10/12/08

Just because she looks good in stripes...


Today is the second to last day before we have to take QQ in for her surgery, and I am increasingly devastated. I know that Maia was right in her comment on a previous post - she said that we are giving QQ the power of speech. And that is a tremendous gift. Of course it is! A gift of mythic proportions.

I, of all people, the language geek, should appreciate what a gift is the power of speech. I'm the quintessential English Major, and I have always loved language. I love everything about it. I am constantly amazed by how many words we humans can hold in our brains, the facility and casual dexterity with which we (well, OK, some of us!) can toss those words around, mold them and shape them and create eloquent images and vivid stories with them. How amazing is that? It's flabbergasting to me. It's one of the best things about being human, at least to my mind. Ever since the long nights I spent reading voraciously under the covers as a child, flashlight in hand, my wrist going sore from holding up my chin, I have loved words. I read everything I could get my hands on in those early years - not just books meant for children but all manner of books...books from faraway lands where people spoke in unusual ways, in long and flowery sentences, in short, mesmeric phrases. Books from centuries in the past when language was used much differently than it is today. To this day, my mind is constantly picking over words, dissecting them, conjugating them, seeking out their Latin roots, trying to imagine their origins, who first spoke them and why a particular word was chosen to denote a certain object, action or emotion.

So, yes, I of all people should be wild with excitement at giving the power of speech to our daughter, she who emotes so eloquently, but cannot pronounce the words she is trying to repeat. She whose face speaks volumes, who holds back nothing. She who now babbles in wavering, graceful, ululating streams of vowel sounds, trying to get her daddy to pay attention to her when he's posting news stories on the computer.

Imagine what she'll say when she can speak in words! Imagine how much she'll have to tell us!

I know, too, that she smiles with her eyes. Just look at those smiling eyes! So that even when her mouth is stiff and restrained, and she can't yet smile her old smile, she will still be able to smile with those eyes. I hope it won't be long before she's happy enough to do so.
It's just hard, because literally every day these days I can feel her relaxing and bonding with us at an exponential rate. You can feel it in her little body when she slides into your lap or throws an arm around your neck, in her hands when she clutches and manipulates your fingers. A couple of days ago, she kissed me for the first time. When we first brought her home, she would allow kisses, but seemed indifferent to them. She had a sort of royal way of turning her head just slightly to make her cheek available. In recent weeks, she started actually raising her cheek toward me with her little half-smile when she knows it's time for kisses, like at bedtime. But she didn't like much of anything near her mouth, and she would avoid having a kiss land anywhere in the vicinity of her lips. She wasn't angry or unpleasant about it, she's just duck her face a few millimeters at the last second.
Well, the other day, after I had kissed some of her stuffed animals for her at naptime, she clutched the rail of the crib, raised her face very carefully and placed her lips on mine. then she did it three more times. I was completely floored, needless to say!
Later that afternoon, when we were playing with her rocking dinosaur, she did it again. First she kissed the dinosaur on the nose, then she turned her head - very delicately and shyly again - and kissed me two or three more times on the lips. Of course, she can't even come close to pursing her own lips. So it's just a touch of her mouth to mine. She hasn't done it for daddy yet, which is driving him crazy, but she is so plainly besotted with him that I think it's probably OK if I get the kisses to myself for now. That way, I know I'm loved too.

She also comes to me now. If I hold out my hands and call her, she'll grin and then come racing to me on all fours. She just did it out of the blue one day, and has done it ever since.
Every day there are two or three new advances. She has learned (all on her own, no encouragement from me) to hand her juice bottle to me when she's done drinking, rather than drop or throw it like she used to. Yesterday at Whole Foods I let her carry a glass jar of babyfood, thinking that certainly the first time I wasn't paying attention I'd hear it shatter on the floor (yes, I was willing to take that chance) and instead, when I turned back from inspecting a shelf of vitamins, I saw her patiently and carefully holding it out to me, as if to say "This seems breakable - you should probably take it back."

If I point to something and tell her to get it, she will pick it up and hold it out to me. She loves to share, and will hand things back and forth with us endlessly, smiling every time the gift is accepted, and even more broadly when it is returned again. You can't put a price on that self-taught lesson!

Her speed crawling has reached alarming velocities. She's like that baby space creature from the Alien movies that thrashes around the room so fast you can't keep it in your line of vision. It scares the dog. He'll tuck tail (as much of a tail as he has, which isn't much) and run when she goes into high gear. I'll turn around and she's three rooms away. Here she is escaping the house for the first time.

I think she's angry because the cement is so hard on the patio.

But she got over it quickly.

Her laughter and her sense of humor is becoming more and more mature. And oh, how she loves to laugh. You can see the happiness radiating from her when both her parents are home. She'll reach for us alternately turning her head from side to side so as to keep both our faces in view. She is never happier than when she can hold both of our hands at once.

You can see her developing this vast ocean of comfort and gladness at the things that are hers, the things she is learning to believe will not be taken away. You can see it in the way her face opens up when we walk back in the door of our warm and welcoming home after a run or an adventure. You can see it in the way she grins at us when we hand her a toy she knows well. Her whole face says "thank you". She needs to thank us thoroughly with her eyes before even taking the time to play with the toy. The joy of being given it, of having us offer to play with her, is much greater than the joy of the object itself. And isn't that a lesson we could all learn from.

So yes, it is very, very hard for me to take away all this comfort and trust, to throw her into an environment of strangers who will cause her pain. I need to see the other side of this. I need to be reassured that she will emerge just as strong and happy and full of joie de vivre. I need to see that first smile, that first look of mischief on her face again. That is the light at the end of my tunnel right now.

16 comments:

A Beautiful Mess said...

(((Hug)) my friend.

Your daughter will amaze you with her strength. When she wakes up you and mike will be there to give her comfort.

Cavatica said...

She will show you the way. This I believe about your QQ. You'll know just what to do when the time comes. Unfortunately for now you only have uncertainty because the time isn't there yet. But trust her. She will show you and you will know what to do to make it right for her.

Yoli said...

Mike, it will workout all right. She is going to have a proceedure that will give her and you access to her thoughts. How wonderful is that? Also, she has so much love and comfort from the both of you, that she will reach out to you both when in pain. I totally understand your feelings. You are both wonderful parents. She is not alone in China having this done. She has the comfort and love of her parents to guide her through this.

{{HUGS}}

sarahthefantastic said...

Don't worry about disrupting her attachment to you. She is bonded with Gorilla Glue.Even over the computer we can all see this. I was very uneasy about this as well and when the time came YaYa showed absolutely no sign of retreating or of questioning what I was doing at all. She was more interested in visiting the nurses and your QQ will be too.
Cavatica said it so beautifully and truly. You will all amaze each other! Now go think about something completely different before you drive yourself mad. This may be a good time to learn to knit. More bolstering and empathy from your devoted fan and friend in the North. xooxoox...

Heather said...

(((HUGS))) For what it's worth, when my girls went through medical issues, the bonding only got stronger. Sydney had open heart surgery soon after we got home with her and, while I had the same fears the you expressed, she actually grew closer to us while in the hospital.

ThatGirl said...

I understand -- we still haven't taken Bennett in for circumcision, we're too upset by the thought of him hurting.

She will thank you for the rest of her life for helping her eat and speak and yes, smile with confidence. Hang in there, Mom!

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

What can I say but she is a sweetie... you are lucky parents to have her... and yep, those eyes really do smile...

Margaret Miracle said...

I have been so consumed with my own feelings and preparations that I have not checked in. I just realized that our babies are having surgery on the same day....many miles apart! QQ will be in my thoughts and prayers. Praying their smiles stay beautiful!!! Hugs to you all!

Maia said...

You wouldn't be human if you weren't worried about this. But I am certain that it will truly be okay. Even if it does set back the bonding a little (and I'm not saying it necessarily will - many, many people talk about how it actually brought their children closer to them when they went through something like this) - it's just a matter of time before you'll have what you have now, and then some. This whole thing is a slow build -a process - and her trust in you, your knowledge of her- the amazing love between you three - it only gets stronger and stronger with time. An operation might stall that momentarily, but I promise you that you will all get through it and be better than ever in no time at all.

In the beginning, there was some relief for me in the fact that FF had already had all her major surgeries before we met her. But now I would give my eye teeth to be able to go back in time and be there for her. She spent a month in the hospital - pretty much alone. And consequently, her fear of doctors and anything to do with the medical environment is profound and crippling. You will be there for QQ - you will be there to comfort her and help her through and to let her know that she's loved. And that is such a gift for you both.

Hang in there. We're all thinking of you and your beautiful, beautiful girl. It won't be easy - but I know you can do it.

Maia said...

Oh, and I love the story of your first kiss! So beautiful!

Vivian M said...

Whn Kerri was only home a few short months, she got very ill and had to be hospitalized. They did all sorts of atrocious things to her, like stuffing tubes down her nose and throat (all the while telling me to hold her down because she was fighting them). It was the hardest thing I ever did. I wanted to kill the doctors and nurses that were doing this to her. Yet I knew they were helping her and was grateful at the same time. I cried more than she did.
I thought Kerri would distrust me and hate me and that our bonding process would be impacted. And Kerri was mad at me for a little bit, but then had no choice but to turn to me for comfort. That week we spent in the hospital together really brought us closer (out of desperation maybe) and Kerri emerged from her stay knowing she was loved and that Mommy never left her side.
Flynn is a survivor and she will get through this and the following plastic surgery too. Kids are resilient and stronger than we sometimes give them credit for. And she will still be beautiful, still smile, and her personality will come shining through again once the pain subsides. And I know you love her just the way she is, but really, she will still be Flynn, and although she will look different, she will still be beautiful, just in a different looking way. I think she will love reading someday about how much you loved her just the way she was. And I hope you pass down your gifts to your daughter!

Tamara said...

I will be thinking of QQ, you and Mike. I hope her surgery is quick, straightforward, and as uncomplicated as possible.

It is so good that she is here with her family who love her to wake up to afterwards with a great doc to do it too. I know it will still be very hard and scary for all of you, but you and QQ can do this. I'll be sending you all of my good wishes right now.

Mom-of-Bean said...

I pray for a good outcome for QuiQui's surgery - and I'll work on a fun pair of pants for her as a "mending" present. Strength to all three of you.

Lost and Found said...

QQ has an amazing spirit which she was likely born with but you are fostering every day. She is becoming exactly who she was meant to be. We will think of you all tomorrow and the days to follow. Your strength will help give her the power of truly free speech.

Virginia and Doug said...

I've been hooked on your blog for several weeks now but I don't think I've commented before. Flynn is breathtaking and it's obvious she is woven into your family already. In all of her pictures she looks so at ease and peaceful. That's a beautiful thing. I will be thinking of you all tomorrow.

Gin =)

Qiuqiu's parents said...

btw it was me writing here, not Mike. When I said "Maia" I was talking about the "other" Maia, who lives on the east coast. I know, confusing!