Saturday, February 6, 2016

The End of a Long Week

I was sharing our week with my friend, and at the end, she said she was exhausted just listening to it.  I told her that when I look back on this week, I'm going to try and remember how God answered our prayers so quickly and provided people to help us when we needed them!

Tuesday ended up being much better than I expected.  Thank you so much for your prayers--I know they helped.  Titus was still very tired and a little bit fussy, but we didn't end up using any morphine, and he was able to take in some food and fluids.  Another friend took Katie for the morning (thanks, Leslie!), and Debbie also came by for a little while to help spell me.  I was pretty wiped out as well from my almost sleepless night, so David took the second night shift.  That first day I just felt like Titus was hiding somewhere inside this poor little boy, and it was nice to see some glimpses of his familiar self that second day.

Wednesday morning I ended up taking the kids to see Titus in the morning so David and I could swap, even though I'd managed to share the pink eye I picked up in the hospital with Katie and Luke.  :P  After David left to take the kids home, I got a call from him--I can't find the car, and how do I know if Luke needs stitches?  He fell on his chin.  So David ended up taking Luke (and the other two) to get some glue for his chin!  Thankfully, Titus was doing well enough to put a call in to the surgeon for our discharge.  He did get a bit fussy around 11AM, but after changing an explosively messy diaper (out of respect for you, I will not go into details), he was doing much better.

We were on our way home by 2PM, and then the second half began.  I'm sure a lot of this has been in my head, and thankfully David is much more laid-back about these things, but it's been pretty stressful keeping a super-active youngest of four children in what I consider a "safe zone."  I ended up taking the three older kids out Thursday and Friday morning so Titus could have some hover-free time with David.  :)  We are almost through the first seven days now, which are the most risky according to the nurse.  Basically, I've had a constant video running in my head of all the ways he could split his lip...meaning when he's with me, I was pretty much holding him.

Of course, as I was going through all this, I kept thinking we would be all done with this in six weeks, when the surgeon did the final surgery of this stage.  Haha.  After the surgeon had a chance to really look around Titus's mouth, he's decided to split the second stage into two more surgeries that will be three months apart.  So the next one will be in May, and then the final one for this year will be in August.  At least it'll be warmer!

Let's get this show on the road!

Monday afternoon, during a brief respite.  Poor little baby.

Tuesday evening, playing with Daddy.  I only look a little like a zombie, right?

Time to go home!

At IHOP this morning for Katie's birthday breakfast.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Post surgery report

Poor little guy.  The surgery went very smoothly yesterday, but it was pretty rough for Titus.  He needed a lot of pain meds during the surgery, so the surgeon warned us before we even got back to him that we'd be in two nights.  He was crying pretty hard when we went back to recovery, and aside from brief moments of respite, he was like that till early afternoon.  Thank you for all your prayers concerning his pain management.  He seemed to start feeling a little better and was able to rest for longer periods.  Debbie even got him to attempt some smiles last night.  :)

I'm so thankful for our friends on friend took Katie so David could be there when Titus got out of surgery, one came to the hospital to be with me while David got the kids from preschool and came back in the evening too, and another came over to the house and watched the kids so David could come back for the afternoon.  Thanks, Diana, Debbie and Kate!

All things considered, I think last night went fairly well for Titus.  He was pretty restless and stirred a lot, but he always went back to sleep pretty quickly.  Of course I was super worried that he'd bonk his face in his sleep, so after realizing the little fold out cot wasn't going to work, I crawled into the crib with him.  So I slept off and on for about 5 hours, until I woke up at 2:30 and couldn't get back to sleep.  Now we are on to day two!

Here's my last picture before the surgery...I probably shouldn't have been surprised that he was so chipper, despite having no food or drink since the night before.  I hope we get to see him happy again quite soon.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Surgery Tomorrow

All week I've been thinking, "I wish the surgery was tomorrow!"  Now, that is finally true.  We've had one last week of almost normal before we go back to not normal (maybe never normal?) for a while.  The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, starting around 7:30 and lasting about 3 hours.  The surgeon is planning to repair part of Titus' lip and hard palate.  This is a slight change from his original plan, so now he is thinking we may only be in the hospital one night instead of two.

A song by Jars of Clay has been in my mind often over the last week.  We have been so blessed by people who have offered to help with the kids, with meals, with prayers, and with whatever else we might need.  I'm sure that if David needed to work this week, we would have been covered.  I'm just so grateful for the family God gives us through His church.  We could not do this on our own, and while it's true that God gives us strength, I love that He provides such tangible offerings of His grace and mercy.  In Philippians 1:3, Paul writes, "I thank my God every time I remember you."  And we thank God for every one of you, near and far, who is supporting us in this adventure.  Praise Him!

I took a slew of pictures this afternoon, knowing that sweet little smile will change tomorrow.  There was one look in particular that I hope will survive the surgery--when he scrunches up his nose, it looks so cute.  It only took 19 pictures to capture it, and every one was adorable!  I leave you with a few...

He's already mastered a great eye roll...very helpful.  

I don't understand why you want a specific look...don't I always look cute?

How about a big smile instead?

How about a shot of my tongue?

Oh it is.  So cute!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Back to China, Briefly

The days and weeks seem long right now, but they still manage to pass by in spite of that.  We are getting settled into a routine, just in time for the surgery!  We are officially approved for Titus's first surgery on February 1, so we'd really appreciate prayers as we prepare.  The first surgery will repair his lip and part of his palate, and it'll be at least two days in the hospital.  

I've got to wrap up our China trip, or it will fade into even more distant memory!  But it's been pretty exhausting with four kids now that my mom is gone, and we are still trying to unpack and put our house back together from the trip.  So I'll leave you with two days and some very cute pictures!

Day 6, December 29

We got up and met our guide bright and early to do the medical check.  Every person who applies for a US visa has to undergo a medical check, but thankfully the clinic that process them was not to busy.  We went back to the hotel and finished up the visa paperwork, then our guide took me on a tour of the area around the hotel.  She was very conscientious about telling us all the American food around the hotel, until we finally had a long conversation about how my family fully embraces the "eat to live" mantra, especially when it comes to ethnic food.  When in China, eat Chinese!  So she took us to a little noodle shop next to the hotel and pointed out a few other Chinese restaurants as well.  We went back there around lunch and got some dumpling for take-out...they were delicious, although a little different than I was used to.  There were some halal signs in the shop, so I'm pretty sure the dumplings were beef with some kind of warm spices in them.  Still, pretty yummy.
After Titus woke up, we walked over to Yiexiu Park.  I wanted to see the flower pavilion, but it had just closed, so we walked around the little lake and did a brief jaunt into the park.  But I was still pretty tired from traveling, and it's really a vigorous walk due to all the hills.  We tried out the executive lounge for dinner at the hotel and then hung out in the room.

December 30

I had my shopping list all prepared for our visit to Shamian Island and managed to leave it at the hotel.  The consulate used to be located there, and although it's not as popular with adoptive families now, they still have a lot of shops that have cheap souvenirs.  I did a little better in my bargaining (husbands are a great foil, right?), but the highlight was running into a few French families that we'd seen in the hotel.  I was able to carry on a conversation with them in French (!) and it was interesting to hear about their experiences.  Of course we took some pictures at the statues:

We were going to eat at a Dim Sum restaurant, but Titus was starting to get tired, so we headed back.  For dinner that evening, we went back to the noodle place and ate--Titus approved of the dumpings, noodles, and mushrooms!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A few thoughts so far

Given how cheerful, happy, playful, and affectionate he was on the first day, I spent the first part of the trip waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Titus would snuggle up under my chin and push his head against my face so I'd kiss him.  He laughed and played with us, and he really did go right to sleep that first day.  And as the days went on, he continued to show this super sunny personality full of smiles and laughter.   All the pictures you see on the blog are a good representation of his overall outlook on life.  Obviously we've had some bad nights since we got home (jet lag is the pits), but the even with that, it's been okay.

We went to church this past Sunday...even jet-lagged, it was such a joy and blessing to worship together, to sing, to hear the confession, and to pray together.  And of course, we missed our church family while we were gone.  We sang How Firm a Foundation, and one of the verses struck me anew:

"When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine."

I went into this adoption in a defensive stance, wondering how hot the fires would be this time.  And of course, we still have several surgeries in the very near future.  But it seemed appropriate that our pastor preached on prayer from Luke 11--here is the last verse from the passage:

Luke 11:13  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Once again, God has been so gracious to us in this endeavor.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for this adoption, that everything would go smoothly, that Titus would transition well, that we would make it home safely, that he would be happy here--mark those prayers as answered, and praise God!

I will close with another verse that has been on my mind.  In my heart of hearts, I sort of hoped that it might be even smoother than Lizzie's adoption, but the worries and fears were pretty loud.  I think I should try to imagine more and fear less.  

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more 
than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 
to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus 
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2016

We're home! Plus more China days...

Yes, we're home, deep into dealing with jet lag, unpacking, and trying get our new routines going.  It's a little harder to just drop everything and nest when you have three other kids to deal with, but my mom and sister have been a HUGE help.  6PM is like death warmed over when you're feeling jet lagged, and even if you are too tired to eat, there are other little people in the house who seem to need something to put in their mouths.  :)

So, jet lagged, but needing to get caught up before I forget everything, here goes.  I'm shooting for coherent right now...

Day 5, December 27

We asked our guide about visiting a church on Sunday, but the only one she knew about was a Chinese church, and she seemed a bit confused when we asked about when the service started.  Between still feeling sick and not wanting to crash a Mandarin service with a little baby, we opted for a quick trip to the store instead.  We thought about visiting an international church, but the service was in the afternoon during nap time.  The highlight of the day was our return from the shopping plaza--the metro system in Nanchang had just opened up on Saturday (like, brand new, never used before), and our guide was eager to try it out.  It was so easy to use!  We resolved to try the metro system in Guangzhou, and ended up returning to the shopping plaza that evening for dinner.  We celebrated 13 years of marriage with dumplings, pepperoni pizza, and a scoop of ice cream from Hagen Daz.  It's been a crazy ride, but each year is better than the last.  I'm excited to see what this year will bring.  :)

Day 6, December 28

And just like that, our stay in Nanchang was over.  Our schedule was very different from other families due to the passport office being closed on Friday.  We had the option of staying in Nanchang or going to Guangzhou early, and looking back, I'm glad we opted for Guangzhou.  Our hotel in Nanchang was nice, but we were in a single room with two (twin) beds instead of one king-sized bed.  Titus loved crawling around, but there just wasn't much room for him to roam.  With the metro right outside our hotel, our food options opened up considerably, but I was ready to go.  My one regret is that we weren't able to visit the orphanage, but I hope to return someday with the kids, and maybe we can visit then.  We were able to pick up some porcelain teacups for the kids, so that will be a nice reminder of our time there too.  We took a bullet train--very nice, and with western-style toilets!--and the only downside of the trip was that Titus hardly slept at all.  Our guide met us at the train station and got us checked into the China Hotel.  We got settled into our very nice suite (especially compared to our room in Nanchang!) and headed to bed.

Waiting for the train.

Here it comes!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The First Four Days

Enough sleep does wonders for a trip.  Between handling our sleep on the plane better and Titus doing so well at night, it's been a lot more fun this trip.  So much fun that I'm pretty far behind on our days.

Day 1, Dec. 23
We landed in Shanghai about an hour late, but we made it to our connecting flight with just enough time to spare.  Our guide got us checked into the Shangri-La and we headed to bed.

Day 2, Dec 24
Las time we took a few days to acclimate before we met Liz.  This time, some of the offices are closed on Jan 1, so we had to change our itinerary.  Although it made our trip two days longer, the upside is that we got Titus three days early, and before Christmas!  God blessed us both with a good nights sleep, and at 10:30, we met Titus.  He seemed very chill and smiled for us right away.  The director brought him to the hotel, so she wasn't able to answer a lot of questions.  We went back up to the room to complete paperwork, and then the guide offered to go purchase water and formula while we fed him.  The one note on the orphanage paperwork said "good sleeper" and boy, were they right.  He went right to sleep after eating and slept until we had to go for more paperwork.  A whirlwind of offices later, we were officially parents of one adorable, happy little boy.

First time in my arms!

Katie picked out some toys for Titus--the ball was a big hit.  

Big smile for Daddy

Day 3, Dec. 25

Merry Christmas!  We spent the morning at Teng Wan pavilion, a famous landmark in Jiangxi province. They had a lot of beautiful porcelain paintings, and our guide shared a lot of the history and culture about the pavilion.  We stopped by a restaurant that served braised meat and enjoyed our first dumplings of the trip.  We headed back to the room for nap time and ended up just ordering room service for dinner.  The noodles were recommended by another family who had been to nanchang, and we ended up ordering them a few times during our visit.

The smog was not too bad, but on cloudy days you could hardly see across the river.

 Nanchang is known for its porcelain--here is a painting done on porcelain tiles.

Outside the Teng Wan Pavilion
Day 4, Dec 26

Our guide took us to a beautiful park in the morning...I could definitely get used to the kind of parks they have here.  Even in December there was a lot of greenery and even flowers.  We were also able to stop by a shop that sold porcelain and chose some tea cups for the kids.  Sadly, by this point David and I both had raging colds.  We had a quiet afternoon while Titus napped, then tried to walk around the area a little bit.  I was pretty wiped out, though, so we headed back and just ate at the hotel restaurant.