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!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gabriella's First Two Weeks Home

I have family and friends who have followed me through this process, and during the most exciting time, the time when Gabriella is finally home, it appears that I have forgotten all about you. I feel tremendously guilty! I certainly have not forgotten about you, though, I have just been completely consumed with being a new mommy! And, I am absolutely loving every second of it. I will try to recap the past two weeks for you as best as possible:

We flew home on Friday, September 5th and arrived into Boston's Logan Airport at around midnight (September 6th). Gabriella did well on the plane, sleeping a majority of the time. On the Guatemala to Atlanta leg of the trip Gabriella slept, ate, and slept some more. I was concerned that the pressure and the loud noise of the plane would bother her little ears, so I had little ear plugs for her, but she did fine. As soon as the plane's wheels touched ground in Atlanta I immediately started crying because at that moment Gabriella became a US Citizen. In Atlanta we had to go through Customs and hand Gabriella's Immigration paperwork to the Immigration officials. That moment was the final moment in which something could technically have "gone wrong." While we were waiting to be called by the Immigration official I changed her messy diaper and we no sooner finished when they called us and told us we were all set. We proceeded to the gate and Gabriella ate some Cheerios and drank some of my mother's fruit smoothie! Notice a common theme! Gabriella LOVES to eat. She has an amazing appetite and will eat just about everything, everthing except yogurt! When we boarded the plane from Atlanta to Boston Gabriella sat in an aisle seat in the first row of coach and "greeted" everybody as they boarded. She was also playing with the lady seated behind us and was laughing. She shortly fell asleep and slept until we reached baggage claim in Boston. There were a lot of family members waiting to greet us at the airport and when Gabriella woke up, she was looking around and was very reserved. We all went to our cars. Ken and I, being very inexperienced with child care, did not know how to tighten the straps on Gabriella's car seat. I have been so scared of driving with Gabriella, and the fact that she wasn't properly secured in her car seat really freaked me out. Ken, Gabriella, and I drove home together with Ken driving and me with Gabriella in the back seat. While we were driving down 93 in Boston we saw a car ahead of us with a small fire underneath the car. The fumes from the fire started coming into our car and I didn't want Gabriella breathing them in so I asked Ken to switch lanes. He did and shortly after the car slowed down, veered a bit sideways, and just as it was directly next to our car, literally burst into flames. The car was completely engulfed in flames. Ken and I obviously got upset and began crying. I told Ken to speed up to get away from the car in case the fire caused the car to explode. Ken moved away from the car and pulled to the side of the highway to call for help. Of all things to experience, especially with my existing fears of driving with her, this really was tremendously upsetting to see. After we arrived home, Ken held Gabriella as we walked in to the house so that I could corral the dogs so that they wouldn't scare her. The foster family told us that they had taken Gabriella to pet stores to see dogs since they knew I had dogs but that Gabriella didn't like dogs. She surprisingly reached for the dogs to touch them, but did not want them to get too close to her. Gabriella went to bed and slept through the night.

On Saturday, September 6th we had many visitors. Gabriella was very reserved, wanted to be with me, and just wanted to take everything in. She especially loved my cousin Aimee.

Gabriella's first week home was a rough one for her because it was jam packed full of doctor's appointments. I believe Gabriella had very bad experiences with doctors in Guatemala and I believe it is because she saw the doctor often and every time she got sick they would give her antibiotic injections, so her memories of doctor's offices are very negative. Every doctor's visit over the week ended up with her crying, even the doctor simply listening to her heart and lungs brought her to tears. I felt so bad making her go through this, but these things were necessary. On Monday, September 8th Gabriella had her first dental appointment. I suspected she had a rotted tooth caused by the fact that she had been sleeping with her bottle and was taking a lot of bottles throughout the day and night. She did, in fact, have a rotted tooth. We met with an oral surgeon on Tuesday, September 9th who recommended removing the tooth to prevent infections and issues with her other teeth. She also saw the pediatrician for the first time on Tuesday. The doctor said that she is in the 25th percentile for height and weight, which is proportionate and said she appeared to be healthy. She had blood drawn on Wednesday, September 10th for a number of different medical screenings - lead exposure, blood count (for anemia) HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, on and on. Everything came back negative. Her tuberculosis test also came back negative. We also had to take stool samples every other day for a total of three samples. Because she came from another country they wanted to check for parasites, Giardia, etc. and, again, everything came back negative. On Thursday, September 11th, Gabriella had to have her tooth pulled. The second we walked in the room and Gabriella saw the nurse with the mask, she starting crying. I sat in the dental chair with her in my arms during the procedure. They used laughing gas and Novocaine for the procedure. Friday, September 12th was our first relaxing day together.

Gabriella is enrolled at the Little Gym. It is a curriculum-based program curriculum that helps to build motor skills while having fun. The classes include movement, music, exercise, and games. Her session is 45 minutes long on Friday mornings. She started on Friday, September 12th. Ken and I took her for the first two classes and Ken will take her alone going forward. Her favorite part is playing with the balls.

We had a welcome home party on Saturday, September 13th for Gabriella so that everybody had the chance to finally meet her. Gabriella was also very reserved there as well but acted content and not scared. She did keep her eyes on me if I was not holding her, though. Among many other wonderful friends and family, our friends Michelle and Eliana were at the party. Michelle and her husband, who live in New Hampshire, adopted Eliana from Guatemala. My mother and I met Michelle in December, during our first visit trip, when she was on her pick-up trip when Eliana was nine months old. It was very emotional and special to have them at the party with us because we have a special connection having gone through the same exciting process.
I saw a major change in Gabriella during her first week home. By the end of the first week she seemed to be more at ease and exploring much more. She still gets very serious in group situations, but is very bonded and attached to me. She understands "bye" and "hello" versus "adios" and "hola". She will wave her two little hands with all four words now, bye/adios and hello/hola. Ken taught her how to give "high fives" and she does so with pride!

We had a couple of extended visitors over the next few days which was very fun. My friend Danie, from Pennsylvania, stayed with us on the Friday the 12th until Sunday the 14th and my friend Donna, from North Carolina, stayed with us on Monday the 15th through Wednesday the 17th. Gabriella had fun being spoiled by Donna, pointing to what she wanted Aunt Donna to buy her at the stores!

Gabriella transitioned to sippy cups from bottles within a couple of days of being home. The situation with the tooth really urged me to help her make the transition.

Gabriella also had been used to sleeping in the bed with Sandy. Within a couple of days of being home Gabriella was sleeping in a Pack and Play in my bedroom. I found that her (and my!) sleep was much more restful with her in there. I said "was" sleeping in the Pack and Play because the past three nights have been very rough. Beginning on Saturday night she was waking up about every hour crying. On Saturday night she had a of temperature 99.8 and on Sunday night she had a low grade fever of 100.5. I brought her to the Pediatrician yesterday who said that she has blisters on the back of her throat caused by a virus. To add insult to injury, she is also cutting three new teeth. We are giving her Motrin every six hours to help with the pain. Gabriella stayed at home with Grammy yesterday while she rested. When she is feeling better we will move her back to the Pack and Play and then hopefully into her crib.

Last night I received Gabriella's Certificate of Citizenship in the mail. Again, in my usual mommy fashion, I began crying! I was so excited for her and me.

Today, September 23rd, was Gabriella's first day of day care. My mother owns a large daycare and this is where Gabriella is staying while I work. Over my two weeks home with her, we spent time together at the daycare so that she could begin getting used to being there. I have called several times today to check in to see how she is doing and she seems to be doing okay.

I thank God every day to have Gabriella home. It is a blast. Being a mom makes me feel emotions I have never felt before. I am now able to look at situations that I would normally have thought of as trying or frustrating with ease and obligation. I cannot believe how much joy she has brought me and how she has put my life into perspective.

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