Friday, March 26, 2010

eyesight--check, hearing--check

When I got the medical information from Russia it stated that my daughter had slight vision problems.
Today she had an assessment done by a pediatric opthalmologist and got a very good eval--20/20 vision and perfect beautiful eyes. Yes--that is what he really said but I already knew the beautiful part.
Also had a screening by a pediatric audiologist and they said her hearing is perfect too.
Earlier this week she saw a dentist and got a great report there too.
I didn't really need to have a panel of doctors tell me that Hannah is perfect but it is niced to know they agree with me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Home 6 weeks now

Home for six weeks--it seems like such a short time and like its been forever. We have had so much to do and so much free time also.
We have been to two doctors, a dentist, visited family, had visitors, gone to parties, visited daycares and choose one, and had lots of fun times at home and at the park. I have had some serious dental work done so have had to leave Hannah with a friend twice now. I really hadn't wanted to do that so soon but I couldn't have her at the dentist with me when I was getting crowns so it happened. It actually went very well. My friend came to my house, Hannah did really well with her, and was happy to see me when I got home.
I was just looking at pictures of when I first met her and it is amazing how much bigger and brighter she looks now. She is so much more animated than at the orphanage. My mom visited the first day we were home and then was just back this week. I asked her if she noticed any differences and she said, "Well she is much more smiley and comfortable now".

I have seen really good growth in the bonding and getting to know each other.
She sat on my lap in Russia but I think it was because she thought she didn't have a choice--when we got home she did not want to do that anymore. She also didn't like me to read books to her and if I did she just sat beside me. Today she brought me a book to read and then climbed up on my lap. She sat there on my lap through the whole book. I was so happy.
She has never gotten out of bed until I have gone in and told her that she could. We cosleep at night so I am always there in the morning but for her naps I would check on her very often so that I didn't leave her laying in there for long. This past week she has started calling for me when she wakes up. She has come to trust that I am there even when she can not see me--she knows that I am out there and will come when she calls.
This morning we walked to the park. After about an hour of playing Hannah told me she was cold. I asked her if she wanted to go home and she said yes. So she started off towards home. After we had taken a few steps I felt this little hand reaching for mine and she held my hand all the way home. For any other 4 year old this may sound like just an ordinary morning but I was excited about many things. first of all she told me that she was cold--she knows she can tell me her needs. Second she wanted to go home and knew exactly where home was. And third she reached for my hand and kept holding it. This was especially big for me because I usually have to tell her that she must hold my hand and I certainly have always had to initiate it so that felt pretty cool.
This afternoon she found a packet of pictures and wanted to look at them. It happened to be pictures of her during my first trip so they were all at the orphanage. We were about half way through looking at them when she all of a sudden turned to me and wrapped her arms very tightly around my neck and held on--I don't know if she was saying "Thank you" or "Don't make me go back" but her face looked very happy so I took it as a Thank you. I just held her and told her I loved her. She then said, "I love you" back to me. I got quite a few hugs over the next few minutes. It really felt good.
Naps and bedtimes have become quite easy and fun lately which I love. I think it is partly because I can read her signals better now. She falls asleep in my arms and I hate to put her down.
I know that every day won't be quite this good but we are definitely moving in the right direction.
I am still waiting for the day that she can speak English and actually tell me what she is thinking.

Go back about three posts and you can see I had some trying moments also. One thing I did after that that has really helped is to tell all my friends and family to always redirect Hannah to me. She would often prefer to go to others when they were around so I asked them to not do anything for her but to redirect her to me. If she wants something to eat they say, "Ask your mom" or if she needs help they say, "Ask Mom to help", if she want to hold their hand when outside they say, "Hold onto Mom's hand". Even if she wants them to play with her they say, "Let's ask Mom if we can play now". I saw the difference in just one day of doing this--it really helped her to learn that I was the one she needed to go to for all things. It was awkward to ask people to do this at first but when I saw how much it helped I was so glad I did.

The love was definitely there from the very first day but this bonding--the feeling that we absolutely know each other and fit together and can trust each other--is also a process for the new mother. I am getting to know Hannah just as she is getting to know me and every day I feel more (I can't even think of the right word so I can only say "more").

I hate that I only have three more weeks off work but the truth is that I have to survive so back to work I go. It is another transition that Hannah and I will have to go through but I feel that we have started a solid enough relationship to get through it together.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beautiful Day

Was up to 60 degrees here today and we made the most of it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Healthy Girl

I took Hannah to an International Adoption Clinic yesterday and got a great report. Actually they were just able to confirm what I already know. Hannah is very healthy with no obvious problems. She has no indications of malnutrition and the doctor confirmed that she looks like she has been very well cared for. She is almost 50% for both height and weight and they told me to expect her to grow more.
Developmentally she is doing well also--there are a few gaps with some knowledge but they suspect that is due to lack of exposure. Her fine motor and gross motor skills are good.
She was so good through the whole visit and did not even make a sound during her ppd test--just put her mouth in an O shape when the needle went in. She was very cooperative with everything they wanted her to do but she was totally quiet--she did not utter a word until her and I were in the room alone.
The doctor noticed signs of attachment to me developing but gave me tips for continuing to work on that. Again it was things that I already know but was good to hear it from a professional. Attachment and bonding are the most important things to work on now and everything else should come after that.
The tips they gave me go along with what I have read and are many things that I am doing already so that was good to hear. I will list them here just in case they can help anyone else as I know that I have learned so much from other blogs.
Keep your world boring and routine as much as possible
Do not go on trips unless you have to and try to only do day trips--it is best if she only sleeps in her own home for the first 6 months. I already missed on this one but don’t have any more overnight travel planned for a long time.
Do not let anyone else hold her, feed her, dress her, comfort her, or meet any of her needs--ideally for at least 6 months
If other people are around , they always need to redirect her to Mom if she wants or needs anything
They were very happy that I was co sleeping and recommend that for as long as we both are okay with it.
Keep the bedtime routines very consistent--this I have been good at and tonight when I told her it was time for bed, she started the ritual so I think it is working.
Make a picture chart of the schedule for the day so she can see what is coming up
Work on simple education for now--letters, shapes, counting, using scissors, etc.
Do not get involved in any outside activities for a few months--it is too much right now to introduce coaches, teachers, other mom’s yet.
As a single mom I do have to return to work and have Hannah attend daycare-that will start in one month.
Their suggestions were to slowly transition to that--stay with her the first couple days, etc. They also emphasize the importance of getting there on time to pick her and never let her be the last kid picked up for the day--it may make her feel like she is being left. They also recommended having a picture of me in her cubby at daycare and that I try to go with when they have field trips at first. The other important thing is to make sure the day care provider fully understands that Hannah does have appropriate stranger or situation fear and she will need to be watched very closely.
In three months we will go back and that time will also see the International child Psychologist to assess bonding. They said that after watching us they expect it to be going good but if it has not progressed, they will give me some specific exercises to work on it.
I have to brag and include that the doctor told me that the referral pictures she got of Hannah were the cutest she has ever seen. Of course I think so but it was very nice to hear.
My sister lives near the clinic and I had planned to stay and visit her for the weekend but the doctor really confirmed that we should go home to our own house so we did.

The appt and the report were both very good. Hannah and I are doing great. The interesting thing is that when I tell my friends and family (that aren’t involved in adoption) the suggestions of the doctor they respond like it means something is wrong. I get responses like “ I am sure that everything will work itself out”, “ You and Hannah will get used to each other and find your groove”, “We are certainly praying for you” “Just hang in there--it will all come”. I know they mean only the best but I want to shout--”Nothing is wrong, this is normal for International Adoption and we are doing great already.” but I don’t (except to my closest friends). Instead I just say “thanks”.

We had a great day today and a great bedtime tonight. I am having a really good spell right now which makes me extremely happy. I have also managed to actually feel calm throughout the bedtime routine even if Hannah isn’t and that seems to help her get calm quicker.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post--the support and suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Warning--crying may occur when reading this

I will update on Hannah first as that is probably what everyone wants to hear about but then will talk about myself--afterall this is really a blog about my journey. Most of Hannah's story is hers to tell when she is ready.

Hannah is doing very well--her time clock has totally adjusted with her sleeping about 9 hours at night and then a 1.5 hour nap in the early afternoon. She has skipped her nap a couple days but does better with it. the sleeping difficulties seems to be working themselves out. She doesn't cry very much at all anymore and sometimes still takes a long time to go to sleep but sometimes she falls right to sleep. I can't complain about that.
She is understanding a lot of English that I speak and repeats many words that I say but isn't talking on her own in English yet. She can count to 10 and actually counts objects correctly and she can sing the alphabet song but she does not recognize the letters by sight yet and is still having trouble with colors. She can be very animated and playful and is a lot of fun to be with.

Hannah truly is the light of my life and when I look at her I can't believe the feelings of love I have--she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I still can't believe I am her mother. good as it sounds all is not perfect all the time. Just a note to keep perspective--I am writing this after a particular trying day but we have had several perfect days also. I knew there would be many changes in my life when Hannah came and I prepared for many of them and certainly welcomed them. What has taken me surprise and what no one warned me about is how fragile my own feelings would be. I feel like an emotional wreck. I am not a crying person but have cried more than my share these last couple days.
When my friends or family visit or I visit them, Hannah would rather go with anyone else than me for playing, holding hands on the street, sitting by in church, etc. She loved my sister and I really want her to have a great relationship with my sister but it still hurt when she would repeatedly want her for fun things over me. I logically know this can be normal (especially for chldren from an orphanage) and I have even seen my own nieces and nephews do it when they were with me and asked their mom to leave. Despite having this knowledge I feel so deeply hurt by it and I can't seem to stop that feeling. Then I feel guilty because I am thinking of myself and I should be thinking of Hannah and what her needs are right now. It is all so confusing.
The other thing that is hard is that Hannah gets over everything so fast--as soon as she is done crying or whatever she acts as if nothing ever happened and wants to go on playing like nothing has changed. I am finding it hard to let go of my frustration or bad feelings that quickly but am really trying to because we have so much more fun when I can.
The emotional roller coaster of the adoption process is minor compared to real life with your child. I was a very self-assured and self confident-person before but now, not so much.

As I said I would never change a thing--Hannah lights up my life in ways I never imagined. I just have to learn how to handle all these new emotions.

My sister sent me this article that a friend of hers gave her 10 years ago when she had her first baby--she has kept it all this time and pulled it out for me. It talks about having a baby but as she said--Motherhood is Motherhood and it is the same for all of us:

We are sitting at lunch when she casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.”
“We’re taking a survey,” she says, half joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”
“It will change your life,” I say carefully keeping my tone neutral.
“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on the weekend, no more spontaneous vacations…”
But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.
I consider warning her that she will never read a newspaper again with out asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die. I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. An urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a soufflĂ© or her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation.
I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think about her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.
I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.
Looking at my friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, put she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years – not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.
I wish my friend could sense the bond she’ll feel with women throughout history who have tried desperately to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children’s future.
I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.
My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
“You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reach across the table, squeeze my friend’s hand, and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into the most wonderful callings. The blessed gift of being a Mother.

Author unknown.