I went back and read some of my original blog posts the other night - back when all of this was new and this blog was supposed to be a private journal. I can't believe how far we've come and all that we've accomplished in such a short amount of time. I am so very thankful for my daughter and all that I learned during this process about myself, my husband, orphans, China and special needs.
When we started all this we had no idea who Princess Petals was - which is crazy to think of now since I feel like she's always been with us. She just fits into our family so perfectly and we feel an awesome connection with her. I wondered what it would be like to adopt and as much as I secretly doubted what I'd read other adoptive parents write - it is completely true. I love Princess Petals as if I gave birth to her myself. Gone now is the image of my fictional daughter having blue eyes and blonde pig tails....I look at Princess Petals and I see MY daughter. She is amazing and we are head over heals in love with her.
So what's new? Princess Petals is eating! After the first few days in China the novelty of a spoon wore off and she was completely back on bottles (formula mixed with rice cereal). Until arriving home the only other foods she would eat were Cheerios and mashed bananas. We kept her on the formula and treated her like a 6 month old meal-wise. She's been eating pureed baby food and recently started experimenting more with solids. A few weeks ago we ordered Chinese take-out and on a whim I offered her a lo mein noodle off chopsticks and Egg Drop soup out of a cup. She loved it! She prefers to be fed over feeding herself - even her bottles now - she's either gotten lazy or has just decided to trust us with this part of her life. It's actually a pretty big deal if you've read anything about institutionalized children and food. When we first received her she would suck down her bottles in 30 seconds flat and I kid you not when I say she was sweating by the end of the bottle. We can only guess that in the orphanage she had a set amount of time to eat and she learned to do it quickly. Now, lazy girl chews on the nipple, throws the bottle (knowing we'll fetch it) and sometimes doesn't even finish it!!! What a change! When she sees me putting a bottle together she gets antsy - she wants it - but I think she knows us well enough to trust that she won't go hungry if she doesn't finish. I'm sure the full tummy from solid food is helping with this immensely as well. So far so good on this front. She's up nearly 3 lbs in just two months.
What else? Princess Petals is walking! I don't know if I've ever witnessed such tenacity before. I'm stubborn, but WOW this little peanut is downright determined! Around mid-March she started pulling herself up to stand in the kitchen and testing out the balancing waters. Then it started. On March 22nd she took a few steps and I started fumbling with the camera trying to capture the moment. I was reduced to tears watching her fall and push herself back up again over and over and over and over. She fell a lot in the beginning, as most toddlers do, and we cringed at how hard she was landing on her hand and "nubbin." Did she cry about it though? Nope - she just got back up and gave it another go. Once she had it down I couldn't help but smile watching her toddle around overflowing with pride in herself - it was amazing to witness. I honestly don't really remember the boys' first steps...I know it was exciting at the time and I recorded it in their baby books...but March 22, 2012 will be burned in my memory forever. Just look at the expression on her face from that day - she is ecstatic!!!
What else? Sleeping! Okay so we really lucked out here. Princess Petals is a great sleeper. We had her in our room for a few weeks and then made the transition to her own room. She woke up a few times during the night the first week but only needed a little cuddle before going right back to sleep. We had some sketchy nights while working on a couple of molars last week, but other than that, she shoots for a solid 12 hours every night and is still taking two naps a day. The orphanage staff told us she only took one nap a day, but while we were in China she just couldn't keep her eyes open. I blamed all the extra stimulation from being out and about because it never dawned on me until we got home that she was likely napping in her crib on and off during the day. I can only imagine that I would sleep on and off if I was left in a crib 20+ hours a day... I'm sure all the extra stimulation she has been experiencing since we received her is exhausting as well, but feel pretty sure she was sleeping more than they let on.
What else? Bonding! Adoptive families are advised to keep their new children at home as much as possible and limit visitors for the first few months as the child gets accustomed to their new surroundings and family. The idea is to keep her world as small as possible to nurture bonding and attachment. Well...when you have two children already that have school and activities outside the home, life just can't stop completely. We make efforts to keep her home when possible, but I'll admit to taking her out quite a bit when Jon is out of town. She absolutely LOVES W's music class. I was nervous and a little curious to see how she would react in a room of strangers. After some careful watching the first few classes she has started to smile at the other parents and kids and really enjoy herself during the class, but she always stays very close to me when not in my lap - another small victory as we adjust to her new life with us. We've also started taking her to church, but we keep her with us instead of using the nursery. We are looking forward to her upcoming baptism and introducing her to the rest of her new family this summer.
Our incredible girl has even learned to like the cat and dog! She was nervous around them for a few days and then one day she decided to tackle her fears...literally...
So that's basically it - that's all I have for an update. She is doing awesome - better than we could have hoped. We love her. Her brothers have amazed us with how much they adore her as well - and how quickly they've adapted to having a sister. Her missing hand has been a complete non-issue so there's really nothing to say about that...
Princess Petals is just a beautiful, healthy, happy, awesome little girl!!!!!!! We will be forever thankful that she is a part of our lives.
...adoption video coming soon...