Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Home for 10 days

It is hard to believe we have been home for 10 days.
It seems like we just got here and yet it seems like we have been through so much together.
First of all I have to say that it is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced and I still feel like it can’t be real. I have gotten very used to calling myself Mama and I really like the sound of it.
I also have to say that it is the most frustrating thing I have experienced. The frustrations all come from me—Hannah is great. I feel frustrated when I can’t understand what she wants or needs, I feel frustrated when I don’t know what to do (which is often) and I feel frustrated when I can’t seem to comfort her the way I would like to. I do think that I am a good Mom but I already wish I could be better.

We have done quite a few things for only 10 days and she is adapting well into my life and I hope she feels I am adjusting to her just as well.
She has had a few visitors—mostly family and a few friends. She warms up slowly to men but quicker to women and even quicker to children. She seems delighted to have some one to play with besides just Mom but she clearly seems to know that she stays with me.
She loves to have me around her and wants me to follow her everywhere, even into the next room to retrieve something. She doesn’t necessarily want me to do anything with her but just be there.
She is generally a very happy girl, enjoys everything, and never seems too frustrated when I can’t understand her. She understands me pretty well now but is not talking in English yet. She chatters and sings in Russian and I wish I knew what she was saying. She can sing the alphabet song if she does it with some one. She loves to play with baby dolls and her kitchen and carries her “purse” with her most places. She also loves to have her hair done and likes to do mine—she is all girl.
She has been out to dinner a few times, to bagels and coffee in the morning with the girls, and to church—she did well in all those settings.
She has also been to the swimming pool and has gone cross country skiing with her cousins—she was cautious of the pool at first but once her 8 year old cousin convinced her to go in, she loved it and cross country skiing was a hit from the start—she cried when I took her ski boots off.
I have seen little fits (tantrums) but they subside pretty quickly with “time ins” after which she repeats “I’m sorry Mama”, gives me a kiss, smiles, and goes right back to playing.
She is not very cuddly and does not like to snuggle with me (except at night) but we do get lots of good eye contact—she has really improved in that area. She freely gives me kisses but is not so quick to hug—I mostly get my hugs from games we play.
She is very smart though—she knows that I love the hugs and kisses so whenever I catch her doing something she shouldn’t be doing—she flashes her big smile and runs over to give me a hug and a kiss. How can I be mad then?

We are still trying to figure out the bedtime and naptime routine—that is the only hard thing we are going through right now. For the time in Russia and almost the first week here at home bedtimes were easy and fun. I would get her pajamas and she would be excited to put them on, we would get ready for bed, I would lay her in bed, read 3 books, say prayers, and she would then fall right to sleep while I laid with her. It was heavenly—at least for me.
On Sunday that all changed. She put up a big fuss crying and kicking when it was time for her nap and has continued that for all bedtimes since. The next day she still cried but would quiet fairly rapidly and then cling to me, not letting me put her down in bed but falling to sleep in my arms—it took a while. Now today she started screaming as soon as she saw her pajamas, cried all the way through prayers, but then quieted down nicely in my arms. Once calm she did lie down in bed but took over an hour to get to sleep.
I am not sure why this is changing but some theories are:
--she has realized that she can assert her authority for the first time without bad consequences and is doing so in a big way.
--she is very comfortable and having fun and just doesn’t want to go to sleep (bed)
--she is scared for some reason.
I think and I hope that it is the first reason. I have remained consistent in that once I start the bed time routine I do not quit and let her be up any more no matter how much she protests. I think she needs to know that I will carry through and not give in to crying. I also stay with her until she is asleep—I just feel she had enough time going to sleep on her own with no one to comfort her and I want her to know that I will always be there when she needs me. Also, it helps my bonding to be able to comfort her.

My journey to Hannah was long and difficult. I still don’t have any great insight as to why it has to be that way but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I certainly can’t imagine any different ending. I simply can not fathom Hannah and me not being together. It is the perfect ending to my long journey.

My adoption song is just as fitting as I thought it would be.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Home at last

Just wanted to update everyone that I am now home. the trip went well except for one minor (haha) little incident--will explain later. This is a long message as a lot happened since I last wrote.

The flight from Krasnoyarsk was good but delayed. Nothing was announced in English so I wasn't sure what was going on and I almost got on the wrong plane because it was boarding at the time that mine was supposed to--good thing that the ticket takers check that as you go through or who know where I would have been. So I was afraid to miss my plane and I went to wait near the gate but two old Russians ladies scolded me for having Hannah there--it was too close to the door and thus too cold for kids--so I went and waited where they told me to which was much farther away.
This put me at the back of the line when boarding started. We have to go outside on the tarmac to board and everyone was crowded around the plane and we were at the back of the crowd. It was at least 30 below zero this morning. One man saw me and started shouting in Russian. I did not know what he was shouting but pretty soon the whole crowd was shouting and the people just parted and Hannah and I were pushed up to the front for getting on the plane--apparently he was shouting something about a child and it being too cold so we got to go first. Unfortunately Hannah decided at that time she didn't want to go and she sat down. I couldn't lift her and handle my carry on luggage so some nice man took my luggage and I took Hannah. They are very protective of their children. It's pretty cool.
Hannah was perfect on the plane ride--she only slept a little but traveled well--stayed in her seat the whole time and even kept her seatbelt on.

My time in Moscow was really good. I did not like the city on my way through when I arrived but I think I was just over tired from the travel because I really enjoyed it this time (except for how expensive everything was).
The day we arrived we had to go right to a Russian Doctor that works for embassy for Hannah's medical appt. She passed with flying colors. the Doctor said that he thought she must have been a favorite at the orphanage because she did not look or act like a typical orphanage kid--meaning that she was normal size, looked healthy, and wasn't afraid of him. He did tell me to expect one big problem as she grew older--keeping the boys away. HaHa. She also had her Visa picture taken that day. We just spent the afternoon at the hotel that day so that I could rest up--Hannah didn't seem tired by the long travel but I was.
The next day was totally free so we didn't do much again. The agency lent me a stroller so I just walked all over the place around my hotel to check things out. We were out for about 2 and a half hours walking around (with Hannah in the stroller). Little did I realize at the time that I was so close to the major attractions. To me it felt warm after Krasnoyarsk but I felt bad when we got back to the hotel because Hannah was really chilled--I dressed her warm and she sat on my lap for about 30 minutes wrapped in a blanket before she wanted to get down and play--the Russian women would not have been impressed with me that day!
Friday the agency took me on a site seeing tour--to Red Square and St. Basils and Christ the King Cathedral--Everything was gorgeous. Only then did I realize that when I was out walking the day before I had come only one block away from Red Square without knowing it. They also took me to a hill overlooking the whole city which was pretty awesome. I asked about the Kremlin and they said we didn't have time to go in there so I was bummed about that. We went to the Embassy where I got all the papers needed for Hannah to immigrate to the US and that all went very smoothly also. We were done by 3pm so I decided that I wasn't going to be in Moscow and miss the Kremlin so I put Hannah in the stroller and we went on our own--it was walkable from my hotel--while I didn't spend a lot of time there I was so glad that I went--it is pretty awesome.
As I was walking around there I was thinking--"Here I am, pushing MY daughter in a stroller through Red Square and inside the Kremlin--I could never have imagined this and yet it's reality--so amazing".

We left the next morning at 4am from the hotel. While waiting for the plane in Moscow I met another couple that had been to a different region to adopt their child and were returning home. they had the exact flights as me up until Chicago--then I went to MSP and they went onto St. Louis. It was great to meet them and have some one else to navigate the airports with me--they were really nice and a great help.
the first leg of the flight to Frankfurt was uneventful.
Then--I had to go through security in Frankfurt which was quite eventful.
To back up, I had bought a Faberge Egg in Moscow and it was in my carry on bag--big mistake. When my case went through the x-ray scanner, it stopped and was never brought out. They found out it was my bag and they closed all the security lines in that vicinity and diverted all the other passengers to other checkpoints. They took Hannah and I into a small room and roped off the area and questioned me about the contents of my bag. I eventually remembered the egg and found out they thought it looked like a granede on the x-ray machine. We had to wait until a bomb squad came and denoted my egg. I was very nervous and actually started crying because it was getting so close to my flight leaving--I was envisioning being stuck in Germany. When they finally let me through I went right to the gate and onto the plane as there was no time to spare. Fortunately all turned out well and I can laugh about it now but it was not funny at the time. At least I know they are hard at work keeping America safe!
The rest of the flight was very uneventful and we arrived home as planned. Hannah slept very little but traveled like a gem. Many strangers commented about how cute she was and how good she was on that long flight.

My sister Kathy picked my up with my car and drove us home which was a good thing as I was in no shape to drive at that point. My mom and my brother and sister in law (Dave and Pat) were there also to greet us. It was really nice--they had balloons and flowers. If Hannah and I hadn't both been so tired, it would have been nice to stay and visit with them for a while but all I could think about was getting home. Hannah cried after I put her in her carseat and closed the door. I think it was because I closed the door and the rest of us were all outside and she got scared so I had to say very quick good-byes and get in the car. It took her a little while to settle down and realize that I was going with her. Being over tired didn't help.
Hannah slept the ride home but was very excited when we got in the house and she saw all her new things. She ran from thing to thing and was having a good time. It was so cute to see her playing with her kiechen and her dolls--she knew exactly what to do. She also took to my sister Kathy right away and was playing with her and talking in Russian to her--Hannah was obviously directing her play. I am sure she was glad for a new face after being sequestered in a plane with Mama for over 20 hours!

Hannah is still on Russian time and woke up at 3am. She was ready to play but Mama wasn't. I ended up falling back asleep in her bed while she played in her room and slept for 2 more hous--she was still playing. She then slept for 6 hours this afternoon. She has been just a delight this evening--alternating between entertaining herself and wanting Mama to play. We are having fun. I am hoping to get her to sleep through more of the night tonight--we'll see.

Thus ends my journey to getting my daughter home and begins my journey of being Mama!!

Here is a message from Hannah. jcrtgkvtr8uhn675ihh7nio i6uy i6yiui5--that means hello everyone.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Moscow--on our last leg before home

I am in Moscow. My internet time here is not free so this will be short.
The flight was okay--Hannah tolerated it pretty well and slept for a short time.
When we arrived we went directly to the Doctor that works for the embassy and he declared Hannah healthy.
then onto her picture for immigrant visa and then finally to the hotel.
we arrived at the hotel at 11:30am but because of the time change we had already been up for 12 hours so it was a long day. We just hung out at the hotel and I splurged with room service so we didn't have to go anywhere.
when I put her down for a nap at 1:30 we both slept and then I work her up at 4--I think she felt like it was night time but I didn't want her to be awake all night so I got her up.
She did well. She is changing daily--she is the not the totally shy and quiet girl that she used to be. She is more comfortable around strangers and is more talkative in public and very talkative in our room. She definitely has found her voice and she is quite a little director. I can't tell you how many times I heard "MaMa" today and sometimes it was quite demanding--but it is still music to my ears. She just keeps getting cuter.
It is very hard to take pictures of her when no one else is around--she will not hold still for me. pictures today.
We have a totally free day tomorrow while the embassy processes our paperwok and then a busy day on Friday--tour of Moscow and Embassy appt on Friday.
The Home Saturday. Yeah!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weekend update

Silly girl

reading to her animals she has lined up in the corner

at the restaurant

I'm writing this at 1:30pm on Monday.
Hannah is napping so Mama gets some computer time.

Sunday was another great day--we did really well together and spent most of the day in the hotel room except for going out to eat. It was just Hannah and I for lunch at the hotel cafe. Once again she ate some of my food but not what I thought she would eat. Then supper was out to a restaurant with Craig and Janet. I ordered chicken and rice and some fruit--thank goodness I ordered fruit because that is all she would eat.--oh and some ice cream for dessert.
Bedtimes have been easy but not without tears--she cries for about one minute when I tell her its time for bed but is stopped by the time I get her there. She listens to me read the only three books that I brought and then she goes to sleep with her animal in her hand and her thumb in her mouth--it is so sweet. She does the same at naptime but falls asleep almost instantly then.
This morning we went to the hotel buffett for breakfast and she finally ate some protein--one and a half boiled eggs, three chicken meatballs, two pieces of cheese, and some bread with jelly. That is definitely the most she has eaten at one setting.
She is talking to me quite a bit but I don't understand most of it. She still clams up when strangers are around which I think is a good thing. She is definitely more comfortable as she was yelling in the hotel hallway today. That is the first time I have heard her be loud in public. She listens pretty well though when I tell her not to do something or to do something--sometimes she says no first but she usually does it.
Today we are going out to get her passport with her new name. It is minus 31 degrees so that will be our only outing today.
I haven't talked much about her name. She was called Rah-ya at the orphanage and answers to that but she also knows her name of Hannah. I have been calling her Hannah all the time because that is just how I think of her and she definitely knows it so that transition is going well too.
sleeping and eating are our big events--between those times Hannah plays--sometimes with me and sometimes without me. She is always busy and is very busy--she knows which things are hers and which are Mama's and she leaves mine alone. When we play together we read books, color, or I just follow her around. I have tried to do some more physical stuff like chase her and grab her, toss her around, lift her up and down, dance and sing or yell (she is so quiet)--she laughs at first but it seems that as soon as she realizes we are both having fun she wants me to stop so it never lasts for very long. I did have a kids movie in my laptop this am and she started out sitting by me and gradually wound up laying beside me with her head leaning on my stomach and kind of snuggled in--that was the same thing, once she realized how comfortable she was up against Mama she moved. The only time she stays snuggled into me is when she is asleep so I enjoy it then.
In many ways I am anxious to get home but in some ways I am enjoying these days of just her and me without any outside distractions.