Monday, June 29, 2015

ENT, Runaway Strollers, and First Haircuts

It is Monday today and we kicked the week off right with an appointment at the ENT to follow up on Hannah's tubes that were placed at the time of her lip repair.  We never actually met the ENT due to the timing of our surgery.  We met the resident who placed them the morning of the surgery, but never the primary physician overseeing the resident.  We weren't too concerned since tubes are a pretty routine procedure and not all that complicated.  We were so focused on the lip repair that day that it didn't matter.  Well, today was our follow up for the tubes.  As expected, it was anticlimactic and a generally useless appointment.  We also met the primary physician.  Guess what?  I didn't like him.  At all.  No pleasantries, no bedside manner, no nothing.  He spent all of thirty seconds with us and didn't do much to explain why her ear was bleeding fresh blood last week.  But, it is all okay because it is his last week at the clinic!  A new doctor is coming and hopefully we will like him better!  If not, we will return to the first ENT we visited.  We really liked the first ENT, but wanted the tubes placed in conjunction with her lip repair so we had to use a doctor through the hospital for that to happen.  She is supposed to go back in 6 months for a follow up and a hearing test, but this isn't the best part of our trip to UK today.  Things were far more eventful just prior to our appointment in the parking garage.

When we go to the Clinic we have to park in a large structure and then walk a fair distance to get to all the various clinics where she has been seen for appointments.  I use the stroller to get in and out of the appointments with her since it is too far for her to walk quickly.  Today, as I always have, I got the stroller out, set the brake, and loaded her up.  Only our stroller's brake is not always reliable and doesn't always fully catch.  I loaded her up and went up to the passenger door to get the diaper bag and her cup only to turn around and see her speeding off down the parking garage ramp!  Zing!  Just like that and she was off to the races!  The further she went, the faster she got, all the while she is shouting, "MA!  Mama!"  Like, "Hey lady, I'm rolling away here!  Do something about it!"  So off I go, in the race to catch the stroller before she gets to the bottom of the ramp.  Did I mention our appointment was at the crack of dawn?  The parking structure was like Grand Central Station.  And who actually drives s-l-o-w in a parking garage?  She was getting close to the corner and I just knew a car was going to come speeding around the curve and smash into her.  Heart in my throat I had to sprint to catch her, and I did, just as a car was rounding the curve.  Thankfully they were going a decent speed and stopped well back from the runaway stroller and I.  In the moment it was awful and I was so terrified she was going to get hit.  After the fact?  Oh my word I cannot stop laughing about the sight of that stroller zipping down the ramp and hearing her silly voice yell "MA!" at me.  Once I caught her and knew she was safe I laughed like a lunatic the whole way into the clinic.  Oh my...what a start to the day.

After we successfully survived the ENT appointment and managed to load into the car without further runaway stroller incidents, I took Little Miss for her first haircut.  I never did this with Grace since her hair grew in nicely, but in China they buzz their little heads for a long time and keep their hair as short as possible.  Hannah's hair has grown a ton since we got home, but it was really just sort of all over the place.  I didn't want it cut shorter, but it really just needed to be shaped and tamed a little as it continues to grow in.  She cried, I held her, we survived, and it looks better, too! 

So......just a regular start to the week for us--runaway strollers and all!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Her Mama

A couple months ago, I wrote this post about my heart's longing to be known fully to Hannah as her Mama.  For four and a half months I have truly just been a lady to Hannah, albeit perhaps a special lady in her mind, but just a lady.  Not her Mama.  Mama with a capital M.  HER Mama.  Hannah's Mama.

For a while I chalked it up to the newness and the language barrier.  I wasn't Mama yet, or even really mama with a little m, but this was a title of honor.  You don't just simply get it from these kiddos from hard places.  You have to earn it.  For a long time there was a language barrier and once the language issues started to subside it became an anatomy barrier (cleft lip meant she couldn't make the "mmmmmm" sound necessary for the word Mama).  So she didn't say it then, either.  Then she had her surgery in late April and immediately upon leaving the surgery we rapidly heard her ability to not only make the "mmmm" sound, but to also say the word Mama.  She could say it, but now it simply became the truth.  She didn't say it.  That was hard in a way that is difficult to describe.  Remember bringing home a newborn baby and being completely sleep deprived and yet pouring all you had into that little person?  Remember how you got nothing in return?  And it is hard.  Then, one glorious day that baby looks into your eyes and a smile emerges.  And it is all worth it.  It has been that kind of hard, knowing that Hannah could call me Mama, but that she wouldn't.  I knew not to get too worked up over it because just like that first smile, I knew it would come and it would be glorious and good and worth the wait.

To help her along with her identification of me as her Mama, I started requiring her to use my name to ask for things since I knew she was capable of saying it: "Water please, Mama!"  "Thank you, Mama!"  "Up, Mama!"  "Night, night, Mama!"  I'd have her repeat me like a little parrot and she would do it willingly.  Just not spontaneously.

Last week something happened.  I noticed it for a couple days and said nothing about it.  When Chris pointed it out to me, I knew I wasn't delusional and it was really happening.  I became Mama.  With a big M.  HER Mama.

It did not start slowly or gradually begin to emerge.  Nope.  One day it wasn't there.  The next day?  Suddenly, I am MAMA.  She uses it fast and furious for all that she needs.  "Mama! Mama!  Maaaaaaa!  Mammmmmma!"  I need a drink, I need a snack, I am done napping, I am hurt, I am sad, I need your attention!  MAMA!

I wrote this in my previous post about being known as Mama:
Oh, sweet Hannah.  If only you knew who I was, what my intentions are, or what the bigger picture is.  All I have for you is the best I have to give.  All I have for you is for your good. Little girl, I see the tiny bricks being laid.  I know the day will come.  It won't just be a glimmer of a moment or as fleeting as the wind.  You will know.  And I will know.  I am fully your Mama.  Not just a Mama.  Yours.  And your lips will utter it with full assurance, "You are MY Mama."  And the doubt will be gone.  And the grief will be just a quiet murmur in the background of life.  You will be secure in the arms or your Mama.

The grief is still there and while I wish I could say at this moment it is a quiet murmur in the background of life, it isn't, but it is getting there.  But I can say now with full assurance, I am HER Mama.  Hannah's Mama.  And she knows it.

On the road weary days when I am running out of steam to run this race, I can take a deep breath and know.  She knows.  I know.  Hannah has a Mama.  And it's me.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Summertime, Summertime!

Yesterday was a gorgeous summer day.  We filled it with all wonderful summertime family activities.  We started things off with a bike ride that was intended to be a family ride.  We got about 1 mile into the ride and Chris rapidly realized that the twins have gained some weight since last summer in the bike trailer and adding to the weight, he needed air in both his bike tires and the trailer tires.  They needed to turn back, but we quickly agreed that Jacob, Hannah and I would finish the trail ride and have them pick us up at a 2nd entrance for the trail.  Hannah wasn't too keen about her new bike seat when we first put her in it.  She wanted to ride in the trailer instead.  She tried to throw a fit and cried for the first minute or two, but she quickly discovered she likes Mama's bike seat and was having fun.  If I'd stop to let Jacob catch up or to discuss something on the trail, she'd push on my back and shout, "YO! YO!" which is her version of "Go! Go!"  She fell asleep in it near the end of our ride, so I think it is safe to say she felt relaxed and enjoyed it.

This guy could ride all day long!

"Yo! Yo!"  Don't stop, Mama!

After grilling out and just enjoying the yard, we decided we would take all the kids downtown to play in the fountains.  We used to do this every summer with the kids, but last year, for some reason, the fountains were never on!  We were excited to discover they were on earlier this week and couldn't wait to take the kids down to play.  All of our kids have shown varying levels of a love-hate feeling toward the fountains, especially on their first trip.  We were curious to see how Hannah would respond.  I'll let the pictures do the talking....
Things started pretty mellow, though she did not hesitate to get in at all...

Grace showed Hannah what it was all about.

Getting warmed up...

Getting more into it now....

Really finding her groove...
This is seriously fun!

They got really big near the end!

Not afraid, even of the big ones! took her all of about 2 minutes there before she started doing this....

Mama, this Southern China girl is FROZEN!

Everyone is frozen and tired.  Mission accomplished!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spontaneous and Unexpected {Four Months Home}

We are celebrating four months at home with Miss H today!  I'm looking back over the past four months and remembering just how far we have come.  Hannah has made wide strides this month, overcoming some post op setbacks, and bounding ever forward.

Some highlights for me this month include the massive change we have seen in her relationship with Daddy.  This is certainly an answer to bold prayers!  In the last 2-3 weeks we have seen Hannah get truly excited about welcoming Daddy home from work and seek him out both for comfort and for play.  This, in turn, has created a much missed and deeply needed sense of peace and "normal" in our home.  All is right with our world--all the kids love Daddy!

Another bright spot has been the explosion in language we have seen from Hannah.  She is understanding nearly everything we say to her and trying her hand at saying many, many things (despite her cleft).  I'm slowly catching on to "Hannah Speak" and it has been such a blessing to communicate through more than grunts and tears!  She just recently added "ok" to her repertoire this week and I have to say, it is for sure one of my favorites!

Of course, we're still doing our post-adoption dance with her.  We have good days--this week we even had a great day thrown in--but, we still have good bit of hard.  Forward and back.  Forward never comes without some back somewhere along the time.  The two stick together like peas in a pod.  Forward and back.  We're still working to overcome post-op sleep issues and Hannah has yet to return to her own bed (and I doubt if she'll get there prior to her palate repair).  Night terrors continue to plague her naps and sadly, while they seem to be happening without an increase in frequency, they do seem to be increasing in intensity.  There is nothing more gut wrenching than to sit with her through these times, as she screams in true primal terror, and is reaching out for something, I don't know what.  To both Chris and I it seems almost as though she is dreaming of being taken (from us or from her foster parents--we'll never know).  There is nothing we can do but sit with her until it is done and then tuck her back in.  Sometimes there are days when I forget who she is and where she is from and I take on the "typical" summertime activities.  Two doctor's appointments, a dentist appointment, and a trip to the library?  Way....too....much for two days back to back.  We are still recovering from all those appointments, so today's trip to two grocery stores may have been a bit too much too?  You bet!  Over stimulation bombards her at times and all she can do to shut it all out is scream for a long, long time.  All I can do to calm the screaming is to strap her in the ergo and draw her close.  Usually within five minutes the screaming will fade and she will nestle in and hang on tight.  She'll need to stay in that little cocoon for a while.  She always lets me know when the panic has passed, the over worked senses have calmed, and she's ready to come back out and take on all that the world throws at her.  I can at least say this much about these moments four months in....I am better able to see them coming and more equipped to try to head it off if I can.  When I can't prevent it from happening, I know the remedy is always the closeness the ergo provides (that money ever spent!).  I'll also admit that she's not the only one doing the post adoption dance of forward and back.  I have moments where I pat myself on the back for the stellar adoptive mama way I handle some situations and wish our post-adoption department from our agency could see just how well I handled a particularly messy or complicated matter.  Then....I have my moments that I want to shout for a redo as I fumble through and respond with anger or impatience.  So we do a little forward and back together--there are partners in this dance.  This is not a solo performance, this journey of adoption.  We also do our fair share of dancing around with sibling relationships and family dynamics and while this fourth month home has presented us with some of our greatest sibling struggles, it has also provided opportunity for deepening of sibling bonds, as well.

The best thing I've experienced in month four has been the spontaneous and unexpected. Hannah has recently started displaying affection in spontaneous and unexpected ways.  Sometimes she'll come from the back of the house, up to the kitchen, just to give my leg a tight squeeze.  Yesterday she grabbed my cheeks in her sweet little toddler hands and pulled me in close for a long round of Eskimo kisses and lots of giggles.  She pats with deep emphasis in her hugs now and wants to squeeze tight and hard.  She said her first unprompted, "I love you" the other day. She might even sneak in to plant a kiss on you when you least expect it or ask to receive affection from you--all firsts for us this month!

One more month under our belts.  One more month toward the tally of having her home longer than she was gone.  One more month to tuck gospel truths into her heart and watch her bloom.  The in the trenches work is hard, the days are sometimes incredibly long, but the gift of seeing her realize the true security of home is worth every tear shed, every teeth gritting round of time in, every deep breath taken to quickly pray for wisdom.  She's hard work.  She's complicated.  She is feisty and sassy.  She's stubborn (oh, so very stubborn).  She is pure joy.  She is delight.  She tugs at my heart way down, deep inside.  She's precious and so very wanted.  She's eager and hungry to learn.  She doesn't miss a beat (and sometimes she marches to her own).  She has taken on so much (SO MUCH) in these last four months and yet, despite the hard stuff, the difficult days and trauma filled past, she radiates joy.  We press on with excitement into month five.  Here's hoping for lots more of the spontaneous and unexpected!

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..."
~Romans 12:1-2~