Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Five weeks home - Bethie update

This will be a horrible blog post. Stringing sentences together just seems so draining.

Let's do bullet points. I do so love me some bullet points. They're like the quarters of writing. I love quarters. Bullet points and pictures. I can handle that.

  • We're doing great. Life after Bethie is starting to seem, not normal, but it's getting sort of normal. Spring Break was hard, very hard. We didn't get to go anywhere so the other kids were very stir crazy and Walker traveled for part of it. Ugh. Bethie loves her siblings but when they are all home, there is a lot of fighting for Mom's attention and she's right in the middle of it.

    When we first came home, Bethie would go up to strangers and take their hands or try to hug them. She tried to do this with most of my small group when they delivered meals. The beauty of attending a church where adoption is common is that all of them knew not to return the affection, but she would try.

    My mother-in-law and sister-in-law Laurel came over for a short visit on Thursday during Spring Break so that Laurel could meet her newest niece. Bethie was very interested in Laurel, and would climb over to her (poor Aunt Lolly knew not to hug her and she was about to die, she was almost sitting on her hands) and go through her purse, then go talk to Mimi, but she always came back to me and climbed on my lap. Check them out, come back to me, like any two year old would. I realized then for the first time, I felt like her mom.

  • The other kids are adjusting well, except Ike. He is not thrilled about having his Prince Baby of the Family role usurped. He's also not old enough to think she's cute, not one bit. He is acting out in a bad way. Like, you'd think he was living on nothing but red dye, bad. It is honestly my biggest stress right now. I know he's sad and mad and I try to be empathetic to him but when he hits her or kicks her I lose my patience pretty quickly. When they get along, they crack each other up, he just needs to learn that he can get better attention by being a good big brother than by torturing her.  Prayers appreciated in this area.

    The other three adore her and literally fight over her. She adores them back - usually.

  • The hardest time of day by far is the hour and a half after the kids get home from school. She gets jealous and clingy, Ike gets jealous and clingy, they are literally fighting over me. I've got four kids with homework and chores to do - it's pretty rough. By dinner time, Daddy's home, she has calmed down, Ike has calmed down, and we have some happy times making her laugh or putting on Amharic music just to watch her dance. But the hours leading up to that are driving me to drink. I mean that quite literally. A fellow adoptive mom told me to stock up on wine before we brought her home. Sage advice.

  • Bethie's relationship with Walker has dramatically improved. Thank you for her prayers. Last week he held out his arms and she went to him for the first time! Which led to even greater things:

  • Saturday I went to the chiropractor. Why? Because of this

    I left Bethie alone with Walker for the first time....and everyone survived. I came back 30 minutes later and she was happy and happy to see me. Jessica had asked asked if we wanted to come to Central Market that evening to celebrate Amalie's seventh birthday and I said no...but then I thought, well, this would be a good test, right? I took the big girls but made sure to be home by 8 so I could lie down with her to get her to sleep as I have every night since we got her. But as I was pulling into the driveway, Walker texted me "She's asleep." HE. GOT. HER. TO. SLEEP.

    So last night, I lay in bed with her for an hour and the child would not sleep. She just kept fighting it. You have to know that this is torture for me.

    One time I drove from San Antonio to Houston, a good four hours, with a friend of a friend. She wanted to leave extremely early in the morning and I agreed if I could continue my snooze in the car. I assured her that the radio would not bother me. But - get this - she never turned it on. The whole way home - four hours - she drove in total silence. 

    I couldn't get over it. I kept telling Walker "We didn't talk! She didn't listen to the radio! It was just SILENT! I don't get that?? How can anyone DO THAT?? Silence! For four hours!! Isn't that BIZARRE??" He kept telling me that no, it wasn't bizarre, in fact it sounded nice, and I continued to be flabbergasted. Still am.

    I tell you this so that you will understand that for me to lie silently in bed staring at the ceiling for an extended period with a toddler who won't sleep is HELL. HELL I tell you HELL. 

    So, after more than an hour of intensely monitoring every yawn and breath and finger suck only to have her repeatedly be a fraction of a second from unconsciousness and then start singing a song to wake herself up !!!!!! I was d-o-n-e. I walked out and told Walker "Your turn." She cried, he lay down with her, and he walked out ten minutes later. Because she had crashed. After ten minutes. So it has been proven. All five of my children know that Momma is a sucker.

  • My mom came to visit this past week. It's the second time she's met Bethie and they are fans of each other. And because I felt like Bethie was attaching so well to me, and because my mom was staying with us for five days and I could get some stuff done and this is life, she did hold her. Grandmas, what are you gonna do?
  • My girls have always come into the bathroom when my mom puts her makeup on and watched her. She will put on lotion, then they put on lotion. She puts on lipstick, they put on lipstick. Bethie got initiated into the GG tradition.

  • Saturday my mom took us all to Aster's, one of Austin's Ethiopian restaurant, which was for the record the best Ethiopian food I have ever had. The waitress was so sweet to Bethie and when she began speaking to her in Amharic, she looked so stunned, and was so glad. She answered all of her questions and was so happy. The trip completely cheered her up - she sang and carseat-danced the entire way home.

    The most amazing part, to me, was that the waitress asked her in Amharic "Who is your momma?" and so on with each member of the family, daddy, brother, sister, even grandmother, and Bethie pointed to the proper person each time. How did she know that?? She never had a mother or a father or sister or brother and certainly not a grandmother. And since we got home, we have used the English terms. So how could it be that when the lady asked her who her "set ayat" was she pointed to my mom?? Amazing.

    It also made me a little sad to see her communicate with someone else. I want to be able to communicate with her like that too.

    • Language: She has said very few words in English. She says Mama and M-m-m for milk in English and waha (water) in Amharic. She will sign More and Milk and All done. There are a few words I think I've heard her say. She talks a lot in what may be Amharic but may be baby talk. I know some key phrases in Amharic (Are you hungry, go to sleep, etc) but she understands so much. If I say "take off your shoes"  or "go get in the bath" she does it. If I say "Kiss everyone night night" she will walk into the family room and hold out her cheek to each family member so they can kiss her. She follows most commands, including "put the diaper in the trash."

      She can point when asked to her nose, eyes, ears, hair, teeth, tongue, fingers, toes, tummy, and booty.

      We started trying to entice her by using the other kids. I'll say "Say Daddy, Maggie" and Maggie says "Daddy!" and gets a high five, and so on around the table. Every time it is her turn, regardless of what the word is, she answers "A mama!" then holds up her hand for a high five and then everyone laughs and it's not really helping to teach her but it sure is cute. 

    • We went to church Sunday morning for the first time. Bethie did great. We didn't have a traditional service for Palm Sunday, they read Scripture then sang, read Scripture then sang, so it was dark in there most of the time, so she slept a lot. They also sang How He Loves Us which makes me embarrass Shepherd every time because I get the ugly cry. If His grace is an ocean then we're all sinking....SOB

      She's holding a play fork that she took from Sunday School when we dropped off Ike. It's currently in my car somewhere. Yes, we steal from church.

    • Bethie wore this, which used to be Maggie's. Our church (Austin New Church) is about the un-smockiest place ever, but I still reserve the right to dress my babies like Presbyterians.

    • Our pastor Brandon, dad to two from Ethiopia, came up to Bethie and said "God bless you" in Amharic and she answered him "Amen." Yes, she did. 

    • She is eating pretty well. She loves anything spicy. I am having a really hard time getting fruits and green veggies in her, but I'm Scarletting it for now. I'll worry about that tomorrow.

    • The hair. Oh my gosh, y'all. Was there a special segment of y'all praying that the Lord would grace me with a child with good hair? Because her hair is FABULOUS.

      I wondered what it would look like if I did absolutely nothing to it: no conditioner,  didn't even put it up at night. And this is the result after two days of complete neglect:

      Adorable, right?
      Thank you, Jesus.
    • Sleep: She sleeps fine. About 12 hours at night and a 1-2 hour nap, but will only go to sleep if I (and now Walker! Yea!) lies down with her, including at naptime, and then I can sneak out (or, nap, which I usually end up doing.) She often wakes up about midnight but goes back to sleep. The time change threw us, I forgot how much I hate Daylight Savings. She is in our bed, which has led to really good bonding but I do dream of lying her down in a crib and just walking away.  We did try the crib for a couple of nights and even though I had it right next to my bed so that I was holding her hand, it did not go well. She's just not ready.  Some day... But I know a lot of adopted kids have really hard sleep issues so I am just going to be thankful.

    • I'm in love with her. Officially. I adore her, I think she's the prettiest baby girl, I'm so proud of her when others see her, I stare at her when she's sleeping. I think she's beautiful and funny and brilliant. I can't believe that she's finally here. I'm so, so thankful that God put this precious child in our family and chose me to be her mommy. 

      She was so worth the wait. 


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