You've come a long way, baby!

So, this was the first moment that she was placed in my arms. Dumped is actually a better word for it. She was dumped into my arms, sound asleep, sticky, flushed and hot from hours on the road in 100+ degree heat, just seconds after her caretakers walked through the door with her. This was maybe five seconds after I first saw her face. And there she was. Sleeping. In spite of (or, self-protectively, because of) the first time leaving the city where she was born, and her first five-hour car ride. That's my girl. She's a trooper.

Still sound asleep after several rounds of photos. Look at how skinny her legs were! While her calves are still slim and graceful, her thighs are now pleasantly chubby, and even her flat belly has rounded out a bit! (Though to my great envy she still has a sixpack when she flexes her abs...or, I guess, a fourpack, since that's all there's room for!) There's Ms. Tang, the orphanage director, looking lovely on my left.

In our hotel room in Guangzhou, just days after meeting us. She was quiet, compliant and amenable. At the time, I couldn't judge how shell-shocked she might have been. But in retrospect...look how huge those eyes were! Wide, wide. That is a stunned little child, trying hard to make the best of the situation she found herself in.

And here's our girl last week...five weeks home. A happy, healthy, relaxed little girl with a straight spine and an easy smile, gripping a jade bracelet that we bought in Nanjing.
I am so, so proud of her.
Here are her most recent advances:

- Two days ago, she started scratching at her ears again, and also crying during the night. She hadn't done that since our first days in China. She'd stopped after we gave her three days of the antibiotic compound that our pediatrician sent with us overseas. I was certain, when she started again, that she had the ear infection back...just three weeks before her first major cleft surgery, that could have been a serious problem. We got an emergency appointment with the pediatric office and I drove her 45 minutes to see the doctor. Turns out, she had a little hard wax in her ears, and she was teething a bit, but no fever and no sign of infection! This is pretty amazing, since babies with a cleft condition tend to be very susceptible to ear infections up until they get the tubes inserted in their ear canals. On the way home from the doctor with a healthy, happy kid in the back seat, I felt swollen with pride. My tough, healthy, vigorous kid. How can I explain how proud I am of everything about her? Her strength, her adaptability, her drive and spirit and vigorous health?
Oh, by the way, since we went for an emergency appointment, we didn't get her regular ped but an assistant doctor and her trailing med student. This doctor had yet to meet Flynn, and was surprised by how well she was doing, only a few weeks home. She told me that she was amazed by how on-target Flynn was developmentally for her age, and asked me if she had benefited from an unusually good orphanage. I said I thought so, but it was hard to know. Inside, however, I swelled again with pride and gratitude. She's good. She's healthy. She's very nearly on-target. She sleeps well. She is happy. She enjoys both of us. This is better than we ever could have hoped.

- Today she willingly ate her first bottle of meat and veggie mix. Mmmmmm...sounds tempting, no? OK, so I made it as appealing as possible. The last time we tried the meat-and-veggie baby food on her, she slapped at and threw the bottle, and although she finally drank it, she spat up about every five minutes for the rest of that afternoon. She is not normally a spitter-upper. So I was reluctant to try it again. But today I started to feel guilty. I knew that after her first birthday, she should really be branching out. Her body and brain needed more types of protein and vitamins than she was getting from soy and fruit. And we just weren't pushing it. We were playing it safe. So this afternoon, after her lunch of mangoes and yogurt, I bucked up and blended her a half-bottle that included turkey and green bean babyfood, the poached yolk of a fresh egg, and some greek yogurt. She took a sip, set her bottle down carefully, and looked at me in utter shock. I smiled and waved at her. She thought about it, picked up her bottle again, and tried another sip. After about three tentative sips, instead of throwing her bottle across the room, she picked it up with both hands, tilted it skyward, and chugged it with ravenous abandon.
I gave her about half an hour to see if her stomach revolted, and then mixed her a second bottle of normal fruit-and-yogurt dinner, and stuck her in the running stroller. Not only did she digest her meat and veggies without a single spit-up, but she was in a terrific mood for the rest of the evening, drank a full bottle of apple-and-carrot juice plus her normal dinner, and went to be smiling at 9:30 pm. SUCCESS!!

- We had another landmark day of motor-skill successes. During our afternoon practice session, I noticed that she was manipulating my hands to allow her to best adjust her own upright balance. I let her do it, moving my hands into position, letting go, wobbling a little, setting her palm lightly on my knee. And then it happened. She let go with both hands, and stood on her own, her hands clasped, free of all support, for maybe ten seconds. Needless to say, I cooed and clapped and praised her to high heaven. The look of pride on her face was something to behold. Later, during my run around the lake, I stopped on the grass and lifted her out of the stroller for another practice session. Close as it was to bedtime, she was tired, but grateful to me for allowing her the opportunity. Another thing that makes my heart glad is how she seems to thank me for helping her to become mobile. Every time we have a good practice session, she seems, aftreward, to be more affectionate and trusting with me. It's like I've been her partner in something important. She looks for me more afterward, reaches out to me more often, smiles more frequently. And during our next practice session, she becomes more touchy-feely...leaning her forehead against mine, or her cheek against my cheek, and even throwing her little arms around my neck in total abandon.

- Have I mentioned? I am so proud of my girl. She is so brave, and so driven, and so motivated. I love every smile she throws my way, every soft cheek and gesture of affection, every step forward she takes. She is impressive. She is my inspiration.


ThatGirl said...

she is so beautiful and just... "sweet!" Sweet is the word I think of when I see that little QQ face.

you have made her so healthy and strong, and that will make the recovery from her cleft surgery so much easier for her.

good job, mom!

Vivian M said...

Flynn is doing great! And so are Mommy and Daddy.
By the way, I think most Chinese kids are prone to having hard wax buildup in their ears. Kerri has suffered from this for years, and we were told to put a drop of hydrogen peroxide in her ears once a day to help. I don't recommend anyone doing this without consulting their pediatrician first, but wanted to let you know that it's pretty common for our girls.
I love the fact that you are branching out and trying new foods. Just a suggestion, try one new food at a time, just in case Flynn has an allergy. If she has a rash or spits up or has loose bowels, then it's easier to determine which food item caused it.
Maia, you have come a long way too! And you can now add "Mama" to your long list of accomplishments in life.

kerri said...

You are so in love Mom, I love your beautiful posts.
I see how Flynn is thriving in pictures and I see a mom and Dad who are over the moon happy, it is heartwarming to visit each day and see the joy.
Jennifer is prone to wax, it is a problem here, two drops of olive oil in the ear each night until wax works it's way out, it works like charm, our Dr. swears by it.

fourlittlehawks said...

Flynn is truly amazing, an inspiration to many because of the wonderful way you've shared your family's journey here. It's so wonderful to watch them bloom, and get to know them so well that you can look at a picture from China and know what they were feeling - when at the time it was taken, they were such a mystery. She just gives me goosebumps!
~ Jen Hawkins

Yoli said...

What an amazing relationship is developing here Maia. Love that smiling face and self assurance.

Duchess of Lanier said...

You two are simply inspiring!

Jill said...

Beautiful daughter. Beautiful post!