Saturday, August 24, 2013

2 Years Ago Today: A newborn with a white baby suit

That's all she has left: a tiny white baby suit.  It still smells musty from where the orphanage kept it for 18 months waiting for her new family to take it home as a memory.  When Anna Faith is old enough to ask questions, I will pull it out and likely with tears tell her the story of how she came to us.  Two years ago today a mother (or possibly father) carried her to a tunnel in Southern China leading to an orphanage and placed her there, likely to protect her from the heat of the August sun, leaving with her some formula and diapers, and disappeared forever.  We can only speculate what they were feeling: fear, sorrow, heartbrokenness...  Did they give her one last kiss with tears streaming down their faces?  Do they think about her often?  Do they ever walk by the orphanage and wonder if she is still there?  Did they even chose to remember August 24th, or have they blocked it out of their memory to prevent the pain?  Does she have a younger brother or sister now, and when they look at their second child do they fight painful memories of their firstborn?  The last question that will linger the most with me is: Are they believers in Jesus?  Statistically, they probably aren't.  It is likely they have never even been told how they can have hope, forgiveness and healing in knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.  I can't imagine the hopelessness one feels after saying goodbye forever to a child and not having the peace of knowing they will see them again in heaven one day if both believe in Christ.  Would you pray with me for Anna Faith's birth parents' salvation?  They chose life for her, they compassionately left her in the care of people at an orphanage, and ultimately she was brought into our family.  This was all in God's sovereign plan, but it started with a choice to spare her.  Millions of children are never even given the opportunity to take a breath on this earth.

This day also marks half a year since Anna Faith was placed in our arms.  It is hard to believe since it seems she's always been in our family.  In just 6 months she has won so many hearts, encouraged and inspired countless others, and has brought joy to everyone who has opened their heart to let her into their life.  She has gone through so much in the last couple weeks: surgery to her head, a spot opening on her forehead a week later, and last night (11 days post-op) a fall from a chair resulting in a second place splitting on her forehead and a black eye.  She has been in so much pain and discomfort, yet bounces back and rarely complains.

Sometimes we just gaze into each other's eyes.  She can't express how she feels in words, but when those little dark eyes penetrate mine, I feel so trusted and loved.  We have truly bonded.  Do we look to our Heavenly Father in the same way?  Do we constantly look to Him in adoration when we hurt, feel joy, need help, or just want to show our gratitude and appreciation for all He has done for us?  I have to admit I don't do it nearly enough.  Imagine the joy He feels over those of us who are His adopted children when we do reciprocate the love He pours over us!

Our family has jumped back into living life since surgery #1.  We began homeschool again this past week, now with a second grader, a first grader, a preschooler, and a toddler running around.  I don't know how we managed, but we met all our learning goals this week, managed to get in all our classes into four hours a day, and I came out with not a single migraine headache or hour of sleep lost!

Surgery #2 is scheduled for November 6.  The next section to be worked on will be the large nevus on  her right cheek.  We've been told it will be very involved with tissue rearrangement so we have to anticipate swelling and pain afterwards.  Just going to the pediatrician for a check-up this week made her nervous.  She now equates going to a medical facility with discomfort and feeling sick.  The 30+ stitches on her head come out on September 3rd at the surgeon's office in Nashville, and we know it will not be a pleasant experience.  Pray we will all have peace and show grace to Anna Faith while she is anxious and uncomfortable, and the process will go smoothly.

We also have a minor health issue we're figuring out.  Since coming home in March, she has not adjusted to an American diet.  After running some tests, everything came out normal, so now we are trying to figure out what part of her diet is giving her problems.  It is pointing toward fructose related foods.  We are still early in the process, but she may be sensitive to fruit juice and some fruits.  We've never had a child with food allergies before, so once again we're in uncharted territory.  Pray we may find out the exact cause of her tummy troubles so she can keep gaining weight.  She's only at the 5% on her growth chart, the weight our boys were at half her age.  Kris jokes and says she'll be a diver one day and just bounce off the water like the female Chinese divers do in the Olympics, ha ha!

Here are a few photos of her 2nd birthday, celebrated at home with our family and Kris' parents.  Her birthday reception/Show Hope Fundraiser we held on August 10th is on an earlier post I put up last week.  It was an amazing day!
Family birthday photo

Getting her gift from China (we got one for each birthday): an owl backpack

Playing with new toys

With Grammy while talking on her new phone

Happy to be opening pretty presents

Blowing out the candle over and over again

Monday, August 12, 2013

Second Birthday Celebration and Show Hope Fundraiser

Getting ready for Anna Faith's reception wasn't easy. I didn't know how many people to prepare for so made enough food for an army. We invited over 200 Facebook friends in the area and also extended family. About 60 attended and we had a blast.  Anna Faith wasn't crazy about all of the attention, but when left alone played and enjoyed all the kids who attended. We held it at our church's fellowship hall so there would be enough room for everyone. It was perfect. There was a big screen in the room that played video clips about the plight of orphans in the world and how Show Hope is helping thousands of them get the medical care and means to get home to their forever families.  We also played our "Gotcha" video which shows our first few weeks with her, beginning with the first moments she was in our arms.   About $700 was raised for Show Hope. I know it will mean a lot to Anna Faith to know one day when she's older that the celebration of her life brought other orphans hope for a future.

The Smith family came with their adopted daughter Micah.  They live in our area and we were delighted to get to know them!

Playing with her new Chinese baby that Grammy gave her

Josiah and his buddy Hayden hanging out at the food table

I made a hydrangea cake with matching cupcakes in honor of our fourth flower in our family

Our big spread

The Show Hope table

Not quite sure about all the people singing to her.  She just wanted to play with the cake!

blowing out candles

At the punch and cake table.

Surgery #1: Centennial Women And Children's Hospital

Today was a journey of faith.  We are tired and thankful.  After driving 3 hours and spending the night at a nearby hotel, we woke up at 5:00 this morning to get ready to be at the hospital at 6:00.  We didn't sleep very well last night.  Anna Faith could tell something was up when we left without her brothers and Josiah was crying.    He left his favorite stuffed animal in her carseat with this message "I love you a hole lot Anna Faith".  She didn't want her favorite foods at the restaurant we ate at on the way.  She was already suspicious something was happening.  We gave her a bath and it took what seemed like forever for her to fall asleep.
Biggest brother Josiah left this in her carseat before we took off for Nashville

When we got to the hospital we thought she'd ask for her cup since she hadn't drunk since bedtime, but she didn't.  I was amazingly peaceful.  We know it was prayer. We brought her new favorite toys and they kept her distracted.  It was hard to find where we checked in and we walked around for 15 minutes to find the right department.  That's a little disconcerting when you're late for check in!  Huge hospitals are frustrating in that regard.  The staff was very sweet and compassionate and got us right up to her holding room.  She was weighed and measured by a nurse aide and her vitals taken.  She didn't want to change into a gown right away and seemed a little taken back by all the people in scrubs and hats, but still played and didn't cry.  Anesthesia and Dr. Chester came in to see us and answered all of our questions.
With Dr. Chester before surgery
I held together until anesthesia came in again and decided to give her some versed liquid to make her relaxed before carrying her into surgery.  That is when I broke down and told them it was hard to see what was a part of her go.  Her nevi are a part of who she is, and why she is a part of our family.  When it was time to go, the nurse anesthesist and another nurse were talking over her antibiotic dose and she mentioned her weight as being 15 kg.  I corrected her and said "No, she is 11 kg.".  They were surprised and realized the nurse aide entered it in wrong.  We could have avoided a disaster in the OR!  God is so good for me to overhear their conversation.  Later, the nurse in the holding area told me they are now changing a policy so that only RN's can enter the weight and height on the children.  Maybe more disasters can be spared because of this mistake.  What happened was her height and weight were switched :33 1/2 inches for 23 1/2 pounds.  That's a big difference!
When it was time to go she cried because her toy was being taken from her.  She was loopy and sticking her tongue out at me but having her toy taken made her mad at the surgical team.  They gave it back and took her with it and she was happier.  We walked them to the doors to the OR and had a tearful goodbye.  
Unfortunately we had no cell phone reception so had to communicate via internet.  Kris went outside to call our parents to tell them they took her back.  It was 1 hour later than our 8:00 surgery time.  Half an hour later we got a call in our room to tell us Dr. Chester had just begun the incision.  They we waited.  An hour later we got an update that she was still working on the scalp but it was going well.  Finally at 11:30 Dr. Chester came in to tell us all had gone well.  She got a good portion of the line of nevi along Anna Faith's scalp and forehead but left a clump in the back.  There wasn't enough skin to cut it out and stretch the skin over.  Fortunately she'll be able to finish it in a future surgery while working on another spot.  I'm going to take her gauze off on Thursday so we don't have to drive 3 hours each way to the office, and we'll figure out later when she'll have her stitches out.  I was told she has over 30 stitches that stretch about a foot across her scalp.  Not much hair was cut, and they kept it for me to put in her baby book.  So that means we'll have pigtails soon!

Waiting her turn to go to surgery
After Dr. Chester left the room, surgery told me one parent could go back. I volunteered.  Kris wasn't too happy that he had to wait, but I had them take this picture and bring the camera to him.  She was mad, like they prepared me for.  She hated her IV, BP cuff, and her gauze on her head.  She couldn't hold her head up and was thrashing and moaning.  It was pitiful.  I didn't really cry, because I was so happy to see her awake and responsive.  Her vitals were great and I was told there were no complications during surgery.  I gave her some juice which she took quickly and immediately she threw some up.  After about 20 minutes we could return to her holding room.
First moments in recovery.  She was so mad!
 We took her to her room and gave her more juice.  She threw up again.  She was so tired and just wanted to lay down and be left alone.  Finally after more moaning she fell asleep.  Her IV stopped working, and the nurse took it out.  She didn't flinch.
Finally getting to take a nap
 The nurse wanted to wake her up a couple hours later to see if she'd take liquids so we woke her up.  She seemed more alert and took more juice, which seemed to stay down.  We even got a little smile once when we sat her in front of her ipad.  We signed out and she was discharged!  As soon as we got out of Nashville, she threw up two more times, but went to sleep for the majority of the ride home.  She was so glad to be home and started to play with her brothers when we came in the house and ate two rolls.  At 8:00, no vomitting, but she's getting fussy again.  Praying for good sleep.  She doesn't like her gauze hat at all!
Awake and alert before going home.  
Thank you so much for all of your prayers!  I'll update again on Thursday when we have the "reveal" to show everyone the "new" look for Anna Faith!