This is the package that carried our hearts through Paris, Dubai, and on to Ethiopia :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Once Empty Arms Now Full

I can't believe that I have not posted since March! I really stink at this blogging thing! Since I last posted, our little miracle was born. I am getting teary eyed thinking back to that day (it doesn't take much to get teary eyed these days!). Christian shares a birthday with Nena which is April 7th, and we were having his first birthday party EVER. We did it up right by throwing a Spiderman pool party complete with a sweet Spidey cake and lots of friends. During the party, my water began to break. Thankfully it wasn't anything substantial until the end of the party, so I packed up, called my doctor and headed to the hospital. I was totally nervous - I didn't know what to expect, was worried were my other two going to be okay, etc. My time at the hospital was absolutely amazing. I really truly could not have asked for a better birth experience. The hospital staff was wonderful. They wanted to know all about the story of how we adopted our boys. My labor and delivery nurse even sat on the end of the bed with me and listened as I told my boy's story, and her eyes filled up with tears. Her shift was over before Avalyn was born, but she came up to recovery her next shift to visit me and to meet our baby girl. How incredibly precious is that! My ob doc was in France, so I got the doctor on call - who happened to be the only doctor in the entire practice that I had never met. Go figure! I am not saying this to complain though, because he was a superb doctor and I am so thankful he delivered my baby. I was in labor a long time, and he was there every step of the way making sure that I was okay and to see how I was progressing. A lot of people had warned me that they love to do C-sections prematurely at Winnie Palmer and to not let them rush it. Never once did anyone mention a C-section, and they did everything in their power to make sure I delivered naturally if possible. After 15+ hours of dilating to I think only a 5, he came back just an hour later and told the nurse that I was at a 10 and it was time to start pushing (we had to call Shane - he had just gone downstairs to eat lunch because we thought we still had plenty of time!). I had an epidural and it was amazing. I took the pain until it was about 6 on a scale of 1-10 before asking for it. I was able to completely enjoy the whole birth experience while hearing women in other rooms around me screaming in pain. Everyone is different and decides what is best for them, but I highly recommend it and will do it again next time, if there is a next time. :)My mom and Shane were in the delivery room with me the whole time helping me out. At 12:30 pm on Easter Sunday, Avalyn Makeda Somers made her grand entrance into our world, and I will never forget how it felt to hold her for the first time. It was much the same feeling I had last July when my two little boys ran out of the orphanage squealing, and little Joash jumped up into my arms. Two times in less than a year were my empty arms filled up meeting my children for the first time- precious and priceless memories.
Avie is doing very well! She was 6lb 1oz at birth. A little peanut! She is around 10 lbs. now at 9.5 weeks. She is absolutely beautiful, if I do say so myself! She started sleeping through the night at around 6 weeks, and she smiles all the time now too. Her daddy and brothers are completely smitten, and she is well on her way to being spoiled. She is our little miracle and I love to just stare at her face. I still can't believe that she is real. She reminds me of God's unfailing love every day. The boys are doing fantastic! They have adjusted very well so far with having a baby in the home. They love "baby sister", and ask to hold her all the time. Recently, Joash was holding her and she started to cry. He took her hands and started to sing Justin Bieber's song "Baby", and she immediately stopped crying and started smiling (Justin Bieber apparently made it all the way to Africa because they knew this song when they were still in the orphanage!). He's such a goofy kid! We expected to have a lot of behavioral setbacks when the baby arrived and we have had a few minor ones, but thank God nothing major. Keep praying! Our God is bigger! We think that they have done so well partly because of the orphanage they spent almost two years in. There were a lot of babies/toddlers at the orphanage and I think that the older children had some sort of interaction with the little ones, especially when families came to meet their children and the older kids were out playing. We heard several stories of how our oldest, Christian (Abiti), helped out some of the American families with their fussy child/ren. You hear horror stories of internationally adopted children who have serious behavioral issues because of being institutionalized and not having any love or attention. This is not the case with children who are cared for by America World Adoption - these kids are loved on by their nannies, their teacher, the cook, the America World staff, the gate guard, etc. There is no lack of love, care, or attention. They stand in the gap for these kids. I thank God for these people and the impact they had on our boys. A few weeks ago before school let out for the summer, we had a meeting with Christian and Joash's teachers at school to talk about their academic progress from this year, and to discuss if they would be moving up to the next grade. Joash's teacher, Mrs. Zeiler, was happy to report that Joash is completely on grade level, and in fact has done better academically than a lot of her English speaking students who have been there all year! This is pretty amazing for a child who came from another country, is learning the language while also dealing with grief and loss, and didn't start school this year until Thanksgiving. He will move on to first grade in the fall - yay Jojo! Christian's teacher, Mrs. Taylor, also had great things to report. She said that Christian is very driven and determined. Since starting school in November, he has improved two grade levels already! He started with being able to read at K-5 level (which was impressive in itself seeing as he spoke little English), and now reads at a second grade level. He will move up to third grade - yay! She also said that Christian is quite a character and keeps the rest of the class in line... not hard to believe if you know him! :) I cannot express how proud I am of these boys, and how thankful I am for their teachers. We couldn't have hand picked better teachers for them. God knew just who to put them with! We are also so thankful for the ESL teacher who worked very hard with them and made sure that they had every opportunity available to improve and succeed. She also loves God, and had a huge heart for these boys (they made her cry "happy tears" on more than one occasion). This school year with the boys has been a lot of hard work for all parties involved, but it has paid off. My boys are truly brilliant! We cannot take any credit for that, but can certainly work hard with them to be sure that they live up to their full academic potential. God is good! So how are we doing as a family? Our house is a zoo. Two parents, three kids, a dog, and a fish in our house...we have a very small house. At any given time there are dirty dishes piled high in the sink, piles of (folded, clean) laundry on the floor in the boy's room, piles of school papers and projects and Sunday school papers on the table, sticky popsicle stains on the floor, and dirty footprints from our rambunctious boys and their friends running in an the picture? I've had to work hard at letting go of the need to have a spotless house, but most days it still bothers the heck out of me. A friend shared this quote with me: "cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing". So true. I still try though, and it seems like I do many futile hours of cleaning each week! Most days I do manage to shower now that Avie and I are in a routine, but I did come to the sad realization that probably 5 out of 7 days this past week I got busy and forgot to put on deodorant. Yikes!There has only been one instance so far where all three kids have been crying at the same time...THAT was fun. We have doctor's appointments galore between the five of us right now, and Shane and I are pretty much walking zombies most days. Theo, our beloved weiner dog, has also decided that it's a good idea to do his business in the house lately, as if I don't already clean up enough poop and pee! BUT, we are the happiest we have ever been. Our lives are berserk, but so full. When I look back over the last eight months, I honestly don't know how we made it to this point. There were days where I cried alone in my room, there were times Shane cried alone, and then there were days when we cried together. Adoption is not natural. It's God's way of fixing something that is broken. With that comes emotionally broken children, who have to learn to love and trust. We saw miraculous transformations in our boys these past 8 months. When we went to Ethiopia in October to bring them home, Christian didn't want anything to do with me. I was crushed and scared. Not only did he not trust me, but he did not respect me either. It took hard work - unconditional love, space, time, perseverance...and now I have a little boy who snuggles with me at night, lets me kiss all over his face, calls me mama, and tells me he loves me. Again, God is good. Joash was a very angry little boy in the beginning, and he didn't know what to do with his anger. He would get angry and go in his room and scream at the top of his lungs and throw things. When we would go in to talk to him, you could see the fear in his eyes like he was terrified of us when we'd never given him any reason to be scared. Now when he is angry or upset, you can find him sitting on the green power box out in the yard, thinking. When he is done, he comes back inside, apologizes, and immediately moves on. There's still healing to be done, but God has brought us such a long way! I can't imagine my life without these two little impoverished it would be. They make me smile every day, and again remind me of God's love. I can't stress enough how good my God is. My first Mother's Day: Me and my princess: Jojo's first soccer season: Christian holding "baby sister":