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 ergo....seriously....best 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..."