You Know You're A Mother When......
Well, she is finally here! After a completely sleepless night Thursday night waiting for "The Day" to come, we all got up around 5 a.m. Friday morning. This including Amber, our 11 year old that loves to sleep in every chance she gets. All of us were just so excited for the day to finally come that we couldn't get out of bed quickly enough! Of course, that just made the day drag on and on. The flight was scheduled to land at LAX at 3:30, so we decided to head to the airport at 2:00, not knowing what to expect with LA traffic from Orange County on a Friday afternoon. Of course, we got to the airport 15 minutes before the flight landed, mostly due to the fun exuberance of my dad getting everyone out the door and on the road. My parents and Jeff's mom drove up in their car, and the five of us followed. Jeff and I knew that, of course, they wouldn't get through customs all that quickly, since it even took us 45 minutes on the way home from Kazakhstan to get through the process. We were not prepared, however, for the TWO HOUR wait after the plane landed for us to get our first glimpse of Dasha, Vera and Medet coming out of the customs area. We had jockeyed for positions right at the front of the rope so that we could see them when they came out. Of course, the kids got very tired of waiting, and just about two minutes before we saw Dasha come out, Jacob announced he had to go the bathroom for the second time. My dad rushed him to the bathroom, and wouldn't you know it - he had to miss the first moment, but by the time I was done with my giant hug, he was running back. I am so grateful, though, that he offerred to help Jacob, as I don't think I could have handled missing that moment myself. During the two hours of waiting, I was pretty sure that I was actually going to have a heart attack. I am not sure that my heart has ever beaten that fast or that hard. Many of you know that I have a little tackyarrhythmia that makes my heart beat very fast, and for which I have to take medication to slow it down. Apparently this stress was far too much for even a medicated heart to handle, as I really thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest from nervousness. We knew that Dasha was going to be so very scared and nervous herself, and we weren't sure how she was going to be feeling after so many hours of traveling.
My fears and nervousness went away, however, with that first glimpse. What I saw was indeed a very scared and nervous little girl, but a little girl that also recognized us as her mama and papa, and who also ran to me to give me a huge hug. It was so nice to see our coordinators, Vera and Medet, too. They are such warm and wonderful people who took such great care of Dasha during their travels. Vera told me that they found out Dasha has pretty severe motion sickness, and that she had been sick in the car, and then on the airplane had actually thrown up several times. Poor little thing, to go from that to the chaos of LAX and all of us did not settle her stomach. We got to the car to return home at around 5:00, not a great time to be traveling on the LA freeways. We were smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic when the motion sickness kicked in again. This time it was so bad that Dasha actually threw up in my hands because we didn't have anything in the car to use (wouldn't you know it? The ONE time I had actually cleaned all the junk out of my car). All I could think was "Please God, let us get through this traffic and get home quickly". We did finally make it, after several more throwing up episodes. It was definitely during those moments that I thought to myself how much I really have become her mother already!
Dasha was still wearing the key to our house around her neck - it was the one thing that was not covered in throw up, so we decided to use the front door when we came in the house, as we had planned. It wasn't the shining moment that we had planned it to be, and I don't think she noticed the red, white and blue balloons lining the walkway to the house since it was dark by the time we got home. Still, we were determined to make good on our promise to have her open the door to her forever home when she arrived, so I helped her pull it out from her shirt and held her hand as she put it in the lock. Jeff and I both held her hand as we helped guide it in the right direction, and then helped her turn the knob. We were finally home, and even though Dasha was miserable during the ride home, her mood definitely improved once we came inside. She clutched my hand and led me through the tour of her new home. She really lit up when she saw a picture of her over the mantel, alongside her new siblings. We took her upstairs to her new princess room, and she had a look of absolute amazement when she saw it. When I opened the closet and showed her the closet-ful of clothes waiting just for her, she touched every piece of clothing over and over. Then she saw the rest of the house and smiled.
I quickly decided that a bath was in order, and a change of clothes was a must. I helped her get out of her dirty clothes and showed her how we run baths in our house -with lots of bubbles. She smiled at the bubbles, but didn't want to touch them at first. She let me wash her hair and get her nice and clean. This gave me some great opportunities to tickle her, which we both loved! Then I showed her some of the bath toys, and how to make them work, and that was all it took for the Dasha that we got to know and love - full of fun and smiles - to come out. I thanked God for the opportunity that He had provided at that point. Just when I had thought that we were in for a very difficult road, He used Dasha's motion sickness to help the bonding happen. There is no way that we would have been in the bath that quickly otherwise. After getting her out of the tub and relishing the opportunity to warm her up with a nice, new towel ( thank you Tricia!!!!), we went into her new bedroom and opened the closet. I pulled out some pajamas, but Dasha had other ideas. She shook her head "No" and opened the other side of the closet with all of her pants and shirts. She picked out a pair of pink pants and a cute shirt with a butterfly on the front. I helped her to get dressed and brought her downstairs. From that moment on, she completely opened up first with Amber, following her all around the house and learning how to play with play make-up. That bonding was quickly followed by the bonding with her brothers as a rambunctious game of throwing balls back and forth in the hallway outside of the playroom took place. This was complete with huge belling laughing. Jeff's mom and my mom had prepared this huge feast of food for us while all of this had been going on. All of the adults enjoyed great food while the kids played - far too busy to eat! Soon after, Jeff's mom went home, and my parents took Vera and Medet to their house to sleep. This left us all alone for the first time as a family of SIX. Jeff and I sat on the couch in the living room and just watched all the fun going on. God is good. He led us down this path for a very specific reason. We know that it is going to be very hard. Despite the laughter and fun and hugs and kisses from Dasha, she is still not talking. This will all come in time, and we are truly thankful for this gift that we have received.
Bedtime came quickly thereafter, and it was fun to see everyone getting jammies on, having four kids brush their teeth in the same bathroom, and tucking everyone in at the same time. I thought that Dasha would be so exhausted that she would just crash. Turns out it is actually pretty scary to leave the only home you have ever known, travel through the air in a manner that makes you sick for hours on end, and to end up in a place where you can't understand a word anyone is saying. So no crashing here. I actually snuggled in bed with her for a long while singing the same songs that I sang to Amber and Mitchell every night while they were small, and that I still sing to Jacob every night. This calmed her enough to be able to fall asleep. Around 3 am, though, we awoke to the sound of quiet crying in her room. We both flew out of bed and ran in. She is not used to having adults comfort her, and I know that the idea of it is scary to her. She played a game of possum with me, closing her eyes and pretending to be asleep and not crying while I talked quietly to her. I want her to learn that we are here to comfort her. She does not have to do it herself anymore. We need to build that bond slowly, without scaring her, but we need to push it a little bit. I decided to take this opportunity to bring her into our room and snuggle in our bed with us, just like I have done countless times with my other kids. She immediately got the idea and snuggled into me, but never fell back asleep. Around 4 am she started whimpering and holding her ear. I asked her if her ear hurt, and she shook her head yes, so I took her downstairs and gave her some medicine. Knowing that she is also still on Kazakshtan time, I decided to just stay up with her. She was hungry and showed me that she wanted a banana, which she scarfed right up, followed by juice, a waffle, and more juice. Once she had a full belly, she was ready for smiles again. We cuddled on the couch and watched the only children's show that is on at 4 am - Barney. It was actually kind of soothing, to tell you the truth. There's something about hearing the words, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" with your newly adopted daughter that almost brings tears to your eyes, until you remember the years and years that you were tortured by Barney for hours on end!
All the other kids got up very early again today, ready to start the day with their new sister. Jeff took them all to Starbucks for the Werkmeister family weekend tradition of coffee for mommy and daddy and hot chocolate for the kids. Dasha was not happy once she got outside and realized they were going somewhere IN THE CAR again, but she obliged and was happy it was a very short trip. She's not a hot chocolate lover, we found out, but she made it through the trip! We then took all the kids to the park near our house for some fun on play equipment that is clean, safe and a lot of fun. Something new for Dasha! She loved every minute of it! We have had a busy day already today, with the park, a trip to WalMart, a trip to watch Mitchell's last football game, and then back home to get ready for the big party with the rest of the family tonight. She has been a trooper in the car each time, kind of steeling herself for the trip by closing her eyes to try to not get sick. Each trip has been better and better, so I don't think the motion sickness will be a lifelong affliction - we hope! She fell asleep in the car on the way home, so I took her upstairs to her room for a nap, but she woke up on the way. Even though she didn't complain about getting in her bed for a nap, when I went in a few moments later to check on her she was crying quietly again. I asked her in Russian if she was scared, and she shook her head yes. I took her downstairs again and got her and Jacob snuggled on the couch for a rest period with a Disney Christmas movie. That was all it took and she is currently napping in the playroom on the couch. She is going to be going through an actual grieving process for a long time. As excited as she is to be part of a loving family, and as much fun as she is having laughing and playing with her new brothers and sisters, she is leaving the only life she has ever known. We knew this would be part of the process, but it is heart breaking to watch it unfold. All we can do is just love on her over and over, and let her know that it is okay to be sad. This too will pass. Thank goodness that most of the day is spent happy and joyful, loving every part of her new life, especially her new clothes. I think at last count she has opened her closet and touched all of the clothes about 100 times - looks like she has gotten the shopping/clothes gene from her mommy!