Even though we were all quite excited for this new chapter, there was also some worried anticipation about how Liana would do in light of her severe separation anxiety that kicked in ever since she suffered from mono while we were in Germany this spring. I've been doing a lot of reading on early trauma in anticipation of our new son's arrival, and everything I read only reinforced my suspicions that some of her severe anxiety surrounding separation from me might stem from her premature birth and subsequent hospitalizations (NICU stays were specifically mentioned as one example of early trauma in some of the literature - and for obvious reason!). But just because you know the reason for it doesn't mean you can fix it, or should necessarily "baby" her too much ... so it was a hard balance to keep. We did A LOT of preparation leading up to their first day, visited the class room last week, chatted with their 2 teachers about specific strategies to help her cope and overall just talked preschool up a whole lot around here. Liana did pretty good - until she woke up this morning and knew instantly what was up! She spent the subsequent 2 hours crying, clinging to me and begging me to let her stay home. It was heart-wrenching!
We're so fortuntate, however, that the preschool they attend is connected to Bjorn's church, so not only is his office in the same building, but we also know all the preschool staff very well and knew they would take excellent care of the girls. Liana settled down once we got to the class room (while we were still there) and played quite nicely - until it was time for the parents to head to another room for the orientation, at which point she had another epic meltdown. One of the teachers was able to tend to her right away, and apparently she calmed down fairly quickly - which is HUGE news for her. The few times we had her at the Y's child care this summer, she was still be crying and sobbing when we picked her up an hour later :(
After orientation was done, Liana was super excited and told us all about the fun stuff we did :) It helped that I had prepared a German "Schultuete" for them - which is special goodie bag kids receive on their first day or preschool and Kindergarten. So as soon as school was done, Liana requested to see her presents!
I'm sure we'll have some more tears and rough goodbyes over the next few weeks, especially once she realizes that Mommy and Daddy won't get to stay with her at all starting next week - but I'm thankful her first day went as well as it did.
Here are the "before" and "after" pictures