Stromberg's Adoption Dream

The journey to our little girl in China

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

“Ah, la la”

Wednesday of this week marks two months of having been home from China with Lydia.  And now I’m choked-up…  How can it be, only two months? Eight short weeks ago, we were still just getting to know each other in China; signing papers, touring, signing more papers and just barely beginning to take-in all that is this precious little girl, our daughter.  In the last eight weeks this precious little girl has had much to take in.

First, she was ever-so-quickly introduced to two brothers.  And within days they were wrestling, laughing and hugging. Alby refers to Lydia as “you cute little baby’ more than he actually uses her name.   And while the arrival of baby sister, definitely upset his world (nearly six years of being the baby) a bit, he has fully come around, and man he is smitten. He doesn’t even get that mad when she breaks his legos.  🙂

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Quinn was a natural, being a bit older and so excited for her arrival.  He’s a rather excitable child so what I mean is SOOOOOOO excited for her arrival.  🙂  Quinten lights up when Lydia comes in the room, finds her entirely entertaining and Lydia is quite aware she has him tied-around-her-little-finger.  It’s great.

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Not only has she been introduced to siblings, but also, the other special people in our lives.  Extended family.  She was greeted by all four grandparents and one great-grandma at the airport. Day two of being home she met her aunt Kara from St. Paul, so fun!  My older sister, Emily with Abby (Em’s middle girl) in-tow came for a quick visit a few weeks ago.  Emily was as startled as we were when upon entering the house, Lydia literally ran to greet her with a big open armed hug!  Tears all around, so awesome.

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Lydia has had a few trips out to Mormor and Papas house, including a Peterson family gathering.  Mormor comes on Tuesdays while I’m at Bible Study, and Liddy has quickly learned that Papa will give her anything she wants.  Anything. 🙂  Last night when he was babysitting, she wanted three cheese sticks.  Three… ‘really Dr. Judge?’- says her digestive track.  And just last weekend Lydia got to spend some good time with Grandma and Boompa from MN.  She loved every minute of their attention and they hers.  Precious.  And here’s the thing.  Kids just know.  They know who the special people are.  They have a sixth sense about who family is and somehow what it all means.  It’s been a joy to watch her take-in so much love.

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But, I wonder, does she understand love?  Surely, she was loved by the nanny that cared for her in her orphanage.  We have pictures.  Precious pictures, where she’s playing with her nanny, being silly with her, even giving kisses.  In our months of waiting, the boys and I prayed often that one of the nannies that cared for her would really love her, bond with her, give her extra care and attention.  And I believe God heard that prayer.

But still I wondered does she know?  Can she know how deeply loved she is.  From the day we met Lydia, we have been telling her over and over that we love her.  I tell her many times a day.  And a few weeks back God gave me a verbal gift, from my non-verbal child.  Lydia is limited in her speech.  She can make the following sounds, ah, pa, na, ma, la and guh.   Her cleft, limits her ability to even try forming many sounds and we can’t wait for the day she finds her voice, literally.  But, the gift I got a few weeks back told me that though, she can’t form many sounds, she understands nearly everything we are saying. We can say, “Lydia, bring me the ball”, or “put this in the garbage”, or “wave goodbye” and she does it.  But, her understanding was fully confirmed when I was rocking her in the blue chair before bed and said, “I love you” because she took my face in her little hands, smiled and responded with, “Ah, la la.”

There was my answer.  She knows.  She knows that she is so loved.  And as has happened so many times in the last ten plus weeks of having this little girl as my daughter God has showed-up in and through her.  She doesn’t speak words yet, but she has been a mouth-piece from God to me.

This Sunday was the first in ten weeks that I sat in a Sunday service and heard a full sermon.  I ventured to leave Lydia in the nursery for the first time.  She was there with the boys and our beloved nursery workers (her future preschool teacher) and she did great.  The sermon was from John 15:1-17.  About the True Vine and the branches.  I’ve read it, heard it preached on before, many times in fact.  It’s a beautiful passage.  But this time, I heard something new.  Verse 9-10 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love…. vs17 This is my command: Love each other.”

Lydia is remaining.  God wanted me to know Lydia is resting in the love He has for her -the family he has placed her in.  She is knowing and experiencing love as Jesus intended it and she is learning to trust and love in return.

“Ah, la la”, Lydia.

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Post-Surgery Update- All is well!

We are over a week out from Lydia’s surgery and I am thrilled to say, all is well.  She is doing great, today being the first day I did not give her pain meds.  She seems pain-free, except for the fact that she’s got some teeth coming in.   Here is the recap of the surgery.

We got into University of Chicago on a snowy morning at 7:15am.  We met the anesthesiologists and other Drs who would be working on her in surgery.  The primary surgeon is a wonderful man, who has great bedside manner and has clearly done this particular surgery many times.  What a blessing.  We got Liddy all dressed in her little ‘gown’, gave Daddy (ga-ga) a big smooch, and off she went with the sweet anesthesiologist resident.  The Dr. was extra smiley and put Lydia at ease.  That, and we let her bring the tube of chapstick and aquafor she found in my purse into surgery.  🙂

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Then we waited.  We walked down the hall, got on the elevator (I had some tears), just nerves I guess.  We ate some breakfast downstairs and came back up to continue to wait.  We texted, read, Lars took a cat-nap and then we got a call from the surgeons about 1.5 hours later saying the stage 1 cleft repair was complete and now the ear tubes would be put in.  Great news!  The surgeon came out and said the surgery went well.  I asked to see pictures and he showed me a picture on his camera.  They made little incisions in her inner cheek to allow the uvula to come together in the back of her throat.  Pretty fascinating to see. We shook the surgeons hand, said a big thank you and a wash of relief came over me.  We were close to being finished.  I had not been away from Lydia for this long in her waking hours and it felt strange.

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It was at this point that I had a revelation about recovery.  I asked the Dr. could we please not put her into a crib for recovery.  I knew she would freak out and, honestly anyone might, the part of the crib without bars is covered in plastic, and frankly it’s exactly like a cage.  Forty five minutes later we were called again and told they would be moving her to recovery.  We followed and found our little munchkin laying their peacefully in her bed. Still very much asleep.

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She was hooked up to lots of monitors.  But her oxygen looked good and on we waited.  It took probably close to 45 minutes and she started to stir, at which point I was able to get into the bed and hold her.  Perfect.  She was groggy for a very long time, but rested peacefully in my arms.  We had to wait for a bed to open upstairs for nearly 2 hours…  But when it finally did, we were moved their quickly and relieved to have some privacy.

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The nursing staff was wonderful and Lydia hardly fussed.  It was now 2:45 and Lars and I ate some lunch.  Lydia woke and fussed a bit on and off all evening and through the night, but likely from discomfort, not pain.  She was medicated and all in all she was a champ!  Nurses came in throughout the night to check various monitors and see how she was doing, and mainly she stayed sleepy.  She did wake at 3am an wanted to drink, which was awesome.  One step closer to getting to go home!  And thank goodness she did so well and I didn’t need much help, because poor Lars was out of commission with some form of food poisoning, from the Au Bon Pan downstairs…  Bummer.

The next morning, Lydia was more awake, looking at books and wanting to eat.  She ate some squeezy baby foods, the Dr. checked-in and after a bit more waiting, we got to leave around 1pm.  Hurray!  All in all, a really good experience, as hospital stays go.  🙂  Funny thing, a couple nurses commented on swelling in her face, to which I replied, nope those are just her cheeks!  Seriously she wasn’t swollen.  🙂  LOVE those cheeks!

Lydia’s recovery at home has included all pureed foods, which she’s sick of… And wearing little arm stabilizers that don’t allow her to bend her elbows and reach her mouth.  Kind of sad to see, but she manages to play just fine with robot-like arms.  Her next surgery will be in the Fall, and we hope that surgery will close the opening and allow her to focus on learning to talk with the help of speech therapy.  For now, we are just happy that we have one surgery behind us.  One step closer to a repaired cleft.

And, to think, for seventeen of the seventeen and a half months we waited for Lydia, cleft palate was not a medical condition we had said, ‘yes’ to.  It was not on our list, seemed too daunting.  But God knew better 🙂 and he gave us a change of heart at the perfect time.  Lydia’s cleft palate, her ‘special need’ is the very thing that brought us together.  So, with each surgery I will remain grateful for God’s good timing, for his good plan for Lydia’s life,  and for the ‘special need’ that brought Lydia into our lives.

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back…

Feb 20th, we had our big Dr. appointment for Lydia.  Her first big evaluation by the ‘Cleft Team’ at University of Chicago, to determine where we are at, and what exactly is going on in that little mouth of hers.  It was a great appointment with her first surgery set for this Wednesday morning, March 5th.  And since the appointment, while we continue to see wonderful forward momentum in many areas, we’ve experienced some regression in others.

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Two Steps Forward:  Bonding

After being home from China for 1 month all my hopes and prayers for bonding have been met, even exceeded.  My precious daughter likes me.  Hurray!  She likes me and I like her, love her, am mildly obsessed with her darling little self.  Her little face, the scrunchy thing she does with her nose when she’s trying to be funny, the way she takes my face in her little hands and just smiles at me, those beautiful dark eyes, her silly open mouth kisses, how she plays with my pony tail when we snuggle.  I’m a puddle.  Two weeks ago when I left the house to run an errand, she burst into tears, like mad, how could you leave me tears.  This was huge.  It was the first time she was visibly upset to see me leave.  I felt bad leaving. (but may have done a silent fist-pump over the gesture of her tears, thinking “she likes me, she really likes me!”)  It was thrilling.  We have bonded and it’s oh so sweet.  (Important note- she likes her daddy too.)  🙂

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One Step Back (or several…): Sleeping

Even with the assurance of our forward steps toward healthy attachment and bonding, we’ve experienced some set-backs in the area of sleep.  She has never liked her crib.  I think it’s because she spent too much time in one for the first 21 months of her life…  I wouldn’t like it either.  But somehow, after our big Dr. appt day, her feelings have taken a turn from moderate distaste to pure disdain.  She hates the crib.  This means that the routine we had for 5 weeks in China and at home, of rocking her to sleep and then carefully placing her in her crib no longer works.  Now the moment we begin to lay her down, so jolts awake in a fit of rage.  She is ticked!  How dare we leave her in that crib.

So the last week+ has been filled with failed attempts at sleep.  We’ve tried holding her hand through the crib. No go.  Music. No dice.  Whimsical ceiling projections.  Didn’t work.  Singing.  Nope.  Laying with her on the floor beside her crib.  Not sure what I thought this would accomplish.  I have prayed over her.  For sweet dreams and deep sleep and happy thoughts about her crib.  Nothing has changed, she’s just not having it. Some days last week I devoted 6+ hours a day to rocking her at nap and bedtime.  And the boys got very little attention.  I felt horrible.  It was a no-win.

This means that she ends up, (gasp) in our bed.  And here’s the thing.  We are not bed-sharers.  Never have been.  We have a queen that fits the two of us fine, but once a child is added it feels somehow dangerous.  Like where did the space go, who will fall our first, dangerous? But it’s the only thing that works, so Lars has ended up on the couch and Liddy with me. And I don’t sleep for fear of smooshing her and I also get kicked and slapped all night because she’s a mover.  It’s grand…

But on one particularly frustrating night a few days ago, (when I had to tell the boys to put themselves to bed, again) I had a grand realization as I sat in the blue chair rocking sleeping Lydia.  All this sleep craziness, is actually answered prayer. How ironic.  For months I sat in the blue chair, praying for Lydia.  I prayed that she might feel safe and secure in our love.  That as we held her, she would attach to us, trust us, bond.  And here we are.  She has no interest in being soothed by a soft toy, the edge of blanky, a pacifier or even her thumb.  She just wants me.  I’m it.  I’m the soother.  I can pick her up after a fit of heaving sobs and she is sound asleep in my arms in mere seconds.  She feels safe and secure and peaceful.  She rests.

All she really wants is someone to be with her.  To be near, like listening to our heartbeats, near.  And then she rests.  It’s beautiful.  And if I didn’t have other children to care for, homework to help with, other needs to meet, I would gladly sit in that blue chair forever and just rock and rock, because it’s heaven.  But with Lars working three or four nights a week, I have to do my best to figure out how to juggle three at bedtime.  And the truth is I haven’t really and I’m tired, we’re tired.

Thankfully, in recent days we have found that we can lay down with Lydia in our bed, and silently slip out of the room after she falls asleep and then move her to the crib hours later.  Works most of the time.  Until it’s two in the morning and she wakes up crying and we start the process all over again…

And in one day any sense of ‘figuring out sleep’ will go by the wayside, because miss Lydia will be in surgery, and then recovery and we will start the figuring-out all over again.  But one thing remains, I  get to be her soother.  I will climb in that hospital bed with her, I will hold her as long as she wants me to and I will treasure the way her little body molds, and rests in my arms.  Amazing to think Lydia waited 21 months for a mother’s embrace.  And now that she has it, it’s all she wants.  It’s her peace.  How awesome.  I believe God made us with a deep longing for this kind of love and so even in my very sleepy state, I will remember, this is exactly what I prayed for.

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