Monday, December 4, 2017

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month FIVE

*I have to note that every single time I get out this blanket...he comes over and sits down...and then looks up and smiles while I drag over a chair. Golly, he's such a genius. Thanks for obliging your Mama, Bug!*

     Technically, yesterday marked FIVE whole months with our Siah Bug. And if I'm being completely honest...I just couldn't bring myself to try and write a post for this month. While all months have had their challenges, I think this past month was the most exhausting for us- both physically and emotionally. Exhausting not in the form of doctor visits, but rather in the form of s.l.e.e.p.  I'm typically a person that can go on very little sleep...but this last month met me with pure exhaustion. There were nights when I was getting maybe a couple of hours of sleep at most. And those sleepless nights were happening consecutively...with no end in sight. *We even went to Urgent Care a few weeks ago because I was convinced he had an ear infection due to the sleep struggles. But alas, no ear infection...yet.*
     For the past four months, I've co-slept with Josiah. The first month of crib-sleeping was miserable and no one was sleeping. And we saw immediate relief with co-sleeping since that was what we did in China too. However! Co-sleeping with Josiah is actually more draining than any of my other newborn experiences with Sydney, Landon, or Emmaline. You see...when a newborn can meet their needs by diaper changes or feeding or rocking. When Josiah cries, there really isn't any meeting of his needs. He doesn't want held. He doesn't want milk. Or water. No new diaper. He just screams. And screams. And screams. For sometimes hours on end. We've read a lot about night terrors and I definitely think that is a legitimate possibility. But it seems that something else might be going on...which is why we were SO excited for his BAER procedure today.
     Eric and I missed several alarms this morning, but thankfully, we got out of the house by 5 a.m. to drive to the hospital for a 6 a.m. show with both Josiah and Emmaline in tow. We waited two hours before going back and beginning the sedation...this time Josiah had to be put under using general anesthesia. The "why" behind this different plan is long and involved and I had to be Mama Bear more than I cared to be over the course of several phone calls...but we kept our appointment in order to get answers sooner than {even} later and trusted God that He would see Josiah through this procedure with the same ease as Josiah's MRI sedation. And God truly did. Josiah did very well waking up from the anesthesia and we were pleased with his results. The ENT ended up putting tubes in both ears because Josiah had quite a bit of thick fluid behind his right ear drum (Was this causing our HORRIBLE sleeping again?! Definitely possible!). His left ear drum passed with flying colors under all frequencies which was a huge answer to prayer because this has always been his problematic ear. The right ear started off really well during the BAER...but the audiologist ran into trouble when his ear started draining so she couldn't get it to show normal hearing. She did not feel he was likely a candidate for hearing aids and thought the tubes were going to be our answer to all of Josiah's failed hearing tests. YAY! We're going to check into some speech therapy just to make sure we're not falling behind during this crucial language development stage. And we'll do a hearing test on the right ear in a few weeks to see if the audiologist can feel good about what she's getting the right ear to do.
     Here's our boy when I finally went back and waited for him to wake up. Admittedly, I cried when they put the mask on him and watched him scream with the initial sedation. He's been through so much. Seeing him so peaceful in the crib melted my heart though. The nurses kept commenting on his perfect little lips. <3

     My biggest complaint about today was the fact that we weren't working with a pediatric sedation team like we were for his MRI. If you remember from my last post, Josiah had the most successful IV stick to date because they were willing to listen to me and use an ultrasound machine to find a good vein. Of course, he still didn't like it...but it was one poke and success. I shared these same concerns and suggestions to our anesthetist and she claimed that because Josiah would be asleep he wouldn't feel anything anyway. Um...last time I checked...he wasn't a testing subject to experiment with?! I had to get my Mama Bear suit on to inform her that whether he "felt" it or not... I did NOT want her poking around his arms several times before finding a vein. She assured me they would take great care of him...and that the medicine usually made veins "plump" up. Long story short...his veins don't "plump" up ever and now our boy has some bruises on his hand from FAILED IV pokes. I will definitely be sharing my complaints with the powers that be. Ugh. Mama knows best. All in all, it was a LONG day but we're so hopeful that these tubes will help Josiah in so many ways! And maybe we can all sleep? Because we can't understand how our son is even standing most days. It's affecting him in big ways too!
     Now...since the sleeping was so bad this month...we finally decided to try the crib again this past weekend. His screaming fits were waking up the rest of the house so we had nothing to lose. The first night didn't go so well with crying and constant about stamina! Not good. But eventually, he fell asleep. CIO is a huge no-no (probably to many non-adoptive parents...but definitely!!!!! for adoptive parents) so that was hard...but honestly, living on such little sleep as a parent isn't healthy either. Patience and grace don't exist with sleeplessness. The second night in his crib was better...and last night...was basically a dream! He watched Emmaline and took her lead. He cried a bit...but would look over at her and see her laying down...and then realize he was supposed to do the same. HUGE breakthrough! (I told Eric that at this point...if Emmaline asked for a pony...I'd give it to her! We love you Sugar Bear! And Mommy and Daddy owe you big time for all of your great modeling. Haha!) I should note...that all 3 nights...Josiah slept through the ENTIRE his crib. So while it did take some crying...we have felt mostly positive about tackling the crib again. Here's praying this streak continues. And if it doesn't, hopefully I'm in a much better state to handle the incessant crying and blood-curdling screaming.
     Eating is still inconsistent, but he's getting better at eating fruits for us. The textures don't seem to bother him as much. He'll eat a whole banana is one sitting so that's improvement. This is still definitely a trigger for his tantrums though. We're trying to find a happy medium and not die on EVERY single hill. But, he also can't live off of cheese puffs...which is a bummer for our cheese puff-loving boy. Truth.
     Here's a recap of some other things that happened this month! Not pictured: A SECOND hair cut by Mommy. I know, I know. I said I'd never...but we had family pictures and we were desperate. It's not as terrible...but I'm not about to make it a regular thing. Promise, Siah! xoxo

The bigs had a living room sleepover this month so that was an open invitation for Josiah to lay down. If something or someone is on the floor...SO IS JOSIAH! Haha!

Josiah enjoyed our Christmas Parade in town! Santa rides down the street on a fire truck and everything...which made this boy's whole face LIGHT UP! It's definitely a face I'll always remember. 

Thanksgiving was at our house this year which was soo helpful for this little boy and not being overstimulated. Such a blessing! (Thanks, Ma! ;-) You can have it back next year. xoxo)

Jingle, our Elf, came and brought the kiddos Christmas jams. The boys match and the girls match. Be still my Mama heart! Josiah and Emmaline love finding Jingle every morning. They're both really good at saying Jingle's name clearly too!

Josiah LOVED decorating the tree. He would cup both hands around each ornament and grit his teeth and shake. True excitement! Such a sweet FIRST we got to share with our boy this year!

Reading bedtime stories in front of the Christmas tree is a favorite nighttime activity. 

Eating FISH sticks is always a victory. Don't worry...they're #wildcaught. He ate TEN of them though so I was proud...because main dishes are a battle for us. And fish is protein, people! YAY!

     We look forward to celebrating Jesus' birth with Josiah during month SIX. We can't wait to see what he thinks about Christmas and all it entails. The food, the presents, the family. We won't have the luxury of staying home during this holiday season...but we're praying we can support Josiah as needed with all of the extra "stuff" that December brings. It can definitely be an overwhelming time so we'll try and follow his lead. It's been fun shopping for his Four Gifts. Sydney and Landon helped me pick out his "Want" already and we can't wait for him to see it. 
     Enjoy this December, friends. I pray you're able to relax and appreciate the slowness at times. That is so important for me to remember in this season of go, go, go. Blessings!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month FOUR


     Months keep getting faster...and life has seemed to move at a similar pace. Work is busy. School is busy. Home is busy. Life is busy. I'm sure I'm just taking a number in this game called LIFE. But! Here's a quick peek at what month FOUR looked like for our family of six. Can I remember anything that's happened in the last few weeks?! We'll see!
     The beginning of the month meant big things for our little boy. Josiah was sedated for an MRI so we could have accurate and updated scans of his brain. China would not share Josiah's previous CT scans so we merely had a diagnosis of his special need based on their report. After his scare in month ONE, we needed to see this MRI to determine a plan of care and whether his diagnosis was accurate. Josiah had to get an IV which was the part I was looking forward to the his past experiences have been nothing short of horrific. Our sedation nurse was amazing though and listened to me when I shared my concerns about his IV. His veins have been near impossible to find in the past so she didn't hesitate to use the ultrasound machine to find a viable vein and it worked SO WELL! Now, don't get me wrong...he hated it and screamed like a banshee per usual...but it didn't take more than 1 poke. VICTORY! And again, the nurses commented on his screaming stamina. That seems to be a recurring comment for our little guy. Yikes.
     When Josiah was done with the MRI, he snapped back to reality rather quickly. In fact, he wanted to run around immediately...except for the fact that his head felt like a cannon ball and he had zero head control. That made things interesting. The nurse let us bring all of our "baggage" down to the main floor with a red wagon since we had Emmaline too. Neither kiddo wanted to ride in the our diaper bags got a luxurious ride. Eventually, Josiah wanted to sit in after it was all said and done and we were ready to go. Ha! We got the MRI results back and his diagnosis (per China) was confirmed. He has a rare brain malformation. We were fully aware of this need when we said yes to his file. Thankfully, he is not showing any negative effects right now. We'll continue to monitor his behavior and ability to learn as he grows. We may find that reasoning or other critical thinking skills are difficult for him. Or we may not. Only time will tell. We are grateful for a positive report and know that God has our boy in the palm of His hand.

     It was nice to have the rest of the MRI day to relax with these two goofs. They do enjoy each other's company quite a bit!

     Josiah always plays "doctor" when he comes home from one of our many, many visits to a medical facility. He's getting quite handy with a stethoscope. 

     Here he is being "one of the big kids" and watching a little Family Feud with mom and dad. He is the definition of "monkey see, monkey do"...and sometimes it's adorable...and sometimes it's not. ;-) This would be one of those adorable times.

     Josiah was supposed to have another procedure called the BAER done along with his MRI. During this procedure, they'd hook up a computer to both ears and go through a series of sounds at all ranges to figure out where Josiah's exact problem is from his brain to his ear. However, when the nurse went to check his ear canals using some thingamajig...she wasn't getting a lot of movement from either ear. I told her this was considered "normal" for our boy and we've never had anything BUT no movement. That's why we were here in the first place. But alas, she had to call the audiologist who did a few tests of her own and determined that his ears were not healthy enough to conduct the test. I was...what you might call...frustrated. Josiah had just finished a 10-day medication for an ear infection. At this point, he had been on three different antibiotics for ear infections...we were at FOUR ear infections in three months (his first one was in China and we didn't know). Poor boy! Admittedly, I cried and our superhero sedation nurse swooped in and told me she'd make sure we had a game plan before we left. To make this long story slightly shorter, we made a series of phone calls to our ENT who, in fact, scheduled Josiah for a BAER procedure in December. This means more sedation. He'll also have an ear exam done while sedated so hopefully we can get answers as to why he isn't passing any of his hearing tests. I was not a happy Mama Bear with that audiologist who did not even consult our ENT. Thankfully, he handled the sedation very well so we are praying that we have a similar experience in December.
     Other highlights this month include: Josiah's first trip to Leaders Farm...complete with goat-feeding, giant slides, and cinnamon sugar donuts! Donuts not pictured. We ate them too fast. 

     Josiah also got to experience Sydney's 8th birthday which meant he spent four hours last Saturday with five eight-year old girls. Can you stay overstimulated?! The girls absolutely LOVED Josiah (and Emmaline too). And Josiah loved them equally as much. But we're noticing that he definitely has a limit when it comes to stimulation. We've had to pull back in a few areas in order to control this a bit more. For example, we've not ever been much of a "tickling" family because I, personally, hate being tickled. So I don't tickle my kiddos. The only time we ever tickle Josiah is if he's throwing a tantrum and needs the extra sensory. It can usually snap him out of it. If we tickle Josiah at any other time, he becomes overactive and out of control. It's hard to calm him down. I've also taken a break from going to second service at church with Josiah because we haven't put him into the nursery yet...and having him in Sunday School with me means he runs around the room going up to anyone and everyone. Again, this can all be good and normal stuff. But for our boy, it gets to be too much and can affect his mood and behavior for the rest of the day. We're still learning each day about what is too much!

To wrap up our fourth month with Josiah, we went trick-or-treating with the kiddos. Josiah and Emmaline were Mickey and Minnie. I got zero good pictures because...they're toddlers...and Josiah felt LESS than amused about a costume. See proof below.

     Luckily, after about twenty minutes of screaming and crying, he warmed up to his plump mouse body and decided to try this door-to-door thing. Once he learned that food was being passed out, it became a little more interesting. Actually, he loves to stand on the back of our sit-and-stand stroller so that in itself was entertaining. It was super cold so we almost left the babes with Grandma H. but we decided to give it a try with the whole gang. And we survived! Emmaline LOVED walking on her own and carrying her pumpkin. Josiah loved eating snacks the best. And family pictures are a struggle. For real.

     Sleep has seen some improvement, but nothing is consistent. Josiah always gives us at least one terrible week of sleep where it's incessant screaming throughout the night. I'm fairly certain he has an ear infection right now as sleep has started to worsen again. Last night, he took more than two hours to fall asleep after not napping AT.ALL during the day. How is that even possible?! I am the one who puts him to bed and the consistency has seemed to help...but it also means I'm lucky if my contacts are taken out and my teeth are brushed because he takes so long to fall asleep and I dare not leave the bed to do ANYTHING. Most times, he falls asleep directly on top of my head. 
     We're also continuing to work on eating. We learned that Josiah LOVES fish. (And Emmaline loves tartar sauce.) Haha! He isn't a great eater for us and will refuse to eat much except yogurt. It's still trial and error with him at mealtime. 
     We are hopeful for a great month and more progress. We'll have Thanksgiving in a few weeks and that definitely has the potential to be an overstimulating experience for Josiah. And then there's Christmas and all the stops that usually entails. We have definitely found that sometimes we just have to say "no" when it comes to certain things. It just gets to be too much for all of us.
     As always, we appreciate your prayers. I'm convinced that they have kept me somewhat alive and sane. My excessive amounts of caffeine each day could also be helping. ;-) But thank you, thank you for following along and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. This is the hardest thing we've ever done...but it's worth it. We know that. But it doesn't take away the fact that it is a daily grind of HARD stuff. Until next month! 

P.s. We got to spend a quick session with our dear friend, Suzy, who took our adoption announcement pictures years ago! She captured some sweet moments of our little family. The babes were NOT their smiley selves and none of our tricks seemed to be working. Stinkers. But Suzy always seems to catch some great shots! xoxo

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month THREE


     Today marks MONTH THREE with our Josiah Bug. I sort of can’t believe yet another month has passed by already. But then again, it feels like we've been together so much longer! I’d love to say we’ve conquered a lot of things these past several weeks, but the reality is…we’re still adjusting. Step by step...and by day. Who am I kidding?! Maybe even hour by hour! I feel like a broken record, but it’s important to remember that this continuous adjustment is normal. I can’t tell you how many times I read stories in my China Adoption group that emulate our life with Josiah. Sleep issues. Ear issues. Eating issues. These are all struggles for SO MANY adoptive families. While reading some of the struggles can be scary, it is more than anything…encouraging. We are not alone.
     One of the biggest changes this month has been (Mommy) going back to work and sending Josiah to a sitter. We’ve been plagued by sickness and other unfortunate things that have caused both Eric and myself to miss more work than we would like (and now to a point where it’s more than we can miss) so I use the term “going back to work” quite loosely. I’ve yet to work a full Wednesday! Fog has taken a couple of those days and then Josiah had a fever last Wednesday so Eric and I split the day to take care of him. The missed work and messed up routine has made adjustments to life a bit trickier and downright stressful. 
     Josiah has done fairly well tagging along with Emmaline each day to the sitter. It’s hard for me to accurately define his reaction to being dropped off each morning. I’m so quick to relate everything back to the fact that we’ve only been together for three short months. But, there’s also the reaction of normal anxiety exhibited by children when they’re dropped off in a new environment the first several times. The other week, my mom asked me to think about when our other kiddos started going to the sitter. Were there tears for them? And as I thought back, there were tears…so I have to remember that some of this anxiety could be normal. Once he’s there, he plays and eats like we’d hoped he would. It just sort of makes mornings a bit interesting when you're trying to figure out what "trick" will work and possibly ease his transition. Kids are smart so it's no surprise that they catch on quickly to what you're trying to do. As a result, we've not been able to make the same thing work two days in a row. Sometimes we've been able to use food, some days we can use his shoes, and some days we just have to do a "pass the baby" and run. Hopefully, we'll be able to find some more regularity in that area this month.
     This next month, in general, is a huge one for our ‘Siah Bug. We’ve got an MRI in the middle of the month as well as a test called the BAER. We were referred for the BAER test after seeing an ENT and Audiologist. Both the MRI and BAER require sedation so we were mostly thankful to push back Josiah's originally-scheduled MRI in order to have just one sedation procedure. We also have a cardiology appointment to check on his ASD that is supposedly a non-issue. Again, we’re checking all of these doctors off our initial list. Actually, we’re on our way home from Columbus as I type because we saw a Urologist today. All looks good in that arena. YAY! 
     Yesterday, I took Josiah to the doctor after dealing with high fevers again last week. I was not shocked when the doctor told me he had an ear infection. I believe this makes #4 for our poor boy. Remember, I’m only on our MONTH THREE post. Yikes! Once he has the BAER test done, we’ll follow-up with our ENT during the first week of November to discuss next steps. We’re still slightly surprised that he cannot pass a hearing test because he has picked up language so well. He now says “Sit down!” when Emmaline stands on the furniture. And he shrugs his shoulders when we ask where something is…and he says "toot toot" as he points to his belly when he passes gas and he says “Uh oh!” when he drops something on the ground. Soooo...all of the important stuff is basically covered. He still likes to parrot a lot of what we say so that is encouraging. We’re really hoping to get some answers this month about his MRI and hearing.
     Sleeping has seen some changes. To be honest, he slept SO WELL when we got home from the hospital. It was through-the-night sleep without any coughing and no terrors/tantrums. Since that first week, sleep has been a different story. We DO have a good routine now so that has been a blessing. Eric and I try to put the big kids to sleep first because Josiah requires one of us to lay with him for an extended period of time. When we were trying it the opposite way…Eric or I always missed out on bedtime routines for Sydney and Landon. SO this way…Eric and I can both try and read stories to the older two. 
     Josiah now goes into each of their bedrooms to give his big bro and big sis smooches…and then Josiah and Mommy head down the hallway to turn on his night light and sound machine. Eric purchased the sound machine/night light and surprised us with it…and it’s been such a huge deal to Josiah at night time. It is HIS thing to turn on and then he always gives me a high five! He loves it. In fact, one night it was still on and I had to have Sydney run ahead and turn it off so that Josiah could still do his "thing." Heaven forbid we mess this routine up! It's working!
     Settling down for bed is becoming easier…it’s just the staying asleep part we’re working on right now. But, knowing he has yet another ear infection, I can’t help but think that he slept so well because he was on a strong antibiotic for an ear infection and felt TRULY WELL at night. We shall see if his sleep is affected now that we’re on yet another antibiotic. 
     Josiah has gained almost 5 pounds since we’ve had him home! He still has the skinniest little legs, but his face is filling out and he’s got a few more acorns in his cheeks for the winter time. He also has a bit more of a belly than when we first met him! We’re not quite into 24 month clothing…but he’s getting closer. His “younger” sister is rocking 2T quite well. Our two cuties sure keep us BUSY, BUSY. At yesterday’s doctor appointment, Landon was my only “big” helper and it definitely changed the dynamic of our visit. Essentially, I had triplets that I was trying to coerce into a giant building as we dodged cars, automatic doors, and people coming out of elevators. We met the nicest man who asked if they were “all mine” and then said how cute they were. Naturally, he followed that comment with a statement about how BUSY I must be! I smiled and told him I even had ONE MORE at home that called me Mom.
     We’re stressed…but we’re also blessed. Cliche? Probably. But, we prayed and prayed and prayed for this family and we believe God is using all of our struggles for His glory. I often need to remember that He indeed SEES us and knows exactly how our story will continue to unfold. Until we know what the next several pages bring, I continue to pray for patience, grace, discernment, wisdom, and did I mention…patience?! Mercy! 

     And because I know you all come for the they are...our growing boy!

(After-work naps are sometimes a MUST.)

(He is really in to sitting on the potty. He even censored the picture on his own!)

(He just got done saying "Uh-oh" in this picture.)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month TWO

     And just like that...we've experienced another month with Josiah in our lives. Wow! Time sure flies when you're having fun. And fun we're having! But there's also a lot of hard. Sometimes it's heavy on the fun...sometimes it's heavy on the hard. Here's a glimpse of Month TWO!

     At the beginning of August, we had our initial visit with Nationwide International Adoption Clinic. Eric and I had to get Josiah to Columbus for a 9AM appointment. We were told it could be up to three hours so they encouraged us to bring lots of things to occupy our little guy. So we did! Stacking cups, snacks, books, snacks, a pom pom sorter, some Little People, and snacks. Did I mention snacks?!
     Overall, the visit was AMAZING. We met with so many wonderful doctors and professionals. They were all so kind and kept apologizing about how far we had driven and how long we were in the office. I insisted that it was not a big deal because everyone was SO kind! It was totally worth the drive. During our visit, our room had a revolving door. Figuratively speaking. We saw a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a psychologist, an audiologist, and then the general doctor. Our appointment lasted three hours and then some. Basically, we have to work on gathering baseline data for certain areas so we can track Josiah's progress. We also have to work on updating several tests that were done when he was first brought into the orphanage. All of these tests and scans were never given to use with his medical file so we don't really have an idea about the extent of some of his potential medical needs. Also, since he had certain diagnoses in his file, we have to work our way through figuring out whether these diagnoses are accurate and how they might be affecting our sweet boy. One of the things we needed to check off our list was a kidney ultrasound. Thankfully, we were able to complete that later in the afternoon. Of course, it was a very LONG day in Columbus, but we were so thrilled with our experience there. Here's our rockstar boy doing what he does best...snacking!

      Some of our visit highlights included the doctor giving me a big hug when she saw me in the hallway. Technically, that was a highlight for just me. BUT! She was actually on her way to another patient, and HAD to stop and give me a hug and tell me that she heard how well Josiah was doing so far with the other assessments and interviews. How amazing is that?! In general, the doctor was very impressed with Josiah. Some of the concerns she had about him (based on some video footage we had been given prior to meeting him) were immediately thrown out the window.
     Josiah was also given a Bayley's Cognitive assessment. Due to excessive snacking, he refused to do some of the tests...but still managed to score "Advanced." The psychologist was slightly shocked. This was following her speech about how we shouldn't worry if he didn't do well because that was very typical of kiddos who are adopted. We knew this information, but it was nice to be reminded again that this wasn't going to define Josiah. Remember, for every YEAR that a child is in an institution, you can expect six months worth of delays. So...Josiah was 17 months at the time...and could have scored as an 11 month old. But instead, he scored as a 21 month old! Even without completing a few of the tests! Naturally, I cried. I was so proud of him and so thankful for the caretakers who loved and taught our boy while we weren't there to love on him. Eric and I also laughed a little because we felt like he really did understand so much of what we were saying to him and at the rate he was picking up words, really made sense to us. God is good!
     We'll go back in February to check in again with the team and discuss new progress and any areas of concern. In the mean time, we have to check off some doctor's appointments. In the next couple of months, we'll visit the cardiologist, the neurologist, another audiologist, and a urologist. Phew! That's a mouth full- or at least a calendar full!
     This month has definitely required us to dive a little deeper into "normal" life. According to my contract, I can take twenty, consecutive days in relationship to our adoption. Not much of a maternity leave. But, I don't have a lot of sick time built up after having Emmaline so I just decided to take the first two weeks of the year off. Things are definitely interesting in our house right now!
     For starters, this is my first "maternity leave" that doesn't involve nursing a baby. WHAT?! While that makes it easier in some's also difficult because twin toddlers just don't like sharing attention sometimes. This is definitely more of a struggle for Josiah than Emmaline. She does a really nice job (mostly) of sharing and comforting him when he's upset. But a lot of times, there's no comforting Josiah when he's upset. I don't even think he knows why he is crying half the time. And this boy can cry. For a long time. Like more than 30-40 minutes without stopping. It's hard to get him to snap out of it. Not even holding him helps. These fits are hard. It makes my connection to HIM difficult at times. It's definitely a process on both ends. He's attaching to us...but we're also attaching to him. Of course, we LOVE our little guy...but learning to handle all of his tantrums and fits is very different. Parenting, in general, is very different with a child who comes from a traumatic past. *Josiah (although he spent time in a loving environment) is still considered to have come from a traumatic past.* We're still learning about each other.
     Here are just some of the FIRSTS Josiah experienced this month: Two doctors visits. Shots (with more to come...Boo!). A failed blood draw. A successful blood draw. <---Both were AWFUL by the way! Just awful! A parade. The county fair. The babysitter. Swimming in the baby pool. His cousin's volleyball game. The zoo. A trip to our favorite store- Barnes & Noble. Annnnnd his first hair cut...which I did...and it totally got out of control. I was supposed to just trim the hair over his ears and then next thing you know?! He's without sideburns and resembles an Amish version of Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. I'm sorry, buddy! NEVER AGAIN. I promise.

     While I had started writing a lot of this post last weekend...I wasn't expecting to add an entire section about another unexpected first: a hospital admission. On Wednesday, Josiah woke up with a fever. I wasn't too surprised simply because he seemed to have some drainage issues with his ear and nose and he still coughs a lot in the night. This cough is something the doctors just haven't dug into very much and it's been frustrating. Wednesday was a fog day (yeah OHIO!) for the older two so I decided to take all four kiddos shopping and out to eat. Why not live a little?! At lunch, I noticed Josiah was shaking a little. It was more like a shiver...he seemed cold. I could tell his fever was back up again so I called the doctor to schedule a sick visit. They had an opening in an hour. So I put my meal straight into a to-go box and off we headed. The doctor sent us for a chest x-ray but encouraged us to maintain normal therapy. Whaaaatttt is normal therapy?! He largely didn't want to medicate Josiah if he didn't have to (which I support) and he dismissed it as a virus. We never heard back about the x-ray and assumed it was OK. The kiddos were once again amazingly helpful and I pretty much feel like we've got these doctor visits down to an art!

     After we were home for a little while, Josiah wanted to sit next to me on the couch. As he sat there, I noticed his head was bobbing a bit so I picked him up. He hadn't napped much and I thought he was falling asleep while sitting there. Unfortunately, that was not the case. His lips were completely purple and a bunch of unswallowed saliva was coming out of his mouth. He was almost unresponsive and very limp in my arms. I called 911 and an ambulance came to the house. Thankfully, Josiah came around by the time the EMS arrived. He was weak, but responsive. They checked him out and vitals were mostly good. His fever was at 103 even though I had given him Tylenol after our doctor's appointment about an hour earlier. The EMT didn't feel he needed transported at the time (and I agreed) so I chose to keep him home and watch him closely. About an hour later, I was feeding Josiah in his high chair when I noticed his left eye/face begin to droop. It was very scary and very odd. My mom had come over to help watch the other kiddos when we had the 911 scare and she noticed the same thing. As soon as Eric got home, off the three of us went to the ER. They admitted Josiah and began an IV. The IV did not go well. At all. The next couple of hours were equally horrific. Josiah screamed and screamed nonstop. Nonstop. They couldn't draw blood, we had to hold him down for more x-rays, and they couldn't get his heart rate to register correctly. By now, his fever was 104.5.
     The ER doctor explained that he didn't feel like we were best served at the hospital and put in for a transfer to Toledo Children's. Part of his reasoning had to do with diagnoses in Josiah's medical file from China. We understood and agreed this was best. MediVan came soon after and took our boy away in his car seat...leaving Eric and I to follow them in our own vehicle. I was scared. And I was angry that they wouldn't let me ride with Josiah- for insurance purposes. Can't I sign a waiver?! After all of the trust we had worked to would Josiah know what was going on in a van with two strange men?!
     As soon as we arrived, a rapid response team was sent in to the room. This was also very scary! Josiah's fever was now 104.7 and his heart rate was through the roof! It was a long night of worrying and trying to figure out what was going on. Obviously, his vitals were checked around the clock so not much sleep was happening. And Josiah pretty much associated ANYONE in the hospital now as the devil and screamed and flailed his body. Every.single.time. This made Eric and I the forever "bad guys" and we hated that. As you can imagine, the constant vital checking and an uncooperative 18 month old made it very difficult and hard to complete temp checks and BPs accurately. Josiah also knew the pulse ox monitor was on his foot and had to literally be distracted from this 24/7. Yikes! And an IV plus a flailing body makes life interesting too. At one time, it did have to be pushed back in and taped down more. This caused him to bleed quite a bit underneath his bandage.
    We ended up staying from Wednesday night to Friday night because Josiah's experience was not a textbook febrile seizure. This concerned the doctors. Based on some findings in his EEG, it was determined that an MRI would need completed to figure out exactly what was going on with our sweet boy. Unfortunately, the MRI requires full sedation and the team did not feel comfortable with Josiah's fever and nasal congestion to go forward with the procedure. We were finally released Friday night and were instructed to schedule the MRI as soon as possible. Until then, we've got four different medications we're taking. We also have an ENT appointment next week because we did find out that Josiah had an ear infection (again). And we'll meet with the neurologist in the next few weeks to discuss the MRI findings.

     Thankfully, the entire staff at Toledo Children's was exceptional. We loved everyone we met and they had mutual feelings about our boy. Eventually, Josiah learned to trust and let the vital checking happen without tears and tantrums. (Although sometimes he signed "all done" as soon as they walked in to the room. HAHA! Stinker.) He also loved saying "Hi" to all of his favorite nurses and he was even spoiled with his very own medicine syringe. You should have seen his excitement about this gift. The nurse could not believe how happy it made him. We had told her how he LOVES using those things to take medicine. Everyone commented on how cute he was which always make me smile. Naturally, we think he's a cutie too! Especially when he's feeling like himself! So many people have told us that they can't believe he's even cuter in person. You guys are too sweet. And too much. This boy is going to have an ego!
     Phew. That was a lot. But again, I want to make as much of our journey as transparent as possible. God has used our testimony in so many ways these past two months as we've shared with others. And I can't tell you how many people share that they've considered adopting too after talking with us. God creates our testimonies so that we may share with others for HIS glory! At the hospital, a doctor opened up about her struggles with infertility and cried along with me as she shared her game plan for Josiah.
     And just yesterday, I got to share a bit of my heart for adoption with a cashier at Walmart. She admitted that her daughter was wanting to begin the process soon. She also cried with me and held my hand as she handed me my receipt...telling me that she was praying for our boy. See?! How amazing is our God?!
      Soooooooooooooo...back to month TWO happenings. An area where we've seen improvement since month ONE is eating! We've figured out a trick with baby food. He definitely has some texture aversions. But, he tolerates more fruits and vegetables in a puree form so we're rolling with it. He'll still eat some fruits and veggies in solid form...but not many. That boy can inhale two big containers of baby food in less than a few minutes though! He's also eating more protein and has done sooooo much better with not gagging this month. Although he seems to be able to do that on command. Oy.
     Something we're still waiting to see improvement on is SLEEP. We had taken the advice of the psychologist and tried the crib again. She told us to keep the end goal in mind. Well, the end goal is obviously the crib. We didn't exactly wish to sleep with him until he was nine or OLDER?! We had also learned that he wasn't sleeping well prior to this because he had roseola, an ear infection, and he was cutting his bottom canines. The doctor said he was dealing with SO MUCH and that all of those things would drastically affect his sleep. So we were relieved and hopeful. Sleep was surely on its way!
     But alas, after trying the crib for two horrible weeks...we ditched the plan and went back to co-sleeping. Eric and I could not function. I almost fell asleep- standing up! And since Josiah wasn't napping consistently and then sleeping horribly throughout the was a terrible situation for him too. Sooooo now, I sleep in our queen bed with Josiah...and Eric sleeps on the floor. And it works. We all sleep. I think we'll try to squeeze Eric into the bed during month #3. Or save money for a King. Josiah is just a total bed hog. But hey, we're all sleeping so that's the important part! He has also been taking hour or so naps a few times a week while I've been home with him. Granted, he lays on the couch beside me...but again, we'll take it! Also, knowing that Josiah hasn't been 100% since we've been home makes this sleeping piece make a little more sense. Poor guy! Here he is refusing to go to sleep...while standing up! This boy is a FIGHTER! The hospital kept telling us that too. Ha!

     As always, thanks for following our journey and praying us through it. We are so appreciative of everyone's outpouring of support and love. Happy September, everyone! We're excited for a more healthy month THREE!