6.29.2010

REWIND TO ETHIOPIA

I will never forget the moment Hubs and I pulled away from our house Friday afternoon, June 4th to head to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I can see it clearly in my mind, Cookie and Samantha holding hands with Liz on the front lawn, waving and smiling and looking like bravest, most radiant angels ever to dwell on the face of the earth.  I shook with sobs in the car and heard Samantha call out "Go get Tsega!"  Radiant angels I tell you.

Join with me as I rewind to three weeks ago, when we took a trip to Ethiopia to meet and bring home our son.
Cookie and Samantha counted down the days until Tsega comes home with their chain
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Logan airport, ready to board!
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This is how I made it on a 13 hour flight to Dubai. See no evil, smell no evil, barf no evil. The other thing that helped me was a bottle of lemon essential oil to block out the odors, and access to a hundred or so movies. (For blog newcomers, I had just come off several months of terrible bed rest for a pregnancy fraught with issues and hyperemsis gravidarum which is latin for VOMIT CITY)

The winners for most embarrassing film choices for Hubs and me: The two Twilight movies.
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Almost to Dubai
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Our hotel in Dubai. (We flew Emirates and had a nine hour stopover. Complimentary hotel beats sleeping in an airport anytime!)
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Sunday Morning 6am. A few hours closer to meeting Tsega
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By 9am it was 100 degrees. Out on the tarmac, waiting to take off for Addis!
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I only cried eight three or four times on this leg of our flight
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Ethiopia at 22,000 feet. It was surprisingly green!
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The view from Bole airport after standing in line for a Visa for an hour. When we stepped outside I was struck by how much it looked and felt like Los Angeles. Green hills, palm trees, a little smog, and the weather was magnificent. Our driver had misinformation about our flight, so no one was there to pick us up. We were able to call and straighten it out quickly, but it was strange to suddenly have to troubleshoot and no one around us spoke English.
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Our accommodations as it turns out, were only about five minutes away from the airport, but I snapped a few shots on our way to lunch at our little hotel.
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When we arrived at the guesthouse, we joined a few other families who had already eaten their lunch. We had been reading up on what to eat, what to avoid, etc, and uncooked veggies and fruits are on the avoid list.  When our server brought out salad with beautifully sliced cucumbers and tomatoes I almost passed out. I didn't know what to do!  On the one hand, this guest house caters to American and European adoptive families. I am sure they know about how to keep us all safe, but on the other hand I did not want to eat anything sketchy on our first meal in the country and make myself sick. Under my wary gaze Andrew risked all and dug into the salad, I turned it down in far. I later learned the cooks wash all veggies and fruits in a special bacteria killing solution and I enjoyed fresh green salads the rest of the week.

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This became my drink of choice throughout the week. Heavenly stuff.
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As soon as we were done eating, we were back in the car. On our way to Toukoul, the orphanage.

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And in a few blinks of an eye we were there:
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We were ushered into the meeting room, which we'd seen in so many other families' adoption trip pictures and videos. We couldn't believe this was happening. When we stepped in we realized a few other families  had arrived several minutes before us had already met their children and were holding them in their arms. The small, dark room was already alive with laughter and tears, both from happiness and fear, and we were about to add ours to their number. I sat and shook in anticipation, staring out the door across the courtyard, towards the building someone thought the babies were kept. Hubs had camera poised and ready to go, and then, a few nannies in white coats came through the door each holding a baby. I gasped but realized the first was not him. We scanned the little faces as they were carried in, and each was not ours.

Then, there he was.
It was him, he had a blue sweater over pink pajamas with the hood on pulled up over his head. His face was unmistakable. It was the boy in our pictures. It was the boy from our dreams. I lost it and began weeping as I said "That's him, that's my baby!" I had meant to take it slowly with him, let the nanny hold him as I introduce myself calmly so as not to scare or upset him. Um, that nifty plan went out the window and I wept like an imbicile as I practically yanked him from the nanny. I pulled down his hood, pressed my cheek against his and briefly mourned his shaved head, and then he snuggled into me and didn't seem to mind that the crazy white lady was kissing him all over.

He still doesn't mind the crazy white lady kissing him all over, in fact, I am pretty confident he digs it.

This is our first hug
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Giving him some tummy time
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We brought him  Sophie the Giraffe  as a peace offering and he attached to her instantly
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There were times when he was subdued, a little nervous, but he clung to his toy and was able to let us love on him
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Our first day in Ethiopia was heaven. I can't honestly remember what happened the rest of the day because we had already had our highlight.

For future travelers, by the end of the first day I was glad I brought

1) a thin rain jacket with a hood
2) Keen shoes. Hubs and I both wore Keen shoes everywhere we went, I didn't even bring another option and wore them every day. Out to dinner, to the Embassy, in the country, everywhere.
3) That giraffe toy to have something to play with Tsega during visiting hours. It's hard just sitting around and having something to help us interact with him really helped break the ice. Squeaky, chewy, manipulable toys, good stuff.
4) An ultra thin cardigan, like this one from Target. I felt more comfortable sometimes in layers due to modesty, but didn't want to be too hot. I dunno, maybe I was more self conscious about tight shirts due to being pregnant, but I just was happy to have an extra something.
5) These bars See, our body clocks never adjusted to local time the whole trip. We'd go to bed around 9:30 or 10, and we automatically woke up at 3am totally out of whack, sometimes hungry . These bars are small and don't sit heavy like some protein bars, so I ate these as 3am snacks and was able to go back to sleep. I took these everywhere, and they were great.

More posts to come of the next few days in Ethiopia.

6.27.2010

AT LAST

After some negotiating I got me and my bad attitude kicked out of the hospital. The joy in this house is palpable.

Cookie apparently threw down his first three-word phrase to Daddy this afternoon: "Go. Get. Mom."  Amen big brother, amen.

Samantha's elated realization when I walked in on bath time: "Oh Mom, you get to be the mom again!!!" Amen big sissy, amen.

Tsega, who had been fighting a nap all day sucked on my face and cooed himself to sleep in my arms. Amen little brother, amen.

Thank you, friends, for praying me home. We miss Brady but know he's in the best, safest place for him right now. Life is good. God is good.  I will be at the hospital to hold him as much as they will let me (which isn't much) tomorrow and every day after until he comes home.

No more words. For now, just a few shots of our littlest one's first week.

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first time we met

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skinny legs

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my part time job


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poor irritated nose gets a break

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our favorite nurse, Mark

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muscle man

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holding hands

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stretch

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rare open eyes

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6.26.2010

S.O.S.

I am being held prisoner in Brigham and Women's Hospital.

I spoke this afternoon to some folks from infectious diseases, and frankly, I never want to talk to anyone whose name badge is graced by the term "Infectious." I haven't been getting better. Well, a little, and then there are set backs.  I have distinctly said a few times since I came to Hotel Brigham "I have never felt so much pain in my life" and then a few days later I top it.

There is something about experiencing bodily pain and trauma that changes a person. I feel more sobered. More fearful of my body. I feel betrayed by the miraculous vehicle that allows me to be who I am and do what I do. It could be a very long time before I feel normal again. Maybe there will be a new normal. Likely, I will be fortunate enough to only dimly recall some of my difficulties here. But I have been changed.

And I will say this, doctors of the world: Please don't ask me when I have tears streaming down my face, gasping for breath in lungs that won't let in the oxygen, screaming when touched on my back or abdomen, unable to speak I am so overcome, to rate my "discomfort." The word is pain. Don't treat me like I am being overreactive.

In other news, my children have been robbed of their mother for too long. I have been robbed of being their mother for too long. And I don't know when I am coming home. I hope it is tomorrow. I have said this for the past four days though. Hubs, my sister Allie, Liz Babysitter Extraordinaire and Grandparents have been holding down what used to be my fort. I can't wait to take back the reins. Allie too, since she isn't as jazzed as I am with cloth diapering.  One of the few who can make me laugh even at my worst, my sis commented as she entered room 908 this afternoon  "We gotta get you out of here, this room smells like deprivation and hostility."

My great solace and happiness right now is Brady Boy. We have a symbiotic relationship. When apart we are lonely, poked and prodded, in pain, hooked up to monitors and tubes and on medications, teams of people trying to make us well.  Then, once a day, we come together. I hungrily rip open the front of my hospital gown, my bare skin aching for him.

He isn't three pounds anymore. He is still losing weight, but he's safe. He has a feeding tube in his nose now and through it they give him my milk. Pumping is FAR less fun than nursing a sweet bundle of warmth, in fact, I find it very difficult to be disciplined about pumping (maybe a recording of an infant crying should pipe out of it every two hours to keep me on task?) but it is a great privilege to be able to do something for him that no one else can.

Brady keeps me sane. We nap together and we cling to each other for a few hours every day, and when they lift him off my chest to return to his isolette, every time he cries. And I cry, and promise to come see him later. Tonight with B Cakes was wonderful. His C-PAP breathing machine was irritating his little nose so badly that his nurse (a lovely tall man named Mark) decided to see how he fared without it.  While he snuggled under my shirt he stopped breathing 3 or 4 times causing a loud alarm to sound, and Nurse Mark prompted me to rub his back to remind him to breathe. Besides those few mishaps, he was a happy little clam.  I loved being able to see his hair, his ears and kiss is face. His tricks are slightly snoring, stretching in that impossibly sweet new-baby way, and opening his eyes when I speak to him. It is as if he is trying to tell me "I'm here mom, I am listening!"

So many pictures of Johnny's first week to share. So many posts and pictures about Tsega and Ethiopia to share.  When I bust out of this joint, I promise to unload some memory cards on ya'll.

My pendulum swings far and wide between sorrow and happiness these days. But my gratitude for prayers and kindness extended towards our family is unwavering.

6.25.2010

GOOD BYE SIS

My near-twin Allie is tragically leaving tomorrow. We didn't get to step foot outside the hospital together. I meant for us to go shopping, maybe get pedis, ya know, enjoy some girl time since this is the first time she's been away from her four kids in awhile. Instead, she held my hand, helped me walk, fixed my family dinner, did my laundry, mopped my kitchen floor, kept me company and you already know about her shaving my legs for me.


She saved me this week. Thank you Grandma Jane for watching the Thornbrue kids for us, thank you James for sparing your lovely wife. It was a good cause, I assure you. Now, take her to the Bahamas. She didn't tell me to say that.

Thank you Allie, for cheering me up. I will miss you terribly. Also, one should not post pictures of water-logged chubby cheeks with massive tray of food in front of oneself. Let the record state I ordered a lot so I could share it with Allie. I swear.