Thursday, January 10, 2013

Morning Sickness?

We got an email from the new host family a couple days ago that said they were enjoying the kids.  All I can say is THANK GOODNESS.  And after yesterday, I am extremely grateful that it all worked out.

Whoever named morning sickness never had it.  It's a total crock.  24/7 sickness is more like it.   I think someone called it morning sickness because they knew no one would ever get pregnant if they knew what was really going to happen.  All I keep thinking is...45 more days of this??? REALLY???  It makes you want to just die.

Yesterday afternoon I was still super nauseous, but suddenly the room started spinning too.  If you can only think of one thing that really goes well with nausea, I'd say it would have to be a spinning room.  What a ride!

After it continued for an hour, I decided to call the OBGYN I had just made an appointment with to ask if this was normal.  I got the hotline, left a message and a few minutes later a nurse called back.  No niceties, just a simple, "Please go to the emergency room immediately."

She didn't get real specific on the problem, but said minimally I was probably very dehydrated.  This made me a little nervous and so I looked up webmd and discovered that if you are dizzy, nauseous and have cramping (I do) that it could be an ectopic pregancy.  Of course I went to the worst possible place and got really freaked out.

James was on his way home luckily and so we went straight to the ER.  We spent 6 hours there.  They did every blood and urine test imaginable.  I got an ultrasound and they pumped me full of fluids.

In the end it was a blessing because all the testing reassured us that the baby was OK, it was not ectopic, and James was thrilled to see on the ultrasound screen a teeny, tiny little speck of something with a beating heart.

The only thing I kept thinking was thank goodness we followed the prompting last week to find a place for the kids and thank goodness it all fell in to place because I have no idea what we would have done with them in the ER for 6 hours.  Or how I would have managed to successfully avoid the spitting and blows while the room was spinning.  A little weak humor.

We did get a secondary report today that things have been a little crazy with the kids, especially you-know-who.  I guess the newness wore off for him and he revereted to his comfort zone.  Sad face.  We did hear that Dana said she, "missed her papa" and that Sasha said the best part of his trip was, "spending time with James and Shauri."

This of course melts my heart and makes me sad.  But I know we are doing the right thing.  James will take them to the airport on Saturday with the blessed Melinda Richards, keeping me from having to add motion sickness and travel to morning sickness.  Bless her.  I think it will be very hard for James to say goodbye.  And I will celebrate my birthday in bed wishing that I wanted to all...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Das Vedanya Comrades

Yesterday was a perfect day with the kids. 

James took the boys down to the air and space museum and the botanical gardens and out to lunch.  He said they were in heaven and loved every minute of it.  Which is great considering how Sasha refused to get out of the car when I dropped them off, and gave us his best angry slamming of the car door as he got out.  But hey, he loved it.

Dana and I went shopping for their suitcases, which she informed me in angry Russian, "wasn't shopping."  But I like to think we still enjoyed our girl time.

Later that day there was a hike with the Ellises, of which the highlight was Abram swinging from a tree branch that apparently wasn't well connected or connected at all and taking a plunge in some icy river/stream water.  I'm pretty sure the kids enjoyed that.

And the finale was pizza knuckles and pasta followed by the Guardians movie.  We lucked out and randomly got a Russian speaking server at the restaurant who made the whole ordering process smooth and gave the kids special attention.  We already loved Delia's, but now it is the ultimate favorite restaurant in D.C. 

It was a good day.  A perfect day.  I was so happy that our last full day with them went so well and took it as a good omen. 

Today was our last day.  And we were dreading "The Conversation" which Jason Cash will agree is much more deserving of a title than "The Decision" of a couple years ago.  (Shout out Jason!)

We sat the kids down and with our translator told them that they would be going to a new home for one week before they returned to Latvia.  I waited for the explosions, the tears, the throwing of dishes....
One question, "Why do we have to go?" 
We told them that mama was really sick right now and needed to rest in bed.  Sasha nodded and commented, "Yes, she's been getting sicker every day." 

And in fact, he drew me a picture while I was in bed this morning that showed 4 stages:  Mama throwing up, mama in bed looking dead, an ambulance, and then mama feeling better.  I also love how he titled it in English words, "Mamma Cek."  (mama sick.)

So, all told, I think he got it.

Still, I thought their would be some intense emotion.  Not so much.

I was relieved, because ultimately I just worried that the kids might take it personally or be distraught.  We spent the day together, including going to the wrong church meeting...yes, they changed our time with the New Year - surprise!  And when the time came for the new couple to arrive, we gave them their new backpacks, filled with their toys.  They were so happy and excited (Thank you Nancy Hegedus!) and really loved them. 

The couple arrived and gave them little presents and they pretty much just started looking for their coats and shoes, put on their backpacks and Dos vedanya Comrades!

We played a few of our little games and jokes with them to teach the new couple, but the kids were already talking and telling them stories, Aloysia had greeted them with a big hug, and even Sasha looked happy and interested.  I was so relieved and continued to feel peace about our decision.  It helped to meet this couple and feel their warmth as well.

We loaded them up, I waved goodbye and they blew me kisses from the window with big smiles.  I turned and walked in the house....and my heart broke a little.  Empty house.  Silence.  All I had wanted was peace and quiet and rest, and here it was in front of me....and it kind of hurt. 

Talk about a compacted version of life.  We went from what felt like giving birth, to empty nesters in 3 weeks.  And experienced every emotion and stage in between.  I feel spent, nauseous, and sad. 

I don't know what the future holds for us or those darling, devious buns.  It's OK, I know that's life.  I just need a minute.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Decision Time

(Pictures courtesy of Rachel Brinton)

I realize it may look a little odd/bad that the last thing I wrote was "I will only write positive things going forward" and then I stopped writing.  This was not intentional.

I want to play a little catch up.  A lot has happened.

The day after I wrote my new positivity goal, I actually had a great day.  I felt like my old self, and I think it was largely because I decided to let go of some of the small stuff and not fight every fight.  Let them work things out for themselves, let Aloysia go a little crazy if he needed to and not chase him or deal with him or punish him.  I don't have to teach them everything - especially not in 1 month.

Of course by the time 4pm rolled around I was a crying heap on the floor again, and the tantrums became un-ignore-able, BUT hey, progress.  I went 9 hours in a positive frame of mind.  It's the simple things friends.

Overall the last couple of days in Michigan felt better to me.  I spent less time in the dark cloud of despair and more time happy, although always lurking in the back of my mind was the knowledge that soon I must return to D.C....alone again with the kids.

There was one particularly tough night with Aloysia.  It was Sunday and he seemed to go from tantrum, to tantrum to tantrum.  He broke my parents doors, ripped up DVDs, and seemed bent on destroying all in his path.  Even my saintly husband finally reached his boiling point.  Every bedtime he takes Alyosia into a separate dark room and tries to put him to sleep away from the other two so that he isn't a distraction.  He endures spit all over his face and clothes, punches, kicks and head butts before the child goes to sleep at last in exhaustion.  James was with him for about 30 minutes when he finally came out and handed him to me.  He said, "I can't."  Tonight he had been bit and had a hard object thrown at his head and I think he was ready to kill Alyosia.  He knew his limits and handed him off.

I of course was at the end of my rope, because when haven't I been on this journey with the buns and suddenly I thought of what my dad had told me to do earlier that day.  After witnessing one of Alyosia's outrages and the damage he did to people and things, my wise father told me to duck tape his hands and feet.  That way he couldn't hurt anyone.  It sounded crazy, and I think you'll agree it is...but at that moment in my crazed and tired mind I thought....well, my dad is a good man...he wouldn't suggest it if it wasn't OK.

So I went upstairs and got Duck Tape from Shawn and Lisa who were appalled.  Shawn followed me down and said he would take Aloysia, and then James came around the corner and saw Shawn with Aloysia and me with duck tape at hand, and in his own words, "He snapped back and felt capable of taking Aloysia back on."  He couldn't believe I had even considered it.  I told him it was my dad's idea and he said that he was going to have a serious talk with my dad.  One which I might add, I would have liked to witness.

It was all real and crazy at the time....and it became pretty funny the next day when we thought about it.  Although I'm sure it wouldn't have been funny at all if we had actually done it.  In my dad's defense, I do think he was just trying to protect us and Aloysia and didn't think of it as the crazy punishment it would have been.  Or maybe he was joking.  But... I don't think so.

The car trip home was relatively uneventful, and we made good time.

Arriving home we had a Latvian chaperone come and stay with us.  She has been a Godsend.  She can speak to the buns in their language and help us to understand each other.  She quiets them and has been more than willing to take them downstairs to play when I think I'm going to lose my cookies or I hit a fatigue wall.  Bless her name forever.

She usually goes out with friends she met in D.C. at night, and at dinner the last two nights we have had pine cones thrown at us from short range while we tried to ignore them, dinner plates full of food  thrown, Water tossed all over the food and one of my good plates broken.  But all good fun right?  Who doesn't love a food fight?

Through the course of the week, James and I changed our perspective which has been a blessing.  The first week and a half was literally all about survival and wondering if WE could do this thing.  After we caught our breath and talked we tried to change our frame of reference to the buns and what was best for them.

We realized that in all likelihood we would not be able to adopt the children because of the timing of our trip to Tbilisi and my pregnancy.  Even though we had talked about finding a backup host family for them, we were never really ready to let go.  We still wanted to maintain the chance to adopt.  As we thought about timing and the children we realized we were being selfish.  That if we couldn't adopt them, we should give them a chance while they were here in America to meet a family that could.  There was still much debate, and we still had and are having a hard time thinking of letting go, but I'll share James' gratitude email from this morning to sum up where we now stand:

"Since we returned from Michigan earlier this week, a few things have changed.  One, Shauri's fatigue and morning sickness have gotten worse.  Two, little Alyosha's outbursts have increased in intensity and frequency.  Three, Shauri and I realized more and more clearly that even if everything worked out, it would be nearly impossible for us to adopt these three little ones in the near future and have the baby and move to Georgia and start our new life there.

Yesterday morning I called Delsa and talked with her about everything going on including the doctor telling Shauri that she could not have stress during this part of the pregnancy.  Delsa asked me what I felt was the right thing to do, and when she said that I knew I needed to seek God's mind and help in determining what to do.  I wrote Shauri an email.  In the email I said I thought we either needed another adult to help with the kids or we needed to find a backup family to take them in.  Although the idea of the little ones going to another home made me sad, I felt peace as I wrote the email.

Later Shauri and I talked and she said she really didn't want the kids to go to a different home unless it were in their best long-term interests.  Shauri felt it was important to only give them to a backup family if there were a good chance that family might adopt them.  We agreed to keep praying about it and talk together at the end of the day.

Last night we received a surprising email: a family in Fairfax, VA, who has hosted twice before would be interested in hosting and possibly adopting the kids.  They have no children of their own.  Shauri and I had a long conversation with them last night on the phone and they want to pick up the little ones after church on Sunday.  The wife asked, "When did you tell the program coordinator you wanted a backup family?"  We told her we had been communicating with her all along but that we hadn't decided until the night before.  The woman told us she had just seen the online announcement yesterday and was surprised by how close we were geographically.  She said they had been looking for a sibling set that was just the ages of these children.  We were all startled by the timing.

I am thankful to know these little ones and to love them.  I am thankful for God's love for them.  I am grateful for the couple we talked to on the phone last night.  I am thankful to clarify my purpose and priorities and seek God's love and will."

We have the kids until Sunday afternoon.  As I woke up this morning, I smelled pancakes cooking and Sasha came running up to get me out of bed where I was swimming in nasuea.  He told me "Presents! Presents!  Sasha make presents mama."  He had helped James to make me pancakes and breakfast and was so proud.

I felt a little twinge as I thought about these kids moving on.  I've wondered and been frustrated by the fact that I hadn't felt very connected to them, but I saw clearly in this moment that there is something there.  I will miss these little buns.  At times I've felt like they would kill me or I would kill them.  I never thought we would make it through this journey.  But yesterday I went through photos and videos we and others have taken during their visit and I saw all the little things I loved and the fun and funny moments more clearly.  I realized that no matter how right this feels and how much confirmation we have felt that it is the right crying won't end when they leave.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Choice

The pregnancy thing was a surprise.  It strikes me as odd that when we were trying for the allotted 4-5 months it didn't happen, but that the instant our lives devolve in to chaos, we can, with no effort at all, IN FACT,  with some concerted avoidance, get pregnant.  It does make you think there is some higher power at work here, and that there is some crazy plan that no HUMAN mind would imagine or design.  At least any sane one.

This idea of a plan is going to bring me comfort.  This is my choice.  One day I will look back and understand why it went down like this.  Yes.  I will.

Yesterday was a breaking point.  Admittedly my emotions have been haywire - beyond PMS - and I've felt exhausted and a little sick, so I can't really tell how much of the crapola going on here is the children's behavior and our language issues and how much is hormonal.  I may never know.  But I do think they are generally good kids who are as frustrated as we are that we don't understand each other.  Especially the oldest and youngest.

The middle bun is my challenge.  I think it is clear that if we could communicate we could solve some problems, but it is also clear that he does have some emotional and behavioral issues as well.  Yesterday I told him we were all going out and as I tried to get his socks and shoes on him he suddenly and for no apparent reason had a huge meltdown. Number 3 of that day.  I was frustrated which didn't help, and was trying to force the socks on with Lisa's help. 

He went ballistic and he punched me in the face and then followed that up with a nice kick to the face.  It hurt, but mostly it shocked me as no one has ever done such a thing before.  They may have wanted to...but they haven't.  I was so shocked and so angry that I shoved him away from me and smacked him in the chest.  It was a pure adrenaline reaction and after I did it I was furious and I started to cry.  I yelled something angry and ran out of the room and locked myself in the study.  And sobbed. 

I was crying because I was angry at myself.  I was disappointed in myself for hitting him - it didn't hurt him at all - but I hated losing control in that way.  I was crying because I hated this situation and because I feel so emotionally wound up and because I feel like a bad person.  I don't feel like I love these kids and how could I not?  Who wouldn't love poor little orphans?  I feel like a monster. 

In a day I usually go from feeling dead inside, to feeling sad, to feeling rage, to feeling hopeless.   I feel so much fear that the emotions I have will impact the bun in my luke-warm oven. I can also see myself alienating others who want to help.  Why would I do this?  I don't like myself like this. At all.

After my meltdown, I decided I needed to find a backup host family for the kids.  I knew I would feel terrible doing that and that people would think I was a jerk, and that it might make the kids feel terrible.  But I can I keep them?  What if I hit one of them again?  What if I miscarry?  What if I feel THIS terrible for 15 more days?  One day feels like a lifetime!

I cried for a long time. 
And then I napped for 30 minutes and calmed down.

My mom and my dad gave me the great comfort of telling me that I am focusing too much on the negative and that I need to shift my focus.  Ah-ha!  What a great idea!  Oh wait- all I FEEL IS NEGATIVE.  Hard to focus elsewhere when all you have in front of you is negative.  It's a brilliant idea if it were at all possible.  This counsel made me a little angry too.

Last night we went to see Les Miserables.  For whatever reason, it inspired me.  I felt renewed.  I decided I would try.  I will try to re-focus and to look for the good.  To find God's hand in the events of the day.  I would t-r-y. 

I don't know if I can do it, or for how long, but I see enough light through the foggy, ugly mess to give it a shot.  So here is my vow: my next posts will have only positive messages about the children and how I feel.  I will start by saying that when Aloysia threw Dana off the trampoline today, he did it in a way that did not break any bones or cause new bumps on her head.  And he looked very strong and graceful doing it.

Deep Breath.

If my hormones rage, I will try my best to go be alone, work through it and come out victorious.  If Aloysia kicks me in the face I will try to just walk away and not respond.  If I feel completely hopeless, I may still cry, but I will pick myself up and move on.  I may be exhausted and not want to play with the children, but that's what DVDs are for.

This may not work - but I don't want to be miserable or les miserables any more.  I don't want to alienate those I love. And most of all, I recognize that whether it is 30 days or 30 years, I'm choosing the life I live.  No matter how hard it is, I still chose the lens I look through.  So hormones beware!  I'm taking you on...I may lose some battles but I intend to win the war.

(DC friends:  Can I now accept your playdates and offers?  I'm back Jan 2, and am ready for help! :))

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Well This Explains a Lot

Sometimes I just don't understand.

This month just got a lot more exciting.  Nothing like adding exhaustion, nausea and some other obvious complications to the mix.

I'm sure James and I will be very happy when we have time to consider this blessed news in mid-January.

Now if you could just excuse me while I cry again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

He's an Angry Elf

About a month ago as I shopped for little presents, and cooked and froze meals and treats, and put together craft projects and bought Christmas movies for children, I pictured in my little secret heart a warm and tender Christmas filled with joy.  I pictured a real Hallmark made for TV movie starring me.

I thought, these kids may have their troubles, but they will be so grateful for a Christmas filled with family, and love and special presents just for them that as I watch them and share it with them....well, my heart will probably grow 3 sizes that day.

Let's start with Christmas Eve.  One of my little preparations was that age old cheese-ball family tradition of opening matching pj's to sleep in.  I got all of us matching red and green stripes EXCEPT James.  Unbeknownst to him of course.  I got him green thermal pants and a green elf pj top.  I knew it would look hilarious, and in my little wishful heart I pictured the kids and me laughing and laughing as he opened his up.  We would all share in the little joke of how funny papa would look.

This is how it went down.  I handed out the presents and Sasha started telling me a long angry story in Russian in which the only words I could pick out were: Latvia, Pajamas, stupid, and I don't wear them.  He only guessed they were pajamas, but he was right.  When he opened them he said (and imagine an angry Russian accent) "Pajamas...niet!  Pajamas....yuck!" and then picture him throwing them only half unwrapped to the floor.

Aloysia only unwrapped and put his on after seeing me start to cry a little, and Dana bless her sweet heart was actually excited and happily changed. 

When James opened his, the rest of the family laughed, but none of our little buns were to be seen.  He agreed in good sportsmanlike manner to change in to them.  And it was the only thing that made me laugh all day.  And I will admit I laughed HARD.  Not that they didn't look splendid - not many men can truly pull off an elf outit like him.  Only Will Ferrel I'd say. 

We attempted to take a family picture that did not include Sasha, and I'll post the results of that tomorrow.  Compared to the Ellis family all holding hands and dancing in a circle singing in their matching pjs, we looked like the Bundy's compared to their Cosby show.

The angry elf part came in a bit later that evening.  I will say only took us 3 hours to put Aloysia to bed.  The 3 hours invovles us chasing him, James being bit, spit at and kicked and punched by him.  It involves screaming, and crying and finally James play wrestling with him for an hour to try to wear him out.  It is the most painful process I have ever been witness to, and these pictures show James post-wrestling match.  He emerged from the den covered in sweat in his amazing elf pajamas, tired but feeling victorious at last.

As he watched...thinking Aloysia would quietly march to bed now, the young bun dashed from the room, saw his "cousin's" full size Barbie santa gift standing in the living room, ran to it and assaulted it in a way that must have truly left her feeling violated.  And my angry elf husband began the wrestling again.

Our children were far from nestled all snug in their beds, and so began our Christmas miracle.  More Elf meets Freddy Kruger than It's a Wonderful Life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


We are in Michigan....haulleluia. 

James and I were driving here and as we drove along in RUSH HOUR I laughed and smiled and felt all kinds of lightness.  And I suddnely realized:  I'm happy because we're leaving.  I hate driving on long road trips, and this was the happiest moment of my week.  I felt like I was tasting sweet freedom - it was in my reach.  Big houses and  yards with plenty of place to play, and lots and lots of adults and kids and toys to distract the buns.  OH JOY.

I don't have much time, so I'll do a few quick highlights of the last few days.

1.  The kids love running up and down the stairs.  This is not great in our tiny town house with close neighbors.  It is also not great because Dana has fallen down them head over heels twice.  We keep telling them to walk and showing them, and putting them in time out if they don't, but it never stops.  I can't believe no necks have been broken.  Since we've been here, she also tumbled down Shawn and Lisa's stairs.  But the mother of all stair falls happened at the Richards.  James took the kids over for a visit to his sister Andrea's house.  As he was preparing to leave they fled from him.  They ran down the stairs and Dana of course fell.  When James picked her up she suddenly melted and went unconscious.  I got a call from James that went as follows:
J:  I'm going to the emergency room.  Don't panic.
That's pretty much all I remember of our first conversation.
Long story short. She's OK, but has a big goose-egg.  I have 12 new white hairs.  I should be fully white in one month.

2.  The kids love being in Michigan.  They have loved playing with all the kids, they have loved all the space and all the new toys and attention. 

Some of my favorite moments....
-  Dana playing "tickle" wth Garrett and running from him terrified. 
- Aloysia coming in from swimming and going to Grandpa at the dinner table to give him a big hug and tell him all about it.
- The kids calling Grandma "Babushka"
- A two hour shopping break with James yesterday. It only took me one of those hours to decompress, lose all the knots in my stomach and smile again.  That last hour was nice.

My least favorite moment?
Dana going to the bathroom yesterday with the lid up (the boys didn't put it down) and taking a dump, then falling in.  Screaming to me and I find her shirt, pants, bottom and legs soaking wet in pee and poo water and her crying. 

I feel much better here, and it's been such a relief having James and family and space, which leaves me wondering why I still cry a lot, and feel so tense?  I wonder if I'm depressed.  I'm trying to focus on the happy and positive, but I admit I'm terrified of the day we leave Michigan and return to Virginia.  I dread it more than I dreaded going to Baghdad.