Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nine Months

Nine months is the amount of time spent growing life in one's womb.  A mother revels in watching her belly grow, filled with active new life.  A blessed time.

For me, the past nine months has also been spent growing life, but in a very different way.  The past nine months I have been raising a young lady that lost her childhood.  A young lady that has no memory of the dear woman who gave life to her.  The past nine months have been so intense, difficult, and triumphant.  Exhausting.

As of the 17th of April Grace has been with us for nine months.  In that time she has begun to blossom in her new home, her new culture, her new identity.  Her ability to speak and understand the English language has been nothing short of amazing and I have two very special teachers to thank for that alone.  Grace is beginning to find her place among us, the oldest, though very much a "twin" of Jeremiah.  She knows what chores are hers and I rarely, if ever, have to ask her to complete her assigned tasks.  Grace feels comfortable enough to tease us, laugh at us and with us, make a snack all on her own, and let us know what she is thinking and feeling.  The past nine months have been some of the most difficult our family has experienced but if it had not been for God's grace, it could have been more difficult.  Grace is even learning just what His grace is all about.

Daddy and Grace on the Ferris Wheel at the county fair back in March.

In terms of Grace's health, she has gained weight, grown a few inches, and we are slowly working through all of the various doctor and specialist appointments.  It turns out that our dear daughter is a very complex young lady and we are taking things one day at a time.  Our biggest surprise occurred at our most recent visit to Shriner's Hospital in Tampa.  For the past several months she had been complaining about her elbow hurting and popping out of place so we made another appointment for her to be seen at Shriner's.  To be honest I figured it had something to do with her CP but we were in for a little bit of a surprise.  According to the x-rays, Grace had broken her forearm several years ago in China and it was never set properly.  As a result the bones in her forearm healed incorrectly causing her elbow to pop and come out of place.  It about broke my heart.  When I asked Grace about her broken arm she told me that even though she had x-rays and they knew it was broken, the doctor in China just sent her back to the orphanage with some pain medication.  She spent weeks in bed as it healed.  So now, the upper limb specialist has to go in, break her arm again, and put it back together with pins, screws and plates.  Oh my poor girl!  We are hoping that she can have the surgery in June, but it may not be able to occur until the beginning of August.  If you can, please pray that as the surgeon schedules his days at Shriner's this summer he adds a few extra days in June!

My two Shriner's patients:  Sammy & Grace

There has also been numerous visits with the neurologist as we wade through testing with regards to her CP.  Seizures have been ruled out, and typical brain damage has also been ruled out.  We did, however, learn that Grace has a cyst on her brain.  From what I understand thus far this cyst can be the cause of her CP but we will not know much more until we have met with the neurosurgeon.  As of today I am waiting to hear back from the neurosurgeon to schedule our initial appointment with him.  And finally, in terms of health, poor Grace has been fussing with frequent illness.  Since she has been home she has been sick every few weeks, particularly with sinus issues.  Well, it turns out that on top of everything else, Miss Grace has severe sinus disease and has been referred to the ENT.  To say that she is sick of doctors is an understatement!  I will be relived once we get some of these appointments done and over with, but the most pressing issue at this time are her arm and the cyst on her brain.

Thankfully life has not been all medical appointments and illness.  Our family has been enjoying life outside of medical needs.  March was our county's annual fair and we had the best time this year.  Watching Grace experience the fair for the first time was awesome.  She even won a goldfish!  Eric, the boys, and I also enjoyed our time and we were sad to see it end.  Here are some highlights:

Jeremiah & Elijah.


Mama and all FIVE of her kiddos!

The Berry-Go-Round.  Daddy & Grace skipped it.

Daddy & Jeremiah.

Dima & Grace.

Elijah & Dima on the Ferris Wheel.  Sadly Dima was utterly petrified.  Elijah did his best to comfort his brother.

It won't be long until this one will be behind the wheel of an actual car.

Elijah was loving it!

Daddy on one of the scary rides.  He lost his hat on this one.

Dima & Elijah on the Scrambler.  The operator of this ride loved Dima so much that he allowed these two to just ride over and over - they rode 6 times in a row until I had to get them off because we needed to move on.

The weather is getting quite warm here in the Sunshine State and we have also been enjoying our pool as well as some backyard fun.  Last weekend we decided to have our first hotdog roast supper!

Our dog was thrilled.

Getting everything ready.

The kiddos and their buddy from down the street.

This kid!  He had climbed the fence into the woods to look for a good hotdog stick.  As he was climbing back over the fence his jeans caught on the links.  Can you imagine the sound effects of this exact moment?  Oh Sammy.

In other news the kids have about three weeks left of school and then summer break will be here!  I am looking forward to a relatively quiet summer (in other words, no International travel - ha!) and spending time with my kids.  It will also be Grace's first full summer with us!

The end of the school year also means making educational decisions about the next school year and I am so excited to share that all five kids will be attending a private Christian school her in our small town!  Even Dima will be attending after spending the past two years in a school for children with special needs.  Eric and I are so proud of all of our kids as they all received scholarships to attend their new school!   Yay!

So while the past nine months have been filled with lots of hard work, patience, and love, life is overall, going well.  Eric and I continue to rely on the Lord for His strength in parenting children from hard places as well as parenting children who have been with us from the start.  I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning and while I certainly do not have all of the answers, I know the One who does.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning;  great is Your faithfulness. 
-Lamentations 3:22-23