Also, for those of you that have not checked out some of the videos from the old blog, I've added them to this one. Take a peek at the sidebar, and enjoy!!
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Thank you all for taking the time to let me know that ya'll still read this. Sometimes I wonder why, but with almost 200 people reading daily and almost 10,000 hits in the 3+ weeks that we've had Anna Grace, I guess the "why" doesn't matter. I just pray that the Lord continue to use me to glorify Him throughout the journey He has set before us.
I really try to answer emails and although I love blogging, it pretty much stinks that comments on blogs really aren't responded to. Sometimes, I get questions asked or comments that I would love to answer. So, this post, I am going back and answering or commenting on a few blog/guestbook comments.
Becky - "Just exactly what were you two little Missy's doing in the fridge?" - I don't know about Ily, but I was in the fridge because I do arm exercises by opening and closing the door!!....NOT! heh.
Carrie - (and others that leave me your blogs), I love them! Although my time is so very limited, and forget trying to read a book, I sneak over to my fav blogs whenever possible and see how the rest of the world is doing.
Kim P. - I am so thrilled you are soon bringing home your Lilly. I have bookmarked your blog!!
Lisa L. - I have been over to Loos Locos' blog and just LOVE to see your big family and all those smiles. Your Brady sounds like my Anna Grace and Tonya's Ayla. These feisty little ones are definite survivors and we can't help but admire their strength and courage.
Holly - Thank you so much for the info on the Chinese CD disks. She is truly understanding soooo much English that it blows me away. I have learned some basics such as I love you, it's ok, potty, Mama is here and a few others. I wish I had prepared a little more with the language ordeal, but was told many times over that it was "no big deal" with a toddler. Live and learn. :)
Becky - Oh, how I wish I could say that at least one of those beautiful smiles of Anna Grace's were directed at me. :( Not yet.
Monday, July 9, 2007
I went to my sister's blog, Our Journey To Isabella, and was so moved to find the most beautiful story she had on there for me. Please take a moment to read it. I think it pertains to ALL mothers, those who carried their children in their wombs, and those that have carried them in their hearts. Thank you, Ily. I love you so very much!
As always, I want to first start by thanking so many of you for your support. Wow! I logged onto my computer a little while ago and your emails of support, comments, prayers and scriptures continue to fill me with renewed strength. I have taken them all to heart and will lean on your words of wisdom when things get tough again. I was told by a new online friend that Anna Grace's unbreakable spirit will be used for the Lord's glory someday. Yes, and isn't that what it's all about?
I left yesterday's post with an update of Anna Grace waking up and hating me. Another "Wow"! Yesterday afternoon was TOUGH! Probably one of the toughest days to date. As I sat for TWO hours cradling her in my arms, wiping the sweat and tears from both of our faces, and praying, I thought about how this really sucked! Not for me....but for her! I could totally understand and see what was happening. She woke up and was so darn mad! She was mad at me...AND at herself. At herself, for allowing herself to get close to me and show me love.
The battle that these little ones fight within, especially when they first come home, is such a strong one. It's heartbreaking to me. Their little hearts want so badly to be loved, to be able to trust, yet they are in survival mode. Everything within them tells them not to trust because they will once again hurt and abandoned. It's a constant in their minds, and I can't think of any other word right now than that totally sucks! Can you imagine being a mere 2 years old and having to deal with that kind of burden?
I know it's completely out of my control and there's nothing I could do. All I can do is to continue to show her the love that I have for her - unconditionally, through the rages that at times even include biting, pushing away and kicking. But each time we go through one of those, she realizes at the end that I never put her down, I never yelled at her, I continued to love her through anything she threw (sometimes literally) at me, and that I am a constant in her life, good or bad. Each time that occurs, one more brick crumbles from the wall she has built. Eventually there will be no bricks left and only wide open spaces that we can fill with mutual love for each other. I so admire her strength and courage and am totally honored and blessed to call Anna Grace my daughter.
Now, on a brighter note that I have been meaning to post. Last week Anna Grace, Kai and AJ went for physicals.
Let's start with AJ. I'm not sure some of you know this, but AJ, my NON-SPECIAL needs domestic cutie pie was born with ASD (Atrial Septal Defect). At the time of his birth, the cardiologist felt the hole was very small and I was told to bring him back after a year for another full exam. Praise God....the hole is completely closed and he has been discharged completely from seeing the cardiologist again! Wooohooo!! He weighs 25 lbs. and is 32.5 inches tall. He is 99% in height on the charts and 60% in weight. He's definitely our big boy and Scott's promising linebacker for the New England Patriots in the future.
Now, my sweet Kai. Kai looked great and is very healthy. He weighs 28 lbs. HE GAINED 3 LBS. IN CHINA!!! And is 33 inches tall. Only 1/2" taller than AJ and three lbs. more. I am thrilled to say that Kai has finally made it to the American charts in weight, in the 3 percentile but is still off the charts in height. We are awaiting to hear news this coming week of a surgery date to complete his VPI surgery and he continues to go to speech therapy. He is 100% on target for all of his other skills and if his Mama could ever potty train him, he will be starting preschool in the fall!!!! My baby is growing up.
And last but not least, Miss Anna Grace. As I mentioned, she has been tested for everything under the sun. The doctor was quite impressed on how she was so well taken care of in China. Her skin is beautiful, her hair shiny and even her pearly whites looked amazing! Anna Grace weighs 25 lbs. (same as AJ and 3 lbs. less than Kai) and is 34 inches tall (only an inch taller than Kai and 1.5 inches taller than AJ). And get this....she is in the 50th percentile in height on and 25th percentile in weight on the AMERICAN charts. She has an appointment to go back in August for more vaccinations and so we can get all of the test results on the onslaught of blood that they have drawn from her little body. She was a TOTAL trooper through it all. I let Daddy hold her so he could be the bad guy during the drawing blood process. :) Poor baby needed so much blood drawn that they have to break it up into 2 different dates. So, this Thursday evening, Daddy heads back to the lab with her for more blood and to deliver the urine and stool samples. Yummy! heh.
She is partially potty trained and will go whenever I sit her. The only problem is that she isn't speaking to us yet, we don't know when she has to go. Hopefully that will change within the next few weeks. (Going thru anywhere between 14-18 diapers a day with 3 little ones can be tough, especially on the bank account.) I'd love to hear from anyone who brought home a partially trained toddler and successfully completed the training right away without them speaking. :)
So that's about it. My babies are doing great. They are all pretty much the same height and weight and it truly feels like I have triplets. Although they are sooooooooo much work, and I am usually sooooooo exhausted, especially by the time 5 p.m. rolls around, they are triple the blessings. They are so much fun to watch play and interact with each other. There's rarely a moment of quiet during the day here, except at naptime. We've still not had pretty much any sibling rivalry but I continue to wait for it. It's just a matter of time for the honeymoon to be over.
PS. I wanted to add this quote at the bottom, since today while I was out with my 4 kiddos when I overheard someone say, "She really has her hands full. I don't understand why anyone would want so many kids?" I didn't say anything, but my first thought was to answer, "and do you get to smile and laugh as often as I do everyday?" But I just continued walking and thanked God for my "bouquet."
"How can you say there are too many children in the world? That is like saying there are too many flowers." - Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I always think about all that I want to blog about as it is happening, but time just slips away and before I know it, I have so very much to share but don't have the time to do so.
Today is different and I am making the time to stop and journal of how I am feeling right this very minute. As I type this, I am alone at home with only AJ & Anna Grace. who are both napping. Kai is off with my sister for the day. I have tears running down my face as I listen to the words of the songs on my blog.
Many of you have written to me that God never leaves us and that He never gives us more than we could bear. Sometimes, in the depths of the abyss when I feel like I am drowing, it is so hard for me to remember that He is by my side, yet, He never does leave me and just when I think I am taking my last breath, I feel like I am being pulled up to the surface and my lungs are filled to capacity with His breath of life.
This weekend my Dad and his wife came to meet Anna Grace and spend time with us. It was a marvelous weekend and I love being surrounded by family. But, it is so hard, especially at first when you have a little one going through such attachment ordeals. As I expected her to be, Anna Grace was the most adorable charmer and everyone she layed eyes were immediately captivated by her grace, beauty and charisma. She played, laughed, hugged and kissed each and every person to their (and her) heart's content. Something that is so detrimental for attachment, but I wanted her to get to know her family during this short time together.
Last night, we all gathered for a big dinner here at the house. It included my Mom, her husband, my Dad, his wife, and my sister's family. Anna Grace had already had 3 holding times with me throughout the day and she pretty much rejected anything that had to do with me most of the day. Still, I stayed on track and through tears, continued to be the one to feed her, bathe her and be her "main caretaker". Right before dinner was served, we all gathered in the living room and Anna Grace was the entertainment. My sister and my Mom stood at the end of the room while Anna Grace stood on the other side and gleefully ran into their arms as they cheered her on. Her laugh filled the room as I sat quietly on the couch only getting occasional glances from her, with of course, no smiles. As each person held her and and she played, I knew my night would be getting tougher and tougher. It's amazing how she was not born from my womb, yet, I already know her like she was. God did definitely conceive her in my heart.
After about a half hour of running and playing, I scooped her up and sat her on my lap. Within seconds, the "initial frown" came followed by big tears. I then got up and went into the bedroom with her. There, our holding time was so very intense including many Chinese words she was saying that I have no clue what they were. She eventually called me Mama and gave me some very good eye contact, but I think only to get away from my grasp. I was emotionally exhausted and she was probably both physically and emotionally exhausted. The crying ceased and she calmed down. I gently laid her on the bed, pulled the covers over her and kissed her goodnight, only to find her reaching her arms out to be picked up. Once I did, the crying began again, this time more severe with anger and deep grieving. I held her tightly while I rocked her and continued whispering to her that I loved her and that I would never leave her. Again, they are mere sounds to her, but I know that she knows I love her. But, she doesn't know I will never leave her. About another 20 minutes later, I finally laid her back down where she remained quietly and was ready to go to sleep.
This morning, I awoke at 6:30. My immediate thought was, "Oh God...another day." I prayed quietly that the Lord continue to give me wisdom and guidance, but most of all patience. I can't even begin to express how deep the rejection can hurt, followed by incessant crying at the mere thought of knowing that she is coming in my arms. This is my child. The very child that I would give my life for, yet she wants nothing to do with me.
After praying, I leaned over to Scott who I thought was sleeping, but heard my sniffling through tears. He held me close and that's all I needed to finally break down completely. I told him I couldn't do this. I didn't want to do this. I told him I felt like I was a bad mother and I was constantly being judged as "mean". Tomorrow will be three weeks Anna Grace has been in my arms and it's been truly the most challenging change of event in my life that I have ever endured. I know for her, it is so much bigger.
Scott reminded me how I hard worked hard with Kai and how attached he was to me now and how I needed to stay strong for the other kids, that he was there supporting me and that we would get through this together. I let out everything I was feeling inside and then finally collapsed into the bed and laid there for a few minutes before having to face the inevitable tasks before me.
I got up, showered and came out to greet my family. AJ was awake, while Anna Grace still was sleeping. I took my little guy out of the crib, ever so quietly so as not to wake the sleeping giant. He smiled and gave me his morning "Hi", followed by hugs and kisses. It soothed my heart, yet made me wonder again why when I am trying so hard, she won't love me.
My Dad was leaving this morning early, so I made a quick breakfast. I then asked Scott to be the one to wake Anna Grace, since I could not bear the tears so soon after my emotional breakdown. He complied and a few minutes later, a beautiful Anna Grace with tossled hair and sleepy eyes appeared in the kitchen. I walked over and gave her a kiss and said "Good morning, baby girl", my usual morning greeting to her. No response, just the same stoic face I am greeted with every morning.
He took her to the potty as I continued to make breakfast. She then scurried over to her Grandpa and sat happily next to him. While breakfast was cooking, I went over and carried her from the couch where she was sitting and told her we needed to get dressed for church. I went to the closet and pulled out one of her pretty dresses and kept emphasizing how pretty she would look in it. I dressed her, put on her lacy socks and matching bow and then stood her up before me. I smiled and said, "Wow. You are beautiful!" as I spun her in a circle so that her dress would twirl. I got a half a smile. Aaahhh.....an ice breaker!! I then walked her back in the family room and presented her with a "TAAADAAAA!", while everyone ooohhhhed and aaaahhhed. She, of course, glowed with pride and went prancing back over to where Grandpa was sitting, obviously relieved that her time with me was over.
We all sat down for breakfast and I cheerfully fed her. She seemed upbeat, although not playing with me. My Dad gathered his belongings and we walked him out the door as I carried Anna Grace while she said her goodbyes. She stood in the driveway with me, tears rolling as Grandpa drove away.
I came back inside and told Scott that I would take care of Anna Grace while we were at church. He could carry AJ. Last week, was disastrous as she wanted NOTHING to do with me. Maybe this week, she would at least sit next to me.
We started towards the garage and I grabbed a new cabbage patch kid she hadn't played with on the way out. She held tight to her baby and we were off to church.
Once we arrived, we were greeted by friends from church, but I made sure she stayed on my lap and didn't go off to anyone's arms. She complied, although not happily. Shortly after mass began, AJ became restless and Scott had to get up and walk to the back with him. Anna Grace looked a bit dismayed that Daddy was leaving her side. I whispered to her that he was taking AJ outside and he would be back. She still was not relaxed enough to allow herself to lean into me, so it was like holding a stiff doll on my lap. I handed her a sippy cup and she took it willingly. That would at least keep her quiet.
Being Catholic, there is a lot of standing, sitting, kneeling, during our masses. About halfway through the mass, we were standing and she rested her head on my shoulder while I carried her. I can't even tell you how BIG that is. I almost dropped her from disbelief. I held her close to my heart and thanked Jesus for that little miracle. Then, all of a sudden, she lifted her head, grabbed my face so that I would look at her and ever so slowly put her head against mine and puckered her lips and kissed me. At that point, I just allowed the tears to roll down. She has never initiated close eye to eye contact with me, much less given me a kiss without my asking.
Seconds from this happening, Scott joined us with AJ. He had seen her doing that while he was walking back to the pew we were sitting at. This happened right after the eucharist was consecrated so we had to kneel again. I couldn't praise our Lord enough for showing me that indeed He doesn't leave us. He knew my heart was breaking and I couldn't bear much more without some feeling of knowing that all of this was not in vain, that we were obedient and doing His will. I was filled with the same love and emotion as I was on the first day at mass with Kai when we came home as we sang "Glory to God in the Highest". I day I will forever remember. I give Him all of the glory and honor for this blessing, and at times when I am so lost in my own world that I don't see the blessing, He gives me the strength to continue. I sometimes wonder why He waits till I am at my wits end. :) This again brings me back to Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
We left church with my heart floating. I carried my beautiful baby girl all the way to the car with her smiling at me. But it gets better. Once home, it was naptime for both of them. Scott got called out to do a service call. So, I laid AJ down for his nap and I told Anna Grace that it was naptime. A word she already knows...and HATES. Immediately the tears came. This time, my heart was filled with compassion instead of dreading the sound of the crying. I laid her down and told her that AJ was napping and that Mama was gonna nap and that Anna Grace had to take a nap. She continued to cry, the only difference was that this time, she reached out for me to pick her up and pointed to the rocking chair. Something else she hates. I then sat in the rocking chair and softly brushed her face with my hand while she whimpered. She looked at me and said, "Mama". I had tears in my eyes once again. Then she stopped crying, nuzzled herself into my chest and drifted off to sleep. I almost hated putting her down. I held her for a while, gazing down at my beautiful daughter. This time, knowing full well that yes, every tear, every act of rejection and every moment filled with sorrow is more than worth it because someday she will know that I AM her Mama and will know that I love her with a love that only a Mama could give.
I know there have been quite a few negatives in my journaling about Anna Grace, but it's not all been rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, the human part of me has wanted to give up and I am so glad to hear from many of you that I am not the only one that has experienced those feelings. But also, as I have been told by quite a few of you, and I am beginning to see it, I am really starting to believe that once she trusts me enough to give her heart to me, her love will be unconditional and will be forever.
I am completely honest when I say that it wasn't love at first sight at all with her, but I've learned to stop beating myself up about that. It's okay and could even be considered "normal". I've also learned that it's amazing how one look, one honest look from her into my eyes can remind me of the miracles that God creates. They come few and far between, but today has been a day filled with miracles for me and I am so thankful to our God for them. May He continue to heal her heart and to fill me with wisdom, patience, and guidance so that I can continue being the Mother that He wants me to be.
UPDATE: She woke up from her nap hating me again. But it's ok, I love her enough for both of us. :)