Here's a video from this morning's visit. Click HERE to view more videos.
Sometimes life is just hard. Plain ole hard, no matter how you look at it. We have to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, as He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He brings us hope, He supplies our joy, in all circumstances.
Last night, my daughter, Mattie, called in the middle of the night (her day, my night) to ask me about Selah. She’s not been sleeping well or feeling well. I took her to our pediatrician before we left the states because she really hasn’t slept well since August 2010, when she had her skull reconstructed, but December 2010 was by far the worst month of all. She has slept worse since the beginning of December than she has the entire time she’s been with us. She had an ear infection, then teething, which I thought accounted for her sleepless nights, but we haven’t gotten over this pattern of not sleeping.
I am not one to let my kids cry it out, particularly an attachment-at-risk baby. (I didn’t even let my securely attached bio babies cry it out…ever.) That’s just me. I can’t stand to see a baby cry. That’s their only voice, so when they use it, I always try to respond by figuring out what they’re trying to communicate.
I still haven’t been able to figure out what Selah is trying to communicate to us in the middle of the night. She’s not hungry, she’s not in pain (that we can find…Tylenol and Ibuprofen don’t seem to make any difference), and she’s not hot/cold/wet/dirty, etc. She sleeps in her crib in her room (alone, she doesn’t share a room), and we’ve tried a nightlight as well as no nightlight, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference regarding whether or not she wakes in the night.
We’ve also tried to put her in bed with us, as well as sleeping in a full-size bed with her in her room. Nothing matters. Selah seems content to be held/rocked in the night when she wakes crying, but many times, she doesn’t go back to sleep for sometimes up to 4-5 hours after she wakes!!!
Dr. Pruitt (our pediatrician) hasn’t been able to find anything “wrong” with Selah that would be making her wake. We thought perhaps it was her reflux, so we added a night-time dosage of Prevacid, in addition to her morning dosage. Hasn’t made a bit of difference.
Dr. Pruitt suggested we try using Melatonin to help Selah sleep, and that hasn’t made a bit of difference either. Before I left, on desperate nights when I was in major need of sleep, I tried combining Benadryl with Ibuprofen and Tylenol, with much prayer that Selah would sleep through the night, but even that heavy combination of meds didn’t make a bit of difference in her night waking.
We thought it might possibly be separation anxiety, since that hits around 12-18 months (Selah is 15 months old), but staying in her room all night doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference either. When Selah wakes in the night, we go to her and try to get her back to sleep by patting her in her bed. We don’t turn on the lights at all, keeping the night-time, sleep environment. If she won’t go back to sleep, we rock her in her room with the same dark environment. Sometimes she will go back to sleep, but most of the time, she remains awake in our arms, while rocking, for up to 5 hours!!! It’s exhausting to say the least.
However, my exhaustion is worth it when I consider the “cry it out” method. I just can’t do it. Selah used to sleep very well through the night without waking at all up until she had her skull reconstructed. I just can’t figure it out.
So, anyway, back to Mattie’s phone call in the night. Selah’s been fussy during the day as well lately. Mattie and Meribeth are getting very little sleep at night since Selah has been awake for 4 hours almost every night. They can’t let her cry it out either. It just hurts their emotions to hear Selah bawling. Mattie believes something is causing her pain/fussiness, but no one can figure out what it is. I advised Mattie to call first thing this morning (Thursday) to try to get her in to see our pediatrician again to check her ears. I told her to have him examine Selah from head to toe, naked, to see if he can possibly find any reason for her to be so fussy and wake so much in the night. We’ll see what the report is later.
So, my day started out hard today because I can’t stand being away from my hurting baby (Selah). I’ve never left her for more than a day, and it’s very rare that I would ever leave her overnight. (Only when I’ve spoken at churches out of town have I left her overnight.) This is just killing me to be so far away and not be able to hold her and love on her and try to help her feel better.
And then, of course, I always think about her shunt. Could it be malfunctioning? Could it be shrinking her brain into a raisin like it did spring of 2011? What if something happens to her while I’m 22 hours away?!?! This is when I must take all thoughts captive and rely upon the strength of my Jesus. He is my all in all. He loves Selah more than I do. I must trust Him.
So, I take thoughts captive, gather myself and head out the door with Matt for our morning orphanage visit, reminding myself of all the things I am grateful for. I’m grateful to have a loving, selfless, caring, kind, compassionate husband who travels the world on behalf of orphans. I’m grateful to have 12 kids, many of whom are left behind in Texas to take care of the other kiddos, the home, the ranch, and life while their mommy and daddy are away. Grateful for children who choose to joyfully do hard things.
I snapped this photo of the front of our apartment building while we wait outside in the 10 degree fahrenheit temps. I’m grateful for our warm, luxurious apartment. There’s a little sled out front, which brings me joy. It reminds me of my children, even though we don’t even own a sled in Texas! The Ukrainian toddlers ride in sleds pulled/pushed by their parents in the snow, instead of using a stroller. It’s so cute to watch these little snow babes toddling around in snow suits, hats, snow boots, all warm and cozy. Especially the hot pink ones, simply because I love hot pink. Children bring me joy, thank you, Jesus, for the blessing of children.
Some men are working on the awning outside the front door to our apartment. I’m grateful on this morning for God’s abundant provision. I am warm in my borrowed snow boots (thanks, Trisha) and my borrowed snow coat (thanks, Mrs. Hudspeth), and we are cozy and warm in our apartment (thanks to everyone who played a role in this!).
This is the small market directly across the street from our apartment. I’m grateful on this morning for this market, which has a great selection of items, including Snickers. (The billboard on the left is advertising Milky Way.) I’m grateful for the finances to purchase our needs and our wants (such as Snickers!) while in Ukraine. Grateful the food prices are inexpensive.
I’m grateful for our warm taxi that takes us to the orphanage. Grateful for our facilitator and translator who arrange our transportation.
On our outdoor walk to our boys’ orphanage room, I see this little outhouse. I’m grateful for indoor plumbing and warm water. I’m grateful our boys do not have to use this outhouse. Grateful for diapers and the indoor potty chairs that they line the kids up in after meals.
We pick up Conner and Cooper, and I’m oh-so-grateful that God chose us to be the parents of these two precious treasures. They’re excited to see us this morning! Sasha (the other boy who always wants to come with us to play, but cannot because we’re not adopting him) welcomes us with his huge smile and sweet disposition. Why didn’t we choose to adopt him, too? He is such a sweet boy. It’s so hard to walk away from him, day in and day out. It’s hard to walk away from them ALL, day in and day out. Sasha is the only one out of his crib on this morning. He is sitting at the little table, where he always sits, day in and day out. I’ve never seen him anywhere else. I’m grateful that he’s out of his crib though.
When I pick Conner up, I notice his pajama/play sleeper is wet. Matt and I sit down with the boys in the playroom. It’s just us today. Conner reeks of urine. I wonder if the wetness on the outside of his sleeper is urine. I decide to check his diaper. He has a total of 5 layers of clothing on. I unzip the sleeper to discover that yes, the inside layers of clothing are saturated with urine. His diaper is soaked and leaking. I’m grateful that on this very morning, we brought diapers with us. God knew we would need them.
We see, for the first time, just how tiny Conner is. This breaks our heart. I try to smile for the photo, because that is what I’m used to doing, but inside, my heart is breaking. I’m grateful on this morning that soon, Conner will be ours and will never sit in urine saturated clothing.
Conner plays with the light wand without a care in the world. My world is shattering. So much heartbreak. So much suffering. I’m grateful on this morning for the suffering Jesus endured for our sakes.
Then I pick Conner up, and Matt sees the bedsores on his back. I smile before I notice. Then my stomach is sick. I am reminded of Chrissie’s bed sores after lying in a hospital bed for 31 days. Conner is in a very good orphanage, and yet he still has bed sores. He must lie on his back in his crib for almost 24 hours/day, and he is in a good orphanage. What must the others look like? I’m grateful this morning for our twice daily visits so that Conner can be up, playing, crawling, standing, jumping for 4 hours/day. He is loved. Treasured. Chosen. So grateful God led us to this sweet boy.
I decide to tell the orphanage director, using Google Translate on my phone, that I changed Conner’s diaper and his clothes were soaked with urine. He needed new clothing. I asked her to come see. I gave her the soaked diaper and the 5 layers of wet clothing. She leaves and someone else shows up with dry clothes for Conner within 5 minutes. I’m grateful this morning that Conner is now in dry clothing with a dry diaper.
We brought children’s toothpaste and toothbrush to brush both boys’ teeth. Their breath is horrendous (every single visit). Even the other visitors notice the smell of their breath. Why is this? Is it simply because of no dental hygiene? We brush their teeth, which both boys tolerate fairly well. I’m grateful this morning for the ability to begin caring for the boys’ teeth.
We rub some cream into Cooper’s cheeks, where he suffers from large eczema patches. I’m grateful this morning to try to soothe those red, dry, rough spots.
I hold Conner in the ball pit, and Cooper crawls across the ball pit into my lap. He is jealous that I’m holding Conner, and he wants to be closest to me. I’m grateful this morning that Cooper cares.
Cooper looks me eye-to-eye, as if to say, “Ha, I’ll make sure you love me best.” I’m grateful this morning for his eye contact and perseverance. It’s not easy to crawl across the ball pit and into Mommy’s arms!
I give Cooper kisses. I’m grateful for love on this morning.
Matt takes Conner out of the ball pit so Cooper can have alone time with Mommy. Conner stands on the edge of the ball pit. I’m grateful on this morning that Conner is able to stand. They said he couldn’t. God is good.
Cooper cracks up while he sits in my lap. I’m grateful this morning for laughter. Grateful for Cooper’s laughter, even if I have to work very hard to get it.
It’s time to head back to the boys’ room so they can eat lunch. Cooper was flying like a bird, flapping his wings. I’m grateful for our 2-hour visit, grateful for a husband who loves unconditionally, grateful for a husband who will carry his new son like a froggie because he likes to flap his wings and fly!
We stand outside to wait for our cab. I notice they must have cleaned some of the rugs and laid them out to dry, in the snow. Grateful I don’t have to do this!
I see little ride-on toys stuck in the snow, abandoned at the curb. Grateful kids have these riding toys, grateful to see they were obviously ridden to this stopping point, then buried in snow overnight.
I’m grateful for the variety of decorations around the orphanage grounds. This is a great orphanage, even if it breaks my heart. Grateful that God has broken my heart for what breaks His.
Grateful for the play shelters that allow children to play outside, regardless of the elements.
Grateful for brightly painted murals.
Grateful for play equipment.
Grateful for this snow-covered bridge, just because I think it’s a beautiful.
Grateful for more shelters and more play equipment.
Grateful for outdoor play cribs (turned on its side), with hopes that the non-mobile children get to enjoy sunshine and fresh air.
Grateful for wooden play structures that develop gross motor skills.
Grateful for McDonald’s. Never thought I’d write that. After leaving the orphanage, our stomachs still felt sick from the sight of Conner’s bed sores and bones. The
Grateful for the warmth and familiarity of McDonald’s.
Grateful for Coca-Cola.
Grateful for greasy French fries.
Grateful for a clean restaurant that wasn’t busy when we were there. (Matt said McDonald’s in Kiev was crazy busy.)
We successfully took the local bus system from McDonald’s to our apartment. Without a map and no knowledge of which busses stop where, nor which busses go where, this was quite an accomplishment! Grateful today for the inexpensive Kremenchuk bus system and our success in navigating it for once!
When we got back to our apartment, Matt was feeling under the weather. He felt like he had a low-grade fever last night, and he continued to fight feeling lousy today, so he took a big nap, and woke feeling better, but not yet 100%. Grateful for our comfy bed, a warm and quiet apartment, plus the time for Matt to take a good, long, much-needed slumber.
I’ve been fighting some battle going on inside my stomach. It comes and goes, but it’s progressively getting worse. Not fun. Matt thinks I’ve gotten some type of bacteria from foods I don’t normally eat. I tend to have a weak stomach anyway, so Matt encouraged me to go ahead and start a Z-pack that we brought with us. After googling what bacteria a Z-pack will treat, I learned that it is often prescribed for the most common traveler’s stomach issue: E Coli. Lovely. So I started the Z-pack tonight (Thursday) and hopefully my stomach issues will dissipate. Grateful for my Z-pack, hoping it works quickly.
We went back to the orphanage for our afternoon/evening visit, to find Cooper dressed in “real” clothes while Conner was dressed in Cooper’s “play” sleeper. Because they had on different clothes, we know they at least got out of their cribs to be changed. And their diapers were less wet. Grateful for a caregiver who paid attention to our boys today while we were away.
OK, the photo of Matt and Conner above cracks me up. Conner is making faces for the camera while Matt is making faces for Cooper. Grateful for my boys who keep me laughing.
Grateful for this little crawler, the one who supposedly didn’t know how to crawl.
And grateful for this little sitter, the one who supposedly barely knows how to sit.
And grateful for this little stander, who is now standing up all by himself. Grateful he’s out of his crib and able to move around for a total of 4 hours a day! Go Conner! Go God!
Sometimes I have to be reminded to focus on things from God’s perspective, which is impossible in my own strength, but with God’s glasses upon our eyes, I’m able to focus my perspective to one of gratefulness when I’d really rather just sit and cry. I couldn’t survive without Him. Grateful tonight (and ALWAYS) for my Savior and His perspective of gratefulness.
Thank you, Jesus, for loving us. Thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for guiding us and giving us Your perspective, Your strength, Your hope, Your joy. Please allow us to get Conner and Cooper home quickly. Heal Conner’s bed sores. Heal Selah and/or allow us to figure out her needs so she is happy and comfortable and sleeps well through the night. Heal Matt’s bout with not feeling 100%, heal my stomach issues. You are able to do all things, nothing is impossible with you, Jehovah Rapha. Sustain our children at home with Your strength, Your peace, Your presence. Reunite us quickly, as a family of 14. Move our judge to waive the 10-day waiting period. Help Matt and I to persevere in Your strength, for Your glory. Thank you for choosing as as Yours. We are but dirty, unlovable sinners, and yet You still chose us. You still love us. You still cherish us. We love because You first loved us. Thank you, Jesus.