Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Month Reflections.....And Our First Family Photos :)

Could it really be possible that one month ago we stepped off the airplane with our sweet (very tired, very sick) little boy? Wow! Time really does fly. Is there any way to slow it down? :)

So, I promised that I would write kind of a reflective type post about our first month home, and it just so happened that I was also able to add our first family photos, thanks to my precious cousin Gina. As a gift to us, she took our very first family photos. What a blessing! She did a great job catching Caleb's cute smile :)

Well, where to start. This past month has been a blessed whirlwind....yep, that's a good way to put it! Well, let's start with our first week. Most definitely the hardest part of our first month home. Despite the trip home being long and hard, when we got off the plane in Kentucky, I thought to myself, "Hmm, this really isn't that bad....I wonder what everyone else was talking about when they said they were so exhausted". When we actually got home, I even stayed up the rest of the day, putting away our luggage and straightening up things. I felt fine, just a little spacey, if you will. Even slept pretty good that first night. The next morning was totally different- I awoke feeling completely exhausted, feeling like I could not pull my body out of the bed- it almost felt like I had weights attached. I do have Lupus, so I think that came into play as well in terms of energy. I realized the phrase "running on adrenaline" was exactly what I had been doing for the last couple of days- in a major way! Not only was I exhausted, I was beginning to realize that our life as we had known it at home was no longer going to be the same. Our sleeping was no longer going to be the same. Our eating was no longer going to be the same. Our leisure time was no longer to be the same. Nothing was the same! Hmm. You would have thought I would have figured this out in Ethiopia, or at least realized that adding a baby to the mix changes things. Well, in Ethiopia, everything was different because we were in Ethiopia, so change felt normal, if that makes sense. And yes, I had thought about how things would change. But I guess I just had not realized exactly how much change would come with our sweet son.

That first week, Caleb was wondeful, given all the changes he was going through and the fact that he was dealing with pneumonia. I, on the other hand, was an emotional wreck, I really was. I know this sounds selfish and awful, but I went through a grieving process of our old life for a couple days- mainly our "freedom" and independence. Couple this with exhaustion, and you have a little bit of post adoption depression going on. I was thankful for Caleb and so glad he was finally home with us, but at the same time I felt so incapable of being a mother, physically and emotionally. Thankfully my amazing husband was a rock during that first week, even though he was exhausted and adjusting as well. One morning my parents came over so we could rest a bit. Zack laid in bed with me and just let me cry in his arms. We called out to the Lord to help us during this time of transition. And help us he did!
Literally, with each day after that first week was over, I could see a difference in my heart. Notice I said my heart. Caleb had done nothing to provoke the feelings I had. I would describe him as a very "easy" baby. He was precious during this tough time. So funny, so happy (despite being so ill) a good sleeper, and a good eater. Thank God! I think he knew what a wimp I am, so he thought, "I better give this mom an easy baby" :)

By the end of week two, I could begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I could see now I could manage to take the best care of Caleb, clean the house and cook dinner. During that first week, it felt like I was doing good to get out of bed and feed Caleb breakfast. I began to see how, as my sweet friend Anna Stager wrote on her blog, that I could love Caleb the way he needed to be loved because God had first loved me. That was really key to adjusting my thoughts and feelings. It was through the power of Christ that I could be a mommy. Thankfully, Zack was able to be at home with us full time for the first few weeks, and my parents and inlaws helped out as well- all true blessings!

By the beginning of week three- I think this is when things started feeling more comfortable. We read a couple of books about sleeping, and Caleb began going to bed on his own, wide awake, and didn't even mind! He even gave up his middle of the night bottle, and began sleeping all night long (for the most part)! What a blessing! I will never forget the first night we decided to try our "sleep strategy". I was a nervous wreck, and I really didn't think it would work. The basic method we used was to get Caleb ready for bed before he was too sleepy, do the same routine each night (read him a few books, rock to soft music and let him take his evening bottle, and put him down in his crib before he is asleep). So, the first night he cried. We went in after 5 minutes to console him. He kept crying. Went in after 10 minutes to console. He still cried. Went in after 15 mintues. He was still crying. I was ready to give up. We were almost through the 20 minute wait....and......silence. I remember thinking, "Is he okay?" I went in and checked on him, and he was in his favorite sleeping position, sleeping away. With each night, it took him less and less time for him to fall asleep, and now, we just lay him down, he looks up at us, rolls over, and that is that! Amazing! Not that sleep is everything, but a well rested baby and well rested parents can make a world of difference! We are very thankful! Caleb really started to feel comfortable in other areas as well- he began playing by himself, getting used to riding in his car seat and making short, infrequent trips to the store and grandmas house. He also started taking a few steps on his own! In every way, we were all adjusting and thriving! Praise the Lord!!

This past week has been even sweeter. Though it is a hard job and I still am worn out at the end of the day, I am enjoying being a mommy more and more! I love this little guy! I would even say I get jealous when he has too much fun with grandma or grandpa :) Caleb is changing so much! He is getting another tooth on the bottom, and he is most definitely walking on his own, though he does still crawl quite a bit. He is beginning to learn his daily routine, and he seems to like it. As he feels more comfortable with us, he is also beginning to test us more frequently to see what he can get away with. He still smiles most of the time when we say "No". That's a tough little smile to keep saying "no" to. He is also being a little more rowdy at dinner time. You see, C stands for "Caleb", but it also stands for "comedian". He seems to want to be the funniest at the dinner table. It is sooo hard not to laugh at all his faces. Some are so funny, some are so dramatic, and some are just so Caleb. He is hilarious. Really. What else...oh, there is so much. He really loves music. He love to stand up on his own and do the twist and clap his hands. He loves Boz (the green bear cartoon) and gets so excited when Boz and his friends sing. He also loves our dog, Pooh. He likes to kiss and pet him, and has recently began to give him his dog toy- how nice.

Well, this post has gone on much longer than I had planned. I guess if I could sum up the last month, I would just say: Great is thy faithfulness, oh God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest not, thou compassions they fail not. As thou hast been, thou forever shall be.

God continues to be faithful to our family. In the midst of our ignorance as parents, in the times when we are selfish, and don't deserve such a sweet precious boy. In the sweet times when Caleb just comes over and lays his head on my lap. In the funny times, when he sits in his high chair and makes us crack up! In the frustrating times, when he is fussy and really grumpy, and nothing seems to make him happy. In the precious times when you wish you could just freeze the moment, like when he walks by himself and is so proud he starts clapping..... when he blows mommy and daddy kisses. Great is your faithfulness to us. We praise you Lord.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caleb's New Favorite Toy (not really :)

Well, we thought Caleb was on the mend...but this weekend he started developing a bit of a cough, and mommy and daddy were worried. He also wasn't eating quite like he normally does. So, we watched the cough get a little worse each day, and I called the doctor Wed. morning when his temperature reached well over 100 (yes, we should have taken him earlier....bad mommy!). When we got to the doctor, we found out he was once again a sick little boy. He has an ear infection (not a normal one either...something to do with a bubble :) and he also has bronchiolitis, most likely caused by RSV, which explains that nasty cough. He had to undergo a breathing treatment at the doctor....it lasted for ten minutes, and for poor Caleb, it was ten minutes of you know what! He screamed the entire time :( They then informed mommy and grandma (Zack is out of town this week....missing all the fun :) that we would have to do the breathing treatments at home every 4-6 hours until his cough was gone completely. Oh no!

As you can see by these pics, he has done great doing the treatments at home, and he even held his mask by himself....he is such a big boy. We are very proud of how brave he has been for his 6 doctor visits (that's right, 6 in just a little over three weeks!) since he has been in America. He is some little guy! You would never have known, for the most part, that he wasn't feeling good. He is just the happiest baby.

Next week we will have been home for one month....that is so hard to believe. I am planning on typing a more "reflective" post at that point, but this is all for now!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sanctity of Life Sunday

Many local churches designated today as "Sanctity of Life Sunday, a time to reflect on the gift of life that God gives, and also a time to renew and refresh our commitment to protect this precious gift.

As I think about the meaning of this day, I am both encouraged and saddened. I am encouraged by the people we have met on our adoption journey who are committed to spreading the good news of adoption and who take a firm stance against the evils of abortion. However, I am saddened by the number of lives that are still being taken each year by abortion. As an adopted child and now as an adoptive parent, it is hard for me to comprehend how abortion could be seen as a viable option. It is hard for me to understand how our country can distinguish between murder and abortion. We all know that if a woman gave birth to a baby, and only seconds after it was out of her womb, the doctor were to intentionally take its life, the doctor would be arrested and charged with murder. Yet, if this same baby, still inside the womb, had its life ended by abortion by that same doctor, it would be perfectly legal, and no charges would be pressed. How? Why? I may not be very intellectual or a "lofty" thinker, but this just does not make sense to me.

Everyday, with every choice we make, we are leaving a legacy for future generations. What message are we sending our children, our teenagers? That life is something that can be disregarded if it isn't convenient? That responsibility doesn't matter anymore, because there is always a way out? That there aren't any consequences? I have had heart wrenching conversations with middle school students (church going, Christian middle school students) about abortion. Heart wrenching because they have been sucked into the ideology that there are no absolutes, that what is right for you is right for you, and what is right for me is right for me. They don't want to "offend" anyone by standing up for their Christian beliefs. Though I am thankful for their "tolerance (to an extent), I am afraid that we have taught tolerance to the point that we are tolerating practices and beliefs that are shameful, displeasing to God, and just plain evil. May we never teach our children to devalue the precious gift of life, a gift that only God can give. The most precious gift of all.

I hope that this post has not seemed insensitive or self-righteous. I, too, have allowed apathy and fear to sometimes keep me from standing firm in the Word of God, in what I know to be truth. I have stood silent in the voice of opposition. But I feel that we can no longer allow our country to make the slow and steady slide into moral decline by devaluing life.

We have all heard the phrase, "it's not a choice, it is a child". Isn't that a simple, yet profound statement? The time for making critical choices comes long before the choice to have an abortion. I know that at times there are difficult and unfair circumstances in this world, but do we not have victory over death and sin through Jesus Christ? He is bigger than anything this world can hand us, if we will only take his yoke upon us.

You and I have the choice each day to stand against evil, and to proclaim the good news of Christ in this dark world. May we be found as faithful servants.

For more on abortion (stats, links) and how you can make a difference, visit Never Silence Life.
A special thank you to my friend and fellow adoptive parent, Tiffany White, for bringing this issue to the forefront this past week.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out of Africa.....

Our local paper was kind enough to do a follow up story on our adoption this week. They did a story on Zack and I last November, and we were more than happy for them to finish the story by introducing our son to our community. We pray that maybe another family would be encouraged to adopt by our story.

In other news....Caleb's chest xrays came back negative, praise the Lord. He is almost finished with his parasite meds, so he will start the TB meds soon. We are feeling more rested with each day, and we are sleeping very well. We are discovering he is a little more of a picky eater than we thought :) He has learned to give what he doesn't like to the dog..oh no! There goes Pooh's special diet....Oh, and today, he said, "dog". I think Pooh has a new best friend :)

ps- you might have to click on the story to make it big enough to read

Saturday, January 10, 2009

He's A Trooper....

Our little guy sure is a trooper. Wednesday he had his visit with Dr. Taylor at the International Adoption Clinic at U.K. First of all, she had her staff rock! They were so great with Caleb. He was evaluated by Dr. Taylor, an occupational therapist, and also had lots of labwork ran. He did great, though he didn't like being stuck with a needle, but who does?

Yesterday we got a call in the morning that they found a parasite in Caleb's poopy:(
Dr. Taylor said this was not uncommon for children from third world countries, so it is ten more days of medicine for our guy. Later in the day we took Caleb to have his TB skin test read. I had seen his arm earlier in the day and was concerned as their was a raised red area. I was pretty sure this was not good! We took him to our pediatrician, and yep, it was positive. So, we had to make a trip to the hospital for chest x-rays. We will hear about those on Monday, but the poor guys has to take meds for at least 6 months!!! As long as the xrays come back okay, he is just a carrier of TB, which isn't too big of a deal.

Despite all this, he is doing remarkably well and has even began to forgo his bottle when he wakes during the night. We have started somewhat of a new sleep time technique as well, and that is going pretty good. He has been going to sleep early and waking late, which is good for mom and dad and baby.

I truly believe that with each day we all are bonding and thriving more and more. Glory to God for this, as it is only by his mercy and grace that we have made it to this point. Just as he was faithful to us through the paperwork process and the waiting portion of our adoption, so his faithfulness extends to us as we are learning how to be parents. And it has definitely been a learning experience :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy Days.....

Yesterday was Caleb's first day at our home church (he had been to church with us on Christmas Eve in Ethiopia). He did so wonderful! He smiled at almost everyone and allowed many people to hold him. Yep, he showed off big time. He was good for most of the service, but started to get a bit restless at the end, so Zack took him out of the auditorium for a little bit. At the evening service he actually stayed in the nursery the entire time and did wonderfully. I was afraid it was too soon to leave him, but I went back periodically and checked on him and he was just playing away. He has adjusted so well....we can hardly believe it!

Also, today he took some major steps toward his attempt to walk! He walked about four feet, back and forth between me and my mom many times. He is so strong! He stands up on his own, gains his balance, and off he goes. It won't be long before he is walking all over this house!

And one more very important thing happened today...our good friends in Lexington, Chad & Karen Bowman, received their referral for a precious little girl this afternoon! They have been waiting around 11 months and they have done so with such grace....we are thrilled for them today! Congratulations Bowman Family!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

How We Are Doing....

Caleb is feeling so much better! He is so lively and playful and has done so well meeting his new family and friends. We weren't sure how he would react to a few visitors, or if it would even be good for him, but he seemed to eat up every second of it! He loves being the center of attention and is so social!

He has also been sleeping very well....I almost feel guilty :) He goes to bed around 9pm and sleeps all night or only wakes once per night. We are blessed! Let's just hope it continues :)

He is also a very good eater and really goes after his food....maybe a little like his momma?

Zack is feeling better but his his ear is still hurting and he is having some sinus issues. I am feeling better but still feel tired and I am not back to 100%....I imagine it will take a while to get used to the new mommy routine :) Overall, I think we are all doing great and adjusting very well. The first few days were tough, but looking back, I think it was to be expected. It was some adventure we had been on, and coming home was a new adventure as well!

Here are a few more pictures of Caleb....see what I mean about him loving attention :)