A Restful End

Wow has it been a whirlwind of a week.  We drove up here early Tuesday morning for the first therapy evaluations, checked into the Ronald McDonald House, went back for more therapy evaluations, somehow fed the children in between, went back to the RMH for dinner and loaded Daddy, Jacob and Hope up in the van to spend the night with some local friends (since we only had room for four of us in our room) and had a bit of a fitful and restless night.

Woke up Wednesday morning, still trying to get our schedule down.  Quick breakfast, therapy was bright and early, we were behind all day long for some reason and that day wasn’t any easier or slower than the last.  Jake had to drive back home for work during the day, lots of craziness and optimism about how therapy would go.  Got to check into a bigger room so we could all stay together, moved everything out and over.  More business, a little better sleep.

The day before last we had another very full round of therapy sessions, lots of coming and going and trying not to be late.  Did I mention it was SO COLD this week?! Of all the weeks to have below freezing temperatures the Good and Gracious Lord decided that this was the best week to do that.  I love Him, but I just don’t understand Him sometimes… Getting five children and two wheelchairs in and out of a van multiple times a day when it is so cold is… a growing experience, let’s just call it that.  It’s an exercise in being thankful and learning to appreciate the good things.  Right?  Right.

Then Jake had to leave that night to go back home again, and we had a break from therapy yesterday morning, a bit of a breather, or so I thought.  Stephen woke up very sick and with some concerning symptoms.  My bestest friend in the world who is coming to stay with us and help out this month (YAY I AM SO EXCTIED!!!!) had her flight delayed by about seven hours and I was just telling myself that God was in control.  Somehow all crises were averted and all therapies took place and Jacob took his first ever independent step and we seven, tired and sick and stressed, piled back into the freezing van to come back to our “home away from home”.

And then a quick dinner and good-byes to Daddy again as he left to do the Epiphany service (a blessed Epiphany by the way!!) and then Candy Land and bedtime stories and cuddles and sleep.  And another long evening of being alone.  It felt like I should have been sitting at home with some sort of delicious celebratory dinner and giddily (is that a word?) talking with my hubby about how our son is going to walk and how proud I am of him and what amazing things this will open up for his life.

Concordia Seminary 2009

Concordia Seminary 2009

But the anticlimactic ending it is.  Restful, quiet, peaceful, but nothing exciting or fitting (it seems) for the miracles that are unfolding in front of our very eyes.  We have heard more than once, from more than one person, that if Jacob ever walked independently it would be a miracle.  And I agree.  Yet, I will have to probably wait until the end of the month to actually go home and soak in all the goodness that’s happening, to have that celebration with our family and the love of my life.

As for today, I woke up the usual way, by my adorable little alarm clocks that God gave me.  It’s still dark, the world isn’t as awake as my children are.  I’ll get them all dressed and fed and we will head out the door to go meet Daddy at home.  It’s the weekend, no therapy tomorrow, as Jacob says it’s a “rest day”.  I will get Evangeline and myself ready to go and say good-bye to a dear friend of ours.  A sweet lady who sat behind us in church for the last three years and was always ready to greet us with a smile.

We went and visited her in the hospital on Christmas, and she told me so many things I hadn’t known before.  We showed her how Jacob could stand up all by himself now, and she was so happy.  She said that she had been praying for him to walk since the day we brought him home.  She said such kind and lovely things about our family and blessed me more with her words than she could have possibly known.

Such a lovely woman of God, and it seems so anticlimactic to end the earthly life of such a sweet soul with a funeral and a burial… There is nothing exciting or breathtaking happening today, just a quiet, fleeting good-bye.  Yet, even now we see, dimly and through a dark glass, but we see.  This isn’t really the end, not yet.  The celebration is yet to come.  The Resurrection is nearer now than it has ever been, and that will be anything but anticlimactic.  Her life is not over, it is safe and hidden with Christ, and though we are not celebrating today, we will be soon.

Today we give thanks for a restful end, and we await the glorious culmination of the promises to come.  One day soon we will have that greatest of all celebratory meals, with all our family, and with our One True Love.  We will be home, and all will be as it should once again.  For now, we rest and we wait.  We wait even more anxiously than before for the coming of Christ.

May your weekend be restful and quiet and filled with the love and mercy of our Lord.

Heavy Heart Today

I apologize in advance.  My heart just isn’t in this post, but I have several updates to make.  My writing is just going to be to the point, so bear with me.  After I let you know what’s going on with our family I will explain why I have such a heavy heart this morning.

First thing, I’ve had some questions, so I will just reiterate my answers here in case others have also been wondering.  Someone asked if I could share pictures.  I would love to, but I don’t have a camera here.  I asked my hubby to bring ours up today so I could document some of our hospital time in pictures.  To tide you over, here is what my other two littles have been doing at home while we are stuck here:

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Someone also was wondering why the hospital is not feeding her more if she’s hungry.  The reason why we are in the hospital is to prevent re-feeding syndrome. If you feed a child, who has been in starvation mode for an extended period of time, without going slowly and taking proper precautions, their bodies will reject the food. It can be serious and deadly. 

I doubt her body is in that malnourished of a state, but they are being careful so she can stay as healthy as possible as we slowly increase her calories.  It’s tough for her and for me, but it would be tougher if we fed her too much at once and her body started rejecting it.  Only a few more days and she should be up to a healthy calorie intake for the first time in her life.

I also had a question about her bowel movement situation.  Still nothing.  She went without one for eleven days after we picked her up and she’s going on day five now.  She isn’t in pain (nor was she before for this reason, I’ll explain in a second) or any discomfort and she isn’t constipated.  The doctors and I have come to the conclusion that there simply isn’t enough food going through her system yet to prompt regular stools.  Suppositories and Miralax will do her no good, nor does she need them.  We just have to wait till her body is ready.

There are also updates from yesterday I wanted to share.  First I will talk about her discomfort after eating, as we used to think that was due to constipation, but she’s not constipated.  Yesterday morning they gave her a big helping of yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast, she’s never had those two things together before, and she was writhing in pain.  She sobbed for about fifteen minutes, and I have never seen her cry.  Crying doesn’t come easy, so I knew she was suffering.

At lunchtime, after I wrote yesterday’s post, I had a light bulb go off.  She had meat and veggies for lunch and very little discomfort afterward.  I started thinking back to all her previous meals, which ones went well  and which ones didn’t?  The day before she had also had a meat and vegetable only meal and didn’t do too badly.  All her other meals have had either fruit or yogurt or oatmeal in them…. light bulb.  Her stomach is just not handling grains, dairy or fruit right now.

In country, fruit was just about all we could get her to eat, so that and yogurt made up the bulk of her diet.  No wonder the poor thing was in pain all the time!  I talked to the dietitian and requested her meals be changed to meat and vegetables only, with the exception of the pediasure, which she seems to be doing ok with.  We will continue that at home and try to slowly add back in the other food groups as she tolerates them.

Needless to say, dinner went fabulously.  Absolutely zero pain or discomfort.  In fact she was laughing while I burped her and thought the whole experience was hilarious.  She was in the best mood I have seen her in since we took her out of the orphanage.  So thankful we’re getting our happy girl back; I had forgotten how much fun she is when she’s not constantly afraid and hurting.

So that’s all for my family’s updates.  Now, for the reason I am not doing so well, even with Hope’s improvements.

Last night I learned that a dear friend of mine lost her son in a tragic accident yesterday.  I linked to her blog a little while back and so many of you were touched by their family’s story.  Here is her blog.  Susanna has been an amazing mentor to me in the last two years.  Recalling Tommy’s adoption journey, and her transparent writing about the hardship their family faced through all of it, gave me the strength and peace to consider Hope’s adoption.

As I look at my sweet girl now, I often have thought of Tommy after he came home, and I look forward to Hope one day blossoming and growing and learning just as Tommy did.  His story gave me such peace and comfort.  I was honored and privileged to watch his life truly begin with his new, loving family, even if just through pictures.  I am heartbroken for his Mommy.  I can not imagine the pain she is going through.  I feel like a piece of my own heart has left this Earth, such a precious boy, such a precious gift to so many.  It’s an overwhelming grief, not only for his family, but for so many people who love them.

Please pray for Susanna, her husband Joe and all of their children who are grieving their brother.  Susanna still has many little ones to care for and love on during this dark valley.  Please just add them to your long term prayer list, as they desperately need all they can get, and I know I have so many amazing prayer warrior readers here who can do just that.

Rest peacefully in the arms of Jesus sweet Tommy.  I cannot wait to meet you on that Glorious Day.

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Love and Grief

We had our first visit with Juri today.  I have spent the last few hours trying to decide how I want to describe everything we saw and experienced.  There is so much that it is totally overwhelming.  After lots of Facebooking with fellow adoptive parents about all of the things we saw, we are feeling a bit better, but we do want to be honest about what is going on.

Adoption always comes from loss, it’s hard, and we are very much grieving for Juri and the things he has lost.  He has had so much hurt and neglect in his short life, it is difficult to even imagine what he might be going through.  We would really love your prayers for peace and wisdom on our part and for healing for our son’s heart, mind and body.

Juri is much much more delayed than we were prepared for.  Skills that we know he had previously are gone and he seems to have regressed substantially.  This is very common in the orphanages here for various reasons.  But the good news is that he should regain those lost skills fairly quickly once he comes home.

But now that that is all out of the way, let’s get to the fun part!!  Juri is a sweet, lovely, fun boy.  We absolutely adore him.  He is much taller than we thought he would be!  We know that they have not told him yet why we are here, but I think he is figuring it out on his own.  He almost immediately started calling Jake “papa” and not long after started using “mama” for me.

The little bit of Russian we have has been super helpful.  I used several of the phrases I knew, and although we couldn’t understand each other completely I do think it helped with bonding.  I am going to learn a couple more phrases for our visit tomorrow that I wish I had had today.  “I don’t understand” being one of them!  He was very talkative with us and just seemed tickled to have someone’s attention.

We just listened most of the time, and when he wanted something he was pretty good at pointing.  I don’t think he gets to play in the dirt often (like at all!)  We did a lot of playing in the sand boxes and he kept looking at the sand on his hands, trying to rub it off and giggling about it.  I would help him clean off his hands which would make him laugh more and then he would point to his clothes and his wheelchair for me to wipe those off too.  It was lots of fun!

Whenever he would ask for something I would hand it to him and then say in a repeat-after-me tone of voice “Spasibo” and he was hesitant at first, but then would always repeat it to say thank-you to whoever handed him the toy or cookie.  Which, by the way, he loves cookies!  The nannies said he loves food and will eat anything and everything.

After his third cookie I said “Nyet” no more cookies!  But Evie kept handing them to him, so he started asking her!  After that it became a game, he would try to get Evie’s attention for cookies and I would say “nyet, nyet, nyet” with a big smile and he would try to convince me in Russian.  I think he thought his sweetness would change my mind!  He seemed very taken with Evangeline and Stephen and was really listening when we told him their names, though he didn’t repeat them.  We did get him to say a few English words like sand and car.

We had a whole hour with him to ourselves with no translator, which was intimidating but lots of fun and it turned out very well I think.  We can’t share any pictures yet, hopefully soon!  For now here’s a picture of the sign outside his orphanage which means “Welcome!”

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