Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sleep Issues

Sorry for my lack of updates. The difficulties I mentioned in my last post have actually increased. Sleep has become a major challenge. Joshua really hasn't done much grieving in his waking hours (1 bad night, 1 slightly less bad night, and 1 morning), but at night he has been grieving quite a bit, at least that is what I think it is. We had our first post-placement visit this past Saturday and our social worker was definitely in agreement with me when we discussed it with her. I actually think he is half asleep when he does his grieving. Getting him to sleep takes about an hour and afterward I am just exhausted and not really up for blogging. And at nap time I usually need to sleep or try to get a few things done around the house. John and I were taking turns so that is what enabled me to update the blog in the beginning, but now he is back to work. I will really try though. I feel like this past week has been a blur and has just zoomed by. I feel like I am in survival mode right now.

It's like his little body just can't wind down. Often it seems like he knows its night time and even wants to go to sleep, but can't. Other times he fights going to sleep. Once he's asleep he usually sleeps soundly for a few hours, but then begins to fuss and cry in his sleep off and on. This is where I think he is grieving. If he comes out of a deep sleep he cries and when he is going to sleep prior to reaching a deep sleep he cries. He was on a paci in Korea and the information we received said that he would whimper in the early morning hours and his foster mother would give him the paci. He is doing way more than whimpering now and it isn't just in the early morning hours, but often from 12am until waking up for the day. I am up several times a night as a result. He is also waking up for a night time feeding which he didn't do in Korea, but I think it is because he only slept from 12am to 7am in Korea, so his little body isn't used to going that long without food. We try to put him to bed around 8pm and then he will wake up anywhere from 2 -5 am for a feeding (in addition to the other times). After I feed him, I rock him back to sleep and then he is up for the day anywhere from 5:30-7:30am. I am trying to watch for patterns to see if there is anything we do in the day that seems to bother him, for example I think going for a walk in the evening may not be a good thing for him right now and makes for an especially difficult bedtime. We really haven't left the house much except to go to the doctor (3 times total for labs and tuberculosis test) and once to the grocery store. When we've gone somewhere he gets really quiet, which is not how he usually is, so I think any new situation is making him very anxious. For now, we are going to continue to stay very close to home. Since the night sleeping schedule is all over the place, the day time sleeping schedule is as well. I believe kids do best on routine and its killing me that I haven't been able to get him on a consistent schedule yet. I think I probably need to let go of my expectations for this right now. Anyway, I hope this jumbled up post makes some sense. Prayers would be appreciated!

Even with the sleep issues, I am still enjoying my little guy so much. I still can't get over how blessed I am. John went back to work yesterday making it my first official day as a SAHM. Sunday night was actually a good night sleep-wise and so it was a wonderful day. However, there was a poopy in the pool situation. Suddenly, I am looking and thinking what it all that stuff floating around in the pool. Go ahead and laugh, I would.

And I did. I think that is one of the blessings of infertility. You can laugh and take delight in situations that would probably frustrate others because you know that in order for there to be a poopy in the pool there is a child that created the poopy. And that is something to be grateful for. There are so many ladies waiting on the blessing of a child who would give anything to clean up poopy pool situations and have sleepless nights. When I am up at night I have been trying to use the time to pray, to thank God for blessing us with Joshua and to pray for my family and friends.

Hopefully, tonight will be a good night and I will upload pictures during nap time tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Bit About Joshua

We are slowly getting into a routine. Joshua is almost over his cold and is now fairly well adjusted to the time change. However, things have become a bit more difficult this past week, though today has been much better. I don't know whether it is all the change he has been through which is causing him to be more irritable and fussy (which would be completely understandable) or if it is something else. He is cutting his molars so I definitely think that has been a major factor. I also read in Toddler Adoption that it is not uncommon for a toddler to go into a state of disequilibrium where they become more fussy as they are about to learn a new developmental task. Joshua is definitely standing and cruising more every day so that is a possibility. One of the challenges of parenting after adoption is that you are often wondering if something is adoption related or if it him being a toddler. "Is it adoption or is it life" is one of the questions I am certain I will be asking myself a lot in the years to come. He is also definitely showing more willful toddler-like behaviors and I am struggling with how best to handle them so early on in our relationship. That being said, I am still so in love with my little guy and am enjoying getting to know him more every day. Sometimes I look down at him or look around at all the toys strewn about my family room and still can't believe it's real, that I really get to be his mom.

So here are some of the things I have learned about my boy (probably of more interest to the grandparents and aunts and uncles so feel free to skip):

  • He really seems to like his name and so I still call him JoonSeo, he smiles and laughs every time I show him his pictures and say his name or when I show him himself in a mirror
  • He loves looking in the mirror or pretty much any mirrored surface; we have a Baby Einstein mirror book and he will lean in toward the mirror until his face is all the way against it
  • The first book I read him was called In My Den, it is a board book with a hole in every page and a little finger puppet bear that I move around as I read the story - he thinks its hysterical and laughs and smiles the whole time
  • He loves the recordable book we sent him and will ask me to "read" it every time he sees it, he especially likes the part in front where I speak really bad Korean saying hello and I love you, it also has our picture on that page; he wants me to read it over and over again; this was one of the times where we saw some of the toddler-like behavior - he started fussing and screaming at me when he wanted me to read the story again
  • He ended up loving several of the items we sent him in the care packages - the recordable book, photo album, little fire truck, vtech nursery rhyme book, and the blanket - his foster mom gave all of them to us, plus the PJs we sent; I think it has really helped to have some transition items
  •  He loves all toys that light up and make sounds or music; he remembers exactly where the buttons to push are on each toy and he will shake his body to the music
  • He loves to bat balls, cars, blocks, or pretty much anything across the floor and then chase after it
  • He loves to clap his hands together, do "manseh" (like hooray) and raise his arms up, and shake his head (dori, dori, dori game kids play in Korea)
  • He definitely has a mind of his own; if he wants me to play dori, dori, dori and I am not doing it, he will smash his hands on the side of my face and push it to move my head from side to side
  • He LOVES his bottle; after he is done drinking some he will take it out of his mouth and say "ahhh" with the most satisfied look on his face; his face literally lights up when he sees his bottle; if he has his pacifier in when he sees his bottle he will pluck it out of his mouth lightening fast and throw it on the floor to get ready for his bottle
  • As soon as he is done with the bottle, he will throw it on the ground (we are working on this as he is now letting me hold the end of his bottle while I am feeding him!)
  • If he sees me eating something he will crawl over to the coffee table and then stand up right by me for me to give him some
  • At first it didn't seem as though he would drink milk as well as he would drink formula, but John discovered that if we warmed the milk to room temperature he drinks it right up; since he was on 4 formula bottles a day (8 packets), we quickly ran out of what they gave us in Korea; we are trying to transition to milk since there is no reason for a child his age to be on formula and in fact it can be damaging since it is not possible for him to get all his nutritional needs at this age from formula alone, plus he seems just as satisfied comfort wise with milk
  • He loves fruit of any kind and he also loves any kind of snack cracker, especially shrimp chips and his other Korean snacks, though he also likes puffs and baby mum-mums
  • As far as regular food, we are having the most success with rice mixed with cooked vegetables (cut up very small or mushed up like squash) and then I cut up Trader Joe's seaweed snacks and add it in for flavor; the other key is to add some water when I heat it up so that it is a little soupy
  • He has also eaten potatoes with a little meat and broccoli mixed together, rice and beans, and Mexican stuffed shells (mostly pasta with a little bit of the sauce)
  • He fights sleep like crazy and will flail his arms and legs, clap his hands, shake his head, move a blanket back and forth between his legs, and do pretty much anything else he can to keep himself awake; at first I was able to rock him to sleep, but lately I can only get him to sleep by putting him in the carrier and walking around or dancing side to side; once he is asleep we put him in his crib and he will nap or sleep just fine, though he periodically stirs and whimpers; at night either John or I will sleep on an air mattress in his room; we will do this until we know he is comfortable and won't wake up scared and not knowing where he is
  • He loves "ah boo bah" which means on the back and will come up behind me when I am sitting on the floor and bang on my back; often he does this when he is tired and ready for a nap; technically he is not ah boo bah since I mostly wear him on the front, but we have taken to calling the carrier ah boo bah irregardless
  • He loves water whether in the little kiddy pool or the bath; he will splash and play as long as I let him
  • One night after his bath I held him on the counter and put him up to the mirror; he found his toothbrush by the sink and decided he wanted to "brush" his teeth; now after every bath he can't wait for me to put him up on the counter and let him look in the mirror and brush his teeth; so much so that he started having a fit while I was trying to put on his diaper after his bath; I didn't know what to think at first, I wondered if he was grieving, but then as soon as I was done with the diaper and picked him up towards the mirror, he was all smiles (this would be some of the toddler behavior I mentioned)
  • We are trying to teach him a few signs so that he can communicate with us and hopefully that will help avoid the yelling and screaming that is his current mode of communication :-) - I really am compassionate about this, just think how frustrating it would be if you were taken half way across the world by two strangers who spoke to you in a completely unfamiliar language and what little ability you had to communicate in your familiar language was now useless
  • When he is seated, he spins around doing 360 degree turns
  • He loves to dance to music
  • He loves to smile, laugh, and play; he is also very curious about everything and most definitely has a mind of his own
Well, I am sure there is more, but that is what I can think of right now. I love him so much!

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    How is Joshua doing with Annie?

    In a word - obsessed! Every time he sees her his face lights up. The first time he saw her he crawled around the coffee table chasing after her. If he sees her in the living room, he will make a beeline from the family room crawling as fast as he can after her. If she is sitting on the couch (a frequent occurrence), Joshua will hold on to the couch and stand up so that he can see her and then try to touch her.

    Annie, on the other hand, is a little less happy with this new situation. I am pretty sure her thought process is something like, "Guys what's going on? First you leave me with one little person for a whole week and then you come back with another little person?" If it is possible for dog to give you a look of betrayal, I am pretty sure Annie has given me one this week. Part of the problem is that "gentle" is still a concept that needs some working on with Joshua.

    I think the one bright spot for Annie came when we put Joshua in the high chair to eat. I would say that at least as much food ends up on the floor as in his mouth. And Annie says, "Hey, maybe this little guy is not so bad after all..." We actually have to put Annie behind the gate otherwise Joshua will intentionally throw food down to her. And while I really believe Annie is absolutely safe with children, I don't want anyone to worry - we never leave the two of them alone.

    And I promise, we do actually dress him. We are just a little low on clothes since he is already wearing size 24 month and I had mostly 18 month sized clothing. The shorts that went with this shirt are too small for him, so rather than fight to take off this shirt I just let him wear it with a diaper.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    First Days at Home

    We are continuing to do well. The first night we were home (Saturday) Joshua grieved a lot and was up most of the night. The following day he was a little fussy and I could see he was very anxious at times, especially if I was out of his sight for even a second. He did laugh and play, but he was definitely a more subdued version of the little guy we met Friday night. The second night he grieved, but not quite as hard as the first night. He also wakes up somewhere between 10pm and 12am every night and then doesn't go back to sleep until  around 4am due to the jet lag. The good news is that while he may have a slight preference for me, he will go to John without crying and will allow John to do any task he allows me to do. This has been a huge blessing because it has meant we have been able to take turns at night. He really didn't grieve much at all the third night, but when he woke up he started looking around and then started crying. To be honest, I am very surprised. I really expected that we would have a very difficult transition. This doesn't mean things won't get more difficult as time goes by and Joshua realizes more and more that this is not a temporary situation. We will just continue to take it one day at a time and see how it goes.

    These pictures don't fully capture his personality, but hopefully give some sense of who he is. Doing so would probably require a better camera and a better photographer. :-) We also have some videos I will try to upload as soon as I can.

    Bubbles with daddy

    I didn't expect him to get into everything so readily, especially with all that he is going through right now, but he discovered these puzzles on the shelves underneath the coffee table all on his own. 

    He loves, loves, loves water - doesn't matter if its the bath or the pool. I got this pool on clearance at Target for less than $3.

    At first we were feeding him more baby like food, but he is actually WAY more interested in eating what we are eating. So we have been putting him in booster high chair and eating dinner together.

    He loves banging blocks together

    and putting them in his mouth

    Checking out the crib - "hey, this doesn't seem like such a bad place..."

    Eating with daddy

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Airplane Day

    Our first night with Joshua went very well, he actually slept the whole night through. I, on the other hand, had typical new mom anxiety and had to keep checking that he was still breathing. :-)

    The next morning we just hung out in our room at the guest house and played and fed Joshua until it was time to leave. Here he is playing with daddy.

    Our first picture as a family of 3, taken right before we left for the airport.

    Joshua was such a trooper on the plane ride home. At almost 30 pounds (yikes! and yes, my arms already hurt), he is too big for the bassinet. However, Korean Air was awesome and blocked off the middle seat for us so that we would have 3 seats in a row. Joshua played, ate, and actually slept for quite a bit of the flight. He got fussy a couple of times, but we actually didn't have the airplane meltdown I had been dreading. And in a bid for the mom of the year award, I let my less than 2 year old watch Pororo ( a popular kids cartoon in Korea) on the seat back TV, which seemed to help avert a meltdown the one time I thought one might be coming. I am pretty sure he was allowed to watch TV in Korea because he is mesmerized by it.

    Here he is playing at LAX as we waited to board the flight to Tucson.

    He loves this ball - we actually almost didn't bring it!

    I really felt the prayers for our flight because it seriously could not have gone any better. My friend Christy and my new friend Stacey met us at the airport and took pictures. Hopefully, there will be a few good ones to share, I know I was looking pretty rough after such a long day and being sick.

    Here he is in one of the first moments after being home. First I took him and showed him his room and the family room where his toys are and then I showed him his pictures, pointing to each one and saying JoonSeo, JoonSeo, ....and then back at him. He smiled and laughed each time.

     I wasn't sure about giving him a bath, but the updates we received said he loves his bath, so I figured I would give it a try - he loves taking a bath! This picture really doesn't capture just how much fun he thinks it is. Now I know why you need a high speed camera with kids. I just can't seem to take the pictures fast enough to really capture the moment and show his personality.

    So that was our first day with Joshua. And it was wonderful!!!!!!!

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Forever Family Day

    Our second meeting with Joshua and his foster mother wasn't until 3pm on Friday so we decided to go to Seoul Tower that morning before the meeting. There is a tradition of couples going up to Seoul Tower and placing a lock together to symbolize their endless love. Among adoptive families it has now become somewhat of a tradition to place a lock at Seoul Tower as a symbol of their endless love for their child. I was so happy that John and I were able to do this on our actual Family Day.

    The time finally came and we had our meeting with Joshua's foster mom. She and I were both crying almost the entire time. She left for a bit to see how Joshua would do without her. We ended up rocking him to sleep with John singing and me holding him on my shoulder.

    Then the time came. We all gathered around and Dr. Kim prayed over both the children (there was one other family with us) and their foster families. Here is the English translation of the prayer:

    Precious life, one of our many country’s saviors, we send away this life to a foreign country with scarred memories of his homeland.

    Please forgive our sins and allow Korea to be a better country so that we will adopt children [someday] from other countries instead of us always sending ours away.

    We send this child for care, so please protect his life.
    And make it so that he can lead a happy life in his new home.

    Please always provide him with grace and intelligence and lead him to live by the rules of Jesus Christ, To have all good fortunes, to help benefit others, and to return the glory to our Lord.

    It is our sincere wish that this life will not forget his home country and the love of the people who took care of him.

    Father, please remember all the foster families who work hard, whether in favorable or unfavorable conditions, to protect these lives. And bless them for the benefits they are provided with.

    By Your blessings, this adoptive family will be full of love and under Your protection.

    Now this child leaves. Please make his way as easy as possible and lead him to the most pleasant of lives.

    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    After the ceremony, his foster mother took a few more moments with JoonSeo and then placed him in John's arms. I hugged her and gave her the flowers we bought for her. She then hid in the office while we walked upstairs to our room in the guest house.

    Here are a first pictures with our boy:

    Later that night we joined some of the other families in the kitchen and let the kids play together. This is when we got to see a bit of JoonSeo's personality, what one of the other families called "hurricane Joshua."

    I still can't believe he is finally in my arms. I really never thought we would ever get to bring him home. I was sure something would happen to cause the whole thing to fall apart. For those of you waiting, know that those feelings are not real. Our children really do come home!

    I can't get over how blessed I am to be a mom to such an amazing little boy.

    We are Home!!!

    We are home and doing well. Joshua did amazing his first night with us and on the plane ride home. I was actually shocked at how well he did, I never would have imagined it would go so well. Thank you all for your prayers. Last night was a bit rougher, I think it finally hit him that he is no longer with his umma and ahpa (foster mother and father in Korea). He fell asleep around 8pm after we got home, but woke up about an hour and half later crying inconsolable. He cried so hard he threw up all over me. I just rocked him and also cried. I wish I could fix it, but I can't, all I can do is comfort him the best I can. Eventually, he fell back to sleep, but woke up around 2am (gotta love the jet lag!) and decided it was play time. So mommy and Joshua played and cuddled until 4am and then it was daddy's turn. Daddy and Joshua played for a little while and then John put him in the carry and he fell back to sleep around 6am and we all slept until 11am. I think Joshua is definitely handling his grief by wanting to sleep a lot right now. Plus he is sick with a cold. And now mommy and daddy are also sick with colds. Talk about a quick initiation into parenthood!

    We are both just enjoying playing and cuddling with Joshua so much. He is a very happy and easy going kid. He loves to smile, giggle, clap his hands, and do manseh (raising your hands over your head, similar to hooray in English). I am seriously blown away that I get to be mom to such an amazing kid. Another family at the guest house nicknamed him "hurricane Joshua" and it is fitting. He is a force of nature. He was playing at the guest house with some of the other kids and hugged/tackled another little boy. He would bat the ball across the floor and take off crawling as fast as he could after it. Then he would put the ball in his mouth and crawl back as fast as he could. I will try to post pictures and write more about him very soon.

    We are so very blessed!

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Finally a Family of 3!!!!!

    We are overjoyed to finally be a family of 3!!!! No time to upload pictures right now, we are busy playing with our boy and having fun. Things are going really well so far, but please keep us in your prayers. Please also pray for Joshua's foster mother as today was a very hard day for her.

    John, Becky, and Joshua JoonSeo

    Together Forever 9-2-2011

    To God be the Glory, Great things He hath done!!!!