Monday, January 28, 2013

Touch

It's amazing to experience the power of touch. What it can do to you. What it can communicate. How it can heal. I think about the simple little touch of Neil's foot on mine when we're drifting off to sleep. Or when Claire or Eden hold my hand on their own accord. I feel so loved. I'll never forget when I first touched Eden on her last day in the NICU as I got her ready to finally come home. I had held her for about a minute immediately after she was born but then it would be 8 days until I touched her again because we always had to be gloved and robed. To finally touch my baby girl, skin on skin, was magnetic. I experienced it again when I first touched Halif after longing, praying and seeing his sweet face in photographs. To finally touch him again after 8 weeks of being separated was magical.

I didn't know that I would experience the power of touch today. Let me explain... this past weekend we were noticing that Halif's helmet was leaning almost over his eye and just wasn't fitting like it had been. It moved around a lot and didn't lineup when it was fastened. So I called the Cranial Technologies office today and after talking to them, they determined that he might be growing out of his helmet. She didn't want Halif to wear an ill fitted helmet so she told me to take it off until his OT can look at it at our Thursday appt. So, I took it off. It's been 3 full months that he has worn his helmet for 23 hours a day and the hour break is usually busy dinner, bath and getting ready for bed time. As silly as it sounds, today I got to enjoy my sweet boy's head... I got to kiss his forehead when I was trying to get him to sleep, I got to stroke the back of his head while I carried him in the ergo, I got to feel his head in the crook of my arm while I rocked him, I felt his head on my chest when he would lean on me and each time, I was so grateful. So grateful to finally TOUCH my baby's head and it was quite honestly overwhelming. So grateful for something so simple. Something we all take for granted. I'm not sure if we are completely done with his helmet and we will find out more Thursday. But I do know that I felt just a tad bit more connected to Halif today and pray I don't ever take the simplest blessings for granted.

My emotions were heightened today as a young family at church said goodbye to their sweet baby girl, Atlee Grace, after her 6 months in the NICU. I was once again reminded of how blessed we are with each moment of being in each other's presence physically able to touch and the blessing of how these little one's touch our hearts. Please pray for the Boone family with me for the days, weeks and months to come. And go love, kiss and touch your little ones.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

4 months

Yes...it's been awhile and I've been reminded by a handful of friends lately that I've abandoned our blog. Not abandoned but it's not been something on the high priority list as we've been continuing to transition to a family of 5. In all honesty, I just don't know how to find the energy or time to blog especially when I can randomly just put a pic and small blip on facebook in 20 seconds...so much easier for me and I know people will actually read it =) And with still being a bit overwhelmed and processing everything, I at times don't even know what to say. I'd be lying if I told you the past 3 months I've been "missing" have been easy and although challenging, we continue to be blessed and the Lord has orchestrated such amazing progress in adjusting and bonding! I do feel like I'm getting more in a groove and can now see a little more clearly in retrospect.

4 months...hard to believe 4 months ago today we arrived back in San Antonio with Halif and were reunited with the girls! We have all grown, literally and spiritually, by leaps and bounds. Halif is no longer the tiny, frail, fearful 6 month old we brought home but a 10 month old that recently was called "chunky" by a stranger - YEAH!! My baby boy has dimples on his knuckles, chunk on his thighs, a little ring around his wrist and the sweetest cheeks around! At his 9 month appt. he was 17 lbs. 1 oz. which put him in the 11%. He is probably up to about 18 lbs now and as healthy as can be. His development is right on if not ahead and he is VERY verbal - talking constantly and not just babble but real words - hi, bye-bye, dada, mama, uh-oh, ba-ba for bottle, poo-poo and is signing "all done". He understands so much too - responds to no by stopping (most the time), dances when we say the word, follows simple direction like "get the ball" or "give it to mama", etc. They are just sponges at this age. When we got our referral back in June we were told that they didn't know what his developmental delays would be because of his malnutrition and God has just healed and grown this sweet boy up to be as healthy as possible.

Now for his heart....there has been a lot of love and adjustment going on in this house. Our cocooning has overall proven to be fruitful - Halif is very attached to Neil right now which is a huge blessing! If he can truly attach to one of us, the other will follow...that would be me =)  Sometimes it's hard when he grabs onto Neil's shirt and fusses when I take him or Neil gives him to me but I know that this happens with a lot of kids bio and adopted. I know it in my head but sometimes my heart just isn't there so I won't lie...it's a little hurtful and I can't and really don't take is personally. I know we just need more time. People say "Oh he came to you so young he won't have any grieving/adjustment or bonding issues" and while he might not have as many being younger, he does and will at different stages of his life. Although he is 10 months old we have to keep his "at home" age in mind for bonding which is 4 months. And if you really think about it, there is SO much bonding and connection that happens to a mother and baby while she is pregnant so we not only weren't there for the 6 months he was in Ethiopia but the 9 months he was in utero - that's 15-16 months time we are catching up on! There has been a lot of progress made but we still have a long way to go.

 The most challenging part of the past 4 months has been Eden... my sweet, strong, stubborn, funny, passionate, cuddle-bug, 4 year old. Wow - this has ROCKED her world and we have been on our knees asking the Lord to guide us through this. There was a period of 6 weeks where she'd bring me to tears almost every.single.day. because she was going to get her attention one way or another. She was used to being the baby and she was now the big sister. She was now sharing me during the day and we couldn't just go and do what we wanted all the time. While searching for scripture to pray over her for a spirit of love, self-control, patience, obedience, a funny thing happened...the Lord led me to those scriptures that very clearly was for ME. I was not leaning on the Lord and His word to fill me up to display these attributes I wanted to see in her. Conviction? yes!! I have learned that Eden will control the whole house if I let her. And my response is what determines what will happen. Me staying calm, praying that "in your anger, do not sin", forgiving just as HE forgave shows Eden what I pray to see in her. The last 3 weeks have been so much better and I'm thankful that just as in any challenge, the Lord has shown me how I was blessed and what I learned. I pray I can continue and show all of my kids how much I love them each as individual, unique, special blessings to me!

OK so I could write a book about the last 4 months but I'll stop there =)

Here are a few things I'd like to jot down:
- Halif loves shoes or I should say is OBSESSED with shoes, loves Rollo the cat, wants anything with buttons, loves music of any kind but especially the Fresh Beat Band
- Eden started gymnastics in January and is having a blast; she also has pneumonia over the Christmas break
- Claire lost her first and second tooth, broke her first bone (collarbone), had pneumonia, strep and a stomach bug...all in two weeks time
- Neil and I celebrated our 10 year dating anniversary at Jim's...with Halif in tow =)
- I was really sick during Christmas break and was so thankful for Neil. He took care of all three kids like a rockstar and I think this is when Halif got so attached to Neil
- Halif is sleeping better these days...he goes to sleep right after eating which is still about 3-4 hours. We are still exhausted but it's getting better.
- Eden can't get enough of school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She asks to go everyday and poor girl has one more year to wait before that happens.
- Claire has started Girl Scouts and just today, Ballet. She is growing up so fast and so motivated to do her very best in all she does. She sold 286 boxes of cookies with very little help from mom and dad. She is also really loving reading and science! She wants a science experiment birthday party.
- Halif gets his helmet off Feb 14th and it has done an incredible job rounding out his sweet little head. He got it on Oct. 25th and we will have to get used to seeing him without it when he's been wearing it 23 hrs. a day

And here are a few more pics: