Kristiana has had many firsts, just like any child. However, only a few have been with us. Her first time rolling over, her first time giggling, her first time crawling, and her first tooth coming in were all witnessed by someone else. It could be easy to dwell on this and mourn all the time we have lost with her. Instead, I hope her biological family experienced joy when she accomplished new things, and I know the folks at New Day treasured and celebrated each “first” (She even won the Most Progress Award one month at New Day. We have the certificate!).
Home now for one month, Kristiana has experienced doing many things for the first time with us, and we are celebrating each thing! How about making a cake? As you can see below, she enjoyed baking a chocolate zucchini cake with Momma. This was one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever eaten and the best spatula she ever licked!
We are learning some great things about Kristiana. How about a Top Ten list?
In no particular order…
- She is working hard on saying, “I love you.” Each time we say, “I love you,” she puckers up her lips for a kiss. Occasionally, she will stick out her tongue at the last second and give us a very slobbery kiss and then laugh and laugh.
- She is a great sleeper! She usually goes to sleep within 5 minutes. Right now she is in a toddler bed in our room and then in our bed whenever she wakes up in the night. She has the quietest, yet most mournful cry when she wakes up in the night so I scoop her up and put her into the bed with us. How many nights did she cry and no one came? Never again.
- Kristiana responds to her Chinese name AND her American name. After months of discussion about her nickname, we realized (Hellllllll-O!) that the perfect nickname is her Chinese name. It’s easy to say, cute, and means “Sweet.” She also knows when we write her name and points to herself.
- Little One loves to color, draw, and put stickers on paper. She enjoys playing babies and with the toy kitchen. Taking objects, like toy animals, out of a container and putting them back is a big delight (also delights MaeMae since K thinks putting away toys is fun). She doesn’t mind getting her hands into things like fingerpaint, play-doh, and sand, so we haven’t noticed any real sensory concerns yet. Two of my favorite parts of the day are our story times before naptime and bedtime when my two littlest sit in my lap and we read, read, read.
- Independence is something she strives for and she is determined. Due to her cp, feeding herself is not easy. We often feed her for three reasons: it builds attachment and trust and is faster and neater. But, I try to let her feed herself one meal or part of a meal a day. She feeds herself snacks, too. If I try to take the fork from her to load food, she will pound her little chest and shake her head No, meaning, in the voice of the Little Red Hen, “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” The other children all help to feed her, too, without me even asking.
- She knows her family. If she sees a sibling or, especially, her Baba across the room at church, she squeals and kicks her legs. We have been out and about, but no one outside the family has held her except for two people, and the whole time, she was looking at me and signing and saying, “Mama.” “Yes, child, I am your Mama and you are mine…forever.” Her siblings love her and love helping her. They have taken it upon themselves to do “therapy.” Buddy practices walking with her, Chickadee helps her stand independently, StP helps her practice her balancing skills as he totes her through the house, and MaeMae works on pretend play with her.
- She communicates. So many people have asked how many words she can say and I honestly don’t know. So many sound the same, but we know what she is trying to utter. She learns new signs quickly, but she uses modified signs because of her finger movements. She has incredible body language.
- Kristiana wakes up with a smile EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Usually with her nose almost against mine. Why can’t we all wake up like that?
- Remember when the orphanage workers told us that WE could work on potty training? Well, she can poop on the potty! It is very evident when she is having a bm, so Chad will put her on the potty and most of the time she will go. She will not go for Mom, so Dad has potty duty : ) Of course, we have to put her on the potty and help her sit there, but it’s one less dirty diaper to change!
- She has special needs, but really she is just special. God is going to do amazing things with her life, and she will bring Him glory. This week marks the beginning of many appointments with specialists. We are eager to hear what the neurologist, ophthalmologist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist recommend. There are many things she could do or do better with correct positioning or equipment or increased strength. Mostly we just need education and advice. Here is why.
I disagree with the saying that having a child changes everything. I think it may change how you do some things, but it doesn’t have to change EVERYthing. Likewise, having a child with special needs will change how you do some things. THIS is a learning process and we are just at the beginning. Thankfully, I can laugh at myself and Kristiana giggles, too. Here is an example.
I took K to the hospital for her bloodwork by myself. On the way there, I realized I had forgotten to go the bathroom at home and I have the smallest bladder God ever made. I started to panic. How was I going to go to the bathroom with a four-year-old that can’t stand up independently? There was no way I could lie her on the contaminated floor in the hospital bathroom. Then, a lightbulb came on—I have a stroller! That’s what strollers are for! Strollers are used to contain small children so parents can go to the bathroom in a public place! Good thing we keep our stroller in the back of the van.
Except the stroller wasn’t in the back of the van. DH had removed it for a youth trip and didn’t put it back. Of course, we were at the hospital for an hour and a half and I HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. And, I managed to do it! She leaned against me, I shimmied and swayed, and that’s all the information I will give you.
There will be more occasions, much more important than a trip to the bathroom, that will require accommodations, ingenuity, and a sweet hour of prayer. One day at a time, that is where we are now. May we be present, enjoying all the firsts, and give glory to the One who made her.