Sunday, April 22, 2012

Letter to L: First Week Home

Sweet Lainey Girl ~

As I type this, you are reaching to the second level of the bookshelf, pulling down a 2 lb can of baby formula.  You are a strong little one, physically and emotionally.  And into everything!  You won't remember these days, but your mama remember these as special, sweet, challenging, tiresome and oh-so-precious.  These are the days we are becoming a family.

When we arrived home last Friday, April 13, we were all tired from the 28+ hours of travel.  Though you were a champ on the plane, we were all exhausted, cranky and just ready for bed.  It didn't take long for you to fall asleep in my arms and transition to your crib.  That night you slept 13 hours, giving daddy and me the well needed sleep we also needed.  Bless your heart, dear one.

Since that first night, you've proven to be an amazing sleeper.  You like to be rocked to sleep in my arms before being put in your crib.  (Read: you refuse to fall asleep on your own in your crib.)  You take a little rest between 8:30 and 9:30 - sometimes in your stroller while I walk you and sometimes in my arms - and a 2 - 3 hour nap around 1:00.  That's what we aim for anyway.  Our bed time routine starts about 6:45 when we give you a bath.  Since you LOVE bath time, daddy usually takes the lead on this.  You play and splash, babble and laugh in the water.  And sometimes, daddy lets you drink out of the faucet while the water runs!  You love it!  After 15 minutes or so of playing in your p.j.'s, you let me rock you to sleep with a bottle.  And for the last three nights, you haven't woken once until 6:30 the next morning.  Amazing!

When you wake, for now, it's me you want, as with most times.  You connected with me quickly in Ethiopia.  Until a few days ago, you haven't let me out of your sight without crying - heart-warming and challenging.  Daddy works so hard to meet your needs, and he is just starting to feel the rewards.  You'll now smile at him, laugh when he kisses you and chases you.  A couple times, you've let him give you a bottle.  And once, you let him put you down for a nap while I escaped the house for about an hour.  (Got some cute new shoes.  Thanks!)

You love, love, love the bottle (with formula.)  Other foods are a gamble, though macaroni & cheese and spaghetti have been hits.  You prefer to feed yourself, though that makes quite the mess.  And speaking of a mess...those diapers!  In my thirty-three years, I've never changed a diaper til yours!  The other children who come home from the Thomas Center in Ethiopia have giardia, and I am anxious for your doctor appointment at UW Adoption Medicine on May 1 to find out if that microscopic parasite is creating all the havoc in your system.

Another first - this mama is learning how to do your hair.  It's so cute!  And so unruly!  Grandma gave you your first haircut in the bath a couple nights ago.  Some of those strands measured about 10 inches, while others were barely an inch long.  We miss your long curly locks, but can't wait to care for it so it grows out healthy and even. 

Developmentally, I'd say you are "all one!"  The first few days home you were all snuggles and cling, but little by little you are revealing your energetic personality.  The nannies nailed it when they said you were "petite by mighty," and you "know what you want."  You love to take things out and put them back in.  Blocks in a box.  Clothes in a hamper.  Recycled boxes in the bin. You enjoy opening and closing anything: drawers, doors, dishwasher, dog crate door, trash can cover.  When your fingers get stuck, you either jerk them out or whine a little until daddy or I help you.  A sure thing to make you laugh is turning you upside down.  You like to swing around upside down and be thrown into the air.  You climb on anything, and it seems nothing is out of your reach.  You also like to hide in places.  Did you hide from other children at the orphanage?  We often watch you climb under the desk, sit quietly in corners, and peek out from behind chairs.   You mimic our actions and noises - the cutest thing we've ever seen!  You seem smart to us.  You know headbands go on your head, socks go on your feet, caps go on the bottle, straws go in cups.  You move your arms to help me get clothes on you, and thank goodness, because those little clothes are hard to get on!  And the snaps at the bottom of the onesies...who thought that was a good idea?  Things you've never experienced, you seem to adjust to rather well after a couple times, like the car seat, the Ergo, the stroller, and the booster seat, Forrest and Boone.  Today we've seen a very independent side of you!  We walked to the mailbox together and you didn't even want to hold my hand.  A first!  When I let you walk on your own, you fell a few times but picked yourself up, looked at me and smiled.  We know you are getting more comfortable at home because you'll wander away from me into other rooms by yourself.  If I come into a room after you, you light up! A perfect sign, in my inexperienced eyes.  Even right now, you are playing with your drum set in the same room as me.  Every so often you come to me to be picked up or snuggled.  Love.

You are weary of other adults, which we are happy with and want to encourage for the time being.  Though we don't want you to mistrust everyone you meet forever, we want you to learn that mama and daddy are your family, and we can be relied on to be your caregivers.  We will meet your needs and you no longer live in an institution where adults come and go.  You've met both your grandmas,  Greg and Kim, Tammy and Brian with Teegan and Corbin, Brian and Carole, Elisabeth, Sherman and Ronan, and Dave and Brenda.  That's a lot of people in a short amount of time, so we keep visits brief.  During those times, only mama and daddy hold you, feed you, change you, or care for you if you fuss.  I'm sure it was a long week for Grandma Taz - she came to help this new mama out and was so respectful of our attempt to bond and connect with you!  You've also face-timed Jodi,  Auntie Mari, Uncle Jeff and Audrey, Auntie Tana, Uncle Casey and Miles.

To help the connection process (emphasis on process), daddy and I fully intended on just staying home with you the first couple weeks.  After day three, I realized getting out might do us all some good.  Since then, we've gone on a short outing each day and it hasn't seemed to slow down your ability to connect with us.   When we are out, you are generally quiet and reserved, but when we return home you bounce back to your happy, comfortable self.

You have an army of support behind you, little one!  So many cards and outfits and notes of encouragement and welcome.  You mama and daddy feel the love, and we know you feel the prayers.

So much more I could tell you about this first week, sweet girl!  So much!  But I'll leave it at this and tell you that above all, God has shown his grace and mercy and love by placing you with us.  We didn't save you, little one.  You saved us.  There are so many questions we have about your past and gaps in your story, but there is no doubt you were beautifully and wonderfully made to be a part of our family.

Not so much into reading the books, but very into taking them off the bookshelf.
First walk in the Harbor - stopped for coffee.

A sign made by Grandma Marsha and her kinder-care students.

Three generations.  And Boone.


Bath time!  (Please don't pee on me!)

She stands at the edge of the tub whenever she can.  Hoping for another bath?

Cushman Trail walk.  (Needs a hat that fits.)

Drinking from the faucet.  Before mama yelled something to daddy about drowning her! :)

First night home.

With Tyler.

Walking with Grandma Taz.

Meeting Teegan, Corbin & Tammy.

Love these facial expressions.

A crochet headband for every outfit, thanks to Grandma Taz.

Yep.  She's a normal toddler. 


  1. She is absolutely gorgeous!! So glad you are enjoying your precious girl. There's nothing like it... =)

  2. Congratulations and thank you for sharing. She is adorable and you look so content. My husband & I have said to each other many times, "we didn't save them; they saved us." I totally get it. Blessings on your family during this time of getting to know each other and establishing your foundation as a family.

  3. So sweet! I love the details and feel like I know her already! Can't wait to see you all. -Jeremy
    P.S. She already has a drum set?!? NICE

  4. Beautiful, Debbie and I are glad for you. Just seeing how HAPPY you two are with Lainey shows how much that child will be loved..

    Uncle Butch & Aunt Debbie

  5. Smiling ear to ear. My heart is so full of happiness for you three. She is gorgeous. She is sweet. She is the perfect fit. This was fate, God's sweet answer to a painful and long journey of the heart. Love heals the heart so quickly when you let it, and it is so beautiful to see your open, vulnerable heart for Lainey. She has so quickly become part of "our" family. We love you Lainey! And you are so very loved by so many, especially your parents who dreamed and prayed for you for many years.

  6. Beautiful. Love that the baby piano has a player again, even if #7 doesn't work. :) You couldn't have picked a better stroller, we have the double version and it is awesome. You may want to try nutrigrain bars cut up (use a pizza cutter) for another good finger food. They're sweet and soft and you can choose the size of piece she gets. They were John and Pete's favorites.

    I showed Pete Lainey's pictures and not only did he remember our coffee date he thought she was "so so pretty with pretty brown skin". Maybe she can be his prom date in 15 years. He prayed for her tonight at bedtime and finished with "I hope she likes our piano". Children of God. I explained she was born on the other side of Earth to be your baby. Miraculous.

    Can't wait to keep up with all of you and watch her grow!

    :) Meredith

  7. Yes yes yes! This is such a testament to God's goodness. Reading it gives me a good shiver from head to toe: God is GOOD!!