Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mia Day Videos

Tonight I was looking at the videos from the day Mia officially became my daughter. What memories they bring back. I still get overwhelmed with all the emotions of that crazy, magical day.

It was the day that all my dreams came true. Five difficult years worth of waiting ended that day. That day... wow. Seems so far away now. Was it really just 36 days ago?

This is the moment she was handed to me. There's not much because my sister was trying to video and photograph at the same time. They literally handed Mia to me and rushed us into the next room to start the paperwork to complete the adoption. It wasn't exactly how I expected it to go. And really... more video would have just shown Mia crying, screaming and thrashing around in my arms for another hour anyway.
video
Luckily, she settled down after we finally figured out how to get the bottle just right. My girl was not only stressed but was starving, too. To see the progression of how that happened you can see the photos on the Mia Day post.

This video was taken as soon as I turned her around after that bottle was gone. She was an entirely different baby. Now after knowing her for 5 weeks I can say this is her true personality. Only one hour after meeting me and she showed me who she was.
video
And she hasn't looked back. This last video was taken just a couple hours later at the civil affairs office as we were waiting to complete more paperwork. 
video
I have no idea how or why she's handled the transition so well. Other than to say she's a remarkably amazing little girl. She's resilient, strong, smart and so full of happiness. I'm truly blessed beyond measure.

I've loved her since the day I signed the paperwork with the adoption agency back in February of 2006. But now I know HER and I love HER. This child. And I couldn't imagine my life without her. She makes me happier than I could've ever imagined.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Update

Tomorrow marks 5 weeks that I've been Mia's mom. I'm amazed at how much she's changed in such a short time. I'm also amazed at how fast it started to feel like she's always been here. We've found a pretty good groove us two.
Mia sleeps well in her crib. She goes to bed anytime between 7-8:30pm... depending on how tired she is. I shoot for 7:30pm but she sometimes has other plans. LOL! She's basically sleeping through the night. I have a 4-5 oz bottle ready to be made every night if she wakes and doesn't settle with some pats on the back or rocking. That seems to do the trick.

Every now and then we have a bad night where she cries and refuses to go to sleep. Those nights we struggle. But I really can't complain. I expected the sleep deprivation to be the worst of it. But so far I'm doing okay. Ask me again in mid-August after I've gone back to work though and it may be a different story. LOL!

She wakes between 7-8:30am every morning. Generally closer to 7am unless her bad mommy has kept her out too late. She's gotten to where she'll play and talk to herself in her crib for awhile. I watch her on the video monitor. Sometimes she'll peek her little head over the side of her crib looking for me then lay back down and talk to her feet some more. We've made a game of it now. I usually peek my head in the door and wait for her to see me. Which cracks her up. I love starting my mornings with her thousand watt smile. :)

Like clockwork she gets fussy at the 2 hours awake mark. That's when a morning nap happens. We haven't quite gotten that routine down yet. Sometimes she sleeps in bed with me if I want to nap, too. I like the snuggles. I think she does, too. Sometimes I just rock her a little but lay her on the living room floor or the couch. There's no telling how long she'll sleep. Sometimes only a half hour. Sometimes almost 2.
We've started the afternoon nap with going into her crib. Those naps last longer. At least an hour but usually more. I may start trying to get her to do the morning nap in her crib as well. But I'm hesitant to give up spooning her. Those moments won't last forever. :(

While in China, I was told Mia was only on a formula-rice porridge mixture in her bottle. So I chose not to give her any solids with the intention of starting all of that once we got home. We just started solids this week. So far she's only had peas. I'm giving it a few days to make sure there's no reaction. But she loved them.

She mastered rolling over on day three in China. Now she's sitting up strong, jumping in her Jenny-Jump-Up, and army crawling all over the place. She still can't sit herself up from a laying down position. But my girl is strong and determined. I have no doubt she'll accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I think she's gonna be an athlete. Just a guess. We'll see.
Our bonding is going great. She absolutely knows who mommy is. She looks for me when she hears my voice. She doesn't like having me out of her sight when we're out someplace. She's gotten a little more comfortable just in the last week and will play independently for short periods of time while I leave the room. Sometimes.. but not always. And only if it's just her and I alone at home where's she's familiar.

She knows her name and will look when you speak to her. She knows her doggie's name and will look for him if I ask where he is. They're getting along well. He still wants more of my attention and I try the best I can to divide it between them both.
Mia is completely in 12 mth clothes and even some smaller cut 18 mth sizes. She looks to me like her weight is distributing itself differently. She doesn't have as many neck rolls as she did in China. I have to keep those creases clean so I know I'm not imagining it. Her face looks different to me, too. I can't describe how. She just looks a little older to me. Not as roly poly and chubby cheeked as when we first met.
She has 2 teeth up top right in the middle and the same two on the bottom have now also poked through. She babbles incessantly when we're at home. But I talk to her all the time, too. So that's probably part of it. I read somewhere once that babies are faster to talk if they're talked to. Right now she only says ma ma ma ma. Sometimes it comes out as mama. As much as I'd like to believe that she's referring to me... I think it's just her favorite syllable.

All in all...she's doing fabulously. She's got a very laid back, easy going personality. She just rolls with everything. As long as she's with me, I've found we can do just about anything. She's been with me to a hair appointment that lasted 2 hours. She sat and played in her stroller, charmed the stylists, had a bottle and then a nap. She shops like a champ just hanging out in the cart checking everything out. 
 We've taken walks in her stroller around the neighborhood. 
She even sat on my lap while I had a pedicure. She got a little squirmy towards the end when she started getting bored but she was absolutely amazing. I couldn't believe it. Of course, one of my besties was there as back up. I wasn't brave enough to try that alone.

I love being a mom. But it's hard work. Some days I'm just happy to have her go to sleep so I can have some down time. But then by morning I miss her terribly. I know this sounds crazy because I really do love my sleep... but sometimes I even secretly hope she wakes in the middle of the night for some rocking. I love sitting in her room in the dark and feeling her just melt into me. It's so peaceful. It's everything I dreamed of. And I know those moments will be gone all too soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Watch Out World...

It's official. She's gone mobile. It gets blurry when I zoomed in but you get the general idea. And she couldn't even roll over just 4 weeks ago!
video
Oh and those large wrought iron candlesticks you see in the corner in the opening wide shot.. were a great motivator for learning how to semi-crawl. They're now gone.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More?

I need some opinions. Today was the fourth morning in a row where Mia has done this thing with her hands in response to me asking and signing "more" to her.
video
So am I reading too much into this? Is she trying to sign "more"? What do y'all think? 

And for those that don't know the sign for "more" ... a demonstration.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blessed Sleep - Part Two

Tonight marks 9 nights in a row of sleeping in her crib in her room. I think it's safe to say that's how things are gonna roll at our house. Her foster mother didn't co-sleep with her. Mia slept by herself during her time with the foster family. She also preferred to sleep that way while we were in China together.

We tried co-sleeping when we first got home but just because that was easier for me. We were both so jet lagged and exhausted, sleeping at odd times. It was easier to just lay down together in mommy's bed. I also think it helped her during that first week as we transitioned to yet another new place for her. I was her familiar something. The only familiar something really. So it worked for us.

After she fell asleep on the living room floor after a hard day of playing, I decided to see what would happen if I put her in her crib. And we haven't looked back. We still do naps downstairs on the couch or the floor. Sometimes if I'm gonna nap with her we'll end up in my bed just cuz I can't resist snuggling with her.

Like this particular day. We were all cozy and Griffey decided he wanted a little snuggle time, too. I'm so glad I had my I-Phone laying on the night stand so I didn't miss this moment. He's finally starting to accept her into our pack. Total cuteness.
But at bedtime, she's in her crib 100% of the time. We have a bottle, read a few books, snuggle in the upholstered rocker in her room and then rock until she falls asleep. Her foster mother also rocked her at night... but in a cradle... not in her arms. Mia had two foster sisters. One a month older and one a month younger. So her foster mother did the best she could while basically juggling triplets.

I hope that someday we'll get to a point where I can kiss her goodnight, put her in her crib and she'll drift off to sleep on her own. But we're not there yet. Probably not for a long while.

She generally goes to bed anytime between 7:30 and 9pm. We shoot for 7:30 cuz that's what she seems to need. But not every night is easy. Sometimes it takes her until 9 to fall asleep. She doesn't always want to give in to sleep. Even though her body says otherwise. Her eyes will be rolling back in her head... but she'll fight to stay awake. And this child is stubborn! She'll fuss, sometimes just flat out cry, pull her hair, kick her legs, move her arms. Just anything to keep her body moving. Because once she's still... that's all she wrote.

I never let her cry it out in her crib. Never. I stay with her until she falls asleep. No matter what. And most of the time, I'm rocking her. There have been nights where it exhausts me. My back and arms ache. But I never leave her alone to cry it out. It's way too soon for that. Right now the most important thing is for her to know that I'm here. I need her to learn to trust that. It's a work in progress. 

I've heard the fighting sleep thing is common for kids. Especially adopted children transitioning into their new life. I don't know why she does it. Is she just too nosy? Afraid she'll miss something? Or is there anxiety somewhere under the surface?

She's a fabulous sleeper.... about 95% of the time. She'll stay asleep until sometime between 7-8:30am. She may whimper a couple times throughout the night. But it just takes me popping her pacifier back in and rubbing her back and she's back out within a minute or two.

I really can't complain about the sleep thing AT ALL. I've heard friends talk about how they struggle with sleep issues. I was prepared for that. But so far... I've been so blessed. Knock on wood. LOL!

Once she's out... she sleeps really well. I watch her on the video monitor. Usually she sleeps like a rock, barely moving. Which makes me believe it's not so much anxiety or stress keeping her awake. I'd think her sleep would be restless with a lot of waking up if that were the case. But I don't really know.

I just know I say little thank you prayers to the sleep gods for blessing me with such a good sleeper. Even when I'm in my second hour of struggling to get her asleep, exhausted, hot, and ready to cry myself... I know once she gives in I'll usually have 8-12 hours of peace. So I hang in there. That is So Much More than I ever imagined was possible. I'm sure we'll have our moments with rough nights here and there. But right now... I couldn't be happier with how well she's doing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mia and her T's

Those of you who migrated over from the other blog have heard me speak of the T's many times over the years. But for those who don't know... these are my sister's 5 kids. All of their names begin with the letter T.... hence the nickname of "the T's". They range in age from 14 to almost 3.

It's crazy to think we waited for Mia for more than half Tatum's life. Teagan for most of his since he's only 6. And Tess... wasn't even thought of when the wait for Mia began. They're all very excited about the addition of their new cousin.

Mia and I went over to hang out with them yesterday. The kids are thrilled just to be near her. They all want to hold her and love on her. I had to remind them several times to go slow and not overwhelm her. But I can see Mia's gonna love them as much as they already love her.

The video is of the three youngest T's mentioned above who insisted Mia should check out their swing set.
video

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sitting Up

My prediction was spot on. I knew it'd just be a matter of days before she'd decide to sit up on her own. She started ..a little shaky... on Monday.
By Wednesday... she's a pro.
Yes.. mommy does have an obsession with penguins. I bought this for her years ago. It was so much fun to put it together this morning and play with it. Finally.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blessed Sleep

Look who slept in her own bed last night! She took a late afternoon nap yesterday and was still going strong at 7pm. Even after her bedtime bottle and jammies. So I let her hang out and play. At exactly 8pm her head dropped to the carpet and she zonked out. Since she was already asleep, I thought it'd be a good time to try transitioning her to the crib.
Of course, she woke up as soon as she hit the mattress. Then showed me her spicy side as I tried to get her back to sleep. Even though she was so exhausted her eyes were rolling back in her head, she fought hard... for 2 solid hours! My girl is almost as stubborn as her momma. In the end, momma won.
She was asleep by 10pm and didn't make a peep until 8:45am. I couldn't believe it. Momma even got to take a shower, put on make up and do her hair! I keep an eye on her at night through a video monitor but I still woke up at 4:30am shocked I hadn't heard from her. So I got up and checked her. She must've just really worn herself out arguing with me cuz she slept like a rock. She didn't hold it against me though and woke up her normal sunshiney self.
After a fresh diaper we headed downstairs for the morning bottle.
She sits in her high chair while I make it.
I think she's giving me a look like "why are you taking my picture and not making my breakfast, woman?!"
And in case I didn't get the message, she decided to tell me a little louder. LOL!
When her belly is full she likes to play.
Mia loves her seat. She gets bored laying on her back or belly all the time and likes to sit up and see the world. She still topples easily so for now she gets a little help. And yes... those chunky thighs are stuffed in like little sausages but she doesn't mind.
The many faces of my silly happy snotty nose girl.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Clean Baby

Since Mia is only about 85% to sitting without assistance it's just easier for momma to give her a bath in the kitchen sink.
Look at that Buddha belly.
And all those delicious rolls of chub.
However I predict she'll be sitting up on her own within the next 3 days.
And if you come to dinner at my house, I'll just apologize ahead of time. But don't worry. I'll scour the sink my daughter's dirty butt sat in before I wash the plates I'll serve you on. LOL!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Found The Right Time Zone

I think it's safe to say we've gotten our days and nights straightened out. We've had two very successful nights in a row.

Thursday night Mia was in bed from 9pm until 7am the next morning. Now she did have a middle of the night party that lasted about 2 hours. We had to do the diaper change, rock a little and then just some basic laying in bed goofing off instead of closing the eyes. But we both still got 8 hours of sleep... just in two shifts. I'll take it though.

Last night she started melting down at 7pm so I threw in the towel and put her to bed without her last bottle of the day. I figured we'd just get to it during the night sometime. She was awake from 10p-12a. But the bottle, diaper change, rocking then letting her lay there and babble seemed to work and she slept through until 7am!!

Hallelujah! My good sleeper is coming back around.

Right now we're co-sleeping in my bed. Because that's what works to get both of us good sleep. And that's the most important thing right now during our first week home and all these adjustments. We'll see where this ends up. But for now... I'm sticking with what works.

She's still pretty tired though. I don't think we've worked out all the kinks yet. Maybe some lingering jet lag. And we definitely haven't mastered naps either. The last 2 days in a row she's taken self imposed 9am naps. She just konks out on her own while playing.
My sunshine girl gets all grumpy right before the konk out. So mommy has finally figured out that means she's ready for the nap. I'm still learning, you know. But in the last 2 days she's taught me that she's good for about 2 hours in the morning...then needs a nap break.
I've yet to figure out the afternoon routine cuz we've been on the run the last 3 days in a row. We had to go turn in some paperwork for mommy's leave from work on Wednesday. There she charmed my co-workers with her giant personality and dimpled grin. We had her first doctor's appointment Thursday where she passed with flying colors. Then Friday we had lunch with my cousin and an appointment with the HR dept to get her insurance worked out. It's been nice to get out of the house for a few hours each day.

Mommy is doing really good with handling that. Much better than I thought I would. It's a little intimidating trying to figure out what to do to get ready, the order of doing that to be the most effective in being on time and not have the baby flipping out before you're even out the door, packing the diaper bag and not forgetting essentials, etc etc.

I had a lot of help from my sister in China with all that stuff. Now I'm on my own. And I'm really proud of myself. I'm handling it like a pro and it's not been as hard as I expected. Of course, I haven't figured out how to get my hair done yet. The ball hat has become my new BFF. But I'm managing showers and make up. It's all a learning process but that's pretty good, right? LOL! My girl, on the other hand, always looks fabulous. :)
Speaking of her pediatrician, the appointment went well. Mia's in the 99th percentile for weight on the American size charts and 84% for height. I've been carrying her around for 2 weeks so I already knew that. LOL!

The doc thinks she looks great and isn't concerned at all about her developmental stuff. We both think she'll catch up quickly. She wanted to hold off on the blood draw until next month. Just too much transition right now and didn't want to stress her any more than she already is. We're also gonna wait on starting solid foods. She certainly doesn't need the extra nutrition. LOL!

And it's just another new thing. We both think we should give her an opportunity to adjust to the other major life changes before throwing even more new stuff at her. I really like her pediatrician. She definitely listens and encourages me to parent from my instincts instead of what society preaches is the "right way".

So far so good. We're slowly but surely finding our groove. I expect things to continue to improve as we both figure out our new life together. And I can tell you one thing... this new life is a lot harder and a lot more work but a lot happier. This little girl has rocked my world .... and I'm loving every second of it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Struggling With Sleep

We're still trying to adjust to the time zone difference and struggling with sleep issues. Well, mommy's not. I have no problem sleeping. But Mia is all over the place with sleeping. Some days she sleeps too much. Others not enough. I'm trying to get her days and nights straightened out because right now my really good sleeper that I met in China... has left the building.

Today I decided to wake her up at 8:30am and force her into a routine. It basically worked except the last couple hours of the day were rough. She wanted to zonk out at 6pm. I had to fight hard to keep her awake. We did some serious playing. Her favorite game is to knock over the stacking cups. I keep moving them a little out of her reach and making her find a way to get to them. She'll be crawling soon. She's already starting to scoot a little and has learned that rolling will move her from place to place.

Excuse the drool. She's teething. You can see the top two coming in when she smiles real big. She also has a couple popping through on the bottom. 
video
Aunt Carla came for a visit about 7pm and brought Tatum and Teagan. They helped keep her awake that last hour. The kids already adore her and I can see the feeling will be mutual. She has a 5 person entertainment committee at the T's house. She's not sitting up on her own yet so I got her a Bumbo seat the other day. She gets frustrated with always laying on the floor to play so this helps break up the routine a little. She loves it.
video
She was comatose by jammie time and couldn't even finish her bottle completely before falling asleep. Unfortunately, as soon as I put her in the crib she starts this waking up every 10-15 minutes or so routine. Most times she's not even fully awake...just bellyaching. I'll give her a minute or so to see if she settles on her own. If not, I go in, pat her back, pop her binky back in her mouth. If she's really thrashing around I'll rock her a bit more.

She slept wonderfully in the cribs in China. I'm hoping to continue that. I've put her in bed with me a few times if that's what was needed for momma and Mia to both get more sleep. I'll continue to try the crib though. It's still early. We've only been home a few days. Everything is an adjustment. If she does just fine with the crib, she'll stay there. If we get to a point where I don't think it's working, we'll co-sleep. I'm not completely stuck on either way.

She's been in bed since 8pm. I've rocked her back to sleep twice and had to go in and pat her or replace the binky twice, too. We'll see how she does tonight... but I'm hoping for good things. I want my good sleeper back.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Good To Be Home...

We said good-bye to our guides, Martin and Grace, at 830am Saturday morning at the China Hotel and headed to the Guangzhou Airport for our 11am flight home.
We got ourselves checked in and made it through our first connection to Beijing with no problems. Mia slept nearly the entire 3 hour flight since we timed her mid-morning bottle to be had right at take-off.
She charmed the flight attendants on our Beijing to Chicago leg so much they gave her a set of wings to pin on her Ergo. That one lasted just over 12 hours. She again slept for 80% of it. Momma however got very little sleep since my 23 lb baby was too big for the bassinet. That means me or Aunt Carla had to hold her the entire flight. Not very comfortable but I was willing to do whatever it took to keep her quiet. She did so well that as we were leaving one of the first class flight attendants said she didn't even realize there was a baby on board. Proud momma.

For 5 years I've been stressed over that long flight home with a baby ...but my girl surprised me. Mia was such a trooper. She traveled like a dream. Not a peep from her as I marched her in the Ergo through airports. Even when we were both sweating our butts off. Did just fine through every security check when I had to take her out and hand her to an officer to be patted down. Charmed the Chicago customs officer with her smile which got us escorted to the shorter, faster "diplomat" line. Still had a big cheesy happy grin as we were about to board our last flight home nearly 24 hours after we started our day.

Mia hated the pacifier when we were in China. But I tried it again on the flight in the hopes it would help with the pressure in her ears. She's decided it's her new best friend. Now I have a binky baby. But I don't mind.
Finally! Finally... landed at our home airport and walking out to see the family. Momma a little worse for wear, very exhausted and a little stinky. But so very happy to be done with the flying.
Meanwhile, the star of the show was taking another nap.
Our welcoming party. I was so happy to see this! And so relieved to be home.
My sunshine girl did just fine in her car seat. I swear this girl just rolls with it as long as momma is near.
And now sheer devastation in my living room as we try to recover from the jet lag and the time difference.
But she makes it all worth it. I love her so much it takes my breath away.