I always wrestle with how to "sum up" life here in mere words and in a brief amount of time.
I also know there is such a wide audience of readers....those who are much more experienced than we are...those who just wonder "how" we do it...those who hope to adopt...those who are the support for those who do adopt....those who know us in "real" life....and those who I wish I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with but will never actually meet....those who pray for us...and every category in between....
I wrestle with how to paint the full picture - the struggles and the joys. I don't want to paint the rainbow of colors - even the gray and black of the storm clouds that travel through - without showing each color. Some days are very grey - some days burst with color - most days are a mix of both, like a swiftly moving weather system overhead. Some days the dark clouds may be dominate for the entire day - but I only give them a brief mention. Other days, maybe the sunshine is brief - but dramatic enough - relief enough - from the storms that can roll through, that it is worth dwelling on.
Today, as it pours down rain outside, it is one of those days with swiftly changing emotions and ups and downs inside. We are praising God that Hope has slept through the night for FIVE days. YES, this is a stop and enjoy the sunshine colors thing! Of all the challenges when we add a new precious life to the mix - whether by birth or adoption - the lack of sleep is the hardest. Now, just to clarify, I am not talking about "Oh, we didn't get our full nine hours of sleep" - because we haven't gotten that (or close to it) since The Testy Chef came home almost 16 years ago. There have been times that we have rejoiced over getting 2 hours of sleep IN A ROW because that was so rare. With such an abundant amount of kiddos, you can bet that someone is up almost every night. Mimi has never been a good sleeper - beginning with needing to feed her around the clock; to just nights when she decides that she doesn't need to sleep after 2 a.m. Then she goes back to sleep at 6 a.m. when I need to be up and moving. We are just thankful when we can open our eyes in the morning and they are not too gritty from lack of sleep! So, I should probably mention that 2 of these 5 nights, Mimi has been up...but 3 nights of sleep...WOW. SUNSHINE.
I guess it is only truthful to report as well that the "waddle" has begun. Yes, the dreaded pregnancy waddle. I noticed it walking into a doctor's appointment on Monday. It is still at the point that I can work at NOT waddling, but only for a little while. I have a tough time with my back and hips with my pregnancies. I must say that as I have been better about no gluten and dairy, I have not put on the same amount of weight with this pregnancy, but all of the sudden the last two weeks I can feel the weight. Little Man is a very busy little one - many kicks and gymnastics going on all hours of the night and day. Some moments 16 more weeks seems like an eternity....other moments, it is not enough time! My favorite new "old" quote is "The days are long, but the years are short." AMEN!!! Some days seem like they will never end, but I blink and the week is gone again. I will be forty this year...where has the time gone? Oh, to have back those years with the perspective I have now. (Okay, now I am sounding old too!)
Hope is still doing well during the day. There are times that she does thinks that we all cheer over! Glimpses that there is much more going on cognitively than we had assumed. She follows me with her eyes as I move throughout the day and is concerned when I leave the room or the house for an appointment. This a very important step with bonding....that she even notices people around her and that she is focusing on me in particular. She loves to be held and is anticipating the rhythms of our life...when it is time to eat, when we rock-a-bye at night, when we all sit together, when it is playtime. Again, to "paint" the full spectrum - some days it is very, very difficult to see the amount of damage that has been done to this little girl. It is one thing to know and discuss the results of "institutionalization" - it is very different to see the effects of it even on the tiniest areas of a little life. Things we don't even THINK about in "normal" life. Some days, I have to focus on the little joys because the big picture looks so bleak with such damage...other days, I cannot believe the progress I see in her. (Recognizing the progress that seems "huge" to us, yet may seem not worth mentioning to others.) Long term, I am confident she will move and walk. I don't know about speech - there are such huge gaps and missing pieces. These huge gaps have nothing to do with her diagnosis - and everything to do with 5 1/2 years of nothing. No interaction, no love, no touch....nothing beyond the basics. Yet, I also know we would have never believed Mimi would be where she is now...and recognizing the power of our Savior. I don't know what He has in store for her. We love her as she is now....everything else is just frosting on the cake.
Serenity...wow. How do you sum up a human firework? An explosion of colors! She just never. stops. moving. She is still just full of life - it bubbles out every crack. This week though, we have moved beyond the expected "honeymoon" stage. She is feeling very comfortable. Her tummy is feeling full. Her "love tank" is full. So we have moved on to the next level. I welcome it as I see it as part of her journey - but it is also hard many days. She is getting picky about food now - so we throw it, squish it, spit it out, torment with it, ignore it, refuse it, demand specific things. I put plastic dishes on the shopping list this week as we throw those too. With a child who has been with us from birth, these things would be dealt with much differently - but with a little one who has only been here for 7 weeks, it is not so straight forward. How to correct without undoing all the progress so far?
She also is a tornado in her ability to destroy a room in short order. The rest of my treasures go to AWANA at church on Thursday nights. I stay home with the 4 girls (Mimi, Grace, Hope, and Serenity). I am home alone for about 2 hours, during which I need to feed 3 of the 4. So I am limited in how quickly I can get up and redirect the "tornado". Last night she managed a complete destruction of the family room as I was in the living room (just around the corner). I chose to laugh instead of cry and couldn't wait for the other kids to get home to see their reaction to what she had done in such a short amount of time. Even as we laugh though, it is something we are going to have to figure out. If we only had the 4 girls, I would put everything up and away (not to mention we would have a lot less stuff!) so that we could control the chaos. But we need to enjoy life as a family...and do home school...laundry, etc. We need to enjoy the days, not lock them away. Another subject for prayer and patience....
And finally, our little Grace. What a treasure. What a gift we have been given. SUNSHINE! I had been dreading the trip to the orthopedist as I thought her scoliosis had gotten much worse in the last 7 months. I had completely forgotten about her hip dysplasia...wow, how did I forget that? Praise God, her scoliosis looks unchanged, if not better as she is relaxing and stretching with the Botox and therapy. HOWEVER, her hip needs surgery...soon. The doctor was thinking April or May. Ummm, Serenity will most likely have her surgery/surgeries - which are critical - in April. And, oh yes, Little Man is due in mid-May. Hmmm.... So her hip surgery will be either the end of Feb or beginning of March. She will be in the hospital 3-4 days and will be in significant pain. Oh, that brings tears to my eyes. She will then be in a half-body cast for 4 weeks. The doctor said the two worst days are the day right after surgery and the day the cast comes off. Little Grace had such a hard time with the g-tube placement, I am struggling to even think about this. She will need to have the other hip done in the summer time (it is not as bad). On one hand, I am very thankful that we have time to get it done before Serenity's surgeries and Little Man arrives. On the other hand, I just am sick over her being in pain. I also know that these next weeks will be very, very full.
So much to pray for...so many, many areas that we will need His grace and provision. My time is gone this morning to type. Need to go take care of a few "rain storms" and rejoice over some bursts of sunshine, too.
To God be the glory, in all things!