So, part 2. I didn't want to leave you too long without the conclusion of this post... lest you think I'm drowning in life.... this will end good, I promise.... But here is your warning: even though I broke it into 2, there are still many many words in my head waiting to spill out.... so I'm about to put your endurance to the test.
With our 5 month mark of having MS coming up in a couple of days, I wanted to give you a little update on what MS is up to in addition to what we are learning. I honestly can't believe it has been 5 months.... right now I tend to think of life as "Before MS and Post MS" because it has changed our family dynamic so very much. I had a good laugh to myself that PMS is the perfect abbreviation for the past 5 months.
The past couple of weeks, she has started doing this swirling motion with her body. It is quite bizarre to watch as she does it so fast over and over and move her body in what little excess space there is in the cast. I don't know why it hadn't dawned on me before but I finally thought, I bet that is her way of scratching. I KNOW she has to be itchy under that cast... I've found her shoving toys in it to scratch as well. And sweet thing, anytime I ask her if she wants me to scratch her back, she screams "YEA!" She will lay perfectly still as I shove my hand down her cast and rub all around. And if I stop, she lifts that little head up and says "MORE!" This itching is probably adding to her feistiness. Fast forward a week..... we went for an orthopedic check up and he said it was time for a new cast. Music to my ears. (And he did compliment me on my cast care, thank you very much!) So a week ago, she went in and had the cast changed under anesthesia. The doctor pulled at her leg a bit when the first cast came off and said it felt great and secure. So on went cast #2 (a crazy tie dye color that I let the kids pick... what was I thinking???)..... when she came back half a leg was showing!! I've never been so happy to touch and squeeze a little leg as I was at that moment. But when I saw the leg I realized that the itching was for sure the problem.... I have never seen skin like that in my life!!
|MS's dry skin.|
I scrubbed it with warm water and a rag when we got home and MS was beaming all the while. 5 more weeks and we can give her a bath like she has never had before!! It took a few days for her to get moving again with the new cast but now she is fast as lightening.... crawling, pulling up, walking with assistance.... she is a fiercely determined little thing.
They were able to do a waterproof cast this go round. I'll be able to submerge her about 2 times a week now!! Oh happy days! She has had one bath and was giggling with sheer joy as I poured cup after cup down her cast. We are headed to a pool soon! Now to figure out how to secure a swim diaper so we don't shut down the pool when we go....
She is continuing to pick up words left and right.... pretzel, nose, pop, diaper, poo poo, tee tee (courtesy of her siblings), tweet tweet, etc and she has even put 2 words together saying "bye bye dada" when derek leaves for work. She likes to request certain songs in the car...... her favorite one she calls "hey yea yea." She can literally understand every single thing we say! It is amazing how fast these girls adapt to a new language. And she can dance and flail around in that body cast like no one else. She will even bop her body up and down in it which results in a sort of suction forming and then a noise coming out that sounds like it originated somewhere else..... in public i feel the need to say to anyone around me "that was the body cast".... I hope that they believe me.
A week after MS's procedure, Henry joined in the fun & had surgery to get his "bubble" out that was in his ocular cavity. He was so sweet & compliant during every minute of his time in the hospital and never shed a tear. He really is about the sweetest and happiest kid God ever made... and thankfully it was 100% a dermoid cyst. Back when we didn't know what that bump was, I actually had the thought that perhaps it was a rare tumor that somehow kills all of your mean personality cells and that is why he is so sweet..... I know, totally ridiculous but I really thought it.... he is just that sweet. When MS is in another room crying... he will take off running to her and screaming "i comin Mei Sims"... even though he is usually the last thing she wants to see at that moment. They really are like a little old couple and I love seeing their relationship grow. When we brought her to recovery to see Henry, she patted him so gently and leaned in to hug him. She knows when he needs some lovin.
|Just after waking up from surgery.|
|H the next morning. He woke up and said "mommy, my booboo is all better."|
As for the daily screaming....I know that this situation is unique because of her cast. Once the cast is off, I'll really think she is going to be a new person. But for the time being, I have reverted back to holding her as much as I possibly can. It just makes everyone happier. I'm calmer because I'm not getting frustrated with her. She is happier for obvious reasons. And the other kids are thankful to not hear her screams. It is a win-win for everyone except my bruised hip and aching arms.
I'm happy to report that after 3 weeks of holding, she truly seems to have turned a corner in the past few days. It is so rewarding to see her make these baby steps of progress. This week for the first time, she played with my niece for an hour while I was in the other room.... my mom and niece babysat her and she never screamed once... she has been much more content to get on the ground and play with the other kids.... and she has finally let a few of my best friends hold her and has loved on them. This was HUGE to say the least as she has generally hated everyone else. Derek and I both noticed that midweek, something in her changed....she seems happier and is simply been having more fun.... her joy doesn't seem to leave the moment I put her down. Moments like that give me so much hope about her future.... and my future for that matter.... the bruises on my hips will fade, my arms will be cut rather than sore (ha!)... but most importantly, I can see her heart & wounds being healed as evidenced by her ability to now relax and trust us enough to venture off a bit.
|MS with her cousin!|
A few more ramblings from these past few weeks....
For anyone who has had a newborn.... you know that feeling when you get home from the hospital and you think "Oh no! What the heck am I supposed to do now? How did they let me leave with the little life?"..... even after 3 kids, the first adoption can put you right back into that "new parent" feeling where parenting seems all new and a bit scary.... the "wisdom" that I have gleaned from raising 3 so far is often the wrong place to draw from when parenting MS.... because parenting an adoptive child can be different, the way I normally parent doesn't always work. Prime example is the night screaming. I would go to bed each night vowing to be the sweetest mama ever and praying for Jesus to fill me with patience and sweetness that i knew I couldn't muster up on my own..... but I have to say that after an hour of blood curdling screams, something hits the proverbial fan.... and it becomes CC vs AA (crazy causasian vs. angry asian). Now with my bio kids, this matchup would last one round and I would win. I'd simply shut the door, turn off the monitor..... end of story. They would get the idea after 2-3 nights and battle would be over. I have been through this at various times with all 3 other kiddos.
With MS, round 1, 2, 3, 4, 500 will all be won by the AA. I don't even have a shot.... and believe me this all seems and feels so contrary to what my parenting brain knows..... but I have to remember where she came from...... for the first 15 months of life, every time she cried in the night NO ONE ANSWERED! And I cringe to think that if they did it could have been with some sort of brute force. (I recently read an account of a chinese orphanage, where nannies would get frustrated in the night with the fussing babies and go by and slap them to be quiet. If I am her mama and love her with all my heart and struggle with anger in the wee hours of the night... how much more would a nanny?? especially in a country where she maybe didn't even get to choose for that to be her job? It is a terrible thought but I have to remember that I do not know her history).
So every time she cries out, I respond. She needs to know that I am there always. We are trying everything.... sleeping with us, beside us, light on, light off, and so on.... Our most recent solution is to have her crib butted up against my side of the bed so that I can sleep with my arm in her crib with her. Some nights, she screams and I don't even have to say anything but simply put my arm where she can feel it and then all is well in her world. I said to my social worker last week "I feel like she is manipulating me!" And her response "she is! But at least she now has someone to manipulate!"
As tiring as this can be, this is actually a great sign for attachment. The first few months home, she slept like a rock because she had been trained to do so.... now that she has formed a true bond with us (rather than the trauma bond from the early days), she calls out in the night because she wants us and knows that when she does so, someone WILL answer..... so vastly different from her first year of life.... so we will press on. I have to say that I am so thankful God allowed time for me to grow to deeply love her before we were going through this because it would have been much harder for me to deal with this a couple of months ago. Another reminder to me that God is sovereign and knows when I am ready for each "curve ball" He throws my way.
Let me add, lest you get too worried about me... on the heels of utter exhaustion, I got a call from another adoptive mom/friend.... the heavens may as well have parted and angels begun singing as I heard her say "I have a hotel room for tomorrow night. Want to come spend the night?" YES!!! So armed with a book and a sleeping pill I had a much needed night of sleep. And shockingly enough, MS slept through the night that night... and the one after! I know God will provide rest when I need it so I just have to remind myself of that. Just as her fits have gotten better this week, her night sleep has vastly improved. She calls out some but it has been amazingly easier to get her back to sleep... I feel like a new person & it seems as if she does as well. Interestingly enough, I started this post last week while we were still in the weeds. I didn't have a peace about posting it yet .... as if God wasn't finished writing this part of the story. And in just a short week, I now see out of the craziness and can see His hand in it all... the feeling of being stuck has left and replaced with joy and peace.... even amid some lingering screams.
|Playing at the water table at the local science center. She was drenched by the end of it.|
I'm quick to acknowledge that all I'm dealing with here are screams, lack of sleep & a body cast. I fully realize it could be much worse..... just one look around the waiting room at children's hospital reminds me of that. While that keeps things in perspective..... I think that if I find comfort in the fact that other people have a harder situation than I do, the comfort will be short-lived.... rather I choose to find comfort in Jesus..... My savior who perfectly ordains my life.... every single detail of every single situation filtered into my life because of His lovingkindness. And yes some seasons will feel heavier, some will fill lighter but all will have Hope because of Jesus.... so for right now, I choose to find comfort and rest in Jesus..... and an occasional frappuccino.
5 months in, would I do this all over again? ABSOLUTELY, it is worth every bit of sweat and tears. It is worth every night of lost sleep. It is worth every aching muscle. It is worth every wrinkle or gray hair I might earn. We are in love with MS and she adds such joy to our family. When I try and think of life without her, yes, it might be easier but we'd be missing out the rich gift that adoption is....adoption has transformed MS's life but I would say that it has transformed mine & Derek's even more.
Ok, ending with another song for the journey. It's called "I'm getting ready" & I'm sure the meaning of it has nothing to do with what I'm drawing from it. But a sampling of the lyrics are:
Something about this just gets me..... I didn't know what it meant to really believe and trust God when I started this path. I thought I did but looking back I didn't. I didn't know how hard it would be. I thought I had an idea but I didn't. I'm holding on tight to Jesus, trusting Him to take care of all of this. All the while, its getting easier to trust in Him and His ability to get me through whatever twist or turn comes next....
Whew... I'm tired, how about you?