Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Weeks With Emmie

Three weeks with Emmie……

I actually had to look at the calendar today to make sure that I was counting correctly…..three weeks since we first met our daughter! Three weeks since we watched her lay in the floor and scream, cry, and kick at the thought of being with us. It truly does not seem as if three weeks could have already passed since that day.
There is  no way that we could have imagined the current state of our life with Emmie three weeks ago.  Three weeks ago we were just wondering how to get through each minute with her, let alone hours, days or weeks. Three weeks ago we were laying on our bed in a hotel room in Nanningpraying for wisdom as Emmie had cried herself to sleep in front of our hotel door- this was the farthest she could get away from us. She would not allow us to provide any consolation or to even approach her.  

God has shown us what we thought was impossible is actually possible in a shorter amount of time than we ever thought possible! Here are just a few “impossible” things we have experienced in our short three weeks with Emmie:

-Emmie wants to be carried by “mama” several times each day!

-Emmie wakes up smiling and giggling

-Emmie is beginning to let “baba” and mama give her kisses and will even give us kisses (sometimes)

-Emmie loves her brothers to pieces, but they love her even more!

-Emmie is beginning to sit with us during storytime and is allowing us to read to her

-Emmie is beginning to be able to go into public places without any major “meltdowns"

-Emmie is telling us “good night” in English as bedtime (most of the time….we still have a couple tears some nights)

Yesterday a friend who is also in the adoption process and whom has already experienced much heartache while she and her family wait for their precious daughter posted this on her Facebook page: God often waits until conditions appear impossible in order to remind us that nothing is impossible for Him- Dr. Tj Betts
For our family, this sums up our adoption experience not only with Emmie’s adoption, but also with Caleb and Noah’s adoption, albeit in different ways. God brings us to a place where we can only exist in and through Him. Where each hour of each day we must seek Him to continue to press on. Somehow I think that this must be how God desires for our entire lives to be. Not that he wants us to experience constant hardships, but rather that no matter what we are experiencing, valleys or mountain tops, we experience it with Him as the Lord of our lives.

I will end this post with two pictures. The first is Emmie the first day we met her, after she had cried herself to sleep by our motel door. The second is Emmie tonight, sleeping peacefully in her own bed, in her own room. She went to bed tonight willingly and with no tears. As I left her room, she said in her very best English/Chinese, “Good night. Love you”.

I know that in the big scheme of things, we still have many issues to work on. I know there will be more sleepless nights, more breakdowns in public , more attachment issues- I know that, and we are continuing to grow, pray and learn. But for now, for three weeks with our girl, we are feeling pretty blessed. We are in a good place. God has done great things in all our lives and hearts. Grace has been shown mightily to us.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Untold Story of My Experience in a Chinese Hospital.....

On our second day in Nanning, the second day Emmie was with us,  we had an unexpected turn of events- I got to experience Chinese healthcare up close and personal!
That Tuesday around noon I began having some discomfort when I went to the bathroom (number  1). By the evening, there was blood in my urine, and I knew that I needed to seek medical treatment. Because it was evening time and most doctor offices were closed, our guide suggested that we go to the emergency room. Emmie was already asleep, so I left Zack with her, and I and the other adoptive mother from our travel group went  with our guide to the hospital. It was only about a ten minute taxi ride to the hospital. When we walked into the hospital, it was like nothing else I had seen before. There were people everywhere, children crying and screaming. Basically chaos! There also many different stations and I would have had no idea where to go first! The first station we went to was registration. The registration consisted of me giving them my name, birthdate and age. That is it. No medical history, no allergic reactions, nothing! After they got my name and birthdate, they gave me a little booklet with my  info in it, and a card, similar to a credit card. The guide then explained to me that my name would be up on the computer screen in a few minutes and would tell us what room we would go into to see the doctor. In the mean time I went over to the “nurses station” where they took my temperature and bloodpressure. We then stood and waited.
In a few minutes I saw “R. Caldwell” come up on the board, in the midst of all the Chinese names- it was pretty funny. Our guide showed us the room that we needed to go in and we waited in line outside the door. We went into the room which was a dimly lit room, and consisted of only a few cabinets and a desk with a computer.  The walls were dirty, there was no sink or examination table.  The doctor was sitting by a computer, and the guide told him my symptoms. He wrote something down in my book, and then typed some things into the computer. The guide said I would need to do a urine test. We had to walk to the other side of the hospital through what they call the “infusion ward”. This was a huge room with people sitting in chairs, side by side, with IV bags hanging. No privacy! Right beside this room was a long table with nurses on one side and patients on the other- the nurses were putting in IV’s as fast as they could. Again, no privacy! I thought to myself, “Glad I won’t be here!” Little did I know!!!
We had to stand in line to get a urine sample cup. The cup was about as big as the cups we use at home to measure the boys medicine.  I went to the restroom, which to my dismay was very dirty, smelly, and consisted only of squatty potties. I filled the cup up, and it did not look good- almost totally red in color. I was thankful we had chosen to come to the hospital that night instead of waiting until the morning.
I carried the sample outside the bathroom to the sink and was shocked to see NO SOAP! In a hospital! Then get this- We had to carry the sample outside the hospital, into another building, up to the third story- it was a crazy long way to carry a urine sample! We then waited for thirty minutes on the results. The card they gave us is what we used to check the results. There were computer terminals in the hospital where you swipe the card. We swiped the card and a small report printed out- of course I had no idea what is said, because it was in Chinese.  We took the report back outside and into the hospital to the doctor we I saw previously. The doctor then said (through our guide, who was interpreting) I would need oral antibiotics and 3 injections. I thought that "injections" meant a shot,  so I was okay with that, though I asked if I could just do the oral meds. The doctor said no. So, I agreed. Didn’t have much of a choice! I then learned that “injections” in China mean IV’s in America!
Before heading to the transfusion ward, we had to visit the pharmacy to get the oral medication and the medicine they would put in the IV- again, very different from the US. Also, we had to pay for everything before anything would be done- registration, doctor visit, urine test, IV, etc. and show the receipt to whomever we visited.
 The "infusion ward"  was extremely busy, with crying children and adults sitting and standing everywhere.  Our guide took care of standing in line for me, as the procedure is to wait in line, give the nurse the medicine, then they mix it and call you back up. We waited about twenty minutes, and I was called back up. I admit, I was nervous. Our guide had told us that no one in the hospital spoke any English, but as I sat down for my IV, the nurse asked me what my name was. She did a very good job of putting in the IV. I told her that she was very good- I barely felt anything, and she replied “Thank you”. The IV bag took about 40 minutes to completely infuse.  After it was empty, you push a button on your chair, and a nurse comes over and takes out the IV- no gloves! Oh well. We left as soon as they took it out. We got back to the motel after midnight! To say that I was ready for bed that night would be an understatement. Thankfully Emmie had slept the entire time, and would sleep all night through! A huge blessing.
The next two days I visited the hospital again for my other IV's. It was a much simpler process as each time I only had to stand in line to have the medication mixed, have the IV put in, and then wait in the infusion ward. Below are some pictures of my experience. What memories! Though there are many issues and problems with our healthcare system in the USA, this experience made me thankful for  many things about our healthcare. At the same time, it was very cheap for me to have medical care in China- only about $80 for everything- a doctor visit, 3 IV's and oral antibiotics. Hard to beat that, I guess. Even if you have to carry your urine quite a distance and there is no soap in the bathrooms :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our journey home....And Life in London, Ky. USA

Our journey home from China was quite an adventure. It started out a little rocky, as Emmie became very upset when we told our Chinese guide and another family in our travel group "bye" at the airport. It was like she knew she was leaving China and everything familiar to her. She cried for quite a while at the Beijing airport, and we received many looks and stares, but we pressed on. A couple of suckers later and some reassurance and she was okay (dum-dum suckers are her favorite). We found our gate for our 12 hour flight, and luckily it had a huge window with a great view of planes taking off. Emmie loved looking out the window, and for the rest of our time in the airport did great. When it was time to board, we were able to board first, along with other adoptive families and children. It was very nice, as this was a huge flight-almost 300 people.

We found our seats, and at first it seemed as though the flight was going to be quite empty- then we learned that another flight had just arrived with many passengers who were supposed to be on our flight, so we waited, and the plane filled up. We thought we were ready to take off, but noticed that we were past departure time. That is when the speaker in the plane came on and we heard a friendly flight attendant tell us that due to some weather issues our departure would be  make a long story short, our departure was delayed for almost two hours! Not only was this not good because a child gets restless in an airplane that does not move for two hours, but we also knew we only had one hour to catch our connecting flight in Detroit once we landed. Uh oh!

Emmie really did great despite the delay, and once we did get up in the air, she had a great time. After we had been in the air about 3 hours, she pretty much let us know she wanted to go to sleep, and she did. She slept for about 5 hours, which was great. Our plane left around 6:30pm, so it was perfect timing for her to be able to sleep. We did the best we could to make her comfortable on the airplane- it involved a lot of twisting and turning, and the bottom half of my body going numb often :)

Once we got near Detroit (a full 12 hours after leaving Beijing, and we had already been on a 3 hour plane ride from Guangzhou!) we found out that the weather again was going to cause some delays in our landing. We flew around the airport for about thirty minutes in some turbulent air. I don't care much for turbulence, but Emmie thought it was fun. Once we landed we knew we had to pass through customs, then claim our baggage. Customs takes a little longer for adoptive families. You have to go into a special room, they take the brown envelope from you (it is very secretive- every time we have adopted all they tell us is don't open the brown envelope and give it to the customs people once you land), look at all your paperwork, then tell you are free and clear!

It really didn't take that long to go through customs and claim our baggage, maybe 30 minutes, but by the time we had, we had missed our flight home by ten minutes. I wanted to start crying, but Emmie continued to be a trooper, and we prayed that we could get another flight home that night. Otherwise it was going to be a night's stay in Detroit. Boo. That is what made me want to cry!

Praise Jesus, there were seats on a 9pm flight to Lexington. We had a few minutes to get something to eat and I was never more excited to see a Wendy's! It tasted delicious!! I was also so excited to use a bathroom in the good ole' USA. If you have ever used a squattie pottie, you know why!

Before we knew it we were on the plane to Lexington, Kentucky!! The plane ride was only one hour, but was quite turbulent and by this time we had been on 8 different planes in 14 days. I was done with flying, and so was Zack and Emmie.

 We arrived in Lexington at almost 11pm. We were greeted joyfully by my parents, our precious boys, Zack's mom, sisters, and close friend of the family, Aunt Nancy :)  Emmie clung to me at first, but then started putting on the smiles. She did well until it was time to get into the van and head home. Of course at this point she had been traveling for over 20 hours, and I can only imagine what she was thinking. There was also the car seat to deal with- she wasn't too happy about it. She cried and screamed for about 15 minutes in the car, then calmed down. She stayed awake the entire ride home. By the time we got home it was 1am. We introduced her to her new room, and basically the entire house. Yes, at 1am. But remember, this was really like 1pm to her (and us :). We gave her a bath, read a book, and did everything as close as we could to what we did in China to try and keep a consistent routine. When bedtime came however, she was not a happy camper. Lots of crying and unhappiness. It ended up being after 3am when she finally went to sleep. She woke on and off throughout the night, but the last couple of hours slept soundly.

The next day went very well. She loved getting to know her brothers, and continues to love getting to know them. They play very well together and enjoy many of the same activities together. We could not be more proud of the boys. They are the best big brothers! I could not imagine them being any better with Emmie. They are very patient, kind, sweet and of course fun!! It is a joy to watch them together. You can tell they feel so proud when they help their "sis" around the house.

The big issue since we have been home has been.....sleep, well, lack thereof :) Here is how the sleeping went- we would put Emmie to bed around 8:30, she would go to sleep for about 2 hours, then wake up screaming and crying, almost as if she was having a terrible nightmare. We could not console her because she would not allow us to. It was very difficult to watch.  Heart wrenching. A couple of nights there was lots of kicking, throwing pillows, sheets, whatever she could get her hands on. And loud, loud, crying. The worst night involved non-stop screaming and crying from about 4am to 6:30am. That night I cried, also. We didn't know what to do, as we had never experienced this before. We knew her schedule had to be way off, but she played happily all day long every day, which was great, but also meant no rest. As of Sunday I had about 7-8 hours of sleep over the last 72 hours, and that is no joke. I knew this couldn't go on much longer. I  remembered a fellow adoptive parent who had success with melatonin, so I inquired of her for more info. She put me on the right track and our sweet and wonderful pharmacist friend ordered some for us and we had it the next morning. We gave it to her about twenty minutes before bedtime and PRAISE THE LORD she slept all night long. That was last night. Hoping for the same result tonight. Don't get me wrong- we don't want to look over any significant issues she may have with sleep like nightmares, night terrors, etc. but from what we experienced the biggest issue was that Emmie didn't want to be in bed (her internal schedule told her it wasn't time) and she was going to let us know one way or another. Thankfully we had each other to get through the nights, and it didn't last too long. There are sure to be more bumps in the road, but for now, all is well, and we are very thankful.

Emmie's attachment to us is going well also. Today she wanted me to hold her several times, and she ran to me and hugged me a couple times as well. This was initiated by her, which is amazing. She also let Zack kiss and hug her, which is also amazing, as she had been very resistant to him up to this point ( a very normal reaction). We are excited and joyful, but not naive enough to think that our bonding and attachment won't take work. It will, and we are doing the best we can to prepare ourselves for any setbacks that we may face. We also are being very guarded on where we go, what we do, etc. Yesterday we left the house for the first time only to go to Kroger to get the magical melatonin. Today we made a short trip to the library to return some books. She did well both trips. We hope to be able to go to church Sunday, but we are not sure at this point. We are just taking it day by day and trying to go off of her cues.

The last two plus weeks have been quite a journey- probably the most intense journey of our lives, much different than our previous two adoptions. One thing that has been wonderful is the time that Zack and I were able to spend together. With kids, and now especially with three kids, that kind of quality time doesn't happen often. We learned to lean on one another, but most importantly on the grace of God- without His grace and the prayers of his people, there is no way we could have made it. I have never felt the prayers of the saints as much as I have over these last few weeks.

So, that is all for now. Not sure when the next update will be :)  We can't thank you enough for all your prayers- they have been felt over and over, we promise!

Attached are some pictures and video- Emmie still a little camera shy, but we are working on it ;)