Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 10th-May 11th: Mother's Day Weekend Celebration!

After nearly 49 years of of wishing others a "Happy Mother's Day!", it was very odd to have them wish it to me. I received wonderful cards, e-mails and phone calls from family and friends with beautiful sentiments to commemorate my first Mother's Day. (It still seems weird even as I write this.)

Each year, I have thanked my mother for who she was (and still is) as well as all that she did for me in my life; for being my mom and my friend. I thought I knew what that meant; however, I realized this year that I what I thought it meant did not even scratch the surface of what it truly means to be a mother. In just the past 3 days, I have encountered a great range of emotions: the pain of her crying and screaming as she receives vaccines, while blood is being drawn or while trying to soothe a finger that got caught in her booster seat tray; the frustration (for all!) of being unable to lull her to sleep; the joy of her watching her grow and seeing her accomplish new feats such as taking her first steps by herself and let out a real belly-laugh. How do mother's do it; giving so much of themselves day after day, year after year? It must be love. is a truly remarkable state of being.

Most new moms have the chance to see their children's "firsts" and I thought that there would be little opportunity for me to her "firsts" since Willow was 18 months when we adopted her. You know what, though? They may not be firsts for her but they are for me! Therefore, Mom and I were a little stunned and incredibly thrilled to see Willow take her first steps this past week! (Sorry, I did not have the camera with me but have learned my lesson to have it as part of my "get out and go" paraphernalia. Give me a break...I'm still new at this.) Our little girl who spent most of our time in China in a stroller is now beginning to walk! her. And out of that, a whole new world opens up for her as she began to show interest in the lion walker (from Aunt Kathleen, Uncle Howie and her cousins) and to use it all by herself.

And to see her feeding herself! I cannot help but think back to our time in China when we needed to feed her. Boy, oh boy, she sure has gotten good at using the spoon!

For me, this is what motherhood is all about!

And how did we celebrate Mother's Day? Well, on Saturday, we joined Gran (Wáipò) at a Mother-Daughter Tea given at one of the churches whose fellowship Gran enjoys and if you will pardon the near-bragging tone, Willow was the belle of the ball!

Willow asks Gran for more tea.

But gets more juice instead.

With Gran and Annie Beyerly (left)

With Gran and Marjorie Clark (below)

Mother, Daughter, Grand-daughter

On Sunday, we decided to surprise an old friend and show up at her church for the 10:00 am service. We met The Reverend Alice Downs when she was the interim rector at our church in Metuchen nearly ten years ago. After her time in Metuchen, she went onto St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Keansburg as their vicar. We have had the great fortune of being able to keep in touch with Alice and her husband (The Reverend) Dean Henry for we all shared one thing in common: the love of Maine. Alice and Dean have a house in Southwest Harbor; the same town where we have a time-share. Each fall, we meet up there and enjoy wonderful tea and cookies while we catch up with each other's lives, usually in front of a roaring fire. Needless to say, Alice and Dean were right there with us every step of the way in the adoption process and its ups and downs. They provided great support throughout the process, especially during the interminable periods of waiting. So what better way to start Mother's Day than attending the church of a treasured friend.

And surprise her we did! We arrived about two minutes before the service was to start as she was getting ready to process in. Quick hellos, hugs and an introduction to Willow were exchanged so as not to delay the service. During the service, Alice asked us to come up to the front of the church for the Thanksgiving for an Adoption prayer. It never ceases to amaze me how moving prayers can be. I began crying, Alice was trying not to and before you knew it, the whole place was in tears! Except for Willow who was making her way up and down the pew. Anyway, it was wonderful. (Thank you, Alice for your part in making my first Mother's Day so special.)

Please accept our apologies if Alice was late getting home for lunch with the Bishop.)

After church, we went for brunch. Michael ordered is signature breakfast dish: pancakes with fresh strawberries and bananas and LOTS of whipped cream. (Look familiar, Alice?!)

And, in spite of having already had breakfast, Willow was ready to dig in to her meal of eggs and hash browns with both hands!

As we were leaving, the cashier said to Willow, "I hope you bought a nice gift for your Mom."
"She is my gift," I replied.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 9th: Medical Merry-Go-Round, Part 2

"Weeping Willow" visited us again and I cannot say that I blame her.

The return visit to Dr. Tang's office brought back bad memories and consequently, the tears, screams and screeches. The good news, however, was that the TB test results were negative!

Off to the lab for the blood work...
Here's a shocker - it isn't just blood work. We are going to have the fun task of collecting 4 stool samples and 1 urine sample! To complete all of the tests that Dr. Tang requested, they needed to collect 7 vials of blood. (Does her tiny body even hold that much?) Needless to say, Willow was very unhappy about this. They did manage to get 3 vials but they will need to draw blood to fill the remaining 4 vials when we return with the stool and urine samples.

Now there is a day that I am looking forward to! (Be sure not to miss the note of sarcasm; sometime it does not project properly when written.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May 6th: Riding the Medical Merry-Go-Round

Today, Willow went for her first visit to the pediatrician. All things considered, she is doing well.

Dr. Tang watched her crawl around on the floor and walk, with Baba's help, of course! She said that she thought Willow will need some physcial therapy to strengthen her leg muscles. (Willow has an Early Intervention evaluation scheduled on May 21st with a speech pathologist and a physical therapist.

When Dr. Tang did the physical exam, "Weeping Willow" came through again! She cried and screamed and fussed the whole time. We had a hard time keeping her in place so the the doctor could record her height and weight! Everything looked good; Willow is in the range for her height and head size. However, her weight is still significantly below the range for her age. In fact, she weighed in at 20.7 lbs at the medical exam in Guangzhou but today she weighed in at 19.1. I was a little surprised to hear that she had lost weight! Guess I'll have to increase the portions!

Then came the exam of the mouth. Surprise, Surprise, Willow is teething. Her 2nd year molars are starting to come in. (No wonder she has been so cranky!) Dr. Tang said that the repair on her cleft lip looked good but that the gum would need some work and Willow will definitely need some orthodontia as well as some cosmetic surgery down the road. She only has 3 of the 4 front teeth and this is because of how the gum was affected by the cleft lip. She referred us to St. Peter's University Medical Hospital's Craniofacial & Neurosurgical Center for an evaluation at which Willow will be seen by a Craniofacial specialist, an ENT specialist, a Speech Therapist, a Physical Therapist, a Surgeon and an Orthodontist. She will also have a cursory hearing test and the go off for a complete hearing test. Poor thing! I don't envy her one bit! (And I don't envy us having to get her through it!) We have set up this appointment for June 18th.

Meanwhile back at Dr. Tang's office, she was given 4 vaccines (to try to catch her up; more will follow!) and a TB test as well as prescriptions for a very good (but very expensive!) cream for her eczema, a vitamin with fluoride and a battery of blood tests. We return to the office on Friday for the TB test results and then it is off to the lab to have blood drawn for the tests. (Neither of us are looking forward to this one either!)

May 2nd-May 3rd: Willow Meets Some of the Portée Clan

This weekend Willow's cousin Delaney had her 1st Communion and we went up to help celebrate the event!

The service was to start at 11:00 am but we did not think that we would make it out with enough time to get up to Stormville, NY on Saturday morning so we drove up Friday night and bunked with with The Senior Family (Aunt Kathleen, Uncle Howie and cousins Megan, Courtney and Delaney). Willow had a great time playing with her cousins and running Aunt Kathleen all over the house! The only thing she was not sure about was their St. Bernard, Coda. He is a lovely dog but is about the size of a Shetland pony! Willow was careful to keep a safe distance from him.

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed some breakfast and got ready for the big event but not befroe a few pictures were taken.
The Three Sisters

Us with the Guest of Honor, Delaney.

At the church, we met up with Cousin/Aunt Kitty and her grandson, Jonathan. (Willow was thrilled to receive a NY Yankees sweat shirt from them and wore it proudly!)

After a wonderful luncheon at an Irish Pub in Poughkeepsi, we took the return trip home and even though Willow slept all the way home, she went back to sleep in her crib with little fuss!

She has now met most of the Portée family. Uncle Paul, Aunt Jackie, cousins Robin, Jason and Jenny as well as Aunt Patty, Uncle Joe, cousins Carolyn, Sarah, Joey and Jake are next!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

April 30th: One Month Already?!

One Month Already?! Wow!

When I think back to how Willow was the day we first got her and how she is today, it is hard to believe that they are really the same person. She had come so far and grown in so many ways.

It is taking less and less time for her to open up to the new people to which we introduce her. She crawls up a storm and loves chasing after our cats. (Of course they are none to pleased about this new development!) She is really beginning to master the use of a spoon although she still is not sure which hand she prefers to use.

She is nearly walking on her own and heaven help us when she is! When her Aunt Kathleen was walking with her, Willow really began to build up speed! I wish I had gotten that on video! But I did get her on video riding her Bounce 'n Spin Zebra for the first time! Willow just loves to shout her version of "Yahoo!" whenever it comes up. She is also beginning to repeat some words such as "hi", "bye-bye", "good girl" and is real close to singing "E-I-E-I-O".

Willow smiles and laughs much more frequently and easily. She loves being silly and playing tricks on us. She is really good at doing her "fish face"; it would have made her grandfather so proud! She is also beginning to respond to "peek-a-boo". And It seems she is also trying some play-acting! While changing her diaper, she wanted something to hold onto so I gave her the Huggies wipes container. She held it up to her ear as if talking on the phone, nodding her head and grunting something like "Uh-huh". After a couple of seconds of silence, she let out a belly-laugh as if in response to what the caller had said! I just had to laugh with her. (Missed that one on video too. Sorry, but my hands were full.)

It is amazing just how far she has progressed in such a short period of time. Of course we still have our challenges, primarily with sleeping; she still fights it and does whatever she can to keep herself awake. We cannot leave the room until she is asleep or else she has a major crying fit. The same is true if we walk out of a room that she is in. Obviously she does not like to be alone (or else she isn't used to it and is afraid.) The net result: sleep deprivation and a house with many chores left undone.

It is at these times though bleary-eyed and looking at a house which is a near total wreck that we have to remind ourselves that is has been only one month since we became a family of three and only 15 days since we have been home. Hard to believe since even after this short period of time, we cannot imagine life without her in it.