Lean In

Lean in baby girl.  Snuggle close.  Here let me help you find your fingers in the dark; I know they comfort you in a way I cannot yet.  It’s ok.  We’re on this journey together, and we’ll get there together.  I’m learning you, and as I see my reflection in your dark eyes – studying me with the same intensity I saw in the very first photo I ever glimpsed of you – I know you’re learning me too.    

It’s hard to believe three weeks ago, we hadn’t met.  You’ve been a part of my heart for so long, it just feels right to finally have you in my arms.  You feel familiar, even in the all the newness.  And it’s surprising me how quickly you’ve become mine.  I think I’d know the sound of your sleeping breath in the dark now.  As I write this, I can picture the tiny little dimple that magically appears on your left cheek when you smile wide.  I know your smell and the way your forehead feels when you press it against my lips for a kiss.  I’m starting to know the difference between your “I’m fussy” cry and the “I’m hurt/scared cry,” and I’m starting to know what might make you happy if you need a pick-me-up (outside, bath, bottle, rice crackers, other food, or graham crackers.  Did I mention crackers?)  We’re learning each other.  It will take time for both of us, but you’re mine and I’m yours, and I’m thankful baby girl.
These early days haven’t been easy.  I’m not going to sugar-coat anything because someday you may want to know as many details of our journey to each other as I can remember.  (And since this is a blog, other people considering the same journey and reading this may need honesty rather than frivolity.)  But as I have kept saying to your daddy, it could be so much harder.  You’ve taken to us so well already… the first few days, you seemed so “flat.”  We didn’t hear you cry for at least 3 days.  But then the fussiness started.  I think perhaps you realized you finally had a voice, and you’ve been practicing using it.  We’ve done our best to respond – to show you that you’re precious and that your voice matters.  But mama’s tired, sweet girl, and I find myself looking forward to the days when your smiles outweigh your whimpers.  I know they’re ahead.  I see glimmers of joy in you already.  It’s there… it just needs more time to take root.  And that’s OK.  Take your time, sweet girl.  We have all the time we need. 

But the rapid swing from flat to fussy means only good things to me… it means you’re learning we’re your people and that we care about you.  I see evidence of that even in your moments of joy.  You reach to be held by us if someone else has picked you up.  You smile wide when your daddy walks in the door after work.  You reach out in the dark while you’re sleeping, and if you feel me there, you settle back into dreamland.   So while the fussiness might be taxing, I know it means your heart is being knitted to ours. 

The trip home was brutal… but again, it could have been so much harder.  You and Cora slept on and off for much of the long flight home.  We had a pretty long layover in Houston where we saw some friends and family… and then after too much drama and thanks to an angel-in-disguise ticket agent (and probably a few of mama’s tears), we snagged the last seats on the last flight home after ours was canceled.  We got home at midnight and promptly bathed everyone and crashed for a solid 7-8 hours.  The first night home always makes weary travelers think jetlag won’t be a problem.  The next 4-5 days laugh at them.  We’re still in jetlag fog, but even in that, we’ve managed to get out of the house for ice cream, the park, Target, and a Bible Study, where you sat on my lap while I had grown-up conversation with my tribe.  I had big plans to never leave the house with you, but you seem happiest when you are on the go.  The world is so BIG, and you seem to know there’s much to be seen.   Evening is the hardest… you fuss and whine from about 4pm till we put you to bed, and the last two nights you’ve woken every 30-45 minutes until midnight or 2:00 am, and then you finally and solidly crash for the rest of the night till about 7. 

I’ve decided the best way to get through this is to accept the fact that I have a newborn.  You may be 17 months, but you’ve been in our family for less than 3 weeks.  So emotionally, I have a 3 week old.  When I treat you like I would a 3 week old, and set my expectations accordingly, we all have a lot of peace.  And the thing about newborns is they don’t stay that way forever… so I know this will only get easier with time.  And like I said, baby girl, we have all the time we need.

Our social worker visited today for our first post-placement visit.  She offered nothing but encouragement and said she sees only good signs in your adjustment, attachment, and physical condition.  We have your first pediatrician appointment next week.  I know they’ll say you are a petite little bug, so I’m probably going to have you wear your “Though she be but little, she is fierce” t-shirt.  Shakespeare had you in mind when he wrote that.   We know you have some catching-up to do, but so far we see nothing but determination and feistiness, so we’re excited to see who you will become in the next six months.

So lean in baby girl… I’m your mama and you’re my girl.  You aren’t alone anymore.  You aren’t fighting by yourself.  You have a daddy who knows just how you like to play, a sister who can make you smile, and a whole family and community who loves you like crazy.  Snuggle close and take a deep breath.  You can rest now. 

6 thoughts on “Lean In

  1. Such a sweet post. Thanks for sharing this with us. This takes me back to the first days with my two little people from China. Such a trial and a blessing all rolled up together. Sounds like everything is progressing well. Blessings to you all.


  2. Joining a family together means pulling some things apart to put them back together. I love your leaning in perspective. So true that time is at your side. Love your pictures and thank you for sharing what you are experiencing so we can all pray for you. Virginia


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