Saturday, March 22, 2014

How we're doing after two months

Yikes -- I haven't posted for a whole month!  I guess that tells you a little bit about how things are going . . . I feel like I rarely have two hands free to type on our laptop. 

Kavya really likes being held, so much of my life these days finds one arm occupied holding her.  Since we missed out on the first two and a half years of her life, we have a lot of cuddle time to make up for.  Since so much is happening, I think I'll write in categories.  I hope this helps people waiting to travel -- I remember having so many questions after returning with Anya, even after reading books and attending trainings.

We finally had a day warm enough to play outside.

Bonding/Attachment
I think we are doing pretty well.  There seemed to be a healthy emotional atmosphere at her orphanage; the nuns would tap their cheeks to ask for a kiss, and there was lots of smiling and affection, which is helping so much now that she's home.  She has always been comfortable with things like eye contact.

In our first weeks, we would notice that when she was sad or overwhelmed, she would look away, and her facial expression would go "blank," for lack of a better word.  That has been happening less and less, so it was really noticeable last Sunday when we saw her do it again.  My mom's side of the family has a winter get-together for the adults, and we decided to pop in to say hi for a brief time.  Kavya did well, and we kept her close to us -- holding her, or taking turns going into the hallway so she could run a little bit.  But then we noticed her "blank" look, so we knew we needed to leave.  She did not wake up crying in the night, though --which she did in the first three weeks, anytime we had to go somewhere new (such as the doctor's office).  So she's definitely more comfortable with us, feeling safer even in a new place.

Kavya shows affection to Peter and me, and loves to be held.   One favorite bonding activity is the "I love you/A bushel and a peck" song.  She initiates it when she wants to give some love, and asks to have us do it to her.  She wants everyone in our family to do it, and will go right through the list of all our names. She has also transferred one of her orphanage coping behaviors to include me.  She used to rub her own tummy, neck, or ear to fall asleep, or when she was tired, or overwhelmed by a new or noisy environment.  Now, she likes to rub my neck in those situations.  She still does rub her own, but often will use me first, or instead of, her old behavior.  She also likes to pucker up and lift her face, requesting to give kisses to me and Peter. She is quick to seek comfort from us when she's hurt (and is enjoying a new discovery: ice packs for owies!).

We hadn't been around many non-family people until the past week or so, but she's gone to the grocery store with me three times now.  She doesn't initiate conversation or interaction with other women -- being trapped in cart helps with that, though!  We hosted our Bible study this week for the first time, and she seemed excited to have people over who weren't her Grandmas and Grandpas.  I think she might be an extrovert . . . I had a bowl of Dove chocolates on the coffee table, and she went around handing them out to the seven guests.  She didn't ask to sit on anyone's lap, or reach out her arms to be held, which was a good sign.

Dry bathing -- everyone needs a hobby, right?

Food
This continues to be one area of difficulty.  She is extremely picky about food, and still seems to be controlling all the newness by refusing lots of food.  Or she might just be a finicky eater -- we did notice at the orphanage that she left behind lots of food on her plate, and seemed to survive mostly on plain dhosas and plantains.  And biscuits and chocolate, of course!

Her weight has plateaued at 20 pounds (she weighed 17 pounds, 10 ounces at her medical appointment in Delhi).  Our doctor is hoping to see some more weight gain, and suggested switching to whole milk with Carnation Breakfast Essentials stirred in.  I always offer other foods first, and we do the milk last -- hopefully, she will be more likely to eat other foods if she's hungry. We have a weigh-in in 5 weeks to see if she has gained anything.  Meanwhile, I keep offering food that our family eats, plus a few staples I know she will eat:  Nutrigrain bars, medium cheddar cheese, oranges and peaches.

She did like two new things today.  I made beef stew, and she ate only the carrots (crazy baby!), and she ate some chocolate Cheerios.  She doesn't like many kid favorites, such as French fries.  But I did make some boxed macaroni & cheese last week, in my desperation to get calories in her -- and of course she liked that. :)

Bedtime and Naps
She is sleeping well at night in her sidecar crib next to us.  I always lie down with her and sing a few songs -- she usually requests songs with motions (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Jesus Loves Me w/sign language, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes), but has a few other favorites, such as the ABC song and Baa Baa Black Sheep. Then I pretend I'm asleep so she knows it's time for her to sleep. 

She rolls around a lot to get comfy, and often likes to rub my neck and her own.  Then she will often pull a blanket over her face to fall asleep.  She makes little sucking sounds when she falls asleep -- I think she couldn't suck her thumb because of her cleft palate (kids are unable to produce suction with the opening), so she sucks/rubs her tongue against the front of the roof of her mouth instead.

About once a week, she has a night when she has a hard time settling down.  What's been helping is for me to sit up in bed and hold her and rock her until she's sleeping, then lay her down.  Sometimes she will get sleepy, then point to her crib.  Then I lay her down and stay with her until she's out.

It's so different than with Anya -- Anya did a TON of night waking.  I thought I was going to lose my mind in the first few months.  Kids are so different -- Anya was such a great eater -- I guess they all show their reactions to all the newness in different ways. 

Kavya LOVES playing dress-up, and Anya is happy
to show her the ropes. Even if the costumes are size 2.

Language
She is picking up language amazingly quickly!  She has a few phrases with multiple words:  "close the door," "all done, Mama," and "bless you, Mama," after I sneeze.  She also has many combinations of nouns and verbs, such as "Daddy bye bye?"  She also knows how to ask for songs, usually using one word clues for me to pick up on.  She LOVES our bird feeder and the critters who eat there, and says "silly squirrel" in her accented toddler speak: "see-lee quirl-la." Our other kids love listening to her.  She also knows the word "adorable," because Anya says it several times a day about Kavya.  :o)

She also learned the phrase "happy birthday" this week. We have a wooden birthday cake toy with candles, and I sang the song for the first time.  Right away, we had to sing about everyone in our family, and Auntie, Grandmas and Grandpas.  Now she will sometimes say "happy birthday" in addition to "bye bye."  So cute!  I can't wait until we finally have a real birthday to celebrate so she can see what it's supposed to be about.

Health
She grew 1/2 inch in the past month, and her blood work came back with good indicators. She is slightly low in iron and vitamin D, but barely.  Her cleft repair seems to be good -- she sometimes seems to have a little trouble swallowing liquids though.  We will see an ENT in April to have her surgery site checked out by an expert.

Toddler Behaviors
The past week or so, we've seen some normal toddler behaviors that we didn't see before.  I wonder if she is feeling more secure with us, and not as worried about being on her best behavior at all times?  If that's the case, she's definitely "relaxing" enough to try out some new things.  She's hit Anya a few times when she didn't get her way, necessitating the first attachment-style discipline (going to sit in a chair and being told she needs to have "soft" (gentle) hands, and that she needs to say sorry or give a kiss.  And she's also been telling Peter and I when we're talking too much by making a pterodactyl noise (!) and repeating to try and get us to pay attention to her instead.  She also did this a few times when I was singing goodnight songs to Anya.  Little stinker!



How I'm doing
I had a friend ask how I'm doing -- mostly, people ask how Kavya is doing!   I've felt a little isolated during this cocoon stage, even though I've made a point of having a few friends pop in during her nap.  It feels good to be leaving the house with her for simple things like grocery shopping -- Peter had been doing that for the first 6 weeks or so.  He has been SO helpful and awesome following our return home! 

And we have had a TON of help from family and church friends -- different people made a dinner for us each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the first 6 weeks.  I am so grateful for that -- the craziest time of day is the time after school until dinner is cleaned up. Kavya would love to be held more as the day goes on, and that's when homework, driving to activities, making the meal and doing dishes are all happening.

I feel stretched many days -- and I feel like Anya misses parts of our old life . . . the parts where I could sit still and read to her, or do a craft activity with her.  She is probably the most affected by our new addition.  I've taken her on two dates in these months, which I hope to continue doing.

As an introvert  who now has all the noise and activity (and fun!) of four kids, I sometimes find my nerves are a little frayed by days' end.  During the week, while the kids are at school, I have Kavya's nap to recharge.  I will often run around to throw laundry in, etc., so I can preserve some precious time to read a book.  She only naps for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, so that time is precious!!

8 comments:

Karen said...

Thank you sooooo much for the update! It's just wonderful to get a little peek into your post-placement world. Seeing the pics of Anya, looking SO grown-up with little sis, is just priceless. Thanks for the honest details about the adjustments for everyone in your household - not just Kavya. I'm making many mental notes which I hope to employ ASAP!
:)
Karen

Julie & Patrick said...

Yes, thanks for the update. As always, your detailed account brings back so many memories of that adjustment time. Anya does look so grown up next to your newest wee one. Kavya sounds like quite the character and it is so nice to hear how well she is easing into her new life in her family. My girls like to imitate the video of her saying chocolate all the time!
Julie

Auburn said...

I love reading this update and the whole time I was nodding yes, yes, us too!, me too!

Miche said...

I love the update!! I hope our turn is soon! Love love love!

Lucy said...

Thanks so much for the update! It's wonderful to read all the details.

The Baisdens said...

Thank you so much for the update! It's great to read how you all are doing and to see Kavya and her precious personality! I really do appreciate how open and honest you are with the adjustment process. I'm taking many mental notes. Hoping we'll follow in your footsteps, soon!

April Pfeiffer said...

Thanks for the update. It sounds like Kavya is settling into your family quite well. She sure is a cutie and I can't believe how grown up Anya looks next to her little sister. So happy that you are all together and making memories everyday.

April :-)

Karly Frazier said...
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