Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
So, when we left off last time we had just met our little girl for the first time. Awww, sweet. We are going to fast forward a months. Let me assure you that we spent LOTS of time with Norah's family before they went home to the Bahamas. We even heard Grandpa preach a very feisty sermon as a guest preacher at a church in SLC... Her mom, T didn't want us to have a picture of her (boo) but I am sure that in this internet age we will find one someday to show Norah....... I am so thankful for the time we had with them. It was important for me to feel some sort of connection with them so that someday I could tell Norah about her mom. They named her Hope and we called her Norah Hope. I wanted to name her after Derek's grandmother, whom I was very close to. Norah's names represent some very beautiful and brave women. She will understand that someday.
Norah has always, always, always been a very mellow baby. She was so easy to have around. She slept all the time, she ate like a charm (but always was really tiny--she wore her preemie clothes for almost five months). This started out as kind of a joke, but it wasn't too long before I started to sense that something was different with this girl. Different in the bad way. She seemed really floppy--but we kind of chalked that up to just having had Jacob, who is REALLY, REALLY, FREAKISHLY STRONG. She didn't roll over. She didn't raise her head. She didn't crawl. I remember asking my doctor about it when she was 9 months old. She didn't EVER support her weight on her legs. She didn't even try to crawl. Sitting up was still iffy. I kept asking my doctor about it and they kept telling me to wait until she as 18 months old. That seemed to be the magic age. They don't really worry about not walking or talking until then. As a more experienced mamma, now I know I should have pushed harder, insisted on more, but I just didn't know. Her 18 month mark hit right as I found out about Grace and all her potential issues..and those appointments didn't get made as quickly as they should have.
So here we are at two with a girl that has made SO MUCH PROGRESS, but is still very behind. Unlike Grace, Norah doesn't have a diagnosis beyond "failure to thrive". That means she is tiny and doesn't put on weight, she doesn't hit her developmental goals on time and needs help in at least 4 of the 6 developmental areas. These are 1) Language and Communication, 2) Concept Development and Pre-Academics, 3) Social and Emotional Development, 4) Gross Motor (e.g., sitting, walking, running), 5) Fine Motor (e.g., manipulating small objects, toys), and 6) Self-Help or Adaptive (e.g., feeding and dressing oneself). Check, check and check. So what do we do now?
We finally got the referral for an evaluation and lucked out to have a great social worker. She made sure we went to to the right doctors and did things in the right way. We are now knee deep in the early intervention program where Norah is getting (or will be shortly--those pesky waiting lists...) occupational therapy (there are a few sensory issues), physical therapy (gross motor skills and her hypotonia --that is medical for low muscle tone...), blind babies (not totally sure what that one is yet..some sort of eye therapy for after her surgery next week), speech therapy (self explanatory) and some behavior therapy (she doesn't cope too well..she is pretty much a kid that is either a 0 or 100. There isn't much in between. This leads us to think that she has a hard time transitioning). Good times, huh? I have a strong feeling that by the time she is in kindergarten or thereabouts, she will be all caught up and this will all be a fading memory. I think we will still have to help her find ways of coping with some things, but that is as much a function of her personality as anything else. A mellow, easy going kid just is. Motivation is a tricky one..
With all of that background it would be easy to think of our girl as just a bunch of issues, but it really isn't that way. I record it here for a few reasons, so we remember, so she will know and so others that find my blog and have kids with similar issues can either read about our story and progress or offer info and advice. When you get sucked into the "special needs" world, a whole new set of parenting info, lingo and learning curve takes over your life for a little while. It is always nice to have a network that know what they are doing...
The reality is that life with our little Norah is lots of fun. As I have said, she is my mellow girl, but she is also very good at getting what she wants. She shouted "MINE" at Cubby on her birthday when he tried to take her presents. I don't worry too much about her being bullied. I don't worry about how we will motivate her to want to do things that she doesn't want to do (so far, eating and walking....). She also is my sweet child. She loves to give kisses and has never passed a purse or pair of shoes that she didn't want to try and wear. She has the greatest hair in the world and is so patient while I condition it, brush it, braid it and tug at it. She loves wearing beads and clips now (she calls them her 'pretty girls'). She is is the best playmate because she will both roughhouse with Cubby and play "baby" with Lulu. She is my only child that loves "babies". She was thrust into big sister mode with the arrival of Grace, and maybe not coincidentally, she hit some major milestones not too long after that. She stood for the first time. She consistently used words (my baby--meaning Grace" being the first and most frequent). She is now starting to walk and be interested in potty training and sleeping in a big girl bed. The two year old tantrums are in full swing now too. Since I have done this a few times, I just laugh (and occasionally grit my teeth) and wait them out. She is picking up sign language really quickly. The whole family is learning so we will be ready when Gracie gets a big older. Her favorite signs so far are "cookie", "butter" and "chips". You'd think that with favorite words like that she would love to eat!
In Norah's world the facial expression above is a full on smile. This girl doesn't give it away.
Her favorite way to swim with Dad....
This isn't just another picture of a half naked baby who insists on wearing goggles... this is one with some actual meat on her bones... you can't see her ribs anymore. Progress!
This is a very rarely seen, rarely captured unguarded smile from my girl. She is usually giving us the sideways look that is half amused/half bored. Like this one below...
After her surgery on Friday, she should be able to see out of both eyes. I have to admit that I will miss her sideways looks, but I will enjoy her being able to use both eyes at the same time MORE (and I will NOT miss patching her... it is like patching a wildcat.... ).
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Norah and I when she was 4 days old. Photos by Lucky Red Hen.
Two years ago today I know exactly what I was doing. I had just come home from Africa two weeks before and we decided to start the paper work to adopt from Ethiopia. In the mean time, I called a few agencies and told them that we were home study ready and would be willing to take a newborn that was born BEFORE the end of August (when our dossier would go to Africa) and because of the recent trauma with Cubby's family and the "now we have him/now we don't" experience with JoJo, we weren't interested in having much contact BEFORE the birth but would love, love, love an open adoption AFTER the birth.
Check out that chicken skin on her arms. It still looks that way. These are also my favorite colors to put her in to this day. This was the smallest preemie dress I could find at Walmart the day we brought her home......
--Sidenote for new readers... Cubby's mom asked us to adopt her next baby, who was born 10 months after Jacob. She came to us TOTALLY unsolicited and we agreed. She ended up parenting the baby (a little boy that she named Jojo). She made this choice after we had had Jojo with us for about a week. This decision was fine with us (from the bottom of my heart I have no issues with women who end up parenting, that is wonderful as far as I am concerned...). But it still totally stinks. It hurts and it is hard. There was a lot of trauma involved in our relationship with her at that time. We were baby stepping our way into an open adoption and that is never easy. Other circumstances and choices made things very, very hard between us all this point and very little of it had to do with the fact that she parented..so no flames / Trolls please. Read the archives if you are curious, but I am not interested in your opinion on whether we did the right thing or not. I am over it..... Nevertheless, my heart was still a little tender....
Norah 4 days old, at Oh Judy's house for my impromptu baby shower in Utah with Blog friends...
Getting this kind of a situation is almost unheard of. After all, most expectant parents want to meet you, and if they want an open adoption, they want lots of contact before the birth. We knew that we were making a tall order, but decided to put it out there anyway. Shockingly, 4 days later we had it. The agency told us that a little girl from the Bahamas was due at the first part of September and that the family did not want to choose the parents. They wanted the agency to pick. They wanted a family that was religious, middle aged (ouch), and wanted to the baby to fall somewhere in the middle of the siblings. They preferred black parents, but if that wasn't possible, they wanted other black kids in the family. They wanted no contact at all. They didn't even want to know our names or see our picture or know anything about us. They wanted to have the baby and forget it ever happened. The ladies at the agency felt strongly that the family would change their mind later and want some sort of contact, so they wanted to match with a family that was OK with that. We were.
I love this picture because it shows the bracelet her mom gave her as well as how small she was. the bottle is bigger than her head...
After being matched with Norah's family for one week, her mom and grandparents decided that they wanted to look at profiles of other families after all. The agency called us to tell us that our match was "on hold" and that we should submit a file/letter/photos. I was a little bit sad about this, but I understood. I also strongly feel that it is the better in the end for the expectant mom to have a say in the decision, so I was happy to hear that they were being more realistic about the choice to place this child. I stayed up all night doing our file. That was two years ago tonight. The next morning I was awakened at 6:30 by a phone call from the agency and told to get on a plane because the baby was coming NOW.
We packed in a flurry and took the first plane to Utah (lucky us that Norah's family was in the US.. and my parents were available to help us out). By the time we had landed, tiny 5 pound Norah was already born. She was almost two months early. We took the kids to my parents and waited. According to the agency the family decided that since the baby was born before they could view other files, it must be God's way of telling them that WE were the family. They still seemed set on placing and we just waited. Norah's mom, T, is pretty young. She had her parents with her to help her make these huge decisions. T just wanted to have the baby, never hold her, never look at her and just go home and continue to be a teenager. Her parents (especially her mom, who is about our age) was very adamant about her bonding with her baby, and for this I am very thankful. She truly, truly had T's best interests at heart and it was very clear the she was letting T make the choice, but giving her all the info that she needed. T could have parented if she wanted to, but no illusions were made about how hard it would be. She also knew that "forgetting" it ever happened really wasn't an option. Even though it was the hardest thing she had ever done (we talked about it later), Grandma was willing to watch her daughter (force her, even) bond with her child knowing that it would be terribly painful to place her and go home. She felt it would be better in the end. That is a mother who loves her child.
We waited for two days and then got the call that the papers were going to be signed in a few hours. The agency wanted us to go to the hospital because they really wanted to encourage the family to meet us. If we were close by, it would make it easier to arrange. We checked into a hotel near the hospital and waited. T and her parents were very clear that they did not want to meet us before the papers were signed. Around dinner time, the social workers contacted us to tell us that we had another daughter (and at this point we still hadn't ever seen Norah). She filled us in how the paperwork meeting went and indicated that T's parents wanted to see our file. They might want to meet us. Would we bring our family scrapbook to the hospital and wait downstairs?
N pretty much lived in the sling for the first 6 months. She was so SMALL.
The social worker took our paperwork upstairs. We waited for a few more hours. Eventually they sent down word that they wanted to meet us and up we went. LONGEST ELEVATOR RIDE EVER. I'll never forget the sight of N's grandparents. She looks SO much like them. Grandma was rocking a leopard print muumuu. Yes she was. We visited with Grandma and Grandpa and swapped stories. We had a million questions about T and they were really good at answering them for us and telling us all about their family. I tried to memorize the facts, their accents, their faces. I can't remember how it happened, but at some point they went down to T's room and told her about us and asked if she wanted to meet us. She did.
Norah on her first birthday. She still has the cheeks, the afro and the yummy lips. She is the SPITTING image of her maternal grandmother in this picture.
I will also never forget the first sight of our daughter. T was in the hospital bed holding the SMALLEST human I had ever seen. Norah's tiny face peeked out of her white blanket. She had a full head of black hair and a sweet green bow tied in it. As we walked in, she made a little bit of a sour face, pursed her lips and let us out a yell (a look and sound I am now very, very familiar with) and I had a very strong impression come into my mind. The exact wording was "this girl is going to be sassy....".
These two are my very favorite pictures of her from around her first birthday. Especially the bottom one.
...to be continued.......
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I am a bad girlfriend.
Don't break up with me, ok?
I have a new post that is in its final stages (and by that I mean I have written it in my head and just need to get it on paper). Just to keep you coming back I will tell you the title of it.
"Kacy's blog is so funny I set my house on fire. "
Seriously. It is that funny. And I did. It is all her fault.
P.S. I can't make my hyperlinks work and I lost the bookmark that gave idiot proof instructions. Anyone?
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Today will be a catch up post with lots of bullet points, they are the new parentheses you know. The only problem is that I don't know how to do them yet, so I will do the lazy woman's bullets by using two dashes. Just so you know.
--I know I look/seem old, but the Internet is hurting my feelings. Somehow my e mail address was sold to a list for old people. It has been nothing but wheelchair rentals, step in bathtubs and stair lifters all the live long day in my inbox. I know that I don't LIKE the e mails saying that I have a secret admirer or that sexy singles in my area are looking for me, but now that they have been replaced by the geriatric set of spam, I am a little bit hurt.
--Speaking of internet. Lauren seems to think that it is an all knowing, living entity. She asked me yesterday if I knew how many minutes are in a year (what, you don't know that??). When I told her I didn't, she answered "I'll just ask Internet when I get home". Not THE internet, Internet. I might have to share my new best friend.
--Norah has started the infant development classes. She is fairly amused with the whole thing. They sign and she CAN do the signs, but doesn't want to mostly of the time. If she DOES participate, we all have to be really careful not to encourage her or act happy about it because she will then decide that she will NO LONGER participate. She is a 13 year old in a 2 year old body. Good times ahead.
--Norah gained 1 pound over the last 4 months, this huge. She is still way off the charts and the force feeding regime continues, but this is the first time she has gained more than ounces and even though she is small, she gained the correct percentage of weight over the last 4 months, so if we can do this for another 6 months, I might stop having to bring her in each month to get a weight check.
--In other news, Grace is growing at an alarming rate (she is a Bingham after all). She is huge. Huge cheeks, huge smile, huge personality and huge appetite. I am not used to my kids growing out of their clothes before they have a chance to wear them all. She is already on to the next size. Pretty soon, Grace will be handing down clothes to Norah.
--We are doing our Stay-cation this week. When I first heard that word I thought it was clever, but with in the space of a few weeks I heard it on Regis and Kelly as well as getting it in my mailbox via a Target coupon. So, I am pretty sure that it will be the "talk to the hand" of Summer 2008. We are going to a Giants game tonight (and we get to take the train!! That is the best part!! Garlic fries!!). Saturday we are going to the zoo. No garlic fries at the zoo.
--Pistachio is the flavor of 2008. I love them. I buy them by the bag full at Trader Joes (I can even get the pre shelled) and put them on everything; salads, ice cream, chicken. You name it, I will put a pistachio on it, eat it and LOVE it.
--My husband and I are obsessed with the Bachelorette this season. It is our favorite. Who do you think she is going to choose?
-- As I was talking to Lauren about what we can do to make the spirit in our home be better (there is some hard core squabbling that rules our lives) her answer was that I should punish Jacob more. Looks like we have some work to do.
--the mystery smell that has invaded our home is slowly going away. At first it smelled like dead animal (it must have been under the house b/c we tore the house apart). Now it just smells like half mold/half burning. Weird. I hope it goes away soon. I hope to ignore the problem to make it go away. That usually works.
--California is burning down. Really. There are something like 1000 forest fires. The air is smoggy and heavy with ash for the last few weeks. We even had a few days last week where they told everyone to shelter in place, not just the old people (ehm, which is apparently me now). Please pray for the people fighting the fires and the folks who are displaced. That is scary.
--Kid Movies. In the last two weeks we have taken the kids to see Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E and Kit Kittridge (we were sheltering in place and no one has AC here). They weren't too bad. I would recommend all of them. If you are afraid of Hobo's or the word Hobo, do NOT go to Kit Kittridge. Don't say I didn't warn you.
--The hands free law just passed yesterday. I guess I am going to have to buy a headset. Bah humbug. First they outlaw grocery sacks, now the phones. I never remember to grab that stuff by time I have gotten all 35 of my kids in the car...... so if you never hear from me again via phone, you can just blame California. I know it saves lives (and really is a good law, especially the part that says teenagers cannot use a cell phone or texting device AT ALL in a car...).
HAPPY 4Th. We will celebrate by NOT doing fireworks (California is on fire remember) and by swimming and eating blue chips with salsa and NOT talking on the phone while driving and eating garlic fries while we cheer for our Giants to beat the Cubs (won't happen).....