So I've been thinking about the easiest way to update our blog with our adoption journey and I've seen other Mamas do monthly updates...and that sounds like an easy and simple way for me to stay on track...so here it is...our MONTH ONE update! Wow! It's kind of hard to believe! Last night, I had to pull up the first picture I ever saw of our boy...the picture from back in January...that led us down this road to our Josiah. He has changed so much! And we're glad to be on this side of our journey and experience these changes right alongside him. Here's our sweet boy experiencing his Mama's craziness! The first picture is courtesy of his older brother and sister playing peek-a-boo. The second picture is how he TRULY felt that his Mama was making him do such a thing. HA!
I'm not sure what the "cut" is when people tell you that your hands are full...I mean...I'm fairly certain I heard it when our "number" was three...but I don't feel like it was as often as I've heard it in the past month. I've read numerous stories and accounts of funny things people say to you and quite honestly, I'm sure I've been guilty of saying things that probably send chills down parents' spines in regards to their adopted child. More often than not, people mean no harm....just as I meant no harm when I've told people how "lucky" their child is to have parents like they do. (Sigh) But, it's something I'm learning along the way and I appreciate my encounters with all of these comments because it allows me to practice my responses!
The first month home is exactly what it sounds like...the month where you experience a LOT of "firsts" with your child as part of your family. Our first month was no exception. Here's a recap of some of the FIRSTS we experienced together.
Last week, Josiah had his first outing to the doctor's office. Emmaline had her well-check so it was a "pack up the circus and take it on the road" kind of day. I wasn't exactly sure how this was all going to go down...but Sydney and Landon were super amazing and I'm fairly certain I'd still be in the parking lot if it wasn't for them. We arrived. We parked. We all joined hands and walked through the parking lot, into the elevator, into the waiting room, and then into the check-up room. And for the most part, it was fairly successful! Keep in mind successful means there was floor-sitting...Emmaline was walking around the room barefoot and in a diaper...and a Cheerio MAY have been eaten off the floor. Cheerio-eating off the floor wasn't our goal...but hey, we were also going for survival. Naturally, I had to thank the "bigs" with a little Biggby hot chocolate. Their personal fave. And of course, I indulged myself with a Grande Teddy Bear HOT...because...when in Rome!
Another first for Josiah has been playing outside with his siblings! Grass is still basically a sea of alligators to him that he won't touch. But, that's to be expected when he's likely never played in grass before. I didn't see any at the orphanage, but we didn't see every square inch of the complex either. I can only guess because he literally picks up his feet any time I try to put him down. And when he's dropped a piece of chalk in the yard...he can't find a way to pick it up. It's actually kind of funny to watch him pace back and forth on the concrete and think so hard about HOW he can rescue things that have fallen into the "alligator" pond. But he's becoming more comfortable outside and just the other day...he walked into the garage and carried out a bucket of chalk on his own. Progress!
Josiah also experienced his first trip to the store this week. Actually, make that storeS plural. This week, he conquered Marshall's, New to You, Bath & Body Works, and Wal-Mart. He also became an experienced "fountain coin-thrower" and loved experiencing this "first"- perhaps most of all! That boy can throw some serious coins. And thankfully, Mama's penny population is now under control.
All trips have gone well...mostly because he has had snacks the entire time. But hey, we're in the business of keeping things stress-free right now. And our boy is HAPPY when he can snack. But this brings up one of our biggest struggles this month...food. Transitioning his diet has been difficult. Not difficult because he isn't getting what he's used to eating. He actually doesn't always accept his normal Chinese diet. And I mean, eventually, he has to eat something else besides congee and rice cereal. I say it's been difficult because he WANTS what we have...but only on his own time. And only certain things. If this boy had his druthers, he'd live off Cheez-Its, Blueberry Chex, Goldfish, Cheerios, and milk. Do you see much protein in there? Me either.
Meals can be a quite the trigger for our boy's fits. Fits where he cries and cries and cries...and cries some more. Did I say he cries? I've been keeping a list of what he'll eat and it is a fairly long list...but again, it's finding a balance of things that are good for him to eat and not just allowing him to survive on snacks alone. He does love noodles. So goulash, spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, and Ramen have been successful. But not always. We've also had some success with tacos. Each meal is an adventure though.
He's still learning how to use his entire mouth full of teeth. So.many.teeth. He's learning how to chew AND swallow. He'll still gag from time to time because he gets too much food in his mouth. He doesn't know when enough is enough. (Eric and I have caught our FAIR share of gagged-up food. Yum.) He's also learning that he can eat more than one thing at a time...meaning...if there are several things on his plate like a veggie, a fruit, and the main dish...he can pick and eat all of those things throughout our mealtime. But right now, he only picks ONE thing off the plate and won't touch anything else. We definitely have to be strategic in how we offer meals to him. He also doesn't know that he can finish one item before he accepts another. So...let's say he's working on some cereal at breakfast...but wants the muffin I have. If I hold out a piece of muffin to him...he spits out everything in his mouth and takes the muffin. I've been decorated with many a spit up food in the past couple of weeks. Really doesn't help my re-wear policy on certain clothing items. Haha!
Another area where he's struggling is sleep. This triggers his crying fits as well. In China, he'd take a 3 hour nap with no questions asked. He also slept through the night as if he knew no other way. Even in Florida, we saw much of these same sleep patterns. Of course, we can likely attribute the majority of this sleep due to the emotional trauma he was experiencing with all of the changes that adoption brings to a child's life.
Now that we've been "Home Home" for almost two weeks, however, we have been dealing with new sleeping habits and patterns. Josiah largely doesn't nap. If I can lay on the floor and pat his belly (through the slats of his crib- read: I have ginormous hands and this hurts for long periods of time)...he'll nap. Or there have been times when he's so tired that he'll fall asleep on my chest. But both of these circumstances are difficult to do on a daily basis...because there are other kiddos and other schedules. Right now, he'll start in his crib at bedtime and make it a few hours...but he's basically co-sleeping with us. We're OK with this arrangement for now, but it has been tricky when our other "graduate of co-sleeping" baby (Emmaline) decides to cut teeth and come in for some action too. We only have a QUEEN bed, people! HA! So really... I've been co-sleeping with two toddlers and Eric has been sleeping wherever he can find room....which isn't always IN our room. P.s. Have you ever seen a queen bed with side rails? It's real cute. Insert wink face.
I asked Eric last night...as we were both remembering our first month together...what his biggest surprise has been...and he said Josiah's communication. I had to agree...because we are truly blown away at all he is able to do. He signs "more" and "hungry" and "milk." He says Hi, Yeah, All done, Thank you, Up (when he wants held), Mama, Dada, Uh-oh. The kids are convinced he can say their names. The jury is still out for me on that one. But overall, he understands sooooooo much. He puts things back when you ask, he gets his shoes when he wants to go outside, he comes to you for diaper changes, he pulls you in the direction of what he wants when his "words" aren't working. He truly is such a smart boy. Sometimes, I have to remember that he has only been with us a short time when he's throwing fits...because I forget...and he has exceeded our expectations when it comes to communication. So I can easily "expect" more from him...because he can communicate and understand SO WELL...but this isn't fair to him or our adjustment to one another.
Wow. I can't tell you how helpful it is for me to write all of this down...to remember that it's only been a month. But, at the same time, that it's also been a MONTH. He's been in our arms for an entire month!? As a dear friend said this morning...it feels like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. And that is so very true.
Yesterday, as Sydney and I were trolling through Wal-Mart with a double stroller AND a shopping cart...the cashier said (in a very sincerely sweet voice) "You have your hands full, don't you!" And she's right. My hands ARE full...but so is my heart. Through good and bad, fun and hard...there can be joy in EVERY step. We love you Josiah Bug! Every single piece of YOU!