November 30, 2013
December 7, 2013
As of this Monday, December 9th, we will have had Maggie for 3 months. The time has raced by, and I can hardly believe it has been that long! Yet in another way it feels as if she has always been with us. I am thankful to God that her adjustment to our family has been so easy and our attachment is already so strong. I am thrilled that she has a tight bond with all our children. They have all taken to often calling her “Little Mags” or just “Mags” for short.
Celebrating our anniversary
We will be “celebrating” our 3 month anniversary with Maggie in Birmingham on Monday, where she will be having her first surgery to repair her lip and nose. She will also get tubes in her ears and the audiologist will perform a special test of her hearing nerve while she is under anesthesia since she did not pass her first hearing screen. Please join us in praying that her surgery will go well, that recovery will be smooth, and that she will have no permanent hearing loss.
Maggie’s first Thanksgiving. Look at how much weight she has already gained!
Three weeks ago we went back to the occupational therapist at the International Adoption clinic. She gave me some new exercises to work on with Maggie. In the past three weeks I have seen her continue to get stronger and stronger–she is amazing me!
She still sits on her yoga ball and bounces for several minutes once or twice a day. When we started these exercises in October I had to hold her under her arms by her rib cage, and eventually I was able to hold her by the hips–now her stomach muscles have gotten so strong that I can hold her thighs while she bounces. To strengthen her core further, after a minute or two of bouncing, I roll the ball to either side and back, while she is still sitting on it, so she has to stretch to counter the movement and keep from sliding off. Of course I am holding her–but if I roll the ball to the left, she leans to the right to keep her balance. This exercise has been great for her, and she loves it!
She also still spends some time up on her knees while on the ball, and she surprised me about a week ago by getting up on her hands all by herself while she was on the ball–usually I have to pull her hands up under her after I get her up on her knees. This week she even got into a crawling position once all by herself on the floor. She didn’t stay that way for long, but this is a big step for a little girl who could not tolerate being on her knees for even a second just a couple short months ago.
I will truly miss this sweet smile!
She loves doing her exercises now! She laughs with glee and smiles to herself, and puffs up her chest proudly when she does a good job. Sometimes she even claps for herself!
She has started sitting straight up (from a lying down position) sometimes when she is on my lap, and yesterday she did it without even needing help–once again, it is because her stomach muscles are getting stronger so she can sit straight up without needing help!
She is trying to pull up to stand–unsuccessfully so far, but she is trying. If I put her in a standing position she can stay that way without any help or support for quite awhile–several minutes. She even trusts herself enough to let go with one hand if she wants to reach for something. She can do this with either hand while on her knees now in a crawling position, too.
Mags has invented a new way of “crawling” since she still isn’t comfortable moving on all fours. For quite awhile she did an army crawl, pulling herself along with her arms. Now she scoots all over on her rear end, pulling herself along by stretching out her feet and then bending her knees to scoot forward. She has gotten pretty quick, and can’t be left unattended for a moment anymore. It used to be that wherever she was placed, there she would stay–but now she has become quite mobile.
Her fine motor skills are getting better, too. When we met her almost three months ago she couldn’t hold anything in her fingers, and she couldn’t find her own mouth. Now we have to watch her like a hawk as she finds popcorn seeds and bits of paper on the floor and easily gets them into her mouth.
She has gotten more teeth–two more have started to poke through (one on top, one on bottom) in the past two weeks, for a grand total of six now.
Her hair is getting longer and can be put into little pony tails. She is such a cutie pie!
We have been working on sign language, too, and she can wave bye bye, can sign “all done”, and she often claps to imitate the sign for “more”. We are currently working on teaching the sign for “thirsty”. She is playing more and interacting so much more with her environment. We can see the wheels turning in her brain, and it is a joy to watch. She is so smart and so determined. She never misses a trick and doesn’t easily forget her purposes even when we try to distract her. Sometimes I even wonder if she is plotting how she will accomplish her goals.
For example, she has been redirected dozens of times for trying to pull on electrical cords. As soon as we brought our Christmas tree upstairs she immediately noticed that it had a dangling cord (which hadn’t been plugged in yet as it was brought up in pieces). She headed straight for that cord as fast as she could go, intent on accomplishing her ultimate goal of tasting an electrical cord. Of course she was quickly caught–she always seems surprised that we can guess what she is up to!
Filling the Advent calendars with my girls
Sleep problems have continued but they are definitely getting MUCH better than they were two weeks ago when I wrote my last post. I am still having some trouble laying her down–if she gets overtired and starts to fall asleep while drinking her bottle I can usually count on it not going well. If she falls asleep or dozes in my arms, she HATES for me to lay her down. I wish I could hold her for two hours while she naps but since she is our sixth child that is usually nigh on impossible. I have gotten pretty good at transferring her to her bed without waking her, but it isn’t foolproof and if she does wake up she is so upset about being laid down by mommy that she often won’t go back to sleep at all. I have more success if I can keep her awake until time to lay down. She complains a little bit about that but she usually goes right to sleep pretty quickly. This is what we are dealing with both at night and at nap time.
Sometimes she is waking up now with what I think may be a night terror–I am not sure. She wakes up crying sometimes and yet her eyes are closed and she doesn’t seem to really be “awake”. If I can get to her quickly and rock her in my arms from side to side while her eyes are still closed I can often get her to go right back to sleep and to stop crying almost immediately. If she opens her eyes, though, it is like she “wakes up” and then it can take a long time to get her back down–and if it happens at nap time then she typically won’t go back down at all.
I didn’t realize we would still be dealing with sleep issues three months out and that part has been hard. I am very tired. Our 3 year old daughter is doing better about sleeping through the night but she is still waking me up once in the night about 50% of the time. This is improvement, but I am often up with one of them and sometimes still with both. I have had a couple nights in recent memory where both girls slept all night, and that was wonderful. That is the goal we are aiming for, and I hope we will get there soon! At this point, our older bio daughter is waking me up more often than our adopted daughter.
Dancing with one of her bros
I had a slight worry last week that her bonding with me was suffering because I have been much busier lately now that our “cocooning time” is past. There have been times when I feared she was attaching more to the kids and was not as interested in being with me.
I have struggled, too, when she refuses to sleep for me. Her sleep patterns are getting much better but for awhile there she was waking up and refusing to be comforted by me–arching her back and kicking to get away from me, but shrieking in anguish if I dared to put her down. That was frustrating and didn’t feel too good.
Thankfully I realized how it was affecting me and had a good talk with the post adoption counselor at Lifeline. She gave me some tips and ideas and, most of all, support. I know there are times, such as during night terrors, when a child cannot be comforted–but we are there to offer comfort anyway, even if it is rebuffed. I have experimented and found some positions she likes to be held in, which almost always calm her down fairly quickly. That is helping, too. Moving her into her own room has been a big help–she doesn’t wake nearly so often now that she isn’t sleeping in our room. After working through these issues for a couple weeks, now she is much more easily comforted when she wakes up. Maybe I have learned her preferences or she has learned to relax when I am there–or maybe both. Her nighttime rages have stopped and when she does cry out for me she wants my comfort. She is no longer trying to get me to play with her half the night, either–she seems to have accepted that nighttime is for sleeping.
Bonding is a two way street–if she pulls away from me it will make me feel further from her, and vice versa. I made a conscious effort to slow down and try to have more face time with her, and to carry her more. It is getting hard to carry her now that she is well past 20 pounds, and my 43 year old back is definitely feeling it. But she has responded well to me slowing down a bit more again, and our bonding is back on track and going great.
Maggie’s lip and nose surgery is coming up quickly. It will likely help in her attachment process. She will be in pain and I will be there to comfort her. That cycle of her needing help and me meeting her need should continue to reinforce her trust in me.
Please pray for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery!