The night before our flight we put Hannah to bed earlier than usual. She slept horribly and was in our bed within a couple hours where she continued to have fitful sleep. We could not figure out what was wrong with her. Bryan even checked her ears at 2:30 in the morning to make sure she didn't have an ear infection. Looking back on it now, I think she must have been anxious after watching us spend the day packing up all the suitcases.
After just a couple hours of interrupted sleep, we were out the door at 5:45 with Hannah. I hated to wake a sleeping baby but it was time to GO! Our guide rode with us in a van to the Guangzhou airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:25. We were so glad he came in with us to the ticket counter as there was a computer issue with Hannah's ticket. It took a long time to get checked in and would have taken even longer had we not had our guide!
At this point Hannah was kind of fussy and we had not eaten anything. I felt so nauseated and stressed. I had Hannah in the Ergo while we tried to get through security and make it to our gate. We had a few minutes to sit and eat a little bit before we got on the plane. We were in the next to last row, middle and aisle seat. I held Hannah in the middle seat. She was refusing to let Bryan hold her and it was an ok but kind of rough flight. We were just so cramped for space and I was sore and feeling sick. We were thankful to land in Beijing without her having any major meltdowns.
Once we were in Beijing we had to change terminals and go through customs and security again to get to the international building. What a pain. We landed around 11:45am and weren't done with everything until 1:30pm. Our boarding time was 2:30pm. Bryan found some food and I was happy to let Hannah play in the airport chairs so my arms and legs could have a break from having her on my lap.
Bryan searched for an airline rep to try to get us bulkhead seats with a bassinet for Hannah. Our travel agent had said we had at least one bulked seat so we were trying to get two and sit together. The rep at the gate told Bryan only middle seats were available, no bulkhead and no bassinet. We would be in two middle seats on the same row but not next to one another. At this point I was almost in tears thinking about sitting separate from Bryan and holding Hannah by myself for 13 hours. As we began to board the gate rep called Bryan over and told him she found a seat for him right next to me.
As we made our way to the plane I was praying, "Lord help me. Lord help me." because I knew I would not be able to get through the flight on my own strength. We made our way to our seats and soon realize we were on the bulkhead sitting together! HALLELUJAH! I almost started crying when I realized where we were sitting. It was almost like someone had upgraded me to first class! At that point I felt like, 'ok, I can do this!'. It didn't matter if Hannah cried or was fussy - at least we would have room to move around and try to keep her happy. Unfortunately we were not allowed to have a bassinet because they said Hannah was too heavy for it. That was fine with us because at least we had room to get comfortable while holding her.
Hannah did great on the flight. She drank a bottle at takeoff and landing, played with toys, watched some movies on the TV and on our laptop (Baby Einstein) and also slept from 6-7pm China time and then 9pm-2am China time. We landed a little after 4am China time and Hannah did great on the last couple hours of the flight. Bryan and I both slept off and on but never for any long stretches of time.
We landed around 2:15pm Houston time and went through customs and immigration, which took almost 2 hours! I know our family and especially our boys were getting antsy waiting for us. As we predicted, Caleb was dramatically announcing that 'They are never going to come! They have gone back to China!".
When we came through the doors at immigration we saw this amazing welcoming committee! It was so wonderful to see our family, especially Caleb and Joshua. They were both so excited to see their sister! We weren't sure how Hannah would handle all the commotion but she was calm and just took everything in.
After we were greeted at the airport we got in the van and went to Bryan's parents house for dinner. Unfortunately Hannah was not a fan of the car seat. She didn't like being strapped in and didn't understand why I wouldn't get her out and hold her when she reached for me. I was sitting in the middle row of the van between Hannah and Joshua and she screamed bloody murder for the entire 30+ minute drive from the airport. Nothing I did comforted her and it was difficult to see her cry like that. There isn't much we can do as car seats are not optional here like they are in China!
Once there we had delicious fajitas and special cupcakes decorated with Chinese colors and toppers. We expected Hannah to be overwhelmed by the commotion of all the kids (there were 6 kids ages 5 and under including her) but she really enjoyed it! She loved meeting her cousins (in spite of the stink eye she gave Charlotte) and sat and played, ate some food and even smiled some at the kids!
After dinner we headed HOME to College Station. My Dad drove Bryan, me and Hannah in the van and the boys rode with my Mom in her car. They came home with us for the first 24 hours just to help us with the boys while we battled jet lag. Hannah started to cry on the way to College Station but I gave her a bottle and she fell asleep in her car seat. Bryan and I both nodded off too!
Once home Caleb was eager to show Hannah her room. He was very thoughtful and making sure to turn all the lights on upstairs for her so she wouldn't be scared. The boys loved showing Hannah her new room and some of the toys in her room. My parents helped to get the boys to bed and I put Hannah to bed finally around 11pm... or at least I think that is what time it was! She slept well until 2:30am, woke up and drank a bottle and went back to sleep until I woke her up at 9:30am for the day.
It still does not feel real that we went to the other side of the world and brought home this precious baby girl. We are so tired, but it is a good kind of tired. We praise God for Hannah's adoption: tangible reminder of His faithfulness, His relentless pursuit of us as His children, and His love for the fatherless.
Welcome home, baby girl.