Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mega Photo Post

So this is going to be mega picture overload, but I don't have the capacity to either a) come up with a theme to group these into smaller posts b) find the time to write multiple smaller posts.  So here you go, the mega photo post.  Consider it to be the past 2-3 weeks in pictures, mostly taken from our iPhones.

Bathtub mohawk! Her hair is starting to get longer, especially in the back

This dog is ridiculous.  How did we end up with 2 dogs who use pillows like a human?

On the next episode of Hoarders...
the girl who wants to hold everybody's everything.  
She needs duplicates in her hand most of the time:  two cups, two crackers, etc.

Taken only days after Hannah's first pediatrician appointment where I was asked the question, "Does she climb on things?" and I said, No, no she does not climb. 
Exhibit A:  Don't say your kid doesn't do something, especially to the pediatrician.  That child will be sure to do it ASAP.  
Girlfriend was so proud of herself for climbing on the train table!

This is not the best picture but this shows the growing friendship between
a) Joshua & Hannah - these two littles love each other!
b) Hannah & Sadie-  Hannah has no fear of the puppies which is great!

 Gardening time with Daddy

Not a fan of gardening, apparently.

Posing after her first piano recital upstairs

Working on the sippy cup skills takes mega concentration.

Playing babies after a super long nap when she had an ear infection.
Hannah loves to sit in the cradle and hold 4+ babies at a time.

Feeding a baby in the high chair.

Little Mommy likes to hold all her babies while watching Frozen with big brother, too. 

Last week we took Hannah to have some pictures taken with our friend Lindsey.  She is an amazing photographer!  Hannah was hard to impress during the shoot but hopefully we got a few good ones.

Grainy, dark iPhone photo.  
Hannah had an ear infection + hand/foot/mouth virus last week so we did lots of this.  This looks like a day where I actually got to shower.  She was very clingy and fussy.  She also shared the yucky virus with her brothers :(  

Joshua starting to get sick-- passed out while eating his lunch leftovers on the way home from school.

Sweet baby girl... starting to feel better.
I know I am biased but I think she is so beautiful! 

Trying out my new stroller! Mommy made me sit in it for snack and wheeled me around the house so she could get some things done! 

Saturday was the day of naps at our house.  Hannah fell asleep mid-snack in her chair.
This is what happens when you wake up at 5am! 

Joshua loves to try on sister's bows and headbands 

Two littles sitting with Daddy (yes, they have diaper/underwear on!) 

Sister loves her bath now!  Trying to climb into the tub while it fills up 

Pretending to be a baby in the doll cradle 

This picture cracks me up!
Hannah put all her babies to sleep in the background and then put herself to bed and covered herself with a blanket.  ha! 

The virus takes another kid down- Caleb asleep at 7pm in his bean bag earlier in the week.   

Littles taking a bath together downstairs since big brother was already passed out. 

Our big boy on the mend- building a 6-story Lincoln Log house. 
He enjoyed his break from school even if it was because he was sick.  He tried to convince me he could never go back to school.  Nice try, buddy! 

Sharing a banana on the kitchen counter 

This is what my lap looks like most of the time- 2 littles battling for a spot.
Hannah was smiling right before I took this, then she saw my face on the iPhone and tried to mimic it.  

Heartbroken.  Distraught.  Pitiful.  
All because Mommy told her, "No biting."
Life is hard.


"Hannah, you ready to race?" 

Angry Birds Star Wars hood ornaments 

Pretty girl is so proud that she learned how to make the Elmo plane go with her feet! 

Hannah & Joshua dressed up as Sven and Elsa from Frozen 

Dancing to music from YouTube 

Nice form, Joshua.

Sweet reindeer baby :) 

Caleb & Daddy working on counting out his items for the 100th day of school 

Caleb and his 100 marbles

Caleb asked me to sew this little crown on his stuffed Angry Bird pig.  He was so proud of it! 

Congratulations, you made it to the end of the mega photo post!
In case you noticed that there are not many pictures of Caleb, it's because he is not a fan of posing for pictures!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hannah's First Shriners Appointment

Today was Hannah's first appointment at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston.  Their hospital hosts an arthrogryposis clinic twice a month for new and existing patients to be evaluated.  We were thankful to get an appointment so quick after getting back to the US.  We drove to Houston the night before and the boys stayed with my parents while we went to a hotel near the medical center.

Playing on the stairs at Granny & Daddy Bob's house

We did not want to sit in rush hour traffic and risk being late for Hannah's 8am appointment.  We had a rough night after Hannah did not sleep well but managed to get to Shriners on time.  Once we checked in, we were given our checklist of appointments and a buzzer so we would be notified when it was our turn to be seen.   We were quickly called back to the clinic room for evaluations.  By 10am, Hannah received evaluations from physical therapy, occupational therapy, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in arms/hands (or "uppers") and an orthopedic surgeon specializing in legs/feet (or "lowers").

There were so many new faces in the room for Hannah and at times it got a bit overwhelming for her.  She would bury her head in my chest while the therapists or physicians examined her.  When they wanted her to demonstrate different things with her hands or feet she would not cooperate most of the time.  Luckily Bryan did a great job of getting her to reach for things, feed herself, etc.  Everyone that worked with Hannah was very kind and friendly.  They were extremely understanding of her situation and that joining our family very recently might make the appointment hard for her.

Waiting for everyone to come see me!
Hannah wore a tank top/shorts inside the clinic so they could see her joints.

Drinking a bottle in between evaluations because she got a little bit sad :( 

Here are the general conclusions/plan we got from each evaluation:

Physical therapy- They were so impressed with what Hannah can already do in terms of gross motor skills.   She is able to bear weight on her legs, pull to standing, crawl, cruise on furniture and walk behind a push toy.  She was also happy with Hannah's shoulders.  Many AMC kids have internally rotated shoulders depending on what type of AMC they have.  We discussed signing up with Early Childhood Intervention to begin PT in our home.

Occupational therapy -  The OT team measured the angle of each of Hannah's fingers, in her wrists, ankles and arms @ the shoulder.  She has great range of motion and they were also pleased with her fine motor skills.  At this time, their best recommendation for OT for Hannah was "life"!  They showed us some ideas of how to work on her hand position for different activities but did not feel like she need intense OT at this time.   We are thrilled with her current skills so we agree!

Uppers Specialist - This physician was so warm and encouraging.  She thought Hannah's hand function was amazing.  Her elbows and shoulders are not affected by her AMC so there was nothing for the surgeon to address.  She explained a lot to us about AMC and how they would observe Hannah over time to determine which type of AMC she has.  While knowing the type is interesting, it doesn't change her course of treatment so it is not too important to us.  The PT team initially thought Hannah has amyoplasia, the most common form of AMC, but the uppers specialist wanted to reserve judgment until they have more time to think it through.  She and the lowers specialist both agreed that Hannah's arms were "too good" to give a definite diagnosis of amyoplasia.  We are thrilled with her arms that are "too good"!  The uppers specialist did not think that Hannah needed any hand splinting at this time so we will see her again in 6 months.

One of the best things this physician emphasized was how important the work of Little Flower & Eagles Wings had been for Hannah.  She explained that when a baby is born with contractures (stiff, immobile joints) that range of motion can be 'discovered' if early intervention takes place.  The countless hours these volunteers spent bracing, casting, stretching and massaging Hannah's joints are key to where she is at today.  While we wish the orphanage had cared for Hannah with the same diligence, we are SO thankful that Hannah's first year was spent with people who took the time to care for her medical needs.

Lowers Specialist - This is the visit we were anticipating the most since Hannah is most affected in her feet/ankles.  We went into the appointment expecting to hear that Hannah needed to be casted right away or maybe that they wanted to do an aggressive surgery we would not feel comfortable with.  The lowers specialist was very detailed and intelligent.  Luckily Bryan speaks "doctor-ese" so we could understand all the information he gave to us!

When Hannah would not show the doctor how she can walk behind a push toy, Bryan busted out his iPhone and showed him this quick video!  Hooray for technology!

The lowers specialist decided that Hannah will definitely need to have serial casting and a tendon release surgery done on each heel at some point.  Serial casting involves putting casts from toes to above the knee on each leg and changing those casts every 1-2 weeks.  This slowly corrects the position of the foot and is very effective.  We expected to potentially leave Shriners with casts that day.

We were pleasantly surprised by his first recommendation, though.  The doctor wanted to have Hannah wear braces called AFOs (ankle foot orthotics) to help stretch her foot some and keep them in a more correct position.  He wants them worn as much as possible and for as long as we feel comfortable with.  He felt like Hannah's adjustment into our family was important and was also pleased with her current mobility.  He didn't want to stop her momentum on learning to move her body so we will put her in AFOs for several months and then do her surgery later-- likely in the early fall.  While it may seem like we are delaying the inevitable, the reality is that Hannah's bond to us and her adjustment to life in our family is the most important.  Keeping braces on her feet will keep them from getting any worse but also give us more time to enjoy her before we put her through casting.  This felt like a good balance for us between attachment and addressing medical needs.

Playing in the waiting room before our next stop

After the last evaluation, we went to the orthotics department.  They made plaster molds of each of Hannah's legs.  They will custom create AFOs for her feet and we will pick them up in a month.   The physical therapy department will meet with us at that time to make sure we understand everything about wearing AFOs.   Hannah was a great sport during her plaster molds!

We ate a quick lunch in the Shriners cafeteria and then went to medical photography.  They took pictures of Hannah in her diaper to document her current appearance before any therapies are started. When that was finished we loaded up into the van and Hannah quickly fell asleep!  It was a long, overwhelming day for our baby girl.  We were so proud of how she handled everything!

Passed out with "baby"
She uses baby sign language to ask for this baby all the time :) 

We appreciate the prayers, texts, phone calls and support for our little Hannah during her big doctor day! Everyone we met with today emphasized that the sky is the limit for Hannah and that she will be able to achieve anything she wants to do.  We were so encouraged by their enthusiasm and optimism. We are grateful for Hannah to receive medical treatment at such a wonderful, caring facility!

Monday, March 10, 2014

One Month Since Gotcha Day

Today marks one month since Hannah was placed in our arms in the Civil Affairs Office in Zhengzhou.  Many people in our travel group agreed today that it feels like we were in China years ago.  The time has passed quickly and so much has changed in our lives and in Hannah's life since that special day.
Hannah in the orphanage (left) and Hannah today (right)

I wanted to document how Hannah is doing and the progress she's made since she became our daughter.  She has been through so much change in the past month.  We truly admire how resilient, brave and strong she is!

We had some rough nights when we first got back from China.  Hannah would sleep for a couple hours (thinking it was her afternoon nap) then be awake from midnight until 4 or 5am before we could get her back to sleep.  It was pretty exhausting since the boys were not jet lagged and would still wake us up at 6 or 7am!  We have definitely turned a corner in the past week.  Hannah is now consistently sleeping from 8:30pm-6am without getting up in the night.  She is napping from 1pm til 3 or 4pm most afternoons as well.

We have also transitioned to a new routine for falling asleep.  When we first got home she would only fall asleep while I was holding her, often while standing and swaying back and forth.  Anytime I tried to set her down (even in the bed snuggled up next to me) she would cry.  It was exhausting for all of us.  Our new routine is for her to drink her bottle while being rocked and then after a little more rocking/cuddle time I put her in the crib in our room and either sit or lay beside the crib so she knows I'm there.  She fusses a little sometimes but I always reassure her I'm still with her by singing to her, patting her bottom, etc.  Hannah can fall asleep "on her own" this way with me present.

Hannah has been a pretty good eater from day one!  We have added two bottles/day to her eating- not for nutritional purposes - but really more for bonding and attachment.  She LOVES her bottle and loves being held to receive it.

In China, Hannah preferred carbs and meat.  We have added in some fruits (bananas and oranges) and vegetables (she loves broccoli and will eat veggies if they are in soup).  She still turns down most new foods but we continue to offer them.  Hannah loves yogurt and any kind of warm, broth foods like soup.  She loved the chicken tortilla soup and chili that friends brought us for dinner and also loved chicken noodle soup at Panera!

Hannah is very interested in feeding herself with a fork/spoon so we are giving her plenty of opportunities to practice.  She also has started to drink from a sippy cup and cup with a straw some.  In China she would only drink from a bottle so we are making progress!

Hannah doesn't have any spoken words at this point which doesn't surprise or concern us.  She has heard Mandarin (and some English) for most of her life so it will take her awhile to sort things out and speak in English.

We have been working on baby sign language for key words and she is doing great! In the two weeks we have been home she has learned the following signs:  more, eat, drink, mommy, daddy, dog, thank you, milk and cracker.   Tonight she even signed "Daddy eat" when Bryan sat down with his food!  Yay Hannah!

We prayed and prayed that Hannah would bond to us and are so thankful we have seen that happen.  She is kind of like velcro to me on many days but has really opened up to Bryan since we have been home.  She loves to play and be rowdy with Bryan and the boys.  Hannah willingly gives hugs and kisses to us and gladly receives comfort from us when she is upset.  She still seems to prefer me for comfort but definitely loves her Daddy too!

Big Brothers
Hannah loves to watch her big brothers play and be wild! She laughed and laughed today as they ran during our family walk.   Both of the boys interact with her and play with her in their own ways.  Joshua and Hannah are closer in age obviously and have more common interests.  Joshua has enjoyed playing Disney Princess castle with Hannah :)

Hannah really struggles when I show any affection to the boys or give them attention over her.  If I have Joshua in my lap she will fall apart crying, crawl over to me and try to shove her way into my lap and push Joshua out of the way.  I'm doing my best to meet everyone's needs but it seems that with 3 someone is always out of sorts!  I know with time and consistency Hannah will realize I can be Mommy to all 3 of them... she was just convinced in China that she was an only child! :)

Hannah loves to play with toys, and we have been impressed that she seemed to know how to play from the first day we met her.  Many kids who have been in orphanages do not understand how to play with toys.  Hannah's time at Little Flower and Eagles Wings certainly gave her plenty of opportunity to play and she hasn't forgotten it!

Hannah's favorite things are stacking cups and any kind of musical toy.  She has some pretty sweet dance moves and if the song is rather dramatic, she will close her eyes, sway back and forth with an anguished look on her face and try to sing along.  It is hysterical.   Hannah really seems to love Disney princess songs-- more proof that she was destined to be in our family and be Joshua's sister :)

One thing about Hannah's play that has changed is how she plays with dolls.  In China she didn't understand what she was supposed to do with a doll.  Now she loves to feed her baby, rock her baby, carry it on her shoulder while she scoots around on her bottom, and cover up her baby with a blankie.  She is such a little mommy and it is so fun to watch!

And now for the best part --- pictures of Hannah over the past two weeks since we got home.  If you are friends with me on Facebook you may have seen most of these but since this blog is like our family photo album/scrapbook they need to find their place here, too!

My first trip to Target

Happy girl learning how to use a sippy cup 

Loves to offer us bites of real and pretend food 

Getting into trouble with my brother 

Jet lag is no joke 

"Now listen, baby.  You need to stay in this stroller even though I screamed bloody murder in my stroller in China."

"Joshua, you've got a little cowlick here in the front.  Let me help you out." 

First trip to the pediatrician
 Hannah was 23.5 lbs and I think 32 inches long
She cried a few times but overall she did great!

Hannah's first time to go to church. 
She loved the music- closed her eyes, 'sang along' and took everything in.  I was in tears knowing that my daughter was participating in worship for the first time in her life. 

Happy girl! 

Having her temperature taken by Dr. Joshua with the Doc McStuffins thermometer

Hannah is starting to enjoy swinging!

 Feeding herself chicken & rice soup with a spoon.  She has incredible use of her hands! 

Girlie loves bath time now too!  Hiking her leg up to try to climb in with clothes on!

Hannah thinks the car seat is for sleeping.  She falls asleep 99% of the time when we drive somewhere.