Sunday, November 20, 2016

this too shall pass

It was a rough week.  Not for Madeleine, who came out looking like a rockstar, but for me.  I won't give details, as I don't need to throw myself even more of a pity party than I already have, but if you're a parent who works outside of the home, then you can probably sympathize.  

My mom likes to say that one of my grandma's favorite sayings was "This to shall pass."  I don't remember my grandma ever saying this to me, but I did find myself repeating it quite a bit this week.  And I while I find myself very thankful this year for many reasons, I'm also quite thankful that it's a short week and that I get two days know, to recover from just going back to work this week.

Here's what you came for though, a Madeleine update:

Madeleine's developmental growth has been slow and cautious up until really a few days ago and now she's started to explode.  Her little system is probably just starting to shake off the shock of moving halfway around the world with strangers, so I don't blame her one bit.  In the past few days alone, she has started walking more independently, has started using the "more" sign for food more consistently, and has started making more eye contact with us.  She's starting to like reading and will actually bring us books to read to her and will sit on our laps and give the book all of her attention instead of slamming it shut.  While she makes quite a bit of noises, she still hasn't said a word, but we do think she's starting to sound out actual syllables.

I am also thankful that this little girl isn't a picky eater.  She's eaten nearly everything we put in front of her, including Mexican, and in this case, Thai and Japanese.

Madeleine got properly fitted for shoes this week, thanks to Kern Brothers shoes in Zionsville.

One day this week, on a day I was at work, Madeleine spent the entire day in her pajamas.  I may have made a snarky passive aggressive comment about this to Madeleine (#goodparenting), to which CJ responded, "Mama doesn't get out of her pajamas most Saturdays, so I'm not sure she has a leg to stand on" (#touche).  But this day, CJ actually picked out this entire outfit, down to the bow!  I was seriously impressed.  He may have set his bar a little too high.

Reading. (Obviously.)

My parents watched M today while we went to the Colts game.  Was it the right thing to do, so soon after coming home?  Maybe, maybe not.  While I could second guess myself all day long, I do know that we all survived (including grandma and grandpa, who I'm guessing are exhausted!) and that we're refreshed and ready to get at it again.

Friday, November 11, 2016

getting back to normal

Well, we're just starting to get our groove down...just in time for me to return to work on Monday.  It's definitely time to go back.  A shout out to all of you stay at home parents.  I have a great amount of admiration for you now, as I know it's not a job for me.  And for those of you who are wondering, through the end of the year, on the days that CJ works, I will stay at home and vice versa.  This way one of is with Madeleine for the first 2 1/2 months at home.

Comparatively speaking, it was a busy week for us, and Madeleine did extremely well!

On Monday morning, we met with Madeleine's pediatrician.  The point of this visit was to get some baseline measurements and rule out any major problems, of which there were none.  We did learn she's gained about 1-1.5 lbs. in about 3 weeks.

Madeleine also has an international adoption doctor at Riley, and we'll see her next month.  That visit is a little more in-depth -- she'll have blood drawn, the doctor will determine what vaccinations she will need and when, and she'll refer us to other specialists if need be.

After that, we headed up to Grandpa and Grandma's house for a quick visit.  We're not sure why she was doing this, but she thought it was hysterical.  Every day, we see more and more of her personality -- which is quite happy and giggly -- come out.

Madeleine got her first ride in the combine with Grandpa too.  She immediately grabbed the wheel and pressed buttons. Grandpa thought it was cute.  I'm pretty sure if I'd done that, Grandpa wouldn't have thought it was so cute.

Tuesday was our first caseworker visit.  We are required to report back to China on Madeleine's progress four times the first year and then again in years 2, 3, and 5.

After that, Madeleine and I went to vote.  We don't want to talk about what happened.

I'm still learning what's appropriate cold-weather wear for children.  This might have been overkill.  She didn't rip it off, so I'm guessing she was comfortable.

Madeleine and I took our first solo trip to Target this morning so CJ could grab a nap.  She loved it!

Our pediatrician had commented on her low muscle tone, which completely makes sense given her circumstances and since she can't walk independently yet, so she got this ride on/pushing Minnie airplane at the store.  I didn't realize that it made noise and the propeller spun around until after I purchased it.  Prior to getting her, I was pretty adamant that she'd play with wooden blocks or high quality toys. (#snob) Now that she's here, well...we own all the annoying toys now.

We've ended our week with an initial visit from First Steps.  This was an introductory meeting to get some basic info about us and Madeleine.  A physical therapist and speech therapist will come back to visit in about a month to do a formal assessment and then determine if Madeleine qualifies for any services.  We think she's a pretty sharp little girl, but we're anxious to get her up to speed as quickly as possible.

Someone is waking up from her nap, so that'll have to do for now.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

first full week home

We're wrapping up our first full week at home and we're all still alive and doing quite well! CJ returned to work on Friday and I return in a little more than a week myself, so we're slowly creeping back into life again.

With the exception of one quick trip to the store, we've been hermits these past 10 or so days.  Part of that is because all three of us just went through a major life change.  We had a whirlwind tour of China and we are still recovering from jet lag.  The other part is intentional, as we are trying to quickly unravel 20 months' worth of orphanage life. Our biggest concern will continue to be Madeleine's attachment and bonding to us as her parents. I mentioned CJ went back to work on Friday. M didn't appear to notice and her behavior was really no different.  Might have been a blow to CJ, not being missed, but at the same time, gave us a good gauge on her feelings.  She also reaches out for strangers.  If you have a toddler or you've been through that stage, did your not-yet-2 year old reach out for a stranger to hold them? If they did, did it concern you at all?  Now, these are friendly strangers, but M doesn't know this and if we don't teach her now, then who else will she go to?  We're patient and realize this will take time, but this is exactly why we will continue to be overprotective of her.

All troubles aside, we see some great things out of Madeleine.  Her second day home, she grabbed the spoon from us so she could feed herself; this from the child they said only took a bottle.  She plays well by herself, but has started to interact more with us and her toys.  She still doesn't say any words, but makes the "mmm" sound quite a bit, so I'm really gunning for Mama to be her first word.  I have learned that eye contact is a learned behavior and it is gradually improving for us.  She has started to hold our fingers at night and she's just recently taken notice of my hair, wanting to run her fingers through it -- all good signs she's coming around, we believe.

As I wrote last week, we typically only use social media for our best and brightest moments.  So from what I've posted - and from what some of you have experienced if you've visited - Madeleine appears to be a well-adjusted, happy little girl.  While she is a child and children aren't known for being excellent sleepers (I was, but not at the times my parents thought appropriate), M's insecurities and fears come out most at night.

We've spent the past 10 days trying to figure things out, making tweaks here and there.  Nightlight, no nightlight.  Sound machine, no sound machine.  Swaddling her, not swaddling her.  Shortening her nap.  Waking her up earlier.  Trying, trying so hard to put her to sleep later. Feeding her before bed.  Giving her a sippy cup before bed.  Reading one last book.

We think we may finally be onto something though. Typically, M would go down between 7-7:30 pm and without any trouble whatsoever.  Around 10-10:30, she would wake up and would be inconsolable.  We then spent the rest of the night - literally - with her crying and screaming, pushing us away yet wanting to be held.  It is maybe the saddest thing we've experienced, knowing that she -- a CHILD -- is clearly torn between two very different worlds.

What has worked is, of course, the very thing I was adamantly opposed to for so many reasons -- co-sleeping.  But it makes sense for her and for so many other children who have been adopted.  M is used to sleeping in a room with 14 or so other children.  There was always another presence in the room, even if it wasn't a nurturing one. We also believe that as she has started to attach to us little by little, that she craves more of that attention. It was almost as if once she fell asleep and woke back up, she felt that if she fell asleep again, we might not be there when she woke up.

Thankfully the three of us have compromised on the co-sleeping.  The pack and play in our bedroom didn't work and I didn't want to open the door to sleeping in our bed.  Sleeping on the pull-out couch in our guest bedroom/play room worked, sort of.  I wanted her to get used to her own bedroom, so voila:

Our new sleeping arrangements

We now have a terribly uncomfortable air mattress taking up all of M's room.  It's worked, guys.  I hate it, but it's worked.  M now goes down later than she did, but she doesn't wake up a few hours later.  Or if she does, she immediately sees that one of us is right there and she goes back to sleep, no fuss.  And she ends up sleeping a majority of the night.

Just don't ask me what our exit strategy is here, because I have no idea.  All I care about now is that the three of us can start to get some sleep.

Oh, and you'll also see above that M is the proud owner of a new chair.  I spent hours painting her rocking chair and discovered that it's not exactly the most comfortable chair, especially for rocking a screaming toddler for hours on end.

Now that you've muddled through the rough stuff with us, here are some happy pictures to end your reading:

Getting some supervision from Ellie.

Must. Have. All. The. Little. People.


Not sure about this...

One of my biggest concerns was that Madeleine wouldn't know how to play with toys.  Thankfully she jumped right in.  Her cell phone is her favorite toy and she has started to pretend with it, allowing us to pick up the phone and hand it to her so she can talk.  Grandma and Grandpa seem to call an awful lot.

Grandpa will be proud she loves her tractor.

M loves watching the laundry.

To those of you who sent us messages after my last post and for those of you who have dropped off food or sent a gift card to us, thank you.  You have no idea how much it means and how much your small gestures really have carried us.