So a month home under our belt... the time really does pass quickly even when days are hard. I'm realizing that depending on when you see me in a certain day, my answer can be all over the board as to how we are doing. Point and case, this morning? Terrible. After lunch? Awesome. Afternoon? ok Dinnertime? Nightmare. I'm beyond the point of replying "Fine" when someone asks how I'm doing.... I figure the more real I am, I get more prayer so it is a win-win to be honest, right? I say this everyday.... MS is leaps and bounds from where she was when we met her.... truly. But she still has a long way to go & it can be very hard on and off during the day.
If I had to sum up what I'm learning these days, it would be that I'm understanding more and more about little MS's "love tank" as I like to call it. Over the years, as I've come to understand the way God made each of my children, I know what it takes to fill up their love tank.... and when it is filled up, life is better for everyone. For example, when Rollins gets to go do something special with just Derek, it can reset his whole frame of mind and help him to have a sweet heart for a period of time. When I paint AR's fingernails, she tells me I'm the greatest mama ever and skips off singing.... content the rest of the day. With my biological kiddos, I've seen the correlation of when I really invest and spend time with them, it gives them a peace that I can actually see.... a peace that they are loved, valued, cherished and safe. It also results in some good behavior for a period of time. When I pour in, I know what the result will be.
So onto MS..... well, it appears there is a hole in her tank... and as soon as I pour in, it is already dripping out.... making it impossible to fill at this point if I slack off for even a moment. An example.... a few a days ago, I had an "I'm being a good mom" moment. ( I should know by now that the moment I think that, things generally begin to go awry.) But that day, I chose to forgo the errands and play on the floor with her while the others were at school. She laughed a ton, started doing a silly trick where I close my eyes then she does it, back and forth. (really cute!) We practiced walking (her favorite thing to do) .... all the while thinking that I was filling up her love tank so full that the afternoon would be great once the other kids were home... she would feel loved and secure and be ok sharing me with them, right? Wrong. That afternoon was worse than ever... like really bad... she was literally clinging to me and sobbing all afternoon and through dinner. That is when I began to realize how different she is right now from my other kids. She needs a continual pouring in.... it is more of a struggle to keep her filled up and feeling safe and secure. I can't let up for a moment in my fight to love her.... and her "filling up" involves my "emptying out"... that is especially hard on days when I am running on fumes. But I know that God is fighting for her and will heal all the broken places.... in His time, she will be whole... I have confidence in this.
I was talking about this whole leaking love tank with a friend and she reminded me of a david wilcox song on the topic. (An aside, but you know how their are songs that just take you back to a memory in such a real way? Well, this song was on a CD derek burned for me when we first started dating.... yes, he made me a "mix tape." Shortly after, he broke up with me and I'd hear that song and want to fall apart... mad & sad.... obviously we got married so it all worked out but the song continues to bring those emotions back) A few lyrics from that song to share with you:
I try so hard to please you
To be the love that fills you up
I try to pour on sweet affection,
But I think you got a broken cup.
Because you can't believe I love you
I try to tell you that there is no doubt,
But as soon as I fill you up with all I've got
That little break will let it run right out...
There's a break in the cup that holds love
inside of you...
We must go to the waterfall, For there's a break in the cup that holds love, Inside us all.
The more that I think about it, perhaps like this song says, there is a break in all of us on this side of heaven? (hmmmm, maybe that break in derek's cup made him break up with me... just a thought?) I'm processing even as I write but maybe the issue more lies in MS's ability to be filled up or receive the love that she needs in her cup. Sometimes it is as if she has a lid covering her cup, and try as I may, I cannot get her to receive the love I want to give her or that she needs. Point and case, most nights as I'm putting her to bed and I try to rock her and sing a sweet hymn to her about God's love.... what is her reaction? To do all in her power to get away from me and leap into her bed. She'd rather wrestle with her blankie & cry to get to sleep than let me help her to find rest. But then when I least expect it, she allows me to cuddle with her and sing as she did one night this past week. The thing is that I never know when she'll let me in and when she will keep me out so I just have to try all the time. I love how that last part says "we must go to the waterfall." I know that I need to continually be drinking in from God's word and communing with Him so that I even have anything to pour out... and to be honest, it is hard right now to find time to do that. I'm just so tired most of the time. I feel like this is a time in my life where God has been using friends to help me to drink from His waterfall.... whether it is lifting me up in prayer or sending me a bible verse... it is all working together to fill me up on the days that I am just surviving. So, whatever the issue is.... breaks in love cups.... lids nailed on tight... all I know is that she is unique and I'm sure it has something to do with having to wait 15 months to feel the love of Christ through a mama and daddy on this side of heaven.....
I've heard it from so many adoptive moms and couldn't agree more but it is just different parenting an adoptive child.... maybe one day it will look similar to my other kids but right now it doesn't.... and it is easy for outsiders to look in and question... bottles in the night at 20 months old (shout out to Robyn!)? Holding all the time? Giving in to fits? Formula at 2 years old? Sleeping in the bed with parents? Won't these all form bad habits or worse yet bad kids when a parent gives in to most of their whims? All I know is, these children have deep and real wounds even as young as MS is. Yes, there are times she acts out because she is 17 months old but there are times she acts out because she has a wounded soul and you can see it in her eyes. For now, I will approach parenting her in a unique way and continually ask God for wisdom as He uses me and derek to bring healing to her little soul. Again I know that God is fighting for her and will heal all the broken places.... in His time, she will be whole... I have confidence in this.
I don't want you to think it is all craziness and hard here.... I just find I like to share on the blog the bigger picture things I am learning on this journey. But let me also add that she is such a joy and I love her more each day! There is laughter, smiles & new surprises each day. Her personality continues to come out as I see her be silly, goofy, fiesty and strong-willed. And I find my love growing more at times when I wouldn't expect it. Like after cleaning her from being covered in vomit today.... I looked over at her and couldn't believe how adorable she was.... couldn't believe that she was real.... and she was really mine.... who would have thought that cleaning up throw up could make you love a child even more? Every day, I hear Derek at least once declare "man I am so glad she is ours!"
She has also started being really proud of herself when she does new things.... for example, she cruised for the first time around this table that plays music.... she made her first loop and then looked up at me and smiled so huge like "I did it!" and she continued to do that about 25 more times.... smiling at me after each loop. She is learning to communicate somewhat as well. Today, she picked up a dice laying on the floor, looked at me, started to put it in her mouth, looked at me again and then shook her head "no" & smiled. She knew what I was about to tell her. And the best yet was today, as I was holding her.... she cocked her head around to look in my eyes and totally unprompted, came at me with an open mouth to kiss me.... so there is plenty of sweetness to make the screaming bearable, don't worry.
A frequent question I get is "how are the other kiddos doing?" and a general answer is really well. Rollins and AR love her to pieces. Everyday, I hear AR scream "Isn't she the cutest baby ever? Even cuter than Henry! And she is so soft." Henry means well but he is just so huge & rough that a hug from him can turn into him laying on top of her and her gasping for air. He has also entered a "hold you" phase.... He sees me holding her so much that he wants to have a turn. One day this week, I was literally walking around the house with him in one arm and her in the other on and off the whole day. Keep in mind that is about 50 lbs together... so if you wonder where I got my bulging biceps now you will know.... I can promise you that I have no time for the gym so these guys will be my workout for now! Oh and the whole time I'm holding them.... Henry is snuggling on my shoulder and MS is SCREAMING and trying to get him off of me. It is quite the sight.
Onto some medical updates... we had the appointment with the orthopedic doctor and really liked him. Her hip is out of socket, which we already knew. Easy diagnosis but not quite as quick and easy to fix. We are planning on fixing her hip at the end of June. This will involve putting her to sleep.... First, he will see if he can pull it down and pop it back in (which he thinks is unlikely given her age and how long it has had to kind of firm up out of place)... second, he will cut her open and put the ball back in the socket surgically. Once he sees how it all fits together, there could be some tweaking (i.e. shaving some of the femur) to make sure it is a good fit and there is good blood flow to the ball.... and the most exciting part of it all? 3 MONTHS IN A BODY CAST!!!!!! I was not totally prepared for that amount of time!! It honestly sounds overwhelming and miserable to picture a summer in a body cast so I may have to pretend it is not going to happen until the day before. Denial can be a good coping mechanism, right? I asked about waiting until september when the other kids could have school while I am tending to her but that is not a good option. The longer we wait, we risk her socket not forming correctly around the ball and having a potential 2nd surgery. The ideal would be to do it today but for attachment reasons, we don't want her in a hard body cast this soon after getting her.... skin to skin contact is really important at this stage in the game. So there you have it.... another adventure on the horizon... one where I will need your prayer some more. Oh and the no new is good news about her skull size.... haven't heard anything so think we are in the clear that all is well with her misshapped head. PTL for long hair on girls to cover up some imperfections! Another praise... no parasites so we are done collecting poop! Yippee!
One month gone.... can't wait to see what the month ahead holds. I'll check back in a couple of weeks after we have our follow-up appointment at the International Adoption Clinic. A few recent photos to enjoy:
Love this photo of the babies eating lunch... Henry wore those goggles all day.
With Pops. The only other person she has willingly gone to!
love this look on her face:
Attempt at a photo of the 4 kiddos:
We kind of laughed about this. 5 weeks ago, in an orphanage.... today in a smocked dress, riding a golf cart after lunch at the country club. My how life has changed!
With her cousin. She let her hold her for 2 seconds :)
Egg Hunt with cousins: