Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fourth Visit Trip

I was able to visit Gabriella from Thursday, May 8 through Thursday, May 15! I spent my first full week with Gabriella, just her and I, completely alone, 24 hours a day! It was an excellent trip and another wonderful chance to bond with Gabriella. I feel so fortunate to have been able to visit so many times, but it never feels like enough time. It is always torturous and miserable to say goodbye (goodbye for now) to her and takes me a few days to begin to feel like myself again. I wish I could afford to live out there with her for the remainder of her time in Guatemala and "foster" her myself, but, unfortunately, that is just not financially feasible for me.

I had a terrible cold the whole week, but I had to fight through it! As my best friend, Daniela, said to me, "Welcome to motherhood!" I was nervous that Gabriella would catch the cold from me since she is rather susceptible to colds, but as of current, she is well, thank God.

Packing proved to be especially difficult this trip for a couple of reasons. First, I was traveling alone, so I couldn't use anybody else's packing space for my overflow. Also, as of May 1st travellers are only allowed one checked bag; a second checked bag now costs $25. I had to pack for a week for myself and Gabriella, take a two month supply of diapers and wipes for Gabriella, and take a small donation of shirts, sweatshirts, and toothbrushes for Mi Casa boy's orphanage. Needless to say, I had to pay the airline luggage overage fees!

I was able to celebrate my first Mother's Day with Gabriella - TWO times! Mother's Day in Guatemala is always celebrated on May 10th, so I had Mother's Day on Saturday, May 10th with the Guatemalans and on Sunday, May 11th with the Americans!

There is nothing more wonderful than watching Gabriella fall asleep and waking up with her! I watch her in amazement as she sleeps. She looks like a peaceful angel and I thank God that He has blessed me with such an amazing daughter.

When she wakes up in the morning I talk to her, she coos, and she touches my face. She usually looks completely opposite of the little angel who fell asleep next to me; she usually wakes up looking pretty wild! I love it!

Bath time is really fun as well. She has really enjoyed baths during the most recent two trips, much different from the first two times in which she screamed in the tub. I think she enjoys the freedom of having no clothes or diaper on and I love tickling her belly.

Gabriella LOVED the pool this time! She had not enjoyed the pool during the past three trips, but really had a blast in it this time! We swam just about every day of this trip. Her favorite thing was when I would hold her hands and spin her around in circles in the water. She laughed loudly each time!
Another reason why she enjoyed being in and around the pool is that there are lots of people and children to watch there. She is so nosy and curious! She LOVES men, so she really enjoyed watching the pool waiters and attendants. She loved the attention they gave her. They all would stop to talk to her and she would "flirt" back. Common names that they would call her are "muñeca," which means doll, or "linda", which means cute. It was the same way with the waiters in the restaurants! She would watch every waiter's every move, but only the male waiters! If she was whining or crying and a waiter came over, she would stiffen up with excitement, laugh, and follow him around the room with her eyes. She is too much. I am already working on choosing a lock to keep her locked in the house when she is a teenager!

Gabriella is not yet crawling, but wants to very badly! She does love using the baby walker, though. Since I was alone this trip, I borrowed a walker from the children's room to keep in my room for the week. If I had to shower or use the bathroom I would put her in the walker. At first the walker had to be in the bathroom with me because she would get scared if she couldn't see me, but by the end of the week she was okay not seeing me if she could hear me.

She enjoyed playing in the children's room and made another friend. She automatically goes for her friend's eyes and mouths! She is also still not good at sharing! I sure hope she is more kind to her foster brother, Evan!

Gabriella was a great eater this trip! Her favorite foods were cream of asparragus soup and saltines! She also ate ham, chicken, vegetables, fruits, and pasta. She still has her "choking" episodes where she would choke if she already had something in her mouth and didn't want more, if she didn't like what I was giving her, or if she was simply done eating. One day during lunchtime she had a piece of pasta in her mouth that she no longer wanted in there, so she had one of her fake choking episodes and made a big scene in the restaurant! Everybody looked and the waiters came running. She was fine and I knew she was fine; she is just a little stinker! :) She loved being in the high chair and she enjoyed being in the restaurant where she could watch all of the waiters and patrons.
I loved seeing her get excited about things. She would make her hands into fists and tighten up every muscle in her body and smile. It was awesome and hysterical to see. Gabriella was also teething badly. The tops of her shirts were often wet with drool and she was always looking for something to stick in her mouth to chew on.
On Wednesday, May 14th we were supposed to have our appointment at PGN with her birth mother. I dressed her in a special dress for the special occasion, but the appointment ended up being cancelled.
I have so much fun dressing her and putting bows in her hair. There are so many cute outfits to dress her in. Her hair is beautiful, shiny, wavy, and is a perfect length to put a little pony tail at the top of her head.
It was another wonderful week with my daughter, but bittersweet as usual since she is still not able to come home with me.

I chose to adopt from Guatemala because, being of Italian heritage, it was a culture that I could relate to and embrace. It is a culture of people who are community-centered and deeply appreciative of friendships and relationships. Their priorities are ones that I think Americans often lose sight of. They have deep traditions, have strong religous beliefs, and enjoy music, food, and socializing. In only four trips I have truly come to love Guatemala and its people, and feel like Guatemala is another home for me (now I have three homes - Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Guatemala!). I have friends there who will last a lifetime and another family (N.'s family) there. I am so excited to be able to embrace this country and culture with Gabriella.

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