Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home 3 Months and Some Important Truths

Our Henry has been home now 3 months. I still look at him in amazement that he's mine and he's here to stay! Instead of making this post a gush about how much we love him and bragging about all of his accomplishments, I feel called to share some truths about how our past 3 months have been. Many people outside of the realm of adoption do not understand the challenges that adopted children face. Very few of the people I am close to and interact with frequently have any idea about attachment and loss in adopted children. So here is our story:


The day we brought Henry home was the happiest day of our lives. We were thrilled beyond measure and couldn't believe that the day we had waited so long for had finally arrived. Day 2 is a little different story. We are overwhelmed and exhausted....still happy....but reality is setting in. Day 3 has me in tears right along with Henry and wondering if we've made a mistake. We trudge along this way for the first month. We slept very little and had to figure everything out. Before you think, "Oh, that's similar to how it would be with a newborn," please consider that our 25 lb. 11 month old was NO newborn! Think of his life until he got to us: He was placed in a loving foster home at 8 days old and remained with that same family for 11 months. They cared for all of his needs and provided him with the love and stability that most orphans do not get. To him, he HAD a mother--a kind Korean woman who has fostered children for the past 11 years. Her voice, her smell, her touch were all familar and comforting to him. Imagine what he's lost--his family, possessions, routine, familiar surroundings, even his language!


Needless to say, these losses have been traumatic to Henry. During the past 3 months Henry has been learning to trust us. We won him over quickly in the beginning (as he won us over!), but his sense of safety was very much shaken when he left his Korean foster family. In those early weeks we were together, he grieved at night for his other family--sobbing and screaming in his sleep. We got past that, but then he started acting out with temper tantrums. Things would get better, but changes seem to send Henry back into his stressed out state. For example, following the move from our house, he became very clingy and stopped sleeping well. Just as we get him settled and secure here in his new surroundings, he loses ground yet again when we leave him in a church nursery for an hour without us 2 weeks in a row. Even leaving him with James while I go elsewhere upsets him. This Monday evening I had to go help out my mom and James stayed here to give Henry his bottle and put him to bed like always. Henry, however, cried much of that night and was extremely clingy to me yesterday and acted out all day with temper tantrums and even hitting me. Today he was back to his usual silly, sweet self.


Honestly, looking back, I realize that I also had problems. I was overwhelmed, tired, and very stressed with my huge new responsibility. I didn't talk much about it because I felt inadequate as a mother. After all, what kind of mother sobs right along with her baby or gets so frustrated that she has to literally leave the room to protect the safety of her child? Tremendous guilt comes along with these feelings, and I didn't want anyone's help because that would amount to me admitting I needed it!


At the 3 month mark, we have all come a long way. He still has quite a long way to go before we can say he's completely happily attached to us, but I know that he will get there in his own time. I'm getting better too. Talking about it helps, especially to adoptive parents who know exactly what we've been through. This has been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also been the most wonderful. I love Henry Eun-wu more than I can put into words, and I'm so grateful that God gave me the awesome task of being his forever mommy!




Friday, September 25, 2009

Toothies

Henry has a new favorite thing--brushing his teeth! No doubt that it has something to do with the special sweet toddler toothpaste, but I'll take it! When we park him on the bathroom counter and the toothbrush ready he gets very excited and opens up really wide for us.

I just think he's the cutest thing ever!












Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Trip to the Hospital

It has been a rough week for us! Henry went to Cook Children's Hospital on Wednesday to have his ABR hearing test and CT scan of his auditory canal performed. Because of the duration of these tests, he had to undergo general anesthesia and be intubated. In retrospect, I was more nervous about all of this than I realized at the time. He could not eat or drink (except water or juice) all that morning, which for a little eater like Henry was torture! My mom went with us to the hospital and we arrived at 11:00, and waited around until 3:00 when they were ready to start his tests. You can imagine what state he was in by 3:00, not having eaten or napped like he usually does. I was feeling very frustrated trying to keep him entertained in the small pre-anesthesia room. By the time they came to get him, I was DONE (and so was he). However, all of my frustrations melted away when I saw my sweet baby boy on the table being put to sleep. Even though he wasn't having surgery or anything invasive done, I was still emotional about the situation. He did great, though! I expected him to wake up screaming, but he was sweetly drinking a bottle of apple juice when I saw him in recovery. I held my wobbly boy as they took out his IV and gushed over how cute he is.


On Friday, we went back to the ENT to discuss the results of the hearing test and CT scan. The news is very good!! Henry has normal hearing on his left side (the unaffected ear)...good hearing actually! There is no way to know what he's really hearing on his right side since the canal is completely closed, but the potential to hear is there. The audiologist compared it to having an ear plug. Probably some sound is getting through now, but not much. The doctor said that the CT scan shows that Henry is a good candidate for the surgery to create an ear canal so that he can use his right ear. He will have that surgery when he is around 4 or 5, depending on his size and development. Also, around then, he will have reconstructive ear surgery with a plastic surgeon. The ENT we go to is in a partnership with a facial plastic surgeon and they will collaborate on the surgeries. We will have our first appointment with the plastic surgeon next month to get an idea of what Henry's future surgery plan will be.

Our ENT does still recommend that Henry wear a hearing aid on his right side, despite having normal hearing in one ear. Both he and the audiologist explained that the main importance of having 2 functioning ears is to locate where sound is coming from and being able to distinguish conversation from background noise. He said that Henry would not have to wear the hearing aid all of the time-- just during important learning situations or when we are in noisy places. I will say that I've noticed that I have to make Henry look at me to get his attention in a loud place.
How does a kid who has no ear canal and a misshapen outer ear wear a hearing aid, you might wonder? Well, he will wear a hearing aid that conducts sound through the bone on a nifty little headband, that's how! Soon, we will be headed back to Cook Children's to get one of these Baha hearing aids on a headband. http://products.cochlearamericas.com/baha/baha-sound-processors-and-implants/baha-for-children Don't worry. There are several headband colors. Henry will not be stuck with a pink one! Once Henry has his ear canal surgery, he should not have to wear a hearing aid ever again.


Here are some cute pictures to make up for all of the reading you just did!
Waiting to see the doctor. He looks like he's ready for a fight!

Too bad this is a bit blurry. He looks so cute all dressed up for church!

I love this one! He looks like such a big boy!


Relaxin'

This is his new favorite face to make. It's like he's trying to smell his upper lip. (shaking head)


Absolutely precious.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tickled

Henry is very ticklish, though sometimes the mood strikes him more than others. The first person to discover this about him was his PawPaw, who was holding and playing with Henry only a few days after his arrival. It was so sweet to see Henry open up and be so trusting with his new grandpa! Ever since that day, we have tried to play with Henry and get him to do those adorable deep belly laughs. I finally had the video camera charged up and ready so that I could capture it and share it. Make sure you have your sound turned up!

video

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big changes

I admittedly have gotten behind on blogging. There has been a lot going on lately! First of all, we moved this past weekend. In a last minute decision, we chose NOT to buy the new construction home I last wrote about. Honestly, looking back, I'm glad we didn't. We were just making a fast decision because we had to be out of our house so quickly. That house just never felt "right" to us. We are currently living in a nice apartment. The main downside of this is that we will now have to move yet again, which is something I do NOT look forward to. This move was difficult with Henry. The change has made him clingy and unsure of himself again. The night before we moved, James and I stayed up late to pack. By the time we finally made it to bed, we were zonked. Henry, however, spent most of that night waking every hour and wailing. It was horrible. Fortunately, we are slowly getting back into our routine and things are looking up again.

Henry has been to the doctor three times in the last two weeks. The first was an appointment with a regular pediatrician just to get established and have a check-up. His doctor said he's really healthy and doing very well developmentally. He is in the 85th percentile for his height and the 80th percentile for weight! Later that week we went to an ENT doctor for his ear atresia. That doctor examined him and then admitted that he wasn't the right doctor for Henry. He referred us to another ENT who specializes in ear disorders. We saw that doctor yesterday. He had a lot of interesting information for us. First of all, Henry will need to undergo an ABR hearing test (auditory brainstem response) to find out what level of hearing he has. He had this done as a newborn in Korea, and it showed hearing loss in both ears, however we have been told that the results can change over time. We do know that Henry can hear on some level since he is talking and repeats words/sounds that we make. The same day they perform the ABR, they will do a CT scan of his head to check out the formation of his inner ear on the right side. It will help determine if he is a candidate for surgery later on to open up his ear canal. He will have to be sedated for these two procedures, which is why they will do them on the same day. Also, the doctor talked to us about Henry needing to wear a hearing aid on the ear that is affected by the atresia. The doctor explained that it will help Henry's language development immensely. He placed a hearing aid on Henry just to try out. It was amazing to watch Henry's face as he was hearing out of both ears for the first time! Down the road, Henry will also have plastic surgery on this ear to make it look more like it should. I feel sad that my little man will have to go through so much, but I know that he is blessed to be with a family that can provide him with the treatments he needs.

Here are some new things about Henry:
*He calls me "Mom." We taught him to say "mama" but he decided that I'm Mom instead! It's the cutest thing ever to hear him say it. When he's sad, he wails "mooooooom".
*He learned how to say "more" in sign language. He not only signs it when he's hungry, but he says "mo". Or, if you are feeding him something really yummy like chocolate pie in a restaurant, then he'll shout "MO" at the top of his lungs over and over.
*Henry is learning animal sounds. He roars like a tiger, moos like a cow, and we're working on barking like a dog and hissing like a snake.
*He will kiss you on the lips if you ask for a kiss.
*He's really ticklish and will let out a deep belly laugh when Daddy tickles him. We are trying to capture it on video.
*His language is really blossoming all of the sudden. For the first time in 2 months, I can say now that he's understanding some things we say. Until now, he was just repeating words, but lately he is developing understanding of what those words are. For example, I asked yesterday if he wanted his bottle and he toddled to the kitchen and stood by the fridge waiting for one!
Looking at a magazine while waiting to see the doctor.


He loves bath time!

We've been working on teaching him "nice touches" with the doggies.