Wednesday, May 10, 2017

This Girl

This little lady is turning 12 today, in honor of her special day I want to share with the world how spectacular I think she is.

Last year about this time Kendall started feeling really sick and we just couldn't seem to get her healthy. For months she struggled with headaches, tummy troubles, fatigue and dizziness...eventually we noticed some behavior changes in her as well. Initially I thought I was getting a glimpse into the teen years that people had warned me about but we knew that she just wasn't being herself and I didn't want to believe that this was our new normal. We tried a number of different things but we never got our old, sweet Kendall back. Our move here was the first time ever that a move completely threw her for a loop, we struggled a lot. We cut out sugar, we visited a number of doctors and nothing seemed to help until Brian made her an appointment with a doctor that he sees (one not quick to prescribe for symptoms, one that was willing to dig for the actual cause of the symptoms). It turns out that this sweet girl of ours is allergic to: soy, dairy, gluten AND chicken!! For months she has been eating "clean" and I can say we have our girl back finally. She's feeling much better and she is back to her old self.

Twelve can be a hard age and at a time when many her age are just trying to fit in and many have a complete lack of self control this rockstar is checking food labels, carting a lunchbox to various school/church outings (because they ALWAYS SERVE PIZZA) and has self control like you wouldn't believe.

I want to brag a little more about her.
This girl:

  • Is empathetic like no other, she wants everyone to feel included and is kind to everyone.
  • Is incredibly perceptive, she picks up on every tone of voice and facial expression and as a result can get her feelings hurt pretty easily.
  • Is a "little momma" she's going to be a great baby sitter and mom one day. She doesn't get distracted, she walks Piper around the playground watching out for hazards.
  • Is self motivated to do her work. I never tell her to do her homework, usually it's finished before she gets off the bus.
  • Is recognized by her teachers and peers as a generally awesome person. The last two schools she attended she was recognized in the first month there and awarded some award due to various character traits.
  • Keeps her room clean!

I could go on and on, she's a girl that I thank God every night that I get to be her mom. He is using these food allergies to teach her so much and I can see her growing from it. I can't wait to see how she uses her compassion as she gets older. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

That Week

I'm just now processing that first week home. It's kind of a blur in a way and I'm really not clear exactly what all was communicated to the masses at the time. I went back and forth between a)  thinking that we were absolutely fine and we just needed to not worry until we got the next test result and b) convinced that he was going to die. I had all four kids at home because it all happened over a weekend and holiday and they didn't really know what all was going on so I tried to keep a brave face on but sometimes it got too heavy and I would hide in the laundry room and try to muffle my sobs. They always knew and would ask why it looked like I had been crying and Lorie would jump in and just say it was because I was tired.

We're on the other side now and honestly we haven't talked about it too much. A good friend messaged me this morning some sweet encouragement and I stopped to really consider HOW I actually got through that and there is no good explanation. He is the ultimate comforter, physician and giver of strength and it was through His power that we came through. 

For the records a summary of the crazy that went down the first week: Jack developed a cold while we were gone, we could tell he was sick when we Facetimed with him, he was glassy eyed and looked like he was about to fall asleep sitting up. Kate had some significant tooth pain that was keeping her up every night and Lorie had taken her into a dentist that wanted further x-rays and was talking root canal and mouth trauma...I was ready to get home to my babies.

Our last day of China Brian was feeling really lousy with stomach pain and frequent bathroom trips (sorry, TMI). Lets be honest though, Brian has the worlds most sensitive stomach and while I was sympathetic I wasn't overly concerned. He can have stomach problems due to tiny fluctuations in caffeine intake or a plethora of other random reasons. He was up all night the night before our flight and when I woke and started gathering suitcases for our flight he told me he didn't think he could get on the plane. Lets pause here and just say the guy was dehydrated and exhausted and PROBABLY shouldn't have flown due to risk of blood clots. I'll just mention again Brian's frequent stomach issues and I'll admit when I thought of the three babies at home my sympathy for his stomach problems evaporated. I started the shower, told him to get in and that we were getting on that plane. I told him that I would take care of the potentially screaming baby and promised that he could sleep the entire flight. There was some resistance but I was having NONE OF IT. He could be sick at home with American doctors but we were getting on that plane.

I can say it now but that poor poor man, he was seriously sick. I knew it the whole travel day/night. He was weak and looked awful. There are various stations in China airports where they want you to go if you aren't feeling well, and we knew that they sometimes took people's temperature to keep sick from traveling. More than once I ALMOST asked Brian to look less sick but thought better of it. We made it though, we arrived at 4:30pm ish and he managed to stay upright (he used the luggage cart to help support his weight and he still had to sit down in the airport garage to rest). I slept 2 hours that first night home (jet lag), I'm not clear how much he slept but when he came out of our room the next morning he said he needed to go to the ER. What he DIDN'T tell me at that point was that he thought he was having a heart attack. I think I'm pretty calm and rational but I have a sensitivity to heart problems and he intentionally didn't mention it to me OR Lorie. The ER took him in immediately and Lorie couldn't figure out why he didn't have to wait like everyone else. 

They ran tests for days and really didn't provide much information at all, he did have raised enzymes that would indicate a heart attack but his EKG was fine and the angiogram indicated he had zero blockage. There were a few "maybe it's this" thrown out and honestly most of them scared me in a big way.

The next night I got 3 hours sleep.

Meanwhile at home Kate had another appointment with the dentist and then we were referred to an oral surgeon. She was awake every night in pain (I'll throw in that my sister was AMAZING and had Kate coming to her when she woke up).

Jack continued to cough horribly.

We had SO many offers of help. People offered to fly in and help (and every time it sent me into tears) but Brian and I still wanted to keep Pipers world small as much as possible. When people would ask how they could help I didn't even know what to tell them. My brain still wasn't functioning   and other than food help which people all stepped up and helped with) there wasn't really anything that I could hand off. We are STILL having food delivered and it is honestly so incredibly helpful, that ends next week so I better get my ducks in a row. A neighbor friend that hasn't even known us long took my big kids multiple days to play, our small group leader ran to the grocery and delivered all kind of goodies for snacking, dinners rolled in, the big kids went to a church event with a good friend. I'm still blown away and am SO thankful for the love that was poured out to us, we haven't lived here that long!!

Night 3 home 4 hours sleep.

The oral surgeon was wonderful but told us that Kate's adult tooth did something weird when it was formed, she did nothing to cause it but it had formed a "tooth within a tooth" he confirmed it was painful especially since it was now infected inside the tooth and that it needed to come out. This is me, knowing that Lorie leaves in two day and I sat in the waiting room trying to imagine how I would shuffle school bus drop off/pickups of Kendall and Jack, Kate's surgery all while managing Piper. 
Can we just stop and laugh over this. I mean, it's hilarious. I can control what I say fairly well but my facial expressions give me away every single time. 

I'll speed through the rest as much as possible.
Brian was released, his heart being inflamed was caused by severe dehydration (8-9 fluid IV bags later he was feeling or at least peeing more normally) there was no lasting damage to his heart but they still didn't tell us what had caused the whole problem to begin with....until we pulled into the house after he was released and his phone rang. Apparently he had salmonella....and lets be clear that my cooking DID NOT give it to him, our sweet little Valentines date in China brought all this on. 

Kate's surgery was scheduled for the next day so I had help! Lorie got the kids ready and on the bus and Piper and I got Kate in the car and home from surgery. She has slept fine since it came out

Since Lorie was still with us I decided we better take Jack in to figure out his cough. I might be the only mother that has laughed when the doctor said her son had pneumonia. I did, I laughed and said, of course he does.

But we are on the other side. Everyone is recovering, Piper is doing great. Honestly she has kind of been the easy part through this. Now when we deal with the "normal" toddler stuff it seems easy compared to everything else. We can handle it. 

I kind of can't believe we got through it, I would go to bed at night not even feeling overly tired. I honestly think your prayers for my strength kept me upright. 

Piper is so loved by each of us. I've never really had a "fluffy" baby and I can't stop squishing her. I also have to say that having her makes me love Kendall, Kate, and Jack that much more. Does that make sense? I love remembering them at this age, I love who they have become, I want to be the best mom for each of them. They're all awesome, when I tuck them in every night I always thank God that I get to be their mom. 

Thank you, thank you to everyone close by that poured help on us. Thank you everyone for all the prayers, we needed it, we felt it. Thank you for showing us how to love someone well. Now we get down to the business of being six, the business of teaching a little miss what family is.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Rest of the Story

Brian has been awesome blogging about our adoption journey. I didn't take my laptop to China and those that know me know that typing on an iPhone/iPad is not my strength (autocorrect is not my friend). He recorded the whole trip so well I don't really need to blog about it but I decided that my voice is missing from the story and there are details and emotions that I want to have recorded. I won't be working chronologically but as I see a picture that strikes me or an emotion arises I will post. They won't be long, short and sweet fits better into the rhythm of my days right now, just a photo and some words to try and capture all the big feelings that continue to happen. Last night, during my 1-3:30 jet lag wake time I kept thinking about meeting Piper's nanny.

We were very lucky to have a chance to sit down with Piper's nanny, Rachel. She had prepared notes, discussed Piper's routine, gave us insight into her personality and answered any questions we had. At the end of our meeting I tried to express my thanks without crying but honestly it was just impossible. I had prayed so much that someone was loving on my girl and it was so clear that this woman did.

Rachel and I didn't speak the same language but we both knew a mother's love for the same beautiful little girl. It hurts to know I missed the first 20 months of Piper's life but I am incredibly thankful that she was loved so well by this woman. And while Rachel had the privilege of loving and comforting Piper during some very scary and important times she now had the heaviness of a great loss to bear. How she is strong enough to continue to love children over and over again and then hand them off.....she is stronger than I can even imagine. I told her through my tears that I could tell Piper loved her very much and explained through the translator that we have a photo of her and Piper framed in her room. She and I were both teary when we hugged. Those emotions were only a small foreshadowing to the ones we would feel on the day she put Piper into my arms.