Thursday, July 30, 2009

Naomi?

When we were in the waiting stage for our referral we talked a lot about names with our kids. They both knew if it was a boy his name would be Levi and a girl, Naomi. We were ecstatic to see Levi's face on March 19th but in the back of my head/ heart I wondered if there would ever be a Naomi. Around the same time Emelia learned how to draw people. Without any suggestion, she began to draw a family of 6. This of course included Naomi. Almost weekly her name comes up in conversation. Yesterday the whole family was in the pool and she said
"Naomi will be the 6th person in the family."
For almost 6 months Naomi has been part of our family. Emelia has decided they will have bunk beds. She has labeled which clothes and dolls Naomi will have. She told me I will need a bigger car which can hold 4 kiddos.
It is strange to think about another daughter. I wonder if it will come to be. Andrew and I have talked that our family doesn't feel complete but neither does our financial future. We are beyond exhausted all day and night. We both feel overwhelmed by the 3. BUT...
Today I was learning about the names of God and I was studying "El Shaddai" the all powerful all sufficient one.
"When you trust in El Shaddai, you will learn to give up as you watch God match your need with His sufficiency regardless of the depth of the challenge." (From trusting in the Names of God by Catherine Martin)
It was really cool to pray today
El Shaddai,
I am willing. You are all sufficient. I want to give up seeking anything else for comfort. You are enough for me. If Naomi is to be in our family I completely trust in you to make it so. I trust wholeheartedly in your provision and plan. Amen!
Now i sit and wonder. Hmmm.... Will Emelia's desire and heart for a sister come to create an amazing love story for Naomi. Will we be able to tell her we prayed, planned and dreamed about her for years before we met her. Will we say that God planted a seed in our hearts to rescue her long before she was even born.
I can honestly say I am excited to see how this story ends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

92 outside 90 inside hmmmm...

The HEAT
Yes that is right. Currently it is 743pm and 92 degrees outside. My lovely house is 90 degrees. how is this possible? We live in Seattle right? Since it is "never sunny and always rainy" here no one thought to put air conditioners in houses.
I have stopped trying not to sweat. I am gross, dripping, suffocating, and dramatic. I really don't like being hot.

Adoption
On the adoption front. Levi is really settling. He is sleeping a TON better. Taking 3 good naps during the day and waking once at night to be fed. He is starting to reach for me when someone else is holding him. When I feed him, he just is so much more relaxed. Settling. These are small milestones but we celebrate them.

On stool samples:
I have been collecting Levi's poop for 2 weeks now. The first sample I collected over a period of a few days and took to the lab. Oops, they gave me the wrong container. The second sample took several days. Babies don't poop large quantities. They want it filled to the line which takes awhile for Levi. So the 2nd sample I forgot to label. My bad. So they wouldn't run the test. I dropped our 3rd sample which is really only the 1st test of 2.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I am not the gospel

I want to....
meet all Levi's needs
always be able to comfort him
get him to sleep longer than 30 mins
never have to put him down
never WANT to put him down
never feel frustrated at him
appreciate all of our moments together
always meet his eye contact
look lovingly at him at all times
never have to make him cry because I HAVE to do something else
never leave him with someone else
never make him feel anxious
never let him know I am feeling completely inadequate

The list goes on. I want to be everything for my son, actually all my kids. But for him, I want to overcompensate. I want to erase all his hurts and anxieties by my "good behavior". The truth is that only Jesus can be that for him. I fail everyday and I am not the gospel. A good friend said this to me a few days ago
I am not big enough to MAKE my child and
not big enough to BREAK my child

Tonight I am practicing being small and dependent on God to help my son.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Worshipping the Shower

Did you know it was possible to worship a shower. A warm, no hot, quiet, calm, peaceful shower. Ever since we arrived in Ethiopia I have been worshiping a shower. In Ethiopia we only had cold splash baths. I must have thought 100x a day about just having a hot shower. Oh, how nice and clean that would feel. Now that we are home...it had gotten worse.
I try pretty much all day to get a shower. Some how I never seem to get one before my hubby leaves for work. Most days I finally get one after I put the kids to bed. Unfortunately I received oily skin and scalp genes. Someday when everyone else is wrinkly and dry, I will look fresh and cute. But for now, my oily hair NEEDS washing every day.
Today, for example, I put Levi down for a nap, put Charlie down for a nap, let Emelia practice reading on the computer and started the water. Well, of course, Levi woke up. I decided to take a chance and put Levi in the exersaucer and jump in for that....nice, hot, peaceful shower. I instructed Emelia to come get me if Levi started crying. So 10 minutes later I got out of the shower to hear screaming in the other room. Levi was crying and Emelia was completely oblivious. On the positive side, I am glad she is so "used" to her brother that his crying doesn't stress her out. Once I got to Levi, oh boy was he mad. People have asked if he ever cries. Oh buddy, he does now. Once I picked him up he was inconsolable for about 10 minutes. (When I write that it seems not long. It felt like forever). Once he finally realized it was me and I was holding him he was fine.
Why am I telling you this story. 2 reasons.
1.) I was, for the first time, able to calm my son when he was freaking out without a bottle. Usually when he gets that upset he needs a bottle to soothe.
2.) I have been realizing I worship taking a shower to some degree. I think about a shower more than I think about my Awesome God. That is pathetic.
God is working mightly on my heart. Weeding and pruning. I didn't realize how much I would need changing through Levi's adoption. I thought it would all be about him. WRONG! This is as much for me as it is for him.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

brotherly love

Several times a day Charlie exclaims, "Touch baby, touch baby, touch Levi's head!!!!". He has this urge rise within him and can't control himself. As if Levi is a chocolate cake waiting to be eaten. Charlie sits next to his brother and rubs (I mean, rubs and rubs and rubs) Levi's head. He usually puts one hand on Levi and sucks the other thumb. It brings him some sort of soothing. He just gets so relaxed (Charlie not Levi). Levi is on the other hand thinking, "Why are you messing with my freshly oiled curls?" I do enjoy the brief moments of brotherly love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What will my next generation know

Andrew and I have been watching some parenting videos of a conference Ted Tripp did at our church last fall. I have been really struck by a point he made and wanted to share it.

Judges 2:6-10
When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 ....and all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord of the work that he had done for Israel.

When I first read this I thought, "How is this possible?" These people grew up in the desert where God led them by day with a cloud and by night with a fire. They grew up on Manna and water from rocks (several times). When they went into Canaan, how could they forgotten to teach their children about the Lord. Really? How could the next generation not know the living God or what he had done. I wouldn't think this was possible. But it was and is.

We pray with our kids, read them age appropriate bible stories, take them to church and Bible Study Fellowship. We pray before meals, say please and thank you, and we try to teach them right from wrong. BUT...are we/ am I really teaching them and telling them who God is and what He has done in my life. Even in the past year, through our adoption, God has done many miracles. I haven't really tried to explain them to Emelia or Charlie. I know they are young but I should at least try.

I wasn't raised in a Christian home and really don't know how to teach these things. I am praying for wisdom that God would teach me how to teach my children. I am praying that our next family generation will know and serve the Lord.
Okay, not the best photo. Remember the vomiting and traveling for 30+ hours. But this is our family and these kids are our next generation.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ethiopia Day 5

This day started very early, about 3 am. I woke with a overwhelming nausea. My first thought was, "OMG I'm pregnant!". For those who know me well, you will completely understand this. Then as I begun to wake up I realized I am sick. I popped a few peptos and a sleeping pill hoping that would do the trick. Well at 0800 I began to throw up. Yes that is right, we are suppose to be packing up, saying goodbye and heading for the airport. The day continues with me laying practically unconscious in bed throwing up about every 15 mins. Andrew went to go talk with Almaz. It went something like this...
Andrew: I think Amber is too sick to fly. What should we do?
Almaz: If you don't leave today you probably won't get out for another 2 weeks. Get on that plane.

So Andrew returned to my vomiting self with the news that we better start packing because puking or not we are flying out. I had brought various meds left over from my hyperemesis days and began popping them, including the very important CIPRO. Finally the phenergan stopped the vomiting about 3 in the afternoon. Andrew packed the whole room by himself while watching and holding Levi. He was amazing. I gave instructions from the bed. The most important of these being "Don't forget to pack the phenergan in my carry-on."
We get on our buss headed to the airport around 6pm. I have only had a few sips of liquids and a few bites of noodles all day. We go through around 5-6 check points. At one point the guard asks why my husband is holding the baby. He says, "Don't like the baby?". I try to explain that I have been throwing up all day. Probably not the smartest since they have signs posted everywhere alerting people to the swine flu. He got the point and backed away.
As we waited to board the plane, I began searching wildly for my phenergan. Where are they??? We never did find them. They must still be in room 106 at the Union Hotel. Completely unhelpful at this point. I broke down crying, telling (yelling at) Andrew that I wasn't going to survive the trip home. Thankfully God is bigger than sickness because I survived. The next 30+ hours are a blur. We went through a million check points and 4 flights. I didn't eat until we were in Washington DC. and then only had small amount of fluid until Seattle.
When we landed in Seattle I had to hold back sobs. I was unbelievably happy and relieved to be home. We had a wonderful welcoming crowd of family and friends. I am pretty sure I scared a few of them with my amazing looks. Andrew was amazing. He basically flew alone from Ethiopia with 2 children, Levi and I.
So that was Day 5 & 6. Kind of uninteresting. here are some picks
Passed out in the airport in Ethiopia
Passed out in the airport Chicago
Levi loves his airplane bassinet
A little curbside bottle from the sister

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ethiopia Day 4

This was one of the more emotional days. We got ready (with a cold shower) and went to Hannah's Hope. Most of the families had birth mom meetings during the day. We were one of the two families that did not. I had sent a photo album with a friend earlier this month in case they located Levi's birth mom. When they found her she came to say goodbye to Levi and the photos were given to her. I am so glad I had a mustard sized faith to send that ahead.
While the birth moms were arriving and departing tearfully Andrew and I used the time to take it all in. We went on a "tour" of Hannah's Hope and met some special mothers. We also spent some time talking with Almaz and the other staff. Almaz had taken photos when Levi's mom came to say goodbye and she gave them to us. I am not sure what I thought she would look like....but she looked so different than what I expected. She is beautiful. High cheek bones, full lips and big eyes. It was heartbreaking to hear the story of her last moments with Levi, see her pictures and imagine what she must be feeling.
On a side note, Adoption is so not the ultimate answer. I wish that her pregnancy could have been prevented, or at least that she would have had the means to support him. I wish that her family could have accepted her son and raised him. I wish that all the parents that gave their kids up for adoption because they were dying of AIDS (Which is considered a treatable disease in the US that is managed like a chronic condition...not a death sentence) could be saved. There is so much that is so "unfair" yet I rejoice. I rejoice that God had a plan for my son. A plan to keep him alive, to bring him to Hannah's Hope and eventually into our arms. I rejoice that God calls my son "Beloved" and wants to be in relationship with him. I rejoice that God does not forsake but loves, provides and cares deeply for orphans. I rejoice in God's sovereign plan.
So I walked around Hannah's Hope crying. Crying for my joy and sorrow. We also began to say goodbye to the staff. I didn't know it then but that would be my last time at Hannah's Hope because I got sick the next day. Here are some pics.

Talking with Almaz


Levi's special mothers



Hannah's Hope Staff


Saying Goodbye


This was the last time through the doors; the doors I often dreamt about. The couple pictured above is Mac, Naomi and their son Abel, new friends of ours.
After we simmered down emotionally we got ready for a dinner out at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. There was dancing alone with the wonderful food. I started to feel a little funky at this point. I thought it was just the fatigue. Boy was I wrong....more tomorrow.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

one of those days

When I had 2 kids I was pretty good at diverting disaster. It happened occasionally. Today I spent the ENTIRE day cleaning up disasters. Just today:
-Emelia used the entire roll of toilet paper to wipe and clogged the toilet. (After plunging, it is still stuck.)
-Emelia was riding her bike on the deck and fell 2 feet down into the rhododendron bushes, while wearing just her panties. Ouch!
-Emelia poured about 2 quarts of bubbles into her kiddy pool and then proceeded to splash her brother in the face. another ouch
-Charlie found a sunscreen bottle and decided to apply it himself
-Charlie found a crayon and colored some dinner plates for me
-Charlie was doing his twirl dancing until he got too dizzy and fell backwards into his rocking horse, hitting his head really hard.
-I dropped an entire bottle of formula on the kitchen floor. While trying to make another one Charlie ran by, slipped and fell hitting his head. All the while Levi is screaming for his bottle.
-I finally got Levi down for a nap and I got on my kneed in the hallway praying for God to give me strength, wisdom and patience. Charlie came up to me and screamed- sweetly (Good Morning!!!!!!). Of course he woke the baby.

Seriously, this all happened between the hours of 9-6. I used to have a "normal" life. I used to be able to get through the day without crying out the God for help every 30 mins. Maybe that wasn't so good. Maybe this is exactly where God wants me. Crying out ALL day for his help, strength, mercy, wisdom and love. I am starting to hit my wall. I am beyond exhausted...and my toilet is still clogged. :)

My prayer for today.

Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise"

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say, it is well

Jesus has overcome
and the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when he calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle's wings
Before my God fall on my knees
and rise, I will rise
......

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ethiopia Day 3


I better hurry and get this trip recap done. The details are quickly fading with fatigue.

Day 3 was the shopping/ Italian lunch day. We went to Hannah's Hope in the morning and left Levi with his special mothers. It was very strange to be leaving him less than 24 hours after finally meeting him. Looking back at it, I wish Andrew would have stayed with him while I shopped. When we picked him up 6 hours later we had to start all over again with bonding. He was really agitated and it was more stress than was worth it.

We all jumped back on our conspicuous bus and drove to a shopping area. We purchased mostly gifts for Levi.

Amharic/ English bible: His baptism/ acceptance of Christ
Silver Bracelet to engrave: high School graduation
Matching coptic cross necklaces: Marriage
Silver Coptic cross on leather- wall hang: First house
Baby outfit: First Child
We also got some art work and other things. After shopping we went to a nice Italian restaurant. The sell really nice artwork. ( Tip: bring your credit card or USD. The art work was beautiful and prices start around $200.)
The food was great. However since our group was ginormous we ended being there 3hours. Yuck! We were so tired by the end and so ready to get our kiddos.

As soon as we got back to our hotel we dropped our stuff and ran back to get our son. When we got there they were just finishing giving him a bath. It was wonderful to see how tenderly they care for the babies. We spent the rest of the day loving on our boy.
Another crazy thing that happened every afternoon, was the rain. It was rain like I have never seen....and we live in Seattle. We had thunder storms and lightening every day. It also was pretty cold. Mid 60s. I also brought 2 pairs of long pants. I wish I would have brought warm clothes. I pretty much wore the same 2 outfits the entire time. The hotel does laundry, which they did well. It took almost 2 days because we kept losing power. In fact we usually only had power at night. (Tip: Charge batteries at night).
Gotta run. All 3 kids are sleeping! Going to go join them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

journey to lactation


March 19th we received our referral for Levi, then 10 weeks old. I had been thinking a lot about wanted to breastfeed him but hadn't made any decisions. I then found the Newman-Goldfarb protocol:


There is a ton of info on this web site.

The last week of March I started the protocol. 1 Birth control pill a day- Yasmin, and 20Mg Domperidone four times a day. (Domperidone has to be ordered from Canada). No pumping at this time. I continued this regime until we heard that we passed court. I think it was about 10 weeks.

Once we passed court I stopped the Yasmin and continued the Domperidone. I also added herbs (see protocol and oatmeal). I also started pumping. Pumping, pumping, pumping. For the first 48 hours I pumped every 2hours day and night. Then I pumped every 2 hours during the day and every 3-4 at night. I saved every last drop in syringes to give him later. Some lovely women I work with purchased a Medela freestyle pump for me which became my bestfriend. It attaches to your bra and is completely hands free. I pumped while cooking dinner, doing my makeup, driving the car even while going through the Starbucks drive through (I might have traumatized the Batista). By the end of 3 weeks I was pumping about 2 ounces a day. Seems like not much but your milk supply gradually increases over time with this protocol.

Once we left for Ethiopia I continued to pump on the plane. Poor man next to me. I wore a "hooter hider" to cover up. While we were in Ethiopia is was much more difficult to pump and clean all the parts. I think I pumped about 4 times a day. I gave this to him in a bottle. I did try latching him in Ethiopia and was successful 3 times.

Now that we are home things look a little different. I only pump morning and night and get about 2 ounces each time. I just don't have the time at this point to pump anymore than that. I feed him his bottles against my naked chest. I have tried using a "SNS" and a nipple shield, both a little too much work at this point. Will try again later.

Last night after feeding his bottle he turned his head, latched on and went to sleep. He wanted me for a pacifier. HE slept like that for about 15 mins before I put him down. He did the same thing this morning. I do hope he moves on to actually nutritive sucking but for now being my son's pacifier is a dream. It is truly amazing!

I hope this TMI encourages some of you to think about adoptive nursing and induced lactation. It is a labor of love but completely worth it. See article below for research on adoptive nursing and the benefits for mother and child.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ethiopia Day 2

We woke up around 0500 with the Muslim call to prayer, dogs barking, about 10 roosters. Hmm.... annoying yet beautiful. 2 cold showers, pumped (yes, the boobs- more about this later) and went down stairs for breakfast. I really enjoyed the food at the union. Especially because it is prepared with such love. The staff at the hotel really are amazing. The breakfasts were really quite good. I especially enjoyed the oatmeal and eggs. They make a crepe like pancake which was great to wrap the eggs in.
Almaz met us at the hotel for paperwork and itinerary explanation.
Here we are filling out our papers
After the paperwork we all walked to Hannah's Hope. It is a really short walk; just up a path and around the corner. Seeing that amazing red door was indescribable. It is a moment I dreamed about for so long.
Hannah's Hope Gate

We were the first of our 2 groups (toddler parents and older kids went first) to walk in those doors. Julie, our case manager, walked across the court yard to were the babies were. She started calling "Degefa" and the special mothers pointed out our beautiful sleeping boy. It was a little anticlimactic because I had envisioned seeing him, swooping him up and crying sweet tears. Well I actually just leaned over his bouncy seat and thanked the Lord for him. Another baby started crying, which woke him. He opened his eyes to see me for the first time. He didn't cry of fuss. He looked intrigued. Levi makes more eye contact than most babies I have ever met. Once his eyes met mine, I don't think he blinked or looked away for many minutes.
Those eyes


We were able to take him back with us to our hotel for about an hour and then we walked back to Hannah's Hope to get on a bus. We all went together to the US embassy to get our children's US VISAS. The rest of the day was spent falling in love with our son. The details seem fuzzy because I was so focused in him.

When you start your adoption application you are really imagining the day you will meet your child. Everything you do is for that moment. Of course there are many more amazing moments to come but that....wow that....is unlike anything else. By the time you meet, you have completely and selflessly fallen in love with someone who knows nothing about you. I had spent hours, if not days, on my knees praying for the boy with those eyes. Meeting our son was amazing, time stopping, breathtaking, worshipful and complete. ...........

Monday, July 6, 2009

More pictures and Ethiopia trip day 1

Our travel group (half of them)
Happy boys
First Family Picture
Hmmmmm....deep in thought



I thought I should try to write some of my thoughts/memories before they covered by a mist of spit up, no sleep and washing diapers, laundry and bottles.

We left Seattle at 10pm on Friday night. Arrived in DC at 6am. We didn't sleep much on the flight. Too excited, I guess. We checked into a hotel since we had a 14 hour layover. We slept 6 hours, took our last (didn't know it then) hot shower, had room service and headed back to the airport at 5pm. Checked in and had dinner with some new friends, Naomi and Mac. They were with us every flight the whole way.

Our flight to Addis Ababa was uneventful. Several AGCI families were all with us on that flight. We slept and watched movies. Got a numb butt and tingly legs. The guy across the aisle threw up. Yah know, usual flight stuff.

We arrived in Ethiopia at 7pm on Sunday night. AMAZING! Things went from an idea to very real all of a sudden. After exiting the airplane we got our Ethiopian Visa and then picked up luggage. It took several hours for all of us to get through this part. The drive through the city was mysterious. It was so dark outside. We got to our hotel around 10pm. Andrew and I took sleeping pills (highly recommend) and hit our pillows. We had to be up, dress, cold showered, and fed by 9am for paperwork with Almaz.

my favorite picture

Sunday, July 5, 2009

trying to process

So this post is probably more for me than anyone reading this. So if it bores you, scroll on.

Levi has been with us for 1 week now. He is full of smiles and giggles. 99.9% of the time content. He cries for about 5 minutes total in a day. (We have been told this will probably change as he gets more secure). Emelia and Charlie adore him. Today I got to cuddle with my older kids after they napped. We ate a fabulous dinner. Other than the toddler temper tantrums, life seems "perfect".

But..... yes there is always a but

I have this nagging sadness like I am trying to hold back tears all day. I am debating whether or not to watch a sappy movie just to get the tears a flowing. I cannot truly explain what it is like to make a trip across the world, to a completely different world, to meet your child. Other adoptive parents know exactly what I am talking about. There is so much anticipation, so many dreams, SO much happiness and yet sadness.

Levi has known 3 mothers.
His birth mom: She gave him life. She held him, rocked him, fed him and loved him for his first 8 weeks of life. She loved him more than she loved herself and chose for him a different life.

His "special mothers": At Hannah's Hope, the special mothers doted and loved on him. They convinced him to trust again and open his heart to be loved. He was deeply love and well cared for there.

Here is where I come in...His Forever mother: I am the one to love him for life. To be there for ALL the great and not so great moments. I am the one to help him to learn to trust, again. The one to fill his heart so full of love that he blossoms.

In his 6 short months of life he has experienced more loss than most adults I know. He has lost EVERYTHING he knows twice. I know that being in a family is the best for him, that God chose us for him. But I ache for my son. I feel the same way about Emelia and Charlie but they have had relatively "easy" lives. When I brought Levi into my arms and heart, I also hold the weight of his hurt.

So today I am processing. Or at least starting.

I hope this doesn't sound like I am not completely in love and happy with our son. I just want to be as honest as possible about adoption. It would be a great lie to only write about bliss. Adoption is a great adventure...the good and the bad.

Introducing.....

Proud to introduce.....
Levi Degefa Weiseth
Born January 9, 2009
In our arms June 29, 2009

So this picture was taken by a friend a few weeks ago. We haven't downloaded our pictures from our trip yet but I wanted everyone to see our cute boy.
As soon as we can we will post more actual trip pics.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

HOME

We made it! We are home! Loving on baby Levi!