My Fabulous Five

IMG_1655This week has absolutely blown me away.  I’ve been keeping quite busy tending to five, fabulous little people and… well that’s about all I’ve been doing.  No housework to speak of… none.  In any case, we have a new routine set with our sweet Kyrie added to the mix, and it is working out better than I ever could have hoped for.  After a very long and difficult winter, things are certainly looking up!  In fact, things are smoother around here now than they have been since we got home from Ukraine.  Never did I expect adding a child to the family would make my life easier, but it seems to have done just that.

A huge part of that has to do with my own attitude and perspective.  I will be the first to admit that many of the struggles we’ve had as a family in the last several months were really just issues with how I was managing (or not managing) the household.  Emotionally I was running on empty, which meant a lot of withdrawing was going on and not a lot of intentional presence with my children.  Our routine always seemed crazy and hectic, and I was constantly overwhelmed with what needed to be done like… yesterday.

We still have a million and one things to do.  But I’ve just had to take a step back and realize that God has this under control.  We can only get done what we can get done, and my first vocation is to love my family.  I can’t love my family well when I am so caught up in the “needs” of the world.  Has He not provided all that we need?  Will He not continue to do so?  Including providing us with days to run errands and make appointments?!  Of course!  So I’m going to stop stressing over those, and wait on the Lord to provide those opportunities in His good time.

And while I wait, I am working on making my world much smaller and focusing on just being present with the beautiful family He has entrusted to my care.  With Kyrie here I knew I had to lower my expectations with what I could accomplish.  Going into this week I was determined to bring my “A Game”, because I knew I’d need it, and I knew better than to expect anything but the minimum from both myself and the kids.

I have also been convicted lately of not putting as much work into this job of motherhood as I would have if it was a “real” job where I was getting paid monetarily and had to answer to a supervisor who I wasn’t also married to.  Ahem.  Yeah, quite humbling to realize how I stack up against my own self!  Especially since that self was a college kid from seven years ago.  Yikes.

Yes, there are totally differences between the 24/7 job of motherhood and an 8 hour shift in someone else’s home where you only spend about 20 hours a week.  However, I can do better.  And I know it.  So that’s what I’ve been working on this week.  While the children are awake, they are my job, and I am trying really hard to treat it that way.  No more Facebooking at “work”, no more saying “Just a minute,” when I really mean “I sure hope he forgets what he asked for so that I don’t actually have to add that to my to-do list.”  Etc…

This perspective has really been working well, though it’s the equivalent of having a 14 hour shift every single day that ends with being on call until the next shift starts… which is totally exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding and worth it.  It’s also doable, and I know this season of life won’t last forever.  It’s also the reason why I’m not blogging too terribly much.  When I do have a break in the middle of the day now I have been finding I must take that afternoon nap.  It has been a lifesaver, and that is typically my computer time when I’m awake.

I know ya’ll understand that I’m busy, but I also love blogging too or I wouldn’t be doing it.  It’s a great outlet for me, so I’m definitely going to keep trying to make time for it where I can.  Self care is so important when you have other people depending on you for their needs, and with five very needy (and lovely) people depending on me day and night – I have come to realize that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to be a healing presence for them.

But anyway, enough about me!  I did title this my fabulous five for a reason.  I wanted to let you all know how the children are adjusting to our new normal, because that’s the question everyone has been asking.  The answer is… they are doing amazingly, astonishingly well – all five of them!  Let’s start with the itty bitty one first shall we?  Kyrie is a dream.  She fits like a glove in our family.  She is the easiest baby I’ve ever had.  She sleeps when we sleep, at nap time and at night time.  I’m getting more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant!  She is very content in her bouncy chair, which makes my days actually doable.  She almost never cries; she is doing really well with her pottying, which means we won’t have to have two kiddos in diapers.  Woohoo!  (Yes, I will blog more about that later.)

And, best of all, she sleeps through everything.  Anyone who has spent time in our house or on the phone with me will know that this is not a quiet place, and she doesn’t care one bit.  Thank you Lord for little mercies!  When she is awake, Kyrie is always very still and quiet, much more so than I remember Evie or Stephen being.  She seems to have a very contemplative nature, which will be quite an interesting dynamic to add to our very active crew.

Speaking of active :)  Stephen is next.  He is doing great with his new big brother status, it hasn’t fazed him one bit.  He loves to dote on his little sister and holds her every day.  He’s always saying how he loves the baby, and if she isn’t in bed when he is (his bed is still in our room as well) then it is quite concerning.  He is the classic protective older brother, and we haven’t seen even a hint of jealousy.  I expected regression in several areas, but the only change has been that he’s much more clingy in the wee hours of the morning.  That usually ends in an uncomfortable Mommy sandwich with Kyrie on one side and Stephen on the other.  Suffice it to say, I hope this phase ends quickly.

Dear Evangeline has also been doing better, much due to our new routine that has everyone less stressed.  She is incredibly empathetic and perceptive and is a sponge to the emotions of everyone around her.  Because Jake and I have been doing a lot better the last few days, she is also doing a lot better, which I am so grateful for.  Her nurturing side is just basking in having a baby around to care for.  She would hold her all day if Kyrie would allow it.

Kyrie is also just a healing balm to weary souls. (What baby isn’t?!)  But she especially ministers to her older sister.  If Evie is having a hard time falling asleep I’ll even make a point of taking Kyrie in with me, and her presence seems to calm her in a way that even I can’t.  It’s beautiful watching God’s compassionate hand working through even the smallest and neediest of people.

I would say of all of them, Jacob’s life and demeanor seem to have changed the least in the last week and a half that his new sister has been here.  He loves her just as much as the others do, but his interaction with her is noticeably less than theirs.  He does hold her and give her kisses, but he just doesn’t seem quite as interested as Evangeline and Stephen are.  Is it a personality difference, an institutional thing, something else entirely?

It’s really hard to know, but either way he does love her and we aren’t seeing any regression with attachment or in other areas, so I’m perfectly happy with where he’s at right now.  We’re still in the process of finishing up his evaluations to get therapy services from the school district, and that should be done mid-March.  I’m looking forward to seeing him add occupational and speech therapy to his repertoire!

And saving the best update for last… sweet Hope.  Things are changing around here for our darling girl, but mostly indirectly due to Kyrie’s arrival.  She doesn’t have much contact with the baby other than a few attempts at teaching “gentle touches” here and there throughout the day.  She is certainly interested in the squirmy bundle on my lap, but she still can’t do much in the way of interacting with her.  Many of the children she shared a room with in the orphanage where babies, so I think she rather likes having Kyrie around, she just doesn’t know how to show it yet.

So, how has our new bundle of joy added to Hope’s life?  There are a few ways.  First, having a new baby forced us to change our routine with Hope.  What we were doing was not working.  I’ll try to blog more extensively about this too, but really, parenting a child who spent nine years in a laying room is a puzzle.  There are very few people experienced in this sort of care, meaning our doctors and therapists and experts can help by laying out tools and resources, but we are the ones who have to figure out which ones to use and how to use them.  As my dear husband says, she is a riddle wrapped in a question mark.

Much of our parenting Hope has been trial and error. I can’t even remember how many different sleeping arrangements we’ve tried in the last six months.  My midwife, on a visit a few days after Kyrie was born, suggested we try a Tryptophan supplement for Hope to help her sleep.  Sure enough, she has slept through the night three times this week!  A first as far as we can remember.  Typically she either doesn’t go to sleep for hours or wakes up around 2 or 3 am.  Having her sleep better is a blessing for all of us and I really pray that it continues.

We are also giving her more intentional sensory/play times, as well as intentional resting times during the day.  Our routine really revolves around her schedule now, as the other kids’ activities are much more flexible.  It’s too early to say how much it’s helped her improve, but it certainly has made our family’s dynamic more peaceful and that is absolutely worth it.

And finally… drum roll please…

Hope has words!! She started talking!  Seriously!!!

Mima spent several days with us that first week postpartum and started a new game with her.  To everyone’s surprise, she loved the game (she is usually motivated by nothing but stimming) and she was so eager to play that Mima got her to attempt the word “ball” whenever she handed the little ball over to her.  The more they played the more her word sounded like ball, and now she will do it consistently when asked!  Crazy!  Then yesterday at lunch I was able to get her to say “oooo” for food.  She tried adding the f sound to the beginning, but we’re not quite there yet.

She actually has sounds that she uses that have meanings attached!  I can’t emphasize how huge this is for her.  Our ten year old girl is learning how to talk!!

Kyrie’s Birth Story: Part I

Kyrie Rose

February 14th 2015

8lbs 2ozs – 20 1/4 in.

Five weeks after I was let off of bed rest and there I was, still pregnant. I could not believe it. My mom and brother were in town to meet the baby who was not here yet, and I was a week past my due date which had never happened before. Needless to say, I was ready to get this little one out into the world! We had one more day before my family had to leave.
The days before we tried stripping the membranes with absolutely no results. I dilated a tiny bit from 2cm to almost 3cm, but nothing else of note. On Friday evening my midwife came over with one last option to try.

She gave me an herb regimen to use that night and the next morning. It included Evening Primrose, Verbena and Cottonwood.  She told me that at this point she didn’t want to get too aggressive trying to kick start labor, and I agreed. As much as I wanted to have this baby, I wanted the baby to be ready above all else. I started with the Verbena; I was to take it every two hours that I was awake and to switch to Cottonwood the next morning.

My first dose of Verbena was at 5:45pm, I immediately noticed that my contractions seemed more persistent. We had gone walking at the mall earlier in the day, which had set off some good contractions, but they had been dwindling through the afternoon. This seemed to revive them a bit. I felt optimistic, but wasn’t going to get my hopes up yet. After a month of contractions and false alarms I was over trying to guess if I was in labor, but it felt better at least trying something.

I took my next dose of Verbena at 7:45pm, but it didn’t seem to have the same effect. My contractions were waning again and this didn’t pick them up too much after the first twenty minutes or so. I did a lot of walking, swaying, squatting and sitting on my birth ball that evening. I ate some jalapeno cheetos, joking with my mom that maybe the spicy food would help.

Mom and I retired upstairs and chatted while we waited for 9:45 so I could take a final dose of Verbena and go to bed. I told her that I didn’t want to go to sleep because that just meant one more day of not having the baby.  After all, my contractions always petered out when I laid down. But away I went, consoling myself with the knowledge that we could try the Cottonwood first thing in the morning. I took my last dose of Verbena along with the Primrose oil and went to bed.

Jake had not been feeling well so he had gone to sleep with the kids a few hours earlier. We talked for quite a while, it had been a long day and we both needed to decompress. Sleep didn’t come easily, I kept having little contractions that did nothing more than to remind me that I had been having the same ones for months and they meant absolutely nothing.
By the time I was finally dozing off, Evie woke up and I jostled Jake to go check on her. He was gone for several minutes so I checked my phone to see what time it was – 11:49pm. Two hours since my last dose of Verbena.

Well… I was awake so might as well get up and take another round right? Within fifteen minutes of laying down I had another contraction, a different-feeling contraction. It was certainly the best one I’d ever had laying down! I decided that if I had another I would sit up and see what happened. Sure enough, several minutes later another contraction started, I sat up and maneuvered into a modified squat, trying to put as much pressure on the cervix as I could while still in bed.

Ouch.

Several things went through my mind…  I had forgotten what actual labor feels like. — That was definitely an actual labor contraction. — I’m not sure I actually want to be in labor after all.— If I have any more of those I will actually be in labor.

I had another one. Just as painful. After posting to Facebook (because that’s the most important thing right?) I went to go find Jake who had fallen asleep cuddling with Evie. All I said was “Jake… ouch,” while pointing to my tummy. He got up and I caught him up to what was going on at  that point. We both started looking for clothes so I could go downstairs and walk through the contractions that were coming about 2-3 minutes apart.

On my way downstairs I knocked on the office door where my mom was sleeping for the week and let her know that I thought I was in labor and asked if she could listen for the kids for us since we’d probably be preoccupied. I knew my midwife had had two straight nights with no sleep, so I didn’t call her right away.

IMG_1406The contractions were strong from the beginning, I could talk through them barely, and I had to stop what I was doing to hold onto something. My brother was still awake downstairs so we enlisted him to take a few pictures before things got going.  I decided to do a cute little heart shape, being acutely aware of what day it was.  And Jake is texting people to come on over.  :)

I took a quick shower to see if the warm water would help relax me during contractions. It didn’t help too much so I got out and asked Jake to start filling the tub. I called my midwife at 12:51am, but told her not to come out just yet. I didn’t know how quickly labor would progress and I felt bad making her get out of bed sooner than she had to.

My mom came down shortly after that and we started prepping the birth room, I turned on my music playlist, which was awesome for helping me focus through the contractions. I don’t think I made it more than ten minutes before asking Jake to call the midwife back, this labor felt way too much like Stephen’s labor and I knew we didn’t have a whole lot of time.

The timeline becomes a bit of a blur after that. Somewhere in there I went to the bathroom a million times thinking I had to go, but not really needing to; my midwife arrived; and we ran out of hot water, so my dear brother went on boiling water brigade (heat water on the stove, put it in the tub, repeat) and that was his job for pretty much the rest of my labor. He’s a swell guy, and single by the way ladies. 😉

I also changed into my labor gown, and started getting really grumpy with Jake if he wasn’t helping me through contractions. I actually remember joking with him after one that we knew we were in labor when I start yelling at him to “pay attention” during a contraction. He’s not allowed to talk or be distracted, lol! During all of my labors he has been my biggest support, though I’ve needed him in different ways. This time he rubbed my lower back through contractions which helped to take some of the pressure off.

IMG_1423
My midwife wanted to check baby’s heartbeat and to see how far dilated I was. I told her I didn’t want to be checked yet, and she only had to see one contraction to know that I was quite actively in labor. I asked her if I could get in the tub, because I wasn’t sure if the water was deep enough yet. She told me to get in whenever I felt like it, which I did very promptly.

The water was noticeably more comfortable. I briefly considered asking someone to get my essential oils out, but I knew that at this point in labor they really would do nothing for pain relief, so I decided against it. Jake continued to rub my back through contractions from outside of the tub.

To Be Continued…

Kyrie Rose

February 14th – 2:10am
8lbs 2oz – 20in

Kyrie Rose
Kyrie (Kear-ee-ay) is the Greek word meaning LORD. Her name means “The Lord’s Rose”, or as we like to say… God’s Little Valentine. Our most fervent prayer is that Christ our Lord will now and forever be the Greatest Love of our daughter’s heart

My Pride or Joy

My babies come on time.  That’s just what they do.  For nearly five years I’ve been able to brag about how my kiddos came on the day before their due dates – both of them!  It’s quite convenient to have prompt babies who follow their schedules obediently.  And with this pregnancy?  I was sure that I was going to go early.  I said as much for about a month…

Then I did go early, too early.  Pre term labor at 33 weeks was not exactly what I had in mind.  So I went on bed rest for three weeks.  I worked hard to be vigilant about my vitamins, my protein intake, my fluids.  I took an Epsom salt bath almost every night, and when all else failed, I obligingly took that horrid medicine to stop the contractions.

It was a dark three weeks, too cold for the kids to play outside, little light, not enough sleep for my husband and far too much work to do.  The kids handled it about as well as you could expect little ones to cope with not having a functioning mother.

So many people blessed us with meals, without which we probably would have been eating hot pockets and lunch meat for a month.  I couldn’t get up to greet them as they came in; I couldn’t even write any thank you notes, because when I wasn’t trying to get comfortable or force down vitamins and food I was usually attempting to put out constant fires amongst the children.  (You can imagine how effective that is when they all know you can’t leave the couch.)

I couldn’t believe how little I was able to do.  It was frustrating to put it lightly.  Then off of bed rest I went, and for a week it was just battling constant pain and fatigue.  I finally got a maternity belt which brought me back to almost 100% and that’s where I am now.

IMG_1401Today is the day before my due date.  (Yes that’s me on the right… 40 whole weeks.)  I’m not uncomfortable, actually other than persistent heart burn, I feel more comfortable for nine months pregnant than I can ever remember feeling before.  I can cook and clean and play with the kids and run errands.  For all intents and purposes I should be perfectly content staying pregnant a little longer… but I haven’t been content, not in the least.

I was venting to a friend a couple of nights ago about how on Earth I haven’t had a baby yet.  My midwife and everyone was certain that this baby was going to come as soon as I went off bed rest, and yet… baby never came.  I knew this baby was coming early… and yet here we are, right on time and it looks like probably even a little late!

What happened?  How did I get this all so wrong?  I hate being wrong and I hate not knowing things and I hate not being in control of what I feel is important.  There’s a word for all those things, and it’s called pride.  When I was talking to my friend I told her how I felt like such a fraud.  People reached out to help us at what felt like a very critical time, only for the crisis to pass and to seemingly have been pointless.

Was it pointless?  Could I have gone to term without bed rest?  Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever know that answer… but it’s certainly not a gamble we should have taken.  And yet, it feels so wrong to still be pregnant – like I am doing something wrong.  It feels like I did nothing for anyone for a month for no reason.  And my friend?  God has given her such a kind wisdom.  She showed me that those feelings are simply lies.  “Do not regret loving your baby Dalas,” she said, “because that’s what you were doing.”

And in that moment I realized how foolish all this pride was, how not wanting to face everyone at Church on Sunday because I’m “still here”, is just plain silliness.  No one is judging me for still being pregnant!  (And even if they were it really shouldn’t matter more to me than meeting Christ in His Sacrament.) God has given our family an amazing gift by allowing my body to carry our precious child to full term.  An amazing gift.

This baby is going to be born with the very best chance at thriving on the outside of my womb, and what more could we ask for than that?  Every day longer I carry this baby is just one more day I get to express my love for our child in this unique and very short season of his or her life.  What is there to be sorry about?  Why let my pride over being wrong and needing help overshadow the immense joy that should be characterizing such a beautiful season?

How foolish of me to think my timing for this child is better than the Lord’s timing.  How foolish to spend the blessings of today in angst over details that only have meaning because it’s what I thought I wanted.  I am so thankful that God has given me the humility to see such error, so that I can spend my last few days with the joy He is intending for our family.

I reject your lies, Satan, your foolishness and your poison pride.  Instead, I will drink of the cup of joy and thankfulness.  I am thankful for one more day to prepare.  I am thankful for one more day to love my baby so uniquely, knowing we will never again be as close to each other as we are now.  I am thankful for one more opportunity to bake cookies and make crafts before another season of survival and adjustment.

I am thankful for the completion of a healthy pregnancy.  I am thankful for one more round of children kissing my belly good night.  I am thankful for one more night to cuddle with my sweet Stephen for as long as his little heart desires.  I am thankful for the possibility that my mother might actually get to be present for the birth of one of our children.  I am thankful that God’s ways are not my ways.

If it’s a choice between my foolish pride or His joy… for Heaven’s sake, today I choose joy.  And I thank God for giving me just a little moment of clarity to grasp that.

38 Notes for 38 Weeks

1. I know it’s been a while but… You’d be surprised how hard it is to find time to blog on bed rest!  And yes, I’ve been off of bed rest for two weeks now, and it’s been even harder to find time to do anything on the computer.  Maybe it will be easier when the baby comes?  A girl can dream…

2. I never thought I’d see a #2 on that side of the scale (if ya know what I mean) but I am rocking the extra poundage, or so my husband says.  He’s not biased… right?

3. Baby bump picture?  Umm… dream on because of the previous note.  Maybe if I can get this swelling to go down you’ll get one before baby comes… ahem.

4. So… Boy or Girl? We don’t get routine ultrasounds so we still don’t know if Mambo is a boy or a girl. But I do tend to get a “feeling” one way or the other, and I’ve been right the last two times. I will probably jinx myself by making a prediction, but I’ll do it anyway. I think the little one is a girl! Of course, we’ll be excited either way, and we have baby clothes for both! :)

5. Jake had a dream… night before last that we are having a girl.  So double confirmation, right?!  He said she was beautiful and favored Stephen more than Evie in her features.  Which is also what I’ve sort of been thinking.  The suspense is killing me!

6. My husband is amazing. It’s a strange feeling to be constantly asked about and worried over. I feel fine. Lots of contractions that are annoying, and Baby is doing great… But Jake, this man is a rock star.  I seriously don’t know how he does everything.  I’m not on bed rest, but I’m still not at 100%.  I still sit around most of the day, because too much walking causes muscle fatigue and pain.  My body is just tired from being in and out of labor for a month… so he’s still doing so much.

7. So when did you go off of bed rest?  Two weeks ago exactly.  I was 36 weeks and we all thought the baby would be here ANY DAY.  No such luck.  I had intense contractions the first two days, and then they died down.  For about a week after that I would wake up with nothing, they would start as I did more throughout the day and be 2-5 minutes apart, and regular, by bedtime.  I would go to sleep and they’d stop… and we’d do it all over again.  It has become a frustrating version of Groundhog’s Day.

8. Where are you at now?  Same place.  No real change.  My contractions are less frequent some days and more on others.  The only constant is that they keep getting stronger, so I know we’re getting closer.  I just have no idea how close!

9. I had my midwife appointment the other day.  I learned several interesting things…

10. The best news is that Baby is doing great!  The heartbeat sounded good, position is good, I’m measuring right on target.  All awesome things.

11. The worst news is… my midwife is going out of town next week.  She never told me because she didn’t dream in a million years I would still be pregnant… And guess who her only pregnant lady left is for several weeks?  Yup.  That would be me.  It’s not the end of the world, but certainly not the greatest thing either.

12. We were thinking of trying to kick start labor last weekend.  However, when she came to check me we were shocked – absolutely shocked – to find that I was only 2cm dilated and not effaced one bit.  On bed rest I was 90% effaced… now?  Nothing.  I am actually nowhere near labor.  The baby is sitting on my pelvic bone, meaning that all those contractions?  They’re just trying to move the baby, and they are doing pretty much nada. So.  Frustrating.

13. I missed wishing my sweet oldest daughter a Happy Birthday on here!  It was so simple and lovely.  We did it my first day off of bed rest.  So since I missed it, I’ll spend a few notes gushing about her lovely self and all our birthday fun…

14. A Golden Birthday.  I was so excited to have her home for her Golden Birthday.  My midwife came over a couple days earlier and I was in tears because she didn’t want me going off of bed rest yet and we weren’t going to be able to do anything for it.

15. Side Note… a lot of people told me that week beforehand that she would “just be happy” cuddling with Mommy for her birthday or that she wouldn’t know it was her birthday that day and we could just do it another day, etc.  But, like many adoptive mamas I know, I had dreamed of giving her a beautiful birthday for the first time in her life.  No one had ever done that for her before.  The day was more than just a day, it was a milestone in her life and in ours.  The thought of missing it was heart wrenching in a way that is possibly very difficult to understand unless you’ve been there.

16. ANYWAY… My midwife told me I could go off of bed rest.  Hooray!  And my contractions stopped (go figure).  Two days later, I was up and getting a party ready!

17. Her first present was a new hairdo!  She got her first ever ponytails, which she hated putting in, but actually liked in the end.  I think she enjoys the consistent tugging of the hair.  It gives her sensory input.  She always loves it when I play with her hair :)  And she looked adorable!

18. I also got her this beautiful birthday dress…

Hope's Birthday

19. A dear friend of ours offered to make cupcakes for her.  She made the cake and gorgeous flowers and butterflies to put on top.  I made a special frosting that would be a consistency and a sweetness that Hope would like.  (She doesn’t appreciate really sweet things. And hasn’t approved of frosting before.)  So this was more of a sweet, whipped yogurt – but still delicious!

20. Presents!  Hope got some sweet presents.  Her godmother gave her a cute little bear with fun zippers and buttons and things to play with, and she got oodles of new clothes!  She wasn’t really interested in the clothes, but she did enjoy throwing all that tissue paper on the floor.

21. Happy Birthday to You!  We lit her candles and sang to her.  All the other littles were lined up beside her and she just seemed to be loving it.  Even the small party we had would have been way too much just a couple of months ago.  But now it was almost as if she knew that we were singing to her and she was soaking it all in.  It was such a beautiful moment!

22. Progress Updates.  Well I don’t have many of those.  I actually don’t have any of those.  Since I went on bed rest no therapy or stretching has been done for either Hope or Jacob.  And they had been doing so well!  I am frustrated that those things have taken a back seat and I’m dreading how much progress we’ll have lost by the time I can get them back to their routine.  But trying to not worry about it because I can not control it, and there simply isn’t a point in fretting.

23. Dealing with Regression.  Which brings me to my next note about regression.  All four kiddos have regressed since bed rest.  Their behaviors, their attachment, their felt security… everything is back sliding.  It’s so hard to watch.  It was hard to listen to Stephen cry for half an hour while his poor Daddy tried to put him to sleep, and all he wanted was me.  Evie and Jacob and Hope weren’t getting attention from me at night, and that had always been our most consistent and essential bonding time each day.

24. Is it better now?  Being off of bed rest has helped some, but we’re still far from reclaiming what we had.  There is a lot of leftover anxiety and insecurity manifesting, and we are still in survival mode, which makes it difficult to concentrate on refilling the little one’s cups with felt safety and all the attention and love they need.

25. As for bedtime… I pray that we’ll be able to go back to some sort of normalcy in routine after baby is here, but I remember how horribly difficult those first few weeks were after Stephen was born.  Whatever happens, we’ll muddle through it and eventually get to a place where things go back to a sense of normal and routine.  I. Can. Not. Wait.

26. Things are getting easier.  We really aren’t drowning in chaos anymore.  There are just several things that can’t get back to normal until after the baby arrives, and our little Jacob thrives so much on routine that he has been very out of sorts.  We are all weary at the end of this journey, and just can’t wait to have our newest little member join us on the outside so we can move forward with the rest of our year!

27. Speaking of which… Happy New Years!  I know I sort of missed the big event, but I still thought it might be nice to take a moment and look back on 2014 while looking forward to 2015.

13. 2014 was the hardest year of my life.  I know, I’m still pretty young, so this isn’t like headline news or anything… but for us it was such a stretching, trying, challenging time.  It has not just been adoption and special needs parenting, although those things are certainly near the top on my list of hardest things I’ve ever done.  But it seems that we just haven’t been able to catch a break, emotionally, spiritually, practically or otherwise.  It was rough.

14. 2015 will be better.  I’m sure of it.  We may not have seen much of any good fruit from our labor last year, but so many seeds were planted.  This year my prayer is that those good seeds will take root and bear fruit, that our family will see the joys and blessings of our sacrifice.  I pray that our children especially will benefit, all five of them, and that Jake and I will grow closer to the Lord and to one another as we wade through the deep waters of these fleeting days.

15. Did I mention that Jake is awesome?  Because he is.  I just thought I’d mention it again.  Seriously.  There’s no one else I’d rather be raising five rambunctious, out-of-control, adorable little monsters with.

16. Speaking of monsters… I’ll do a little note for each one of the kiddos.  And I say monsters as a term of the utmost endearment.  We have great children, they’re just… ya know… in need of some direction for their copious amounts of energy 😉

17. Hope.  Starting with the oldest, Hope is the same sweet little girl she’s always been.  Very, very slowly she is opening up more to eye contact and interaction and becoming less averse to learning new things.  She can go to church and do a few short trips in public without screaming from the overstimulation and anxiety.  She is needing less isolation and more loving, and it’s a fun (albiet slow) transformation to watch.

18. Jacob.  His language skills are getting better.  He actually tries to speak full sentences with me now that have more than one point.  His personality is coming out more than ever, and I can’t wait till he reaches that threshold.  He was such a jokester whenever he would talk to translators in Russian.  I’m excited for that personality to come out again.

19. Evangeline. Her reading skills are starting to stick, and she’s still interested.  I think once she gets the basics of phonics that she’ll just teach herself the rest.  She is so smart and so motivated as far as books are concerned.  We got her a xylophone for Christmas, though, and reading music is going to take a little more work I think – lol!  In other news she is continuing to grow into her big sister role, she’s always been such a nurturing little girl.  It’s absolutely true that God gives us exactly the children our family needs at exactly His perfect time.

20. Stephen.  If I had one word to describe this two year old tornado it would be “RAWR!!” It is his favorite word and also embodies everything he loves… dinosaurs and monsters.  Oh and baseball.  He’s all boy and he’s really good at it.  Channeling his constant energy is a daily challenge in energy and patience.  But he has a lot of gifts and a lot of love to give.  He brings an amazing amount of joy and laughter, and Heaven knows we need those!

21. Mambo.  And this little one is just ornery!  Moving constantly… all over the place.  Baby was head down and pretty comfy until the contractions started.  Now?  Just constant kicking and pushing and spinning all over the place.  You’d better spin back to your proper position before I go into labor kiddo!  No breech babies allowed.  Good grief.

22. Confession… so about my last note… I actually wrote that three and a half weeks ago.  Lol!  Yes… I started drafting this at 35 weeks and am just now finishing up.  That is what my life has been like lately.

23. So what is Mambo really doing?  Little one has slowed down a lot, very little movement compared to what I was having on bed rest.  Heart beat and measurements look great, I just think there’s much less room in there than at the beginning of the month!  My midwife says this is a good sized baby, not huge, but certainly healthy, which makes me happier than could be after all that drama!

24. Which brings us to our next point…. about the drama.

25. I.

26. Do.

27. Not.

28. Want.

29. To.

30. Be.

31. Pregnant.

32. Anymore.

33. Seriously.  I mean… does more than that really need to be said?  At this point we are nowhere near labor and my due date is approaching quickly.  It’s exciting and frustrating all at once!

34. Hopefully on Friday… my midwife will be back in town and we will start attempting to get the baby engaged properly.  I’m hoping that once that happens labor will be able to begin promptly.  I can get contractions going, no problem, it’s just that at this point they are all trying to position the baby (ornery again) and not doing anything constructive.  Once we get the baby in its proper place we should be able to get the ball rolling.

35. Happy birthday Uncle Brandon?  My brother’s birthday is January 31st so we are shooting for that!  Wish us luck! 😛

36. The kids are all sleeping.  Jake and Grandma are at Bible study… the house is quiet and peaceful.  Score one for me.

37.  I’m going to take advantage of the peace and quiet because… *drum roll* I have nothing left to write about for today!

38. And that is how you make it to the end of a 38 point post when you don’t actually have that many points to make 😉

 

P.S. – This is the first comment I got after publishing my post: “It might have been a bit easier to get to #38 if you hadn’t jumped back to 13 from 27…”
Yes.  Yes indeed.  Thank you pregnancy brain.  Maybe that makes up for the month of posting that I missed?   Sigh…

34 Weeks… and Counting

I made it to 34 weeks yesterday, praise God!  What a crazy week it has been, I can’t even express the insane amount of things we have needed to get done, and with half the hands to do it all.  My husband is the most amazing husband of all the husbands.  I guess when he said “in sickness and in health” he really meant it!  He is absolutely my hero.

So here’s where we’re at right now, a week ago I started having regular, working contractions.  Despite my attempts at “resting” (aka only getting one child ready for Church instead of four) they continued to get longer, stronger and closer together.  A visit to the midwife and some medication were able to knock them out, but they aren’t gone by any means.

I have had contractions every day since then, they are triggered by movement and standing, or if I sit up for too long.  If I starting having them and don’t take steps to stop them (lay down, take an Epsom salt bath, etc.) they will gain momentum and we’ll be right back to where we started.  The more times I go too far, the easier and faster they seem to be triggered.  I could do more without triggering them at the beginning of the week than I can now.

I had to take some more medication on Christmas because I went to the service the night before and did just a bit too much walking between rooms on Christmas day.  So by the time evening rolled around, they had gotten themselves into a comfortable 3 minutes apart again.  (They’re always worse in the evening after being awake the whole day, and sometimes non-existent in the mornings after laying down for several hours straight.) Needless to say, I pretty much spent the rest of the next day in bed.

It doesn’t look like the contractions are going away any time soon, so the plan is to make it to 36 weeks at least.  I’m hoping I can go off of bed rest that day because it also happens to be January 10th.  It’s Hope’s very first birthday home with us and I’d love to be up and bustling around to help celebrate!! I have plans!  There will be more Christmases but this is her only 10th birthday, her golden birthday, her first birthday home!  I really, really want to be up and about.

So… here I sit resting and resting and resting and hoping that in two weeks I will be ready to do some moving and that this baby won’t come out for three weeks.  (If I make it to 37 weeks I get to use my new birth tub!!)  Thank you all so much for everything!  What a crazy year it has been.  Maybe we’ll get all the craziness out in January and we can just work on settling in as a new family of seven for the next eleven months.  I think I’ve had plenty of excitement for a year or two.

Merry Christmas, and if you don’t hear from me before then, a Happy New Year as well!

The Birth Story: Prologue

I am accustomed to writing my birth stories after the birth of the baby, but this little one has thrown us for a bit of a loop!  Labor started unexpectedly Saturday evening at exactly 33 weeks along.  I didn’t realize it at first, of course.  I had been having contractions for about two months at that point – a few here and a few there.  Nothing to be concerned about.  I was using them to gauge whether or not I was doing too much with the other kids.  “Contraction?  Ok, I guess I’ll sit down for a while.”

Then my contractions went away completely last week as I upped my protein and tried really hard to take things slow.  I thought we were doing pretty good!  But about 4:00 pm on Saturday night, back they came.  I started to notice them while eating dinner with the kids and waiting for Jake to come home.  I had no reason to be alarmed at that point because everything seemed normal… although I wondered why I was having contractions on the one day where I was lazier than any other day?  (I mean dinner was frozen pizza for Heaven’s sakes!)

After about an hour and a half it became clear that sitting down and resting was not making them go away, and I could tell that they were coming in regular intervals.  On top of that, every time I stood up it triggered another contraction.  I sat down to time them.  Four minutes apart.  That’s odd… I knew that pre-labor contractions would probably not be so regular.  After the kids were all settled in bed I chugged a big glass of water to see if that would stave them off.

No go.  On they kept, and they started feeling stronger.  Time to call the midwife!  She told me to eat some protein, to take four doses of my Calcium Magnesium and to get in an Epsom salt bath and then see if that would knock them out.  Getting in the bath was reassuring, they stopped immediately… only to disappoint me by kicking right back up once I got out.  I called again and convinced her that I thought I could make them go away by laying down, so she told me to sleep and if they kept me awake to call again.

The contractions dissipated in bed and I did go into a fitful bit of sleep, but it was more my own worry keeping me awake at that point.  I also caught some sort of a bug (maybe that’s what triggered the whole episode?) so I felt miserable on top of it all.  The next morning I woke up with no contractions, but they started as soon as I stood up.  I grabbed a notepad and wrote down every single one, and what I was doing when they happened.  Four minutes apart, unless I was doing something, and then they were two minutes apart.

I got the kids breakfast, dressed Evie for church and sat on the couch as much as possible, but to no avail.  They were just getting stronger and closer together.  I called my midwife and she told me I had to come over ASAP.  Grandma and Jake were both at Church and I had three other little ones with me, so I called Jake’s mom and thankfully she was in a position to come over right away.  By the time I was dressed she was there, and I headed out the door.

So glad my midwife only lives about five minutes from us!  She hooked me up to a fetal monitor, which was a totally new experience, but kind of cool.  I had no sign of infection, great blood pressure, awesome heartbeat and movement from Mambo and my contractions were barely visible on the monitor.  She said she was really pleased with everything she was seeing until… she checked me.  I was 1.5 cm dilated and was already presenting very soft and thinned out.  Those contractions weren’t much… but they were working.

At that point she gave me a shot of medication, which stopped them in their tracks.  Jake had just finished up service and his mom told him in the handshake line what was going on.  Poor guy, he tried to call but we had terrible reception, so he just drove over.  I assured him I was alright and that we had gotten the contractions under control, but that I felt pretty shaky and funny from the meds.  He drove back to the church, asked someone to drop him off, and then drove me home.  Sweet guy :)

I was not ordered to go on full bed rest.  “Queen of the Couch” is what my midwife called it.  I could sit, go up and down the stairs to go to bed, etc. but I just needed to be delegating from the couch and doing nothing else.  So for the rest of the day that’s what we did.  I had to take some more medication orally in the evening from contractions starting up again, but everything seemed to be going well.

The next day I woke up still feeling miserable from whatever I had caught, I couldn’t eat much all day.  Late morning my contractions started regularly at ten minutes apart.  I called the midwife, she said we could deal with ten minutes – as long as they stayed there.  They didn’t.  Almost as soon as I hung up they went to 7 minutes… 5 minutes… 4… 3… 2… each contraction was closer than the last.  And stronger.  By the time I got her on the phone they were a minute long with only about 30 seconds between them – and these were actually uncomfortable.  Not the cute, warm and fuzzy “Oh my tummy feels like it’s giving me a hug!” sort of contractions.

Amazingly she was driving by our house right that minute and pulled in to see me.  Not exactly what I thought our first home visit would be like, but ok!  I took another dose of medication and was instructed to lay down.  Sitting was only for short periods, but mostly I needed to get that pressure off, because every little bit was causing more contractions.  Bed rest, still not strict bed rest… but bed rest.

We fought off contractions for most of the rest of the day.  This was the first time I was really worried we weren’t going to be able to stop the labor for longer than a couple days.  It came on so quickly for no reason.  Every little change of position would trigger another contraction.    I was also still feeling miserable, I couldn’t eat even though I really needed to.  When I finally did go up to bed, just that two minutes of being on my feet triggered very strong contractions that I was having trouble getting dressed through.

My midwife thinks that we will be able to hold off labor for a few more weeks if I can behave myself and stay put.  She doesn’t think they’ll go away completely, but that hopefully we can make them a little less touchy so I can have a bit more freedom than I have now.  She really wants to get me to 37 weeks (January 17th) but will allow me to give birth at home as long as we make it to 36 weeks (January 10th).  Today I woke up feeling completely healthy (hope it stays that way!), my appetite is back and we haven’t seen any unwarranted contractions.  No medication yet, praise God!

I still have them every time I sit or stand, but for the most part they’ve been easy to ward off.  I am so grateful.  We have a fridge full of delicious homemade meals and already and we’ve had so much support.  I think we are covered as far as help goes for this week of Christmas, but if and when that changes we will certainly let everyone know what we are in need of.  Thank you all so much for your prayers so far!!  I am a little sore from lying on the couch, but other than that we are doing well, are in good spirits and hanging in there!  Hopefully the rest of this birth story won’t need to be written for another month or so!

We are Still Here

Dusting off the blog tonight after a few weeks of hair-pulling madness around here.  I think about writing every day and just never seem to sneak it in.  The kiddos have decided that laying quietly for two hours is no longer their favorite thing, so finding writing time is a little difficult.  I would just make them all lay down anyway but… sleeping at night goes SO much better if they are up and running during the day.  I thought I needed that time for my sanity, unfortunately, the Lord may be telling me I’m ready for a level up.  (Less rest more play.)

Lots and lots has been happening here.  Jake was privileged to give a presentation to our local LWML chapters on adoption, which he absolutely loved.  I have been doing nothing but trying to keep down the fort, which seems to be flying away more and more these days as I am able to put less and less effort into it.  My third trimester is quickly approaching, and I’m definitely feeling the tension between my body telling me to slow down and my four littles telling me to speed up.

I had a midwife appointment yesterday and all is looking very well.  She is such a dear lady and so encouraging, and gave me some good tips on how to know my limits and manage my days as a pregnant lady who does more lifting and chasing than recommended. 😉  So no need to worry.  I am being very well taken care of, and my husband is quick to pick up all the slack that I’m dropping when he’s able to be home.  I love that man.

All of the children are doing so well right now.  They play together as if they were never apart, and Jacob and Hope fit seamlessly into the chaotic, loving, rambunctiousness of our home.  It certainly wasn’t like this at first, but the way they treat each other now, I couldn’t tell you which of them had been together from birth and which just came into our family three months ago.

Jacob got his brand new walker last week and he loves it… well he loves the idea of it.  It’s hard work though!  He doesn’t have a lot of stamina on his feet yet, and it’s cumbersome to move that big bulky thing around, even in our spacious home.  So it will take some getting used to.  His orthodics should also be on their way soon, and that is going to be another big milestone for him, as he takes on the enormous task of training his feet and legs to work properly.

Hope has not been doing much therapy, but her next PT appointment is on Thursday and I am so excited to share all her progress with her therapist!  We have been seeing improvement in attaching.  She actually is letting us hold her to calm her down now when she’s overstimulated.  That’s huge!  I think she’s beginning to prefer my arms to the felt safety of her stroller, and that just makes me beyond giddy.

Last week she reached two enormous milestones all in one day.  First, she sat up unassisted for the first time!  Our therapist told us she may be able to do it within a year… but three months?!  Wow!  What was holding her back was not weak muscles.  She does have a ways to go there, but her biggest hurdle was an underdeveloped and damaged nervous system.  When she came home she had next to no protective reflexes.

Now if she lurches forward while sitting she puts her hands in front of her body to catch herself.  And it’s beginning to be a consistent reaction!  Woohoo!  The other day she did that with both hands while we were practicing a sitting position on the floor.  I was supporting from behind, but she lost her balance, caught herself and sat unassisted for about two seconds!  Of course, she hated it and threw herself back into me as quickly as she could collect her thoughts.  But I praised her like crazy, and I’m sure she definitely just thought I was crazy.  😛

That same day Jake came back from a drive with the kids and told me how she was actually playing with a toy in the car!  She has always held toys and stimmed with them, but after a while home we realized that’s all she was doing… stimming.  She was never actually playing, just using them as a way of zoning out or escaping her surroundings.  But this time she wasn’t tapping, hitting or stimming with it at all.  She was holding the toy out in front of her and purposely pressing individual buttons to hear them make different sounds!

My baby girl is learning to play!! Eeeeeeek!  I just don’t know if I can emphasize what amazing, miraculous progress this is for her.  It sounds so small, but for this nine year old treasure – it is huge.  I have been asked if she’s done any more purposeful talking.  Unfortunately, nothing yet, although she did repeat “baby” after Evangeline the other week.  I still have hope for her learning some speech or communication.  But right now she’s got quite a long way to go before we get there.  Both kids need speech therapy, and that is the next thing on my list to find for them.

I promise I’ll try to be better about blogging.  It’s hard, there are SO many things I’d love to write about and just so little time for all of them.  God willing, more time will become available, but I only write when He grants me the time and if a break is what He thinks I need then that’s what we’re all going to have to live with for a while.  But please know I think of this little blog and all my dear readers very often, and want very much to continue!  If there is something you are especially hoping for me to write about soon, please let me know and I’ll make a note of it.

Blessings!

In Unexpected Events…

Lord, allow me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my words and deeds guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me. Amen

I discovered this little morning prayer last year and it has become one of my favorites.  It also just happens to be the perfect prayer for a hospital stay.  Wisdom, peace, guidance in dealing with the many, many people who He sends to care for us and our children throughout the day.  Give me the strength, Lord, to bear the labors of these days.

I fully expected to be writing a notes post today.  I am now officially half way through my pregnancy, and feeling great.  Unfortunately, I drove to the ER with Hope this morning for seizure activity that has been developing recently.  They discovered a brain bleed; we don’t know if the two are connected, though I suspect they are.  We don’t have any answers yet, just more questions than we came in with.

Please pray for our sweet girl and for the other children, as separations due to hospitalization is stressful on everyone.  Thank you for being patient with me as my blogging has taken a backseat this week to more urgent family needs.  Thank you for walking with us and carrying us to the Lord in prayer.  We knew our children’s journeys of healing were only just beginning, and though this is a difficult time, it is one more step on Hope’s path to healing.  And we are so honored to be walking it with her.

May God richly bless your Lord’s Day tomorrow and give you the opportunity to partake with Him in the Glories of Heaven through the precious gift of His Body and Blood.  Sweet Hope and I send ya’ll much love from our little hospital room…

18 Notes for 18 Weeks

photo (29)1. Baby is doing great.  Although Mama wasn’t too convinced of that the other night.  I suddenly got super worried that something was wrong.  I felt a kick about two weeks ago and then nothing… at all.  I kept thinking “Any day now…”  And after about two weeks of that I started to be concerned.  Thankfully my midwife lives just a few minutes down the road so I hopped in my car and drove over to check fundal height, hear the heartbeat and get my peace of mind back.  All went awesomely, I felt much better and then…

2. She brought out the ultrasound machine.  I knew she had it, but I did tell her we don’t really do routine ultrasounds.  I’m not a big fan.  I mean I am crunchy, right?? Crunchies don’t do routine ultrasounds… Ok so justification time started in my head. This wasn’t really “routine” after all… and it is a low-level ultrasound so it shouldn’t be too bad… right?  And it might be fun to see the baby just once… ahem.  So I didn’t object.  I was sad Jake wasn’t there to see too, but I did take pictures!  And oh-my-goodness how adorable, and I feel like a first time, giddy mama all over again.

Here is Mambo’s very first picture, baby is looking straight at the camera with super sweet eyes and pooched out lips.  Ack!  Can’t stand the cuteness.  And yes, I have always judged moms who think their babies’ ultrasounds are cute, I mean come on… really?  But I can’t help it… I just want to squish those chubby little adorable tiny cheeks!

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In this picture the baby looks a tad bit more alien-ish, but you can see the whole body and the tiny little legs that were kicking and trying to get comfortable after we disturbed the poor little one with the big, prodding stick.  And, yes, they were kicking the placenta… which is why I don’t feel it.  Good to know!

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And the last one is possibly a favorite, you can just barely see some fuzziness by the face here (it’s a side-profile).  That’s baby sucking it’s fingers!!  I got to see the sucking motions on the ultrasound screen and they were so clear and it was just breathtaking.  I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way home.  Made. My. Week.

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3. God’s Newest Children!  Jacob and Hope were both baptized on Sunday.  Praise God!  It was all quite wonderful and I can’t wait (literally) for people to send me pictures so I can tell you all about it!!

4. So many things, so little time…  This was definitely one of our busiest weeks so far.  Jake did have his day off on Monday, mostly, though he did have a couple hours of work to do.  And the rest of the days have been chock full of pastoral duties.  He was doing so many visits and extra services that today is an office day, as he didn’t get his usual office stuff done during the week.  I think we handled it pretty well though, which is encouraging with Advent peering around the corner!

5.  Learning to reach out.  Zhanna Hope has bug bites right now.  She scratches them until they bleed, poor baby!  Two nights ago she was furiously attempting to itch them and Daddy was sitting with her making sure she couldn’t get to them.  Such spunk this girlie has; she tried everything.  One time she had her hands innocently up by her face, then slowly, nonchalantly moved it onto her leg and… itch, itch, itch!  She got him on that one.  She also had lifted a piece of foam she was playing with up by her leg for a while and hid her scratching under that.  She is wicked smart.

Once Daddy caught on and took her hiding spot away, I think she realized the game was up.  She made the saddest most awful pouty face you have ever seen, then glared at her Dad and tried to scratch obstinately… while he was watching.  He moved her hand away and she looked like she was going to burst into tears!  She didn’t, but boy was she mad.  I knew it was distraction time, so I came to save the day!  I put on my most fun, sweet mommy voice on and said “Come here sweet girlie.”  As soon as she heard me she looked up and reached her arms out!!  She has never ever done this before.  She has allowed us to pick her up before; she has enjoyed being picked up before… but this is the very first time I have seen her so plainly ask for me to hold her.  We were stunned and so excited for this new milestone!

6. She called me Mama!  Yes, she really did, I think!  Ok, so the very next day after the first bug bite incident, we were sitting in the living room and she was trying to scratch again.  I was sitting there this time, covering it with my hand.  After a few minutes of that she started moaning, like she does when she’s grumpy, but it wasn’t just a moan it was a “Mamaaa!”  I immediately turned to her and said “Da Zhanna?  Mama?  Mama slushaiyu Zhanna.”  (Yes Zhanna?  Mommy is listening to you.)  I said it a few times and she was tickled about the Russian but no more attempts to communicate her unhappiness.  So I turned away and sure enough, not a minute later “Maamaaaaaaaa!”  Then I played and distracted and cuddled on her for a bit and no more grumpies :)

Mama was one of the babbling sounds she made when she was still in the orphanage, but this is the first time I feel like she really used it appropriately in context, so I am cautiously super excited :)  Is it possible to be cautiously super excited?

7. Jacob has been having some great days too!  For the first time in weeks he went an entire day yesterday without raging about something, and we’re still going strong today!  He’s also started calling me “Mamitchka” again, which I haven’t heard in quite a while.  Our bonding was pretty temporarily damaged by all the visitors and craziness last weekend, but things are finally starting to get back to awesome and we’re thrilled!

8. Hope had her first swim!  Ok so it wasn’t “swimming”, but she did sit in the pool and she did splash in the water and she did have a really great time!  She sat happily there for a good 45 minutes at least, and she usually hates being outside that long.  I was ecstatic and can’t wait to get her in the water more often.  I am a real fish so it’s always fun for me when my kiddos enjoy the water too!

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9. Sleeping Beauty.  When you adopt, the little things really do become the big things.  This is true for all parents I think, but especially for parents of children with special needs and those that come from hard places.  For her whole life Hope had done nothing but lay in a crib.  The first time we saw her in a stroller she was scared to death of it.  She got used to that fairly quickly, but falling asleep not in a bed?  Not happening.  She has always needed to be laying down.  But the other day we were playing outside on a summery, warm afternoon and I caught her doing this…

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You go baby girl!  I was stoked.  She fell asleep in her stroller… sitting up. 😀  Maybe this means we’ll be able to take longer car rides soon?

10. A Blessed Bounty.  I couldn’t write about the past week without mentioning the amazing welcome home gift we were given by the congregations in our area.  They overwhelmingly surprised us with a huge shower of gifts for our family.  I came close to tears unpacking everything and laying it out.  The love from so many… it’s just too much to take in all at once sometimes.  Thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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11. What About Matins?  Umm… oh yeah, do I keep saying we’re going to start that soon?  Hmm… remind me next week.

12. Whole 30 Prep.  In other news, we’re eating all our junk and gearing up for the Whole 30 on Monday!!  Woohoo!  I cannot wait to see our family back on good, real food.  Seriously.  Tomorrow is the big throw-away-everything-non-compliant party.  Remember to join us on the forums!  Here is a link to the thread I created just for our team: September 2014: Team Awesome

13. My Babies (Attachment Update).  Some adoptive parents say that in the first weeks home with their new child they look at them and feel like they are babysitting someone else’s kid.  I must admit, this is how it has felt with Hope and Jacob most days… but this last week something amazing has happened.  All that love I have been acting out is starting to have feeling behind it again.  Several times I have looked at my new children and thought “That is my baby.”  I am bonding and attaching and feeling more and more like the Mommy these children should have always had from the day they were born.  I am beginning to honestly, truly adore these blessings from Heaven.  I’ve seen their dark moments, watched their tantrums, changed their dirty clothes, lost sleep for their sake, been annoyed and frustrated and at my limit… and yet… I still feel so much love for these little people.  It really is starting to come.  We are starting to feel like the family that we are.

14. I’m not the only one!  Jake and I have talked about this and we both sense the feelings growing toward our new littles.  But it’s not just us.  This morning Daddy overheard Evie and Stephen fighting over whose sister Hope was.  It was happily resolved when Daddy intervened and let them know that she was both of their sisters.  😀

15. Hymns are the medicine of the soul.  I have started a new thing where, when I feel frazzled during the day, I just start singing hymns.  We flip through the hymnal and sing for however long or until I can think of something better to do.  Some children enjoy it more than others, but they all love it when it’s their turn to pick a hymn.  Having the words and melodies in our home is like a healing balm on the craziness of our days.  It’s my favorite way to do Mommy Time Outs, because let’s face it, sometimes we need one too!

16.  First Gymnastics Classes.  After a few months of hiatus Evangeline is back in gymnastics.  I think the break was the best thing for her.  She was getting overwhelmed by it, but after being away for a while she was excited to get back and more ready to master the skills than before.  Stephen is also just begging to have “his turn” at the gym.  I’m going to ask about getting him in a Spring class even though technically he’ll be a little young.  He is definitely ready, and potty trained so… bonus right?

17. Kids are too honest.  Conversation with Evie today….

Me: Would you like me to get you a cookie?
Evie: Yes, but I can get it myself.
Me: Oh, you can?
Evie: Yes, because I’m a big girl now.  I’m four and not little at all anymore.

*Part of my Mommy heart breaks a little…*

18. The honesty of kids makes my heart smile… and my favorite note.  The last one because it happened just tonight!  Jacob told me he loved me.  I was saying good night and I love you and he replied “I love you too mom.”  He said it in his not-so-clear way, but I heard every word.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Never before has he told me he loves me in Russian or in English.  This was the first time.  I really believe him.  My heart is full.

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