Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mark 16:16

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved..."

Cassie was baptized today. The verse that was used in the worship folder at church today for Cassie was "the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5) and we also sung the hymn "Dearest Jesus, We Are Here" before and after her baptism. She was a trooper with all the drama and events of the day. She was screaming during the baptism until I leaned her head backwards for the Pastor to pour water on her little head. Then she actually stopped screaming. I think she liked the water -- it was warm in church today -- or maybe she knew Jesus was now in charge and she better be good. :)
Cassie also visited the doc last Friday the 19th for her 15-month checkup. She grew another .5 inches and gained 1.4 lbs. She's officially 32 inches tall and 20 whole pounds. Her height is still in the 90th percentile and her weight is up to the 10th percentile. She's a growing girl. And her head is changing too. Here I thought her hair was just growing funny on the sides of her head because it was looking different. But no, the hair is fine -- her head is becoming more round. The doc seemed pleased with this so I'm going to take it as a good sign. (I didn't think to ask at the time what it really meant since it was the day after we lost Thunder so I was a bit out of it.) She also got two more vaccines -- she wasn't at all pleased about that. But, as long as I keep her healthy she doesn't have to go back for 3 months -- for her 18 month checkup.

Speaking of healthy -- the girl must have a magnet in her head for sharp objects. She tripped and banged her head a couple of more times the past couple of weeks. I'm afraid she's going to have a permanent dent in her forehead over her right eye. I think I might have to get her a helmet. Or maybe some big clown shoes to keep her feet on the ground. Her feet move quicker or slower than her body sometimes and it's just a train-wreck to watch. All of us -- except Cassie -- had a pretty quiet week -- mourning Thunder. Nothing is the same without my baby boy here. But, we are all trying to carry on. I finally took down Thunder's crate and dog bowls on Thursday. It was time. Plus, I wanted Tehya to understand that Thunder wasn't coming home. And I guess I needed to 'see' that too. Cassie has made the grief easier to bear -- her giggles are so adorable you can't help but smile at her.
So before I ramble on any more I'm going to end this post with some pictures of my little munchkin.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My baby boy.....

7:30pm update: I guess I knew it when I wrote this post but didn't want to admit it to myself. It was Thunder's time. His duties as my protector are over. He's now chasing bunny rabbits in heaven. He's his old self again -- not sick, not grumpy, not in pain. Good-bye my sweet baby boy. I will miss you more than I can express in words.


I wrote the text below, and posted it, about 3 hours before giving in to the inevitable. Our vet - I love her too - told us several weeks ago that Thunder would let us know when it was time. He's been telling us for a while. Today, we heard him, and gave in.


Thunder. Yes, he's my dog. And my baby boy. He's adopted too by the way. All my kids are. And for both my girls we actually flew to get them. Teyha from Alabama and Cassie from China. Thunder is also from Alabama but he flew to me -- well half way, then there was a blizzard and I had to drive -- in the blizzard -- to Kentucky to pick him up from the airport loading dock because his connecting flight got canceled. Really -- no kidding on that one. So yes, I love him a lot. He's been around since before Sonny. Back when it was just him and I. Back when I was thinner, walked my dog every night, washed my kitchen floor everyday, and hardly ate red meat. Back when I 'knew' that I'd be single and childless forever. Goes to show I know nothing.

After we got the call about Cassie my biggest fear was not about going to China, or being a mother, or spending every dime we had -- it was boarding my babies. Even though we board them at the vet's office -- who we love -- I still hate leaving them. And this time I had to leave them for 15 whole days. It was killing me. Of course we called and checked on them almost everyday and even twice some days. Every time we called they were doing good. They always do there but still I worry. They are spoiled there, but not like at home. And they don't have a choice of 6 different dogs beds and 2 couches for my babies to sleep on. But it always seems to work out in the end. And they still love us when we pick them up -- even with a toddler in tow and after 15 whole days.
About three days after picking the 'kids' up from the vet -- Thunder seemed sick -- just not himself. But, he had been boarded for 15 day and Cassie was driving him nuts so I thought I'd give it a couple of days and see. Of course then it was Memorial Day weekend and I knew he was sick. I thought it was a sinus infection by the way he was acting so I knew I could wait another 2 days for our vet to be in. Tuesday afternoon we took him to the vet. Yep, he had a sinus infection, was dehydrated and had some pain in his abdomen. Plus, there seemed to be more to the story than just that. Our vet ran some tests, x-rays gave him drugs for the sinus infection and said she'd call us back with the test results.

The results of the blood test were not too good. We repeated the blood work on June 1st. Plus, Thunder had another exam. Oh, and he lost over 5 lbs from the visit 6 days before. The results of all this aren't good -- my baby boy has cancer. We don't know what type or where -- there are no tumors showing...yet....but it could also be a lymphatic cancer that won't show as a tumor that we can see. I asked how long he had and our vet didn't know but said not long. He's got pain meds to help manage the pain and is still on the lowest dose of those and they seem to be far. He's grumpy which is so unlike him. He's still tolerating Cassie squeezing his toes and smacking him with toys but we watch her very closely around him so we can avoid any additional discomfort for him. With the pain meds he can get on the couch again -- when we first came home from China he was sleeping on the floor -- also unlike him. That keeps him out of the way of Cassie stepping, tripping, and falling on him. Which she does.

Tehya's best buddy in the whole world is her brother. She won't even go out and play with her ball without him. If you know Tehya you also know her balls are her favorite and the most valuable toys in the whole world. Since Thunder has been sick her and Cassie are fast becoming best buds. I think Thunder has actually had cancer since January 2008 -- he changed then -- there was just something different about him. I took him in and had a bunch of test run and nothing showed -- but I knew. I also think that somehow Thunder knew he needed to hang on until we brought Cassie home. For Tehya and for me. Thunder had always been my protector and still is -- even when he's dying and in pain. He's such a good boy. (I overlook the grumpiness) It wasn't suppose to be like this. I couldn't wait for Cassie to come home so that she could play with the dogs and so that I could get pictures of the three of them together. Thunder is now too sick to play and too grumpy to pose with a squirmy butt named Cassie. She's really going to miss out on having such a wonderful big 'brother'. And we are all going to miss him when the time comes for him to leave us. My protector will have completed his job here on earth.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Home 4 weeks today!

We really need to teach this child to climb stairs. hahaha. She likes to run over to the stairs so mommy will come get her.

Trying to figure out how to sit in a chair. Which she mastered in about 2 days. She sits like a pro now. She's fast becoming my big girl. I'm sad -- watching her grow up before my eyes is very bittersweet. She's catching up so fast these past couple of weeks.

Tehya's going to help her.

Giving daddy hugs. She won't hug our upper bodies yet but love to hug and slobber on our knees.

Being a big girl. Notice the remotes all lined up on the back of the chair -- Cassie can't reach that high. Unless she's sitting like this -- which is rare since she can't climb up onto the furniture....yet.

Getting ready for bed -- daddy is reading to her.

No -- she's not in trouble. Grandpa Spring made us a stool to reach the high places, and she decided it would make a good seat. Not exactly what Grandpa had in mind when he made it, but if it makes her happy, I'm sure it will make him happy too.

FYI - The brown blob is Thunder walking by.

So proud of herself.

Elmo was very interesting this morning. Once Elmo got boring -- about 4 minutes later -- she tripped and fell into the corner of the end table not far from her chair. She's got a big bump and indentation on the right side of her forehead. Of course she was tired too so it made matters worse. I tried to hold a cold pack on her head -- yeah right -- I'm sure she's going to have a huge bruise. Poor baby -- her first official boo-boo. She's napping now and I'm sure will be just fine when she wakes up.

Update on the last post ("Not all butterflies and rainbows"). The nights are getting much, much better. Cassie actually slept though the night twice this past week. We had one tiny night terror last night and Cassie actually let me hold her and she put her little head on my shoulder. That's huge for her. That's been the only night terror since the last post. Yay!!! And the same night I wrote the night terror post -- June 2nd -- when putting Cassie to bed that night right before she was almost asleep she stood up and gave mommy 9 kisses!!!!! Cassie had never kissed me before. Never. I think she snuck and read the blog post while I wasn't looking and felt guilty and thought she should be nice to mommy. :) Those were the best 9 kisses of my life. And in between each one she leaned back and smiled -- what a sweet baby girl I have. (yes -- I'm taking all the credit for her on this). Then she laid down and was asleep in 30 seconds. Since that night I get at least 1 kiss every couple of nights -- after she's in her bed. I'll take what I can get and I see this as great progress. But those first 9-sweet-wet-kisses will be burned into my memory forever. Of course I cried - I'm a sap :)

Together the three of us are figuring out how this family thing works. I think all three of us are very happy to have each other. I don't know what I did without Cassie and Sonny for the years I didn't have them both in my life. Even though my days are crazy and I'm not getting a whole lot of sleep I'm still the happiest I've ever been in my entire life. Seeing Cassie's smile or hearing her laugh -- even at 5am -- makes my entire body melt and the smile on my face is constant.

We have been home for 4 weeks plus our 2 weeks with her in China and still it seems like we have always had her. I can't wait to see what the next month brings and what my baby will learn.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's not all butterflies and rainbows

First, I'm sorry I haven't blogged in over a week. It does seem longer than that too me too. I have logged in to type a new post a few times and either I have no words, I'm too tired to type or Cassie needs her mommy. And Cassie's needs, wants, begging, smiles and giggles will always win over the blog. Or anything else. She's napping now and the house is finally presentable, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging now. And I'm having a coke instead of a nap. :)

Second, let me make it perfectly clear that the title of this post has nothing to do with any regrets on our part and has nothing to do with any surprises with the adoption or Cassie. I'm just trying to keep it real. I don't want to be accused of having a so-called "cupcake blog" -- not that I really care what the world out there thinks about my blog -- but I want to be honest. For the uninitiated, a "cupcake blog" is one where only the happy moments are captured and documented, while the challenging or troubling moments are, shall we say, "thrifted". Nothing but sunshine and butterflies. Such a blog paints a pretty picture, and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to educate while sharing your story, a cupcake blog simply will not do.

Just like the post Sonny wrote on Cassie's finding place -- there are some parts of this story that don't sparkle and smell like cotton-candy. And I'm not talking about Cassie's poopy diapers. So on to the real stuff.

Princess Cassie has a hard time at night. She has since the first night we were blessed to spend with her. I can't read her mind and she can't tell me why, but I can guess. She's scared at night. She wants to go home and be in her own bed with her foster parents. That's what she knows -- that's what I'm sure she's most comfortable with. And I can't blame her one bit. If I were in her tiny little shoes, I'd feel the same way. Sonny and I are fun during the day - we play with her, take her places, give her our undivided attention, let her eat as much as she wants, let her be picky, fussy, mad, eat Cheerios in bed and all the things I'm sure the foster parents didn't allow or have time for. Who wouldn't love this life? But, then comes night-time. These fun new people turn off lights, start talking softer, and the laughing and playtime end. She starts getting more and more tired -- but she fights it -- tries to play more but it doesn't work. It's time to go home. But, now this other home doesn't exist -- it's not an option. But why???? This isn't fair. And no - it's not fair. I know when she wakes up screaming during the night and I gently pick her up only wanting to hold and rock my baby back to sleep -- to comfort her -- to mother her -- to make it all better -- that she doesn't want me. She wants her foster mother. How do I know this? I know because when she sees my face she pushes it away and screams louder while fighting to get out of my arms. If I lay her back in her crib she thrashes around until she hurts herself. So the only option for both us at this point is to suck it up and deal with it. I must remember this has absolutely nothing to do with me. My feelings don't matter. I can't get upset. Or jealous. Or sad. Or cry. I must focus on Cassie's grief. Her loss. The lose of a foster family who I believe must have loved her. The lost of 3 other foster siblings that lived with her who I'm sure she slept with. I try and I try over and over again to get my baby to trust me. To let me comfort her. This is hard. There is no reasoning with a 14-month-old in the middle of the night who wants her foster mother -- not you. We struggle, I try, she resists, I force her to lay in my arms while I rock her. My voice has seemed to be of some comfort. Or maybe it just removes the silences of the night. Maybe the dark doesn't seem so dark if there is noise. Still my arms are not comforting to her. After many tries she finally gives in or maybe she's just too tired to fight me anymore. She then lays in my arms whimpering while I chant "mommy's here" over and over and over again. I still don't allow myself to cry -- if I cry then I can't chant -- she needs me to chant -- I need to chant so I don't cry. And the chanting is all I have that works for both of us. In about 20 minutes she will sleep -- from exhaustion -- not comfort. This happened the first 7 or 8 nights in China. And about 4 nights home the first week. Last week only 3 times. We are making progress. Cassie and I are learning what works for each other. She now knows that I will win and she will have to be rocked. But she still resists -- just not for as long as she used to. For a few brief moments I think she even likes being in my arms. I'm learning that my needs don't matter -- to me or to her. She is my world -- my baby -- my responsibility -- my blessing. Together we will become mother and daughter on her terms. But this is only at night.

During the day I still have an adorable, smiling, giggling little girl who actually needs me. She shows me that she needs me by crying on my shoulder when she falls down and hits her head, or when something scares her, or when she's ready for a nap. I hold onto those moments because I need them to carry me through the long nights when I can't comfort my daughter.

No, it's not all butterflies and rainbows, not at night. And I don't know when it will be. But like sleep -- butterflies and rainbows are so over rated. :)

As for what we expected -- actually we knew this was a possibility and expected it. We are just thankful it's going better so quickly. Again, we are very blessed. And no matter what -- we are a family.
And finally -- see the post below for pictures of the little princess from the last week or so.
~ Sherry

Pictures of Princess Zhen-Zhen