Thursday, January 28, 2010

T - 1

Tomorrow is the day. If all goes according to plan, God-willing, our littlest son will greet the rest of the world. He and I are already well acquainted as he is quite the kicker, roller, and tumbler. I am thankful to finally see this little one face to face, but a little apprehensive about the c-section and recovery.

Unfortunately, everyone around here is feeling pretty lousy. Not sure if the travelers brought back a bug or we were all just worn out. Juju was up most of the night with a fever. She, Bear, Banana, and Joseph have a little cough. Now dh seems to also be down for the count. He came home at lunch (achy and tired) to give me a chance to get to confession before tomorrow's surgery and decided he felt bad enough to stay and nap. He and Joseph are finally napping soundly.

Needless to say, no sleep last night, the anxiety and anxiousness of tomorrow's events, and the last minute preparations have left me pretty wiped out. When all this excitement ends, I just hope there is a brief time to catch our breath.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blessed

I am so blessed. Really, I don't need to say anymore than that, but I suppose that wouldn't be much of a blog post would it?

During dh's trip to China some moms from our homeschooling group decided to get together for a mom's night/shower for me. I remember being so overwhelmed at the generosity and thoughtfulness of friends at a shower for Juliana. I came home telling dh how fortunate and blessed we are to have such amazing friends and family. This shower brought even more of the same feelings. We are just so blessed. It is humbling and inspiring to see so many families praying for us, and helping us in so many ways. It has made this process so much more bearable.

Countless friends have offered kind words of support, assurances of prayers, beautiful gifts, delicious meals, child care, and offers of so much more. Not only do we get the joy of bringing home two new little boys, we feel so much more intensely the love and support of friends and family. The kindness and thoughtfulness of so many people has on so many occasions brought tears to my eyes (not that it is hard to do that) and I am so incredibly thankful. I, again, cannot seem to find adequate words to thank you all for the many, many ways you have been part of this journey to our sons. I am so thankful there are God's rewards in heaven because I just feel incapable of returning the many kindnesses shown us.

Like I said, we are truly and incredibly blessed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There's No Place Like Home...

The travelers have returned safely, albeit quite tired. It is so amazing to have everyone under one roof. It is our first day back in the grind. Dh had to return to work today. He will have more time off next week after the arrival of baby boy 2. It is not even 9 AM and I am already ready for a nap :) Four diaper changes (we add a newborn to that mix next week), breakfast prep and clean-up, playing, trying to get in a little school, and catching up the laundry. Life is going to be busy for awhile and I feel incredibly blessed that it is.
Dh, Banana, and Joseph arrived in the late afternoon on Sunday and after such a long trip, they were all exhausted. Poor Joseph couldn't keep his eyes open and fell asleep after only a few hours. Everyone was in bed quite early, except me. I just couldn't help myself, once dh was sleeping I kept going to check on the little guy and even looked in on my sleeping girls a few times. It is so nice to have them all together.
Joseph has had some trouble with jet lag. The first night he was up for hours in the middle of the night. I tried to comfort him, but he wanted dh who was quite tired from his trip. Poor dh was pretty tired again yesterday. We spent a relatively quiet day at home (as quiet as can be expected when you have two almost two year old toddlers, a three year old, and two older girls excited to see their dad and play with their new brother). We only ventured out to celebrate Mass as a family. We were blessed to have our first Mass together with Juliana be Christmas morning, and yesterday we were equally blessed to have the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul to celebrate Joseph's arrival, and we did indeed feast.
Last night, Joseph slept much better. He was only up for a short time early in the night. Unfortunately, the jet lag has caught up with dh and Banana. Apparently Banana was up at 3 AM, and she was shortly joined by her sister Bear (who claims she didn't miss Banana too much and yet gets up at these crazy hours to play with her). Dh was up at 4 AM. I can't imagine how he is going to make it through the work day. I am sure it will be another early night for us.
Joseph is such a cutie. He is quiet and likes to watch the girls. He is constantly looking for something new to examine. It took him some time to warm up to me, but with dh back at work he has had little choice. My heart melted today when I extended my hand to him and he grabbed it and walked around the house with me.

The girls are enjoying playing with him. Bear in particular seems to have developed quite a bond with him. She is a little more rough and tumble with him. Banana is my amazing helper. I know I will be relying on her more than ever. Bophie is Bophie. She enjoys having the extra commotion so she can play a little more on her own. As expected, Juju is having the hardest time adjusting. She is very sweet to Joseph, she constantly calls him "baby." It seems odd to hear this as he is just as big as she is. She is perhaps a little taller, but has more fine features. Joseph is more solid and his hands and feet are definitely quite a bit larger than hers. In a short time, after finally being well-fed, I expect he will outgrow her. Each time we change Joseph's diaper, Juju has to have hers changed. If he gets a hug, she is right behind looking for one as well. If he gets socks, she needs new socks. He gets tickled, she shows us her belly for a tickle. I expect this will last a short time as well.

I am quite proud of myself for getting out such a long post. I have been up and down from this seat more than a dozen times so I apologize if it seems disjointed. I imagine this will be typical of my posts (assuming I get the chance to post) for at least a few months. I also am sad there are not more (and better) pictures to add. The camera batteries were dead when dh arrived home and so we still don't have a good family shot. Come to think of it, there still isn't even one picture of Joseph and me. I suppose this is the plight of a fifth child :)

Thank you again for all the prayers, kind words, and support. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. Now only one more countdown. Baby arrives in three days...

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's The Final Countdown

2 days till Joseph...
7 days till baby boy...

This morning was my final OB check-up for little baby boy. Since I am scheduled for a c-section and don't tend to go early, these check-ups are usually fairly quick and painless. Blood pressure checks, the dreaded scale, and listening for the heartbeat. Since dh has been in China, I have just taken the three little girls with me. They do pretty well and it is typically not a long time so a snack will bribe them.

Today, I pushed my luck. We got up early to make it to Mass. Then we went for breakfast, then a few errands, then to the appointment. My quick and easy appointment turned out to be quite a bit longer than expected. My doctor decided because of some inconsistencies in baby's movements, it was a good idea to do a non stress test. This was my first test of this kind so I didn't know what to expect. Turns out it was well over half an hour of being strapped to a monitor with three little girls, including an almost two-year-old and a three-year-old, at nap time in a teeny-tiny exam room with what felt like paper-thin walls. The girls were pretty well behaved, but I would not, by any means, call that a NON-stress test. It was to me the epitome of stress :) At least I have peace of mind knowing baby boy is doing just fine.

I suppose that stress has to be put in perspective as well. With less than two days until dh returns, all four of my "I cannot deal with this while dh is gone" list items have managed to be averted. The list?

1. NO labor
2. NO stomach bugs
3. NO car trouble
4. NO major household appliances/electronics troubles

So far, so good.

Please pray for my travelers this weekend. They will be leaving tonight and have almost two days of long flights, long layovers, and a toddler who doesn't like flying.

Joseph's Red Couch Photos



For those not in the China adoption community, I explained the red couch photos here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guangzhou

I know it has been a long time since I posted. Trouble is, I have had three little ones full of boundless energy with Dad half a world away and unable to rough house, tickle, and run around with them. On top of that there is a fourth little one, in utero, sapping every ounce of energy I seem to have. We have been trying to get out of the house a little more so that the girls can burn some energy. The end result is that I am tired and the girls still seem like they could go for hours.

Meanwhile, in China, Dh, Banana, and Joseph arrived safely in Guangzhou. Joseph apparently did not enjoy flying on an airplane and this does not bode well for the long trip home with one leg of the flight lasting 14 hours.

They are enjoying Guangzhou much more than Zhengzhou. It is warmer (60-70 F), and there seems to be more to see, better restaurants, and there are more adoptive families to meet. Banana, in particular, is enjoying talking to the children that have traveled to China with their families. She is also enjoying the breakfast buffet with more Western options. Joseph continues to eat well. Our morning Skype conversations usually end with him fussing to get down to breakfast.

Dh and I spent quite some time in Guangzhou for Juju's adoption, but it sounds as though they are venturing off Shamian Island much more than we did last year. They visited a toy store which dh said was an absolute madhouse. At Banana's insistence, they went to the zoo. Dh thinks a zoo is a zoo, whether here or there, they are pretty much the same. They have explored some new markets, and revisited some of the ones dh particularly enjoyed on our last trip.

I have done my best to pick out some good pictures from those dh has had a chance to upload. The first or second day they were in Guangzhou dh was excited about the more than 40 pictures he had taken that day. I couldn't wait to see them. I couldn't believe it when I looked through all the pictures and found king cobras, slaughtered alligators, skinned opossums, and the likes. In all those pictures, there was not one, not one, of little Joseph. I gave dh a hard time that evening. He responded that Joseph prefers to ride in the stroller quite a bit so he felt like the only pictures he would have of Joseph were all just him in the stroller:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Joseph tries on Dad's new hat. He looked all over for one of these on our trip to Juliana. He found one in a store for the Chinese Police.


Hanging out with his oldest sister!


No idea what this is, but I liked her smile-- the little girl's, not the statue :)


Apparently Banana gets a real kick out of the mopeds and motorcycles being driven on the sidewalk. She said they do slow down when they get close to pedestrians.

Joseph's Gotcha Day

** Sort of Gotcha Day, the real gotcha day will come when we are all together as a family. We have a few more weeks for that :)

It seems odd for me to be writing this post, I really wish blogger was not blocked in China. I will do my best to relate dh's experiences.

Dh and Banana left early to go to the Registrar's office. When they finally got to meet Joseph they were surprised by how big he was. He seemed to be much bigger than Juju who is a little over a month older than Joseph. They also really liked his leather pants-- leather lined with fur. From the video it seems that Joseph was fairly comfortable with David. He was quiet and withdrawn, but became more anxious when handed to his sister for a moment. He later warmed up to the notion of Banana holding him.

After signing the necessary paperwork they left the Registrar's office and came back to the hotel. Unfortunately, there was some paperwork mix-up and our adoption guide had to take him for a few minutes. Dh knew I was anxious about seeing little Joseph so he called. I really thought he was kidding when they said they had to take him back for a moment. It isn't fun to play games with a woman who is nine months pregnant.

After a few minutes, Joseph was returned to them. He was quiet, but content to have dh hold him. He laughed when tickled, and seemed to really like any snacks he was given. He sat on dh's lap for quite some time then got on the floor and played with Banana. He instantly was drawn to the noise-making Tonka truck and laughed each time it made any sound.

Joseph was getting hungry so they were going to run out and get lunch and stop at the store for snacks. I thought it was a good idea to give the little guy a bath and try on some of the clothes they had taken. I was worried everything would be too small and they would need to pick some things up while they were out. Dh said he was going to sign-off and get Joseph in the bath. I asked him to leave the Skype running, even if I couldn't see, I could hear and be part of the day.

Dh started to undress him and all I could hear was, "Oh my goodness" over and over again. It seems the leather pants weighed about 5 lbs and they were just the first layer of clothing. As they peeled back the layers both dh and Banana said he was much smaller than they thought. After a quick bath it turns out most of what I sent will be a perfect fit. Even the shoes seem to fit him.

Since it was 3 AM here, I finally had to sign off. They needed to feed the hungry child and I had to try to get some sleep. Again, technology is amazing. I am so thankful for it. It is still not a good substitute for being able to hold this little one and I am anxiously awaiting their return.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miracles

You'll note from the time stamp on this post that I am up much too late. It has been a very emotional day for me. I started about this time yesterday and have only gotten minimal sleep so please bear with me if I ramble or don't make sense.

I spent the day with my sister and family as her surgery time got pushed back further and further. After she was finally taken to the pre-op room, I left to come home and tuck my little ones into bed. Shortly after that I got a phone call from my youngest sister. She told me they had decided not to do the transplant-- my heart fell. All that for nothing?

It turns out this was the very best news. They decided not to do the transplant because when they were able to get a good look at her heart doing what they call a TEE (an intense echo cardiogram) they found that her heart was functioning rather well. The doctors think that because the LVAD has been doing the work for the damaged heart, it has had time to heal itself. They now think there is a good chance that given a little more time her heart may heal enough that she would be able to have the LVAD removed. Essentially, they felt her heart was too healthy to transplant. There are no guarantees, but they felt that her chances of healing were pretty good. Praise be to God.

She was sedated, but no incisions were made. The last update I heard, they were waiting for her to wake up so they could share the good news. Thank you all for your prayers. We are so blessed.

I am also up late tonight because this is the best time to see little Joseph in action. They are 13 hours ahead of us so I have to be up at odd hours if I want to Skype and see the little guy awake. He is coming out of his shell today and seems to be more active and noisy. He especially likes a little truck his aunt DD sent him and laughs when he sees it. Unfortunately, dh has grown a little weary of the noises it makes. Apparently he hit the button non-stop for about 45 minutes yesterday as they were trying to make their way through the registrar's office. He also has followed Juju's footsteps and cries whenever dh is not in sight, even for the few minutes dh showers. I remember how trying those mornings were.

I will get to my Gotcha Day post, hopefully tomorrow, after some much needed sleep. I will try to post lots of pictures. Thank you again for all your prayers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gotcha Day and a New Heart

I was working on a post of pictures to show you of Gotcha Day. I appreciate all the prayers and well wishes. I spent quite sometime on Skype with dh, Joseph, and Banana. I couldn't bear to turn it off. I wish I were holding my little boy. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to finish the post. In the midst of editing pictures, I was interrupted.

The call came and my sister is going to have her heart transplant today. I am going to be with her at the hospital, so the Gotcha Day post will have to wait. Please pray for Missy, pray for my family, pray for the donor and family as well.

Whew, what a day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Killing Time

How exactly does one pass the time when they know their spouse is half a world away meeting their new son at this moment? I know I am needed here, but I wish I were there...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Then and Now

Then:


Now:





The first few days of dh and Banana's trip to Joseph are very similar to the first few days dh and I spent in Beijing to pick up Juliana. The most notable difference is that we were there in a mild December, they are there in a bitter January. It was cold when we were there. I can't imagine how difficult it is to try to do any sightseeing in the bitter cold weather they are facing.

The main goal of these first few days is to get out and move so that your body can adjust to the time change before you add taking care of a new child to the mix. Beijing has a lot of attractions, unfortunately most of them are outdoors. The last few days dh and Banana have visited Tienanmen Square, the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and the Olympic Village (this is the only attraction we didn't go to last year). Poor Banana complained on Skype last night (her early morning) that her feet hurt from all the walking they had done, and that was before the Great Wall. When we spoke early this morning (about 7 PM China time), she had fallen asleep in her clothes in the middle of praying the rosary with Dad.

In some ways I know dh would like to visit new spots in China. I am thankful, however, to have been to these places. It allows me to feel more a part of the trip. They even went to the same crazy restaurant that served us this last year.

Sure enough they served it again this year. Dh did not bother trying it this time around and although my Banana is a fish eater, she still didn't brave it.

Since we had seen most of these places with the adoption group last time, dh spent the first few days on his own. They went back to the places we had gone, but they did it on their own in an effort to see a little more and not feel rushed. Yesterday was their first day with the group and apparently Banana really enjoyed that (she is like her mother in that regard, I also enjoyed meeting other adoptive families), there are quite a few children traveling with their families. Banana likes to talk and I think she is enjoying making some new friends.

Our group in Beijing was about 30 families. This group is considerably smaller. I think there are just under 10 families, six of those families will be traveling with dh and Banana to Zhengzhou tomorrow (tonight our time). They are at the point in the trip where the excitement to meet your new child really starts to build. Juliana was given to us the same day we traveled to Chongqing, but Joseph will not be brought to them until Monday (Sunday night our time). I know dh is anxious for this and although nothing will compare to having them all home, I am excited to Skype with them and to hear dh and Banana's impressions of him.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Strengths and Weaknesses

After all the cajoling to post on the blog, dh has found that blogger is blocked in China. We knew this was a possibility, but since we had no trouble on our last trip we were hopeful he would be able to post this time as well. It looks as though I will just have to do my best to update from here.

Thankfully, dh is a technical kind of guy and he is able to upload his pictures and videos so we can see them each evening. Technology is definitely one of his strengths. It is amazing how quickly we can see their trip. It is also amazing to talk to them each day with video and yet we are half a world away.

Photography and video recording are not one of his strengths. While we were sleeping dh and Banana visited the foster home in which Joseph has spent most of his life. Dh took 3 pictures of it. He was trying to take more video, but had a few snafus. I think he was turning off the record button when he thought he was turning it on. As a result there is very little good video of the home. There is more video of his taxi ride then of the foster home. There are just some things you need Mom for... this is one of them.

Dh said the home was amazing. Somehow I knew it would be from the pictures on the Internet. It is run by an Australian couple whose hearts went out to these orphans in China. Many, many of the children they care for do not survive. Still they keep the home in fantastic condition. They started with only three children and now have four buildings full of orphans.

Here is an excerpt of a message dh sent last night:

Good news and bad news about the visit to the Hope Home. Good news -- the visit was absolutely +wonderful+. The children are well-cared for and the facility is spotless. You can tell they love the children in their care. Robin took us on a tour. He told us that many special needs children are considered too sick to recover. The Hope Home takes in some of these children. Of those that come to the home, 40% survive. It's really amazing work they do.

Another good piece of news -- they had a special scrap book put together for Joseph which they gave to us! It's wonderful and has many new pictures from his time there. I can't wait for you to see it.

Now the bad news -- I looked at the pictures and the video. I realize that my video skills are horrible and I'd starve as a photographer. I thought I'd take more video of the home to give you a better idea of what we were seeing. I see maybe one or two seconds of good video in the whole thing. In a couple cases, I accidentally left the camera running. I guess I'll just need to apologize to Joseph 20 years from now.


Perhaps we can blame the fact that there is no picture of Joseph's crib, but there is a picture of the Lambourghini car shop on being overtired. The ten minute footage of a Chinese cab ride is unexplainable :)

Please continue to pray for the travelers. Banana is taking some time to adjust to the time change. Apparently after not sleeping on the long plane ride, she is now trying to sleep the day away. Here's hoping she's getting a good night's sleep right now.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

They Made It

We had a short conversation via Skype this morning from Beijing. It is unbelievable they can be so far away and yet we can video conference as though they were next door. They both looked pretty tired. Banana only slept a few hours on the long flight to Korea.

I would have joked with them about how tired they looked, but I am pretty sure I looked almost as ragged. The dog was up twice, Juju was up twice, Bophie tossed and turned all night. I am really dragging today. I guess some of my exhaustion was my own fault, the Orange Bowl was on and I couldn't help myself, only a few more nights of college football.

Yesterday, the girls and I made a chain counting down the days until our family is reunited. This morning it looks longer than it did last night. We have a few appointments tomorrow so that should make the day go a little faster. It also means I need to get a better night's sleep tonight.

Ninety Years Without Slumbering


DH here... a short post at 3 AM (Columbus time) from the Incheon airport. We made it to South Korea! Our flight to Beijing leaves in an hour. Hannah slept for a few hours on the flight over, but she still looks exhausted. She's holding together well, however, and still wants to walk around! I want to find a warm dark place and sleep. :)

P.S. I brought a few Twilight Zone episodes along on this trip to China to pass the time. It just so happens the one I'm watching now is called "Ninety Years Without Slumbering" and seems very apropos. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

All My Bags Are Packed....

I'm ready to go. (Notice I can quote the lyrics to "Leaving On a Jet Plane" and still not feel compelled to post a picture of a jet. Dh would not approve.)

My bags aren't packed and technically I am going nowhere, but I have managed to finally finish packing dh and Banana. Before dawn tomorrow they will be off to bring home our son, our newest family member. It has been quite a ride this week. It seems if it could go wrong, it did. As if booking last minute tickets, packing essentials for 19 days in two suitcases that can't weigh more than 40 lbs, gathering every essential document, and rounding up medications for whatever ailment Joseph may have or ailments dh and Banana might incur, were not enough we had a host of other things that demanded attention.

My sister has been having more complications and is back in the hospital. The dog has some sort of bowel issue that I hope dh has taken care of. The van door started acting up. Then last night Bophie woke me up in the middle of the night with an ear ache. I spent today trying to tie up all these loose ends, finish laundry and packing, and carting four girls to the doctor and three different stores.

I think the addition of some boys will be good for my house of girls. There were lots of tears tonight as everyone was sad at the thought of missing one another. Banana is excited, but already missing her mom and sisters. Bear and Bophie are sad about Dad and Banana leaving, and Juju just cried because we put her to bed. Poor dh has seen quite a few tears already. I am trying to keep my hormonal emotions in check, with some success. However, I just don't have it in me not to shed a few tears myself. The femininity in this house is overflowing. Almost three weeks without him. Three weeks when I am just over 36 weeks pregnant. We are crazy.

When I really get worried or anxious, I look at this little face and I know we are doing the right thing. It will be a long few weeks, but in three weeks when we are all united again as a family, with the blessing of Joseph's presence, we will quickly forget tonight's fears and anxieties.
Please pray for the safe return of my travelers and our newest family member.

** I am trying to convince dh to post during his trip. He is worried about time and such. Please let him know he needs to update at least a few times so we can hear how it is going. Banana may even be able to put up a post or two with his help. We did invest in a new mini laptop for this trip. It should get some use, right?