Friday, May 17, 2013


Can you remember when you had a crush on that boy in school?  That one really cute boy who was "perfect" in every way.  You just knew that if he only knew you better, he'd love you forever.

Imagine you were assigned together for a big project.  There was no escaping - you were going to be together for the long haul.  Now imagine that the boy was nice to you sometimes.  Sometimes not.  He usually outright rejected you in front of family, friends, strangers.   He often scowled when he saw you.  You were sad, embarrassed, and sometimes even angry.

But of course you stuck with it.  Because you are that kind of girl.  Sometimes you were fueled by some romantic notion of love.   The love he might eventually have for you - might even have for you now even if he wouldn't admit it.

Sometimes, you stuck with it because this was a commitment, doggone it!  You said you would do it.  You didn't want anyone to see you fail.  You were used to succeeding.  You were going to put in the necessary time and effort.  Even if he didn't seem to care, you tried accomplish the goal for both of you.  There were days when you gritted your teeth and did the dirty work that needed to get done.  There were days when you just went through the motions.  There were days when you just about gave up hope.

Rejection sucks.

Did I mention that he was utterly and completely in love with your best friend?  Since he absolutely adored your best friend, you knew that he was capable of love.  He just wasn't willing or able to love you.  Maybe there was something wrong with you.

Your best friend, with the greatest of intentions, tried to helpfully give advice as to how to get this boy to love you back.  Sometimes you took the advice.  Sometimes you angrily stared at your friend and said mean things like, "I know how to make people like me."  You felt pretty awful after that.

There were days when you doubted that you were enough.  You weren't really sure that this boy could love you.  You worried that your love for him wasn't going to be enough to hold things together.  You were worried that you could stop loving this boy and that the ache the absence of this love would leave in your heart would make you crumple. You were terrified you'd fail.

But, once in a while, especially when nobody was looking, you two would share some pretty great moments that kept you hopeful about the future.  It kept you going.  You would think, "See, he is really starting to like me.  This is true love."  Your heart would swell with joy nearly to the point of bursting.

And then he would go back to avoiding you in the halls, sometimes literally running away from you.  He would make a face at you and yell at you, obviously trying to tell everyone that he absolutely did NOT want to be stuck with you. 

You held on.

The sweet moments came more often.  Loving him was less anguishing and actually (dare you say it) kind of great.  Even if you weren't his favorite, he liked you better than strangers.  That was enough to start, you told yourself.

He began to seek you out.  He wanted to be near you.  He smiled.  He laughed.  You smiled.  You laughed.

You both developed your own sort of language.  You had some inside jokes.  Everything wasn't perfect, but you could see things changing.  Thawing.  Settling into an easier place.

The look in his eyes had changed.

From Fear.
To Anger.
To Distrust.
To Caution.
To Resignation.
To Acceptance.

To love?

Adoption isn't easy.  But it is worth it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Goodbye Cleft Palate

You know how sometimes you have an experience and think, "Hey.  I know all about that now.  I am an expert and know how it all works.  I've got it all figured out."

That's exactly when God shocks you again.

Many of you have read my post on Veronica's lip palate and ear tube surgery here.   So when Levi had his surgery on Tuesday, I thought I had envisioned pretty clearly how it was going to go.  However, this surgery didn't follow the same script.

In many ways, this surgery was much easier, at least on me.  And yes, I do realize how incredibly self centered that sounds.  There is no way I can fully comprehend how Levi experienced this, so I won't even attempt to pretend that I can.  I can empathize and sympathize.  I can care and comfort.  But I can never truly know. 

Unlike Veronica, Levi's cleft lip had been repaired in China before we brought him home.  That alone cut out an additional 2 hours of surgery time. With only four hours (instead of six) from the time he was put under till we saw him, I had a lot less time to freak out and worry.

I also had the advantage this time of not being shocked by the appearance of a child that looked completely different.  Since his lip had already been repaired, his face just looked a little more swollen than normal.  But, he has these adorable chubby cheeks, so he didn't look much different.

Coming out of surgery, Veronica screamed for about three hours straight.  Levi slept.  For hours.  He slept in his crib in the hospital for about an hour and a half.  Then Ben and I alternated holding him for another six or seven hours.  He barely whimpered the whole time.

Now, that sounds fairly pleasant, doesn't it?  It wasn't.  Having a child complacent and brave in the face of discomfort and pain makes me wonder why he didn't cry out more and fuss.  My boy has had some pretty physically painful experiences in his life, including but definitely not limited to his cleft lip surgery.  He faced this so stoically.  Was he used to not being comforted in the face of pain?  Did he get used to dealing with it himself and not learn to rely on anyone?

I like to think he was just so high on pain meds that he actually was feeling no pain.  However, I've seen this toddler's dry eyes during blood draws, scraped knees, bumps and bruises that would leave me whining for days, and all manner of typical childhood traumas.

Fortunately, even if he wasn't willing to express his pain, he was more than willing to accept comfort from us.  From this mom who has been rejected by this sweet boy more times than I can count, it felt pretty good that he would seek out comfort from me and snuggle his body into mine.

Check-in for Levi's surgery was 7AM.  By about 7PM, Ben was getting ready to head home for the night.  I spent the night with Levi.  Since he had slept nearly the whole day, I assumed he would be wide awake and frustrated all night.  I assumed wrong.  He slept from 11PM till 4 AM, with only a brief wakening when the nurse checked his vitals and gave him some medication.  I slept for nearly four hours.  Not consecutive, but I'm still pleased.

At about 4AM, though, is when Levi started to get restless.  His morphine had long worn off and he was irritated by his IV.  Also the arm restraints (called awfully enough "No-No's") put a damper on his energetic attempts to play.  He was ready to get down and get moving.  This was a bit of a trial, trying to keep him as content as possible, especially when he has no interest in television.  Fortunately, Ben returned to the hospital shortly after 7AM and relieved me for a spell.

By 9AM, Dr. Lander (Veronica and Levi's awesome surgeon) made his rounds.  He commented on our amazing son and we readily agreed.  He gave his approval to be discharged and were back home by a little after noon on Wednesday.

There was one aspect of the surgery that was harder to deal with.  Post-op, Levi bled quite a bit from his ears, nose and mouth -  much more than Veronica did.  Anyone who has seen any trauma scene on TV knows that bleeding from these orifices is bad. Very, very bad.   Even with the reassurances from the nurses, it was disconcerting, especially when there was so much more blood than we had anticipated.