Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How's it Going?

The buddies at the airport on the way home.
"How's it going?" That's the question we hear most often, understandably. And the answer? Well, it's going okay. It might not be best for me to write this post before 6am after just about four hours of interrupted sleep and how things went last night, but I'm up anyway and fueled by Chinese tea and Girl Scout cookies, so here goes.

I'll start with the good. During the day, Johanna is usually happy and having a good time. She giggles easily, loves to play and dance, and gets along well with Jonas. She's pretty easygoing about things that could have been difficult...baths, the car seat, brushing teeth, etc. And she's an awesome eater. The only thing she hasn't liked so far is a cheese stick, which makes sense, as dairy isn't huge in China. But she devoured a big bowl of macaroni and cheese yesterday for lunch! She loves to help, and she's super curious about everything. Her favorite toys are ones that make music, and she continues to love girly things.

Their faces are like this because they are saying "cheese."
A pink Strider bike was handed down to us (all it needed was new handlebars), so Johanna has had fun trying to keep up with Jonas as he rides around the block. It's funny how she "rides" it exactly like Jonas did at first...basically walking on top of it. It's definitely an exercise in patience for the person walking alongside her! 

She's picking up on the language fairly quickly. She says Mama, Dada, Jonas (or something close to it), Johanna, up, down, no, oh my, Nemo, potty, got you (when playing tag), and counts to ten on her own (but skips six). She also mimics a lot of what Jonas says or what Zack and I say to each other. And she understands a lot more than she says. I can tell her to go put on her shoes, and she will. I can tell her they're on the wrong feet, and she'll switch them. I can ask her yes or no questions and she'll nod or shake her head appropriately. I feel like she's still kind of taking it all in, and we'll eventually see a rapid language explosion when she's more comfortable and confident.

Our friends, the Lowells, had dinner and a cake
awaiting our arrival at home. So appreciated!
Johanna's relationship with Molly is touch and go. Sometimes she freaks out if the dog starts walking even remotely in her direction, and sometimes she doesn't even seem to notice. Sometimes Johanna playfully tries to pet her, and sometimes she whimpers and demands to be held so Molly won't touch her. Jonas was pretty similar at first, so we know it will get better. But it's hard not to get frustrated when her reactions aren't consistent and especially if she's losing her mind and Molly is nowhere close to her!

Zack took this week off work, so that's been helpful so I don't always have to bring Johanna to drop Jonas off at school or on other errands like grocery shopping that might be overwhelming for her at this point. It's been nice trying to keep her world small and manageable at this point. My parents' birthday present to me was some meals from Blue Apron, which is a service that delivers recipes and all the ingredients to make dinners, so not having to meal plan or shop for those items has been a lifesaver. A good friend also set up a little meal train, so that will help as well in the next couple of weeks. 

Lots of dress-up time going on around here!
As for the bad, nights are tough. The jet lag, combined with the grieving, has been really rough on all of us. Jonas might be the only one on his way to full recovery. He's slept through the night the past two nights with only his usual one-time wake up whine, where he falls back asleep after the covers are put back on him. Zack and I are kind of on opposite schedules. If I have a good night of sleep, he gets no sleep at all, and vice versa. 

We were all finding it rough on Friday and Saturday nights. Everyone woke up some time between 1 and 3 am and didn't fall back asleep for several hours, and then we all slept until 11am or almost noon, when we forced the kids and ourselves out of bed! While we were up in the early morning hours, snacks and leftovers were eaten (we were starving!) and movies were watched (namely Frozen). The days were rough, as we tried to force ourselves to stay awake until a semi-normal bedtime. But the kids were in pretty good spirits, and we knew it was just jet lag.

She loved discovering her room!
On Sunday night, Johanna woke up several times, sobbing and crying out for Nainai (her foster mother). Zack and I alternated going to her and got her back to sleep each time, but sometimes it took awhile, and we often had trouble falling back asleep afterward. On Monday night, everyone slept through the night except Zack. He was awake from 1am onward, so yesterday was tough for him. Though Johanna had slept well, she was super clingy and whiny all day on Tuesday. 

Then there was Tuesday night (last night). Johanna sobbed for 2 1/2 hours straight after we put her to bed. I'm not exaggerating at all. I stayed with her and tried everything, but nothing consoled her. She was thrashing and crying and yelling "Nainai" and just grieving so, so hard. We looked at pictures and videos of her orphanage, which brought the sobbing down to a whimper at points, but then it would start back up again even harder. I tried playing Chinese lullabies and singing English ones. I tried rubbing her back, holding her tightly, rocking her, lying next to her, holding her hand, etc. It didn't make her stop sobbing, but at least she lets me hold her now while she grieves. She even reaches out to be held in the midst of it sometimes. I know that's a good sign. 

Fun before bedtime.
I even had her help me make a 3-picture page on my computer, something recommended in one of our adoption books. You print out a page with a picture of her life in the orphanage (I chose one with her, Nainai, and her two closest foster siblings), a picture of the "handoff" (I put one where Zack and I are with Johanna and Nainai), and a picture of our current family (I picked the one from People's Park in Nanchang that's currently my Facebook background). This page becomes her "story" that she can look at any time and use to understand the progression of what happened and work through her feelings. Boy was the book right when it suggested you protect it somehow (luckily I had self-laminating sheets)! Johanna alternated between clutching the page like a prized possession to twisting it up to throwing it on the floor and yelling in anger to quickly picking it back up and sobbing "Nainai" while gazing at it to starting the whole cycle over again. It'll be interesting to see her reaction when she finds it again today. But hopefully it'll help her somehow.

After 2 1/2 hours, I texted Zack to come relieve me for ten minutes so I could put on my pajamas and take a mental break. I knew he was trying to catch up on sleep from his rough night beforehand, but thankfully he got the message and came up. In a matter of minutes, she cried herself to sleep under his watch! I got two hours of sleep before she woke up again for a shorter sob session at 1am and then another two hours before a 4am cry, and I've been up since then. I tried to get back to sleep, but Jonas had his nightly one-time whine at 5am, so it was hopeless! Johanna woke up at 6:30am, ate breakfast while I typed the rest of this, and now she's sitting on my lap quietly as I finish. It's almost 7:20am, and Jonas is still asleep (lucky boy!). 

Trying out Mama's high heels!
Johanna seems in good spirits, so we'll see how today goes. I'm just going to be lucky to be able to stay awake! She does have a pediatrician appointment this morning, so I'm nervous about that. After school, Jonas has gymnastics. Johanna just got off the ridiculously long waiting list (I had put her on it months ago) to be in the class as well, but I'm guessing she'll just be watching from the sidelines today. She could surprise me though and want to participate. Who knows?

Anyway, I need to get dressed and get these kids going so Jonas can get to school on time. I'll add some pictures of the past few days later on today when I get some time. If this post sounds disheartening, it's not meant to be...I'm just exhausted! We really are having fun with her during the day, and she and Jonas are SO cute together. I know it'll get easier; I just wish I could make Johanna believe that it's going to be okay!

Update: The pediatrician's appointment went pretty well. Johanna was nervous and on the verge of losing it a few times, but she kept it together. The doctor said she looks great, and she'll be in contact with the International Adoption Clinic to find out what bloodwork and immunizations we need to do (since they can't get us in until May). So no pokes for Johanna today! She's at 63% for height (tall girl!) and 12% for weight.

Gymnastics did not go so well. She watched curiously at first but absolutely would not join in. At the end, when we started putting her socks and shoes back on, she had a complete meltdown (similar to last night) that lasted all the way home and for thirty minutes afterward until she cried herself to sleep in my lap. I fell asleep in her bed with her, and we took a two hour nap together! I think we both needed that.

Now we just need prayers for a smooth bedtime tonight!

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