Saturday, December 25, 2010

Caitlin's First Christmas

We spent Caitlin's first Christmas with Paul's family in Milwaukee. Caitlin enjoyed meeting her extended family and spending time with everyone! Here are a few pictures of her opening presents on Christmas Eve:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas!

Here are a few pictures from yesterday:

Posing in her Christmas dress:
Pictures with Santa (she wasn't too sure about Santa!):

Opening her first Christmas gifts (our family gifts, since we will not be here for Christmas):

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting back to (somewhat) normal...

Today Caitlin was able to switch to a pureed diet, and I can't explain it, but it is such a relief! I still have to feed her (she is still not allowed to put ANYTHING in her mouth), but we can use a spoon instead of a bottle. And the food just has to be pureed as opposed to liquefied, which is one less step! She still can't have any "chunks" or soft food until the stitches are gone and her mouth is completely closed up, but the surgeon says that takes about 3 weeks so starting next week I'm going to start adding soft foods back in. We still have to be very careful until about 6 weeks post-op, when her mouth will be considered healed.

Maybe it's just that, little by little, things are beginning to return to normal and that just feels good!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We're Doing OK!

Just wanted to update for those who were worried about us to let you know that we are doing OK. The past few days have actually been much better; in fact, during the daytime (awake hours) Caitlin almost seems to be back to her old self! Nighttime and naptime are still a different story, but the past 24 hours have even been better in that category (knock on wood!)

Starting on Tuesday we can move to a pureed diet, meaning she still has to eat baby food, but at least she doesn't have to have the baby food watered down and fed through a bottle. That should make her happy! I am down to only giving her Tylenol when she needs it (when she gets really cranky and starts playing with her mouth with her tongue). The "no-no's" will stay on another week, and even after that I think I will still put them on her when she's sleeping and I can't watch her. I'm still very afraid of her hurting or un-doing everything that's been done. Other than that, things are finally, slowly returning to near-normal.

Thank you again for all of your thoughts, prayers, advice and words of encouragement! I really don't know what I would have done without them! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good News!

Well, we didn't get any real answers from the surgeon today, but I heard the words I'd hoped to hear: Everything looks great! Her mouth is healing just fine, the tissue looks good, and there is no sign of infection. She is by no means healed; she is seeping blood (thus the orange stains on her sheets), and it will be another 2 weeks or so before the roof of her mouth has closed up, but he saw what he wanted to see for it being only 1 week after surgery.

He acknowledged her stinky breath and the drainage from her nose, but he said that since there was no sign of infection it is OK and will (hopefully) pass with time. As far as the sleeping issues, he said that it is to be expected with the tramua she just went through and, again, should pass with time. And she still has a very slight fever, but he said that is normal for post-op. Unless something else comes up, we don't have to go for our scheduled post-op appointment next week; we are done until the New Year!

She is to continue with the liquid diet for another week, then we can start slowly adding soft foods back in. The no-no's have to stay on for at least another week, but since she is such a major thumb-sucker he said we'd probably want to keep them on for a good 3 weeks, until her mouth is closed up.

So it was a very long day (the hospital is about 90 miles away; with traffic it takes 2-1/2 hours), but so worth it to get some peace of mind! Now I can focus on the behavior issues...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Little Better...

Well, today went a little better! Caitlin woke up with only a very slight fever, which was great news, BUT when I went in to get her this morning I found her with one arm out of her "no-no." How the Little Houdini managed such a feat, I have no idea. I really thought there was no way possible; I put the no-no's under the sleeves of her PJs! But she somehow managed to get her arm out of the no-no and sleeve, and then slip her arm out the neck of her PJs. I flipped when I saw it; she wasn't sucking her thumb when I found her, but I don't know how long she had been "free" or how much damage she might have done. I had spent the night checking on her and making sure she still had her restraints on, so I don't even know when she did it. Unfortunately, however, there is really nothing more I can do to prevent her from getting out of the restraints- short of super-gluing them to her arms. And I can't stay up all night to watch her every move. I'm checking on her every couple of hours, but apparently that's not enough...

The weird thing is, she doesn't even mind the no-no's! She cries when I take them off. In fact, she was sitting there crying when I went in this morning. So why she did it, I have no idea.

So that was a bad start to the day. Caitlin got back in my good graces, however, (I was really mortified with the whole no-no thing) by helping me with the laundry. She likes to put the clothes in, and take them out of the dryer.

She only had 2 tantrums all day, and those were not that bad. She never hit, kicked or scratched, so I'm calling it a victory!

The sleeping issues, however, continue to get worse. It seems to have digressed into separation anxiety. I was trying to figure out why she insists on trying to sleep in her carseat and on the bathroom floor while I'm in the shower, but why, no matter how exhausted she is, she is fighting sleeping at naptime and bedtime. Then I realized that when we're in the car or the bathroom, I am there and she feels secure that I am not leaving her. When she falls asleep at naptime and bedtime, I slip out and she wakes up alone. I'm not sure what it was about the trauma of the surgery that has caused this digression, or how to fix it, but I really need to get a handle on it so that we both can get more sleep. As it is, she is still waking up multiple times a night SCREAMING. Before the surgery she was sleeping through the night, with the exception of an occasional nightmare or night terror.

We are going back up to see her surgeon tomorrow morning, and I have a list of concerns to discuss with him so we'll see what he says. Her fever has stayed down all day, but her breath still smells bad (a sign of infection), and she still has a lot of drainage coming out of her nose. And I'm hoping he has some advice on the sleep issues, although I realize that is probably not really his area of expertise!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rough Week

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days, but it's been really tough here. Caitlin has taken my total and undivided attention when she's awake, and since she hasn't been sleeping well I haven't had much "off" time, either. And when she doesn't sleep, neither do I, so I've been pretty exhausted as well. Honestly, I just haven't felt like writing about how bad it's been, but people have been e-mailing me to check on us since they haven't heard from me, so I realized I needed to update!

As bad as Friday was, Saturday was far worse. That was the day that Caitlin's frustration with the situation turned to total and complete attitude. She reverted to throwing major tantrums at the drop of the hat, and the tantrums were even more severe than what we saw those first days in China. I thought she was getting over the tantrums; I've tried very hard to teach her that tantrums won't get her anything (tantrums are a MAJOR pet peeve for me; I despise them), but I think she's just beyond the point of rational thinking at this point.

I can put myself in her shoes and understand her frustration. As my parents pointed out, she's lost 2 of her 3 most favorite things: sucking her thumb and eating (she LOVES to eat). I'm thankful that she at least still has her 3rd favorite thing: her car seat! She never liked drinking; I've been forcing fluids on her since the day we met so she wouldn't get dehydrated... And yet now that's all she gets! I don't think she is hungry. She gets just as much (if not more) than she did before the surgery, but I think that since it comes watered down she probably doesn't think it counts. I wish there was some way for me to explain to her what's happening and why, but of course that is not possible. So she has to trust me and hope that I know what's best for her, but we've only known each other for barely 2 months- how much does she trust me?

But that doesn't make it alright to scratch, hit and kick me. I will spare you the gory details (and I really don't want the world to know about this new side of my daughter), but suffice it to say, it was ugly. I had been warned before by the surgeon's PA that she was going to be frustrated and angry, and that she would take it out on me, and that's exactly what is happening.

On top of all that, she is also not sleeping very well. It started with her just waking every 4 hours when she needed more pain medicine, but then it got so bad that she was actually waking up, screaming and fighting, every single hour. It would take me time to get her back to sleep, then it would take time for me to get back to sleep, and then it would start all over again! I almost cried at one point; I was so tired I honestly didn't think I could go on. With us both being that exhausted, it doesn't make it any easier to cope- neither for her to cope with her frustration, nor for me to cope with her!

So it was a very, very long weekend. Today started out better (she only threw 2 tantrums all morning!), but then Caitlin started to run a slight fever. By the time she woke up from her nap, it was higher. She woke up very whiny and she clearly did not feel well. By tonight it was up to 100 degrees; still low-grade under most circumstances, but I have to worry if this means she's getting an infection. I'll see how tonight goes, but we may be making a trip back up to the hospital tomorrow. I had already spoken with her surgeon this morning to tell him about her sucking her thumb Thursday night and about all the discharge coming out of her nose, and he asked us to come up Wednesday morning so he could check her out. But now with the fever we may need to go up a little earlier.

And the adventure continues...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Caitlin's Surgery- Day 4

Caitlin had a low day today. I wanted to post some more pictures of her, but she just wasn't very happy and she didn't smile much.

Last night she woke up several times. She got out of her "no-no's" twice; the second time I went to give her some more pain medication because she was moaning and crying in her sleep and I found her with her thumb in her mouth! I absolutely panicked, as you can imagine! I hope she didn't do any damage, but she never bled so I'm taking that as a good sign.

This morning she woke up very whiny. She whined and cried all morning, then fell asleep on the bathroom floor while I was taking my shower. She took a good hour-long nap, even sleeping through me stepping over her while getting dressed. That set her naptime back, which set her bedtime back. Oh well, I'm really not worrying about schedules right now!

We tried to run to Target to stock up on baby food for her, and she whined and threw mini-tantrums the whole time. She usually LOVES Target- especially riding in the shopping cart- but not today. We came back home and she and I went outside for a bit to work on the yard, then she took a long nap. Normally I'll wake her up if she's not up by 5 PM so as not to mess up her bedtime, but tonight I just let her sleep. She didn't wake up until almost 6!

Tonight I managed to get her "no-no's" under her PJs so she can't possibly get out of them. Hopefully she'll sleep through the night, but she will probably need more pain meds. I can tell when it's time for another dose of the pain meds without even looking at the clock- she gets very cranky and whiny and starts playing with her mouth with her tongue. I was hoping to get her off the pain meds today and just try Tylenol, but with as unhappy as she obviously was I decided not to try it quite yet. Hopefully tomorrow!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We are home- THANK GOD!! It feels so good to be home!

Caitlin was happy to be home- and to see her "Lala" (Libby)! I fed her a snack, then we went for a quick walk around the neighborhood (we both needed some fresh air, and Libby needed a walk). When we got back, we opened a couple of packages that had come while we were gone. Caitlin had a blast helping me open my Lia Sophia order, and trying on all the new jewelry! Here's a picture of her showing off all the necklaces she had me put on her:Definitely a "girly girl"- another wish come true! :)

Then we opened a "get well soon" package my parents had sent to Caitlin: a baby doll stroller.She had fun pushing it around the kitchen while I fixed her some dinner. Since Caitlin has to "eat" through a bottle for the next 2 weeks, and the doctor recommended that I not try to puree her food myself (she said that any "chunks" that get through by accident can get caught up in her stitches, which can get infected, which means big trouble), I used baby food, then watered it down. Caitlin ate a tub of Gerber veggies and risotto, which I watered down with chicken broth; Gerber pears, watered down with some juice; and yogurt, watered down with milk. She loved it all and drank it right down!

After dinner Caitlin seemed to be sinking a little, so I went ahead and gave her a bath to get ready for bed. She did not play in the tub, in fact she looked almost zombie-like. I was starting to get concerned when she didn't even cry when I washed her hair (she HATES that). I gave her some more pain meds and she was asleep in no time. I hope she sleeps through the night and doesn't have any discomfort.

All in all, today was SO much better; it was great to see the old Caitlin emerging! Hopefully tomorrow will be even better. Her appetite seems to be back, and even the "no-no's" (arm restraints) seem to not be bothering her- yet. In fact, she seems to have just accepted them as a way of life. She's already figuring out how to do things with them on, and when I take them off (like for her bath or to put on her jacket), she just patiently waits for me to put them back on!

Caitlin really has impressed me through all this. I am so proud of how brave and resilient she has proven herself to be. I was preparing for the worst, but she has been a real trooper!

Just heard from the doctor, and he is signing our discharge papers! We will be leaving soon!

The nurse just came by to say we do not have discharge orders yet. Still haven't seen the doctor, either. Meanwhile, Caitlin was due for another dose of antibiotics, so we are re-tethered to the IV machine. Bummer. I really hope we get to go home today.

But we did have some fun and enjoy the freedom while it lasted. Caitlin really liked the wagon, although I couldn't catch a picture of her smiling. This was the best I could do:We also went to the playroom for awhile, although Caitlin was only getting frustrated because she couldn't do anything with the "No-no's" (arm restraints) on. But now we are back in the room watching Sesame Street, waiting for more news!

Caitlin's Surgery- Day 3

They are making moves to try to get us out of here today! They said that Caitlin is doing everything she's supposed to do, her fever is back down to normal, and although she is crying a lot and generally just not happy, it seems to be more due to her frustration than pain.

She has been awake since about 7 AM (so almost 2 hours now); she's been drinking juice and even some broth, so they disconnected her IV. They'll keep an eye on her "output" (i.e.- diapers) to make sure she's getting enough fluids. Her surgeon is supposed to be coming by to give her a thorough checkup, and I guess as long as he's satisfied with what he sees, we'll be discharged!

Caitlin is very restless, so I asked to take her for a little walk. I carried Caitlin and dragged her IV machine all around this floor- this hospital is huge! That seemed to make her a little happier. She pointed at things, and even laughed a little- and tried to "bark" at a dog statue we saw! It made me feel so much better to see some of the "old Caitlin" come out!

We came back by her ward to make sure no one was looking for us, and her nurse disconnected her IV. Now we are waiting for a wagon so I can walk her around again. Maybe we can go find me a Dr. Pepper- I seriously need one, but I can only slip out to the cafeteria when she's sleeping. And I'm typing this with one hand because she hasn't let me put her down since she got up. I just wanted to update everyone on the news so far. I really hope we can go home soon- I think Caitlin will be SO much happier at home!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

She just drank some juice! (Out of a bottle!) Only about an ounce and a half, but it's a start! Her fever is back, though...

Caitlin seems to be having a much better day today (so far)! She still will not even let a bottle near her lips, but the nurse told me I could try giving her some broth with a spoon (VERY carefully- the spoon cannot enter her mouth, so I have to kind of dump the soup in her mouth. Only about half actually makes it in!), and she did have a few spoonfuls this morning. But she was so exhausted she just couldn't keep her eyes open, so I put her back down to rest.

About noon she woke up and was pretty upset. She didn't seem to be in pain, just really unhappy. I picked her up and held her, and she calmed down. The nurse brought some more broth, and this time she drank more. Still not enough, but it's a start! She was awake for a good 40 minutes, although I couldn't really call it 'alert.' She sat in my lap and stared at the TV; she was pretty zoned, but she could keep her eyes open and didn't cry so I was happy. I'm calling it progress!

No sooner had I finished the last post when the Fellow Resident came back by for a visit. Poor guy- we talked to him yesterday morning before the surgery, last night about 8 PM (so 13 hours later), then he was back here by 7 AM this morning. These people work hard and long! I'm really very impressed with this hospital and all the people I've met so far. Our nurse last night was really amazing; I just can't say enough nice things about her, and everyone we've spoken to or dealt with has just been top-notch!

Anyway, the doctor said her mouth looks great, and that our goal for today is to get her to drink something. He basically said in so many words that since she'd had such a rough day yesterday, and since she won't have any part of drinking anything, it doesn't look like we're going home today. He reminded me that the older babies have a harder time with this procedure and recovery, so this was expected. But I decided we'd both be a whole lot happier at home (of course!), so as soon as he left I tried so hard to get Caitlin to drink something. She won't have any part of it. She won't even let the bottle near her mouth. I'll try again later... now I need a shower! Caitlin has drifted back off to sleep, so I'd better hurry!

Caitlin's Surgery- Day 2

Well, we made it through the night! The surgeon's Fellow Resident came by last night, and I talked to him about my concerns with the Morphine. I told him that whatever pain meds they had given Caitlin in Recovery (not Morphine, but I couldn't remember the name) seemed to have worked quite well; she had been moaning and groaning in her sleep, but as soon as they gave her those meds she'd fallen into a quiet, calm sleep. I asked if we could try that pain med again.

He authorized her for the new meds (still don't know the name, but I need to ask so I'll know for the next time), and Caitlin became a different child. She is so much calmer now, and she slept pretty peacefully through the night. She did have a slight fever yesterday, which the nurse thinks was also helping to make her uncomfortable, but that went away overnight which is great!

She woke up crying at midnight, 1 AM, and about 2:15, but I could calm her and she would fall back to sleep. After 2:15 she started to wake up more often, and take longer to calm down, so about 3 AM the nurse came back and gave her another dose of the new pain meds and she pretty much slept soundly from then until 7 AM when her new nurse came in to meet her.

Now if only I could have had some of those magic meds; I did not sleep at all! The bed I made on the couch was comfy enough; the nurse brought me a huge pile of sheets and blankets, and I piled them all on to make the bed as plush as possible. But every time I'd start to drift off Caitlin would wake up. And in between, her IV machine or monitors would start to beep, so I'd have to go get a nurse. Then after 3 AM, when Caitlin finally went into a sound sleep, they brought her roommate back in, who is just not a happy camper. Poor little guy- for some reason his mom is not here with him, and my heart bleeds for him. He cries for his mom and I just want to go over and scoop him up and hold him! I suppose his mother might have a good reason for leaving him here by himself, but I've tried to imagine what might be more important to me than being here with Caitlin and I just can't!

Anyway, the nurses are awesome and tried to help by taking him out of the room for several hours last night. He clearly didn't want to sleep so they wheeled him around in a wagon and let him hang out at the nurses' station. But at 3 AM they brought him back, tucked him in, and closed the door. A few minutes later he started to scream, and scream, and scream. I waited patiently but no one came. Finally, after several minutes of this, I went out to the nurses' station. The kind nurse looked up and asked "Can I help you?"

These nurses have all really been amazing, and I have no complaints with any of them. But at 3:30-whatever in the morning, after basically no sleep, I'd about lost my patience! I said "Seriously?! Can y'all not hear him screaming? I'm about to scream! Please- do something??"

They came in and tried to get him to sleep. Then they left the door open so that they could hear him, which I was thankful for, but it made the room noisy and bright. Somehow Caitlin slept through it all (thankfully!), but the roommate and I were not so lucky. Poor kid. I really hope his mom shows up soon!

Anyway, Caitlin has drifted back off to sleep, so I'm going to try to get a quick shower and get dressed...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Right after I wrote the last post, they called us back to Recovery to see Caitlin. As soon as we went through the doors I could hear screaming and I thought "I bet that's Caitlin." Sure enough, it was. She was sitting in the bed SCREAMING at the nurses. They immediately asked me if I wanted to hold her. I said "Of course!," and as soon as they handed her to me she immediately calmed down; within a minute or 2 she was asleep.

We stayed in recovery for awhile (I'm not sure how long) while we waited for a room. The nurses were laughing at how as long as they stayed away from Caitlin, she was OK; but as soon as they even moved toward her she'd immediately wake up and start crying again!

Once our room was ready we came upstairs. They let me carry Caitlin instead of rolling her in the bed, which was wise! We have a semi-private room, but the room has its own bathroom with a shower. And both sides have a couch and a recliner-type chair; the nurse brought me blankets and a pillow to make a bed on the couch. It's not too bad, actually- although I'd definitely rather be home! Caitlin's monitors beep loudly all the time (her roommate's do not), but they don't seem to be worried about it. They say her numbers are all good. I wanted to ask if they couldn't mute the monitors, if they are apparently beeping for no reason, but I've decided to keep my mouth shut.

Caitlin slept in my arms for a long time, but then she started having these major fits/tantrums. The first one happened right after the nurse had given her some Morphine. She'd been sound asleep, then all of a sudden she woke up very agitated.
Then she had another. I'm talking FITS- she was insane! I couldn't stand up and hold her because she was squirming and thrashing with such force (that kid is STRONG!) that I was afraid I might drop her. But it wasn't much easier sitting down, either. The second fit was so bad that she started disconnecting all the monitors, she wiggled out of her nightgown, and even got her arm restraints- and even her diaper- off. I had to call the nurses to come help me. They decided she might be in too much pain so they gave her another dose of Morphine. No sooner had they left when she had another fit. I think the agitation is a reaction to the Morphine, so I've asked them not to give her any more.

We finally have her sleeping in her bed, and she seems more comfortable. But she is definitely not cooperating so it's not looking good that we will be able to go home early. They have not even tried to get her to drink anything yet, with as un-cooperative as she's been, and she can't go home until she can drink a certain amount. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!

She is drooling blood, and during a couple of her fits she even had blood coming out her nose. But the nurse says that's normal. I was prepared- I'd brought my "spaghetti shirt" (a red shirt I wear when cooking tomato sauce). Good thing- it's pretty stained right now! And when her diaper fell off she wet my pants (the only jeans I'd brought). Luckily I brought some jogging pants. They say they have washing machines here, but I only have the one pair of jeans to wash so that's not really a load. We'll see how desperate I get!

We just spoke with Caitlin's plastic surgeon. He said the surgery went great and she is doing well. Now we wait until they call us to go see her!

I just went and asked the receptionist to call someone, and the surgery is complete. They just hadn't updated the screen. She's not in recovery yet, and we still haven't heard from the doctors...

12:00- Still nothing. (Except "Surgery Started")...

It's 11:30 and still no word. The screen still just says "Surgery Started"...

Caitlin's Surgery- Day 1

We are sitting now in the waiting room, waiting for Caitlin to get out of surgery. Everything has gone pretty smoothly so far. We got up here about 6:30 last night, had a nice dinner, then checked into the hotel. Unfortunately it took Caitlin a long time to go to sleep, so she got a lot less than her normal 10 hours. We even brought her Pack-n-Play from home so she'd have a familiar bed, but the room, noises, temperature, etc. were all different so she had a hard time sleeping.

This morning we got up at 5:30 to be here by 7. We got checked in, then they took us back to get Caitlin's weight, height, and vitals. Caitlin got upset, even when they were doing things that she hadn't had a problem with the last time we were here (like taking her blood pressure), but she was tired and hungry so I wasn't too surprised! Then they gave me the cutest little baby scrubs to put her in. Too cute!

We talked to several doctors and nurses, then they took us back to another big room with lots of beds. They gave Caitlin some medicine (orally) that was supposed to relax her. She almost immediately put her head down on my chest and started sucking her thumb and we thought the drugs had worked awfully fast, but the anesthesiologists kept saying that they would wait for the drugs to take affect before they took Caitlin away from me (they wouldn't let me take her back to the O.R. myself). I wondered how much more relaxed she'd get...

All of a sudden she looked up at me and laughed (for no reason), then she went completely limp like a wet noodle! Her head flopped back and I'm glad I caught her in time! It was like she was completely drunk. Whatever those drugs were, I'd like some! She was looking around and laughing at nothing (like the wall- she found it highly amusing!), then her eyes would roll back, then she'd start laughing again. It was kind of funny, although we felt really bad laughing at her (or I guess we were really laughing with her)! At one point she looked back up at me, then slowly brought her hand up to my face and kept patting it and just laughing. I'm not sure what was so amusing, but she sure was having fun!

Finally about 8:40 the anesthesiologists came back to take Caitlin back to the O.R., but the one decided to carry her instead of rolling her on the bed. Caitlin was just so cute she couldn't resist holding her! But they still needed the bed so she had the other doctor take the bed. The other anesthesiologist said "Yea, sure- you take the cute kid and I get to roll an empty bed!" Caitlin didn't cry when they took her from me; she was so out of it she didn't have a clue what was going on. That was best; it made it easier for both of us.

Anyway, now we wait (it's almost 10:30 now). We went to get some breakfast, although all I wanted was my Dr. Pepper. I did decide to eat an ice cream sandwich, just to put something in my stomach. It's not the best breakfast, but it's honestly the only thing I could find that I wanted. Then we returned to the waiting room. There is a big TV screen here where we can watch the status of what's going on, but all it's said is "Surgery Started." They said it should take about 3 hours, so I'm not expecting to hear anything before 11:30 or so. We have a pager, and they have my cell phone number so we can walk around the hospital if we want. Eventually the doctors (both the plastic surgeon and the ENT) will come back here to talk to us about how everything went once they are finished. Once Caitlin is in recovery they will call us back to be with her.

The hospital does offer free Wi-fi, so hopefully I'll be able to keep updating as I get the chance. Thank you for all of your prayers and well-wishes. I'll be very, very glad when this is all behind us- not only the surgery, but the 3-week recovery!

Monday, November 29, 2010

We are leaving in a couple of hours for Caitlin's surgery. We're spending the night near the hospital so that we can be there bright and early tomorrow morning. We still haven't gotten our time yet (when we need to be there); they said they'd call this evening to let us know.

I'll be spending the night at the hospital for as long as Caitlin will be there. They said usually it's only an overnight stay, but since Caitlin is so much older than the babies that usually have this surgery (they usually prefer to repair palates before children are a year old), she may have more trouble. Younger babies aren't too set in their ways yet, so they adapt more easily. Caitlin has already learned how to eat- and even talk- with her mouth the way it is, so she will have to re-learn everything. And she can't suck her thumb (she will have to wear arm braces for 3 weeks to prevent her from doing so), which will most likely only make her more angry.

We'll see how this goes! I'm hoping and praying that she will bounce right back and not let it stop her; she's very smart and determined so that is completely possible. But she is also very stubborn and likes things her way... we'll see!

I'll do my best to update the blog from the hospital, but I'm not sure what the internet capabilities will be. But I promise to update as soon as I can!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Caitlin's Surgery

We met with Caitlin's plastic surgeon today, and we found out that her surgery to repair her palate will be on the 30th (as in 3 weeks from now). I had assumed it would be after the holidays, so I'm in a bit of shock! When they found out that we were moving to San Diego in March, they made us a priority and got everything moving. We go back on Wednesday for her pre-op appointment and to meet her ENT (she will also get tubes in her ears while she is under anesthesia).

The great news is that they plan to repair both her hard and soft palate at the same time. This is excellent because usually they do this in 2 separate surgeries. This will not be easy on Caitlin, but at least it will be over with in one shot.

While I'm very worried about the procedure and ready to have it behind us, I know that it is necessary. The sooner Caitlin's palate is repaired the less of a chance she'll have of speech and other difficulties.

As always, I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One Month A Family!

We've been a family for one month! Four weeks ago today Caitlin came into our lives.

When we first met Caitlin one month ago, she was scared and confused. She cried a lot, and had tantrums every day- sometimes several times a day. She would start crying for seemingly no reason at all, and it would quickly turn into a tantrum. And she whined all the time, any time things were not going her way.

Today she hardly cries, and tantrums have become rare. She can still be quite moody (what toddler isn't?), especially when she is not feeling well, but overall she smiles all the time! Almost everyone she meets comments on what a happy child she is, and her smile could melt even the coldest of hearts!

One month ago Caitlin HATED baths; she would scream bloody murder. Now she gets so excited at bath time! She splashes and plays with her toys and has a blast.
She hated our hotel rooms and would tense up when she even sensed that we were heading to the room. Now that we are home she is all smiles when we walk in the door. She is relaxed and at ease... and she's always excited to see Libby!

Speaking of Libby, Caitlin enjoys helping me take care of her! She will hand Libby her food and treats, and when I let Libby out Caitlin will stand at the door and watch her. When Libby comes back in, Caitlin will shut the door behind her.
Libby is getting attached to Caitlin as well; the other day Caitlin was waking up from her nap and Libby heard her stirring. She took me to the door and demanded that I go in to check on her! I love watching their relationship grow!

Caitlin still wakes up occasionally during the night. Sometimes she wakes up screaming; I don't know if she's having nightmares or night terrors, but she is easily calmed just by rubbing her back and is usually back to sleep within 5 or 10 minutes. Other than that, she is a great sleeper!

Eating has never been a problem with Caitlin; she is quite adventurous and will try almost anything. We have been trying more and more solid foods, and Caitlin has done great!

She has a very short attention span and has not shown a lot of interest in most of her toys. She has a select few that are favorites, but her all-time favorite toy of all is a bag of clothespins that I keep in the laundry room. As soon as she sees the laundry room door open, she waddles right in and heads straight for the clothespins- and she will sit and play with them forever.
Who would have thought that, out of all the wonderful toys she has up in her room, her favorite toy would be clothespins?

Caitlin's first (and only) English word so far has been "WOW!"

Caitlin saying "Wow" while opening presents:

Other than that, she has definite sounds for things, like dogs are "Ooooooo," and "Uh" means "more, please!" I'm starting to try to teach her some sign language, but so far all that she will do on her own is "all gone." She also loves to wave and blow kisses at people!

Caitlin is smart and funny and sweet and charming; she is the light of our lives and has fit into our lives perfectly! We love her so much and it is wonderful to finally have her home!

On another note, I have been contemplating a dilemma for some time now. We have 2 blogs: this blog as well as our family blog. Now that Caitlin is home and we are a family, I no longer need 2 blogs. However, I am not ready to let this blog go, either! So, after much debate, I have decided to keep this blog going with monthly or milestone updates. I'd also like to chronicle Caitlin's palate surgery here, because I have learned so much from others who have done the same on their blogs, and I want to help those who may also be facing such a surgery. But I will be posting everyday news on our family blog.

Thank you to all who have followed along on our journey to Caitlin. I have come to know many of you like friends- the blogging community is really amazing! Your comments, help and encouragement have gotten me through many hard days and I appreciate it all more than you know! I do not want to lose contact with you; if you don't have the link to our family blog but would like to continue following our story, please either e-mail me or leave me a comment along with your e-mail address or your blog address and I will send you the link. Our family blog is not private, but I do try to keep it more protected...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Just a few pics from Caitlin's first Halloween (she was a ladybug, of course- and so was Libby!)

Cute smiles for the camera!

Caitlin's first attempt at trick-or-treating produced 5 pieces of candy. (We only went to our 3 immediate neighbors!)
Eh- better luck next year! :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One Week Home

I can't believe it's been a week already! Seems like just yesterday; although, thinking back, a lot has happened since we got back...

Caitlin came home sneezing last week, and over the weekend it progressed into a full-fledged cold. She was pretty miserable. Then she got this ugly cough, so first thing Monday I called her new pediatrician to ask for an appointment. He was very busy that day, but he was so kind and worked us in over his lunch break. Caitlin took one look at the poor guy and started screaming! He couldn't really see much because she just wasn't cooperating, but since her cough sounded so bad and whooping cough and bronchitis are going around here, he went ahead and put her on an antibiotic. Poor thing! She is feeling much better now, although she still has that nasty cough.

Thursday to Sunday we pretty much laid low and hung around the house. Other than brief trips out to the grocery store, to church, or out to eat, we didn't really accomplish much!

On Monday Paul went back to school, and my mom, Caitlin and I stayed busy pretty much all day with taking Caitlin to the doctor, getting her set up for insurance, etc. Tuesday we went to the mall and did some clothes shopping for Caitlin. Since that went pretty well we decided to drive up to the outlets to pick out her baptism dress. Caitlin decided she did not want to try on dresses and threw a tantrum like you would not believe in the store! It was a little embarrassing, although everyone seemed to understand (ahhh- the joys of toddlerhood!). Wednesday I was not feeling well (Caitlin shared her cold with me) so, after taking my mom to the airport, we just hung around the house again.

Caitlin is doing great! I can't believe the difference a week makes! To think, just 2 and a half weeks ago we first met her; we were complete strangers to each other, and yet now she is already such a part of our lives! I was rocking her last night before bed and she kept looking up at me and just smiling. She seemed so content in my arms, and I realized how content I was with her in mine. I suddenly thought "I am holding MY DAUGHTER!" It sounds weird, but I think it is just now hitting me...

Caitlin seems very comfortable in the house, and is becoming more and more confident and independent each day. I am able to put her down while home for short periods of time so I can do laundry, wash dishes, etc. She will tolerate it for awhile, as long as I am always in eyesight. After awhile, however, she will come walking to me with a big smile and her arms out, hug my legs, and not let go until I pick her up. I have to admit, I love it when she does that (even if it does make it difficult to get anything done; who cares- these are the moments I've been dreaming of for so long, and I'm drinking them in)!!

She is sitting in high chairs now, both at home and in restaurants, without an argument (because she knows she is going to be eating- and she loves to eat!). She likes her stroller, as long as it is moving. If we stop (as in while shopping), she is not happy, but I'm so thrilled to be able to give my back a little break. And she LOVES her carseat! She never cries when I put her in it; only when the car stops and she knows she has to get out!

She is eating like a champ! She will eat pretty much anything I put in her mouth, other than apples. She does not seem to like apples for some reason, which is a bummer since I'd made a huge pot of applesauce for her before we left for China. Anyone want some homemade applesauce? I have a freezer full of it! She won't drink apple juice, either. In fact, we were having a problem getting her to drink anything but formula and soup broth, but we have found a juice that she tolerates, so I mix it with a bunch of water and try to get her to drink a certain amount each day. She is VERY strong willed, though. She has to drink it when she wants to- not when I ask her to. If I try to give it to her when she doesn't want it, she will spit it out!

Eating a snack (I just love her expression in this pic, and if you look closely you can see the yogurt all over her mouth!):

Caitlin and Paul are getting along much better as well! She doesn't scream now when he tries to hold her, although if I'm around she still tries to get to me and will eventually cry if she does not get her way. But she will play with Paul some, and she even flashes him some adorable smiles from time to time!
Playing with her Daddy:

She and Libby are getting along great! I am very relieved because I was worried about how that would go, but I think they will eventually become great friends. There is a definite "sibling rivalry" going on, on Libby's end; she's very used to being an only child. But she is very sweet with Caitlin and is very curious about her. She thinks that she and Caitlin are equals, so she does not understand why Caitlin is allowed in the kitchen and she is still not (I have a "no dogs in the kitchen" rule), and if Caitlin gets Cheerios she thinks she should get them, too. I keep trying to tell her that the rules are different for children with 4 legs than those with 2, but she just doesn't seem to want to listen!
Caitlin trying to get Libby to give her a kiss (gross, I know, but it was kind of cute, and they were happy so I let it go!):
Me and my girls- snuggling before bed!

My mom just left yesterday morning. It was so wonderful to have her here our first week back. She even cooked for us- she made chicken soup that Caitlin is just crazy about! She eats it for dinner every night and still eats it like it's going out of style! Thank you, Mom, for everything!
Eating sizzling rice soup with Nana:

Here are a few more cute pics from this week:
Trying on Mommy's slippers (all by herself!):

Opening a gift from our friend Rebecca in Hawaii (she just kept saying "WOW!"):

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Videos from China

I had these 2 videos that I wanted to post last week, but Mandi and I just could not make it work. So I'll post them now!

The first one is of Caitlin just being silly. It was so cute!

This one is of Caitlin's medical exam. This was long before the shots; they were just trying to measure and weigh her! (They never did succeed, by the way!)

Her "hearing exam" went about as well; they snapped their fingers, clapped, played instruments, made noises, but all she would do was look straight ahead and SCREAM. They finally just looked at me and asked "Can she hear?," to which I answered "We think so," and that was the end of her hearing exam!

We Are Home!

We made it! The LOOOOONG flight was, well, long, but it really wasn't too bad. In fact, the first 8 hours went by pretty fast. Caitlin slept a good deal of the way, but by the last 3 hours I was getting restless, especially with her being on my lap the whole way, and Caitlin was having a hard time getting comfortable so she was getting restless as well. She wanted to get down on the floor, but we were going through some turbulence at the time so she had to stay on my lap. She threw a few little tantrums, but eventually went back to sleep.

As we were descending she suddenly woke up, sat straight up, and started screaming. I guess her ears were bothering her. I gave her some Cheerios, and luckily that seemed to do the trick because the screaming immediately stopped.

Once we landed, we went through Immigration and Customs. We took some pictures of Caitlin touching U.S. soil (she is officially now a U.S. Citizen!!),
then met up with our good friend Avril (who flew back from Georgia, landed late last night, didn't get home until 2 AM, then turned around and drove the 2 hours back up to the airport early this morning to be there when we got back), and my mom (who also flew in from Georgia yesterday, took the bus down to our town, then got up early this morning to drive the 2 hours back up to the airport with Avril).It was so great to have familiar faces to greet us- and it was so wonderful to see them both!
As expected, Caitlin did not think too much of her carseat at first. She screamed bloody murder for a half hour or so. It was also the middle of the night her time, and the poor kid was exhausted! I was afraid she would scream the whole way home (2+ hours), but she did eventually settle down; she even seems to enjoy her carseat now!

We got home, and Avril's husband, Matt, had put a stork and balloon in our yard:It was so cute! He and baby Isabella were here to greet us. We got to talk for a little bit, then Matt, Avril and Isabella headed home and we settled in. Since it was still only about noon, we had a lot of time to kill before we could go to bed! Caitlin took a nap, and Paul and I snoozed a little, but we didn't want to sleep too much. It was a long afternoon, but we made it!

Caitlin seemed to relax more and more as the day went on. She definitely seems to know the difference between her home and a hotel room! She played with some of her toys, and even let me put her in her high chair to eat dinner! Now I can eat without little fingers grabbing at my food, my fork, my glass...

Caitlin was fascinated with Libby from the very beginning. As long as Libby kept her distance, she was not afraid at all. I'd worked a lot with her to try to prepare her; I'd sent lots of pictures of Libby to her in the orphanage, and we went through them a lot while still in China. And every time we saw a dog in China we'd talk about it. Anyway, as long as Libby didn't come close to her (which would cause a tantrum), she would laugh at Libby- and even try to bark at her! I'm so relieved! I was so afraid they would not get along, but so far, so good!

A neighbor brought us dinner (thank you Nohemi!), then we headed to bed. Caitlin woke up crying at 10:15, 10:45, then woke up screaming at 11:45, 12:15, 12:45, and so on. Finally, at 2:15, it became apparent that she was not going to sleep, so I took her downstairs, made her a bottle, let her watch Libby for awhile (Libby was all too happy to put on a show for her newest fan; it would have been really cute, had it not been almost 3:00 in the morning!), then I finally managed to rock her back to sleep. She slept until 9:30 AM from there!

I wanted to take a minute to thank my good friend Mandi for all that she did to help keep my blog going while we were gone. I would not have been able to do it without her! I could post from my e-mail, but it wouldn't let me add pictures, and I know that the pictures were really what everyone wanted! Mandi is in the middle of moving to a new house, yet she took time every day to take my entries and pictures, which I would e-mail to her, then post them all to the blog, even inserting the pictures in the appropriate places. Mandi, you are AMAZING! Thank you so much!!!