article on attachment http://www.baas.org/news_special-june2007.php

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