Wednesday, May 30, 2007

San Diego Wild Animal Park

This is the neatest exhibit. There's no pacing, or other behaviors you sometimes see with animals at a zoo. It's a very large, peaceful enclosure.

Mommy, Brendan, Colton & Kate
(Ryan was being a pill, so he's not in this picture.)

Miss Katie-pie (or Katie-poo as Kevin and Ryan call her) hanging out on a bench watching the lemurs in the tree, and the ducks waddling by.

This is way past my naptime...
(2 1/2 wks. post-surgery)

Kate wandered onto the grass without even thinking, then stopped and looked down at her feet, and started looking around..."Oh my gosh...I'm on the grass...Hello!, a little help here?...O.K., Don't panic...just walk toward the sidewalk...I can do this."

Hey, check it out...I match the flowers in Colton's flower bed!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fun in the Jacuzzi - 2+ weeks post surgery

Are all those kids ours???
I counted to make sure they were all ours, and that one of my nephews hadn't slipped into the photo! 1,2,3...4,5...6. That's a lot of kids. (I'm a lucky Mom :)

My step-daughter, Amanda, (17), and Kate...(almost 2)

I love Aunt Cathy's jacuzzi. :)

My favorite people.
Kate fits in so well with our family, it seems she has been with us always.
(left-right: Ryan, Bryson, Colton, Amanda, Kate & Brendan)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Palate Reopened Further

I'm washing dishes and Kate wanted me to pick her up. So she stands in between me and the sink, with her little pig tails and smiling, pushes against my legs. I stop washing dishes and pick her up, lifting her high. Kate laughs, with her mouth open wide, and I can see her palate. (Gasp! Oh, no. Oh, please tell me, I'm imagining it...) She opens her mouth again to laugh, and sure enough, her palate is now open not only on the side about an inch, but also in the back in the middle. The entire 'oval' of skin that makes up the "new" left side of her palate is precariously still in place. My hands shaking, I call the doctor.

Ever since the last visit 6 days ago, when we found out it had opened up, I've been watching her like a hawk. Nothing has gone in that mouth that could have damaged it. She doesn't put her hands or toys in her mouth, no chips, crackers, only soft food or liquids, and she still sleeps with her "no-no"s on her arms (which do not seem to bother her in the slightest). I cannot believe it has reopened further. Heavy sigh.

We had a visit with her surgeon scheduled for the next day. He agreed that she has had a 'severe disruption' in the palate. He says there is nothing he can do now, but we will have to wait until it is completely healed, and then try to repair it. (We'll see in 3-6 months) He also said that it will be difficult to repair, and that he has never had this happen before. I do know he usually repairs babies, as opposed to older children. Could this be a reason? No one knows. Could it be related to her lip coming open after surgery in China? Being mobile? Laughing or "talking"? You rack your brain when something like this happens, and at the end of the day you're left with..."Okay, well, this isn't what we had planned, but this is where we are do we move on from here and get from point A to point B?" I do worry about her speech being delayed. Her surgeon said, "Right now I'm just worried about her palate. Let's just take things one at a time, concentrate on getting her palate healed and repaired, then we'll move on to worrying about her speech." o.k.

Many times I've prayed for patience or to be a stronger person...I didn't realize that often times God doesn't grant you patience, but rather teaches you patience, and He doesn't make you strong, but rather gives you opportunities to become strong. I look forward one day to having a conversation with God and discussing our miscommunications.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Poway Park & Kate day 10

Last weekend we took the kids to Poway park, about 10 minutes from our house. It's a beautiful park, in the downtown Poway Historical district, and they have a real train there, that's over 100 years old. The train takes you on a "trip" around the park, under all these shady trees. It's a very pretty and peaceful place. The boys also like to go because there are usually crawdads and polliwogs in the stream.

(Checkin' out the little fish and polywogs in the's funny to think that practically everything is a first for Kate!)

We made the mistake, though, of going to eat at the Hamburger Factory that's right there. Kate is on a mainly liquid diet, and we ordered her a chocolate shake, and brought along applesauce and a little pudding cup. No. Hand over the hamburger and those onion rings, and I mean, now. Right now! We won't be going out to eat again until Kate is back on a regular diet.

Kate seemed to like the train. A little boy we were sitting next to kept looking at the tape above her lip. I said, 'she has a very interesting mouth, doesn't she?'. He nodded and then smiled at me. "It was a lot more interesting a week and a half ago." His mom smiled and asked about her surgery and her adoption, where she came from, and how she seemed to be doing. I find that people are very interested, in a nice way, when they see that we're very matter-of-fact about her surgery and how she came to join our family.

Do you just love this gentle little hand on Brendan's cheek?

Someone's starting to get sleepy. This is day 8 after surgery...the tape above the lip helps protect the stitches when wiping her nose or mouth, and adds a bit of support in case she gets bumped in the mouth.

Here we are on day 10. I don't really wear the tape much falls off everytime I eat or take a shower anyway...just like a band-aid.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Kate's Palate Reopened

Hi. To make a long story short, I took Kate to the pediatrician Tuesday and he took a peek at her palate and lip. He said the lip looks great, and the nose is healing nicely...pause...I ask "what else?!"..."Well, it looks as if her palate is open on one side." I felt as if I had been sucker-punched, as the last three days of hospitals, nurses, and smells, go flooding through my mind. My eyes well up with tears for about the 20th time in the last 5 days. Kate is sitting on my lap and her pediatrician looks up at me, and tries to backpeddle and reassure me that he's not sure, maybe the surgeon meant to do it in stages, and that it may not have "reopened".... his voice fades off as I hold Kate close to me...

She had an appt. with the surgeon the next day (today) and he confirmed what we had feared, that her palate, had indeed, partially reopened. He looked with a flashlight and said, "That's the biggest fissure (opoening in the stitches) I've ever seen." The doctor asks us what we've fed her (only liquids and applesauce and yogurt, none of which could have caused this), did she have her arm restraints on when she slept (yes), does she put her fingers or toys in her mouth? (nope) that puts us in the small minority of cases where it has to be partially redone.

Today has been very disheartening, but I'm trying to keep it in perspective...and make sure Kate does not fall and hit that mouth!!! Especially for the next 3 weeks.

Monday, May 14, 2007

She Can Say 'Mama'!

I cannot believe I forgot to tell you this...Kate said 'Mama', clear as a bell. She has tried to say it before, once in a while, but it usually comes out ah-ma or something similar. When she was being wheeled to her room, and was not even 100% conscious, she was saying mama, mama. I couldn't believe it. On Saturday she was crying and saying, Mama! Mama! It's amazing how your top lip actually coming into full contact with your bottom lip can make a difference!! (She also signed it perfectly at the same time...not like usual with her fist, or pointing at her chin, but with her hand completely open, her thumb touching her chin...looking right at me. Way to bond, Kate! Woohoo! :) She has also said Ligh (for light) and ni-nigh...both of which you need an upper, middle palate to form the words. I've told her how to say light (after she points to it, and usually says uh-uh) 100 times, but it wasn't until this weekend that she repeated it...less than 48 hours after her palate surgery. Wow. We now have 3 words in our repetoire...Mama, light, and night-night. Those are good words.

Update: The icky strip under her nose fell off in the middle of the night. Yahoo! After a shower, I got a good look at her stitches. It kind of looks like a 'T'. One going down, and one across, under her nose. The picture is of her before a new strip went back on.

Oh, and I also forgot to tell you what the doctor said after her surgery...Her lip had been fixed before! No, I'm not kidding. It had been fixed, and reopened, and they didn't take her back in. They failed to mention this to us in China. Maybe they thought we already knew, but it was not in her file.

Mother's Day Weekend At Children's

By Saturday afternoon, Kate had shown a marked improvement, and again on Sunday. All the things that had accosted my senses had begun to fade...the horrible gurlging sound she made when she cried on Friday had stopped, the incredible smell of blood had lessened on Saturday, and was all but gone by Sunday. The doctor had begun a medicine in her I.V. that helps to diminish the swelling, and by Sunday, she had started to look more like her old self. Her pain level was also easing, as time passed, so they stopped the Morphine, and continued with only the Tylenol w/Codeine for the pain. The nurses would come in and clean her up with Hydrogen Peroxide, which (they say) didn't hurt, but they would meet strong opposition from Kate. That little kid could be almost unconscious with exhaustion and medication, and she was still one to be reckoned with. The only thing that remained, aside from all the wires she was hooked up to, was the piece of "sterile" tape under her nose. It was like an old yucky bandaid that had gotten blood under it on Friday. We could not take it off, clean her up and put on a fresh one, but rather had to wait until it fell may take a week(!) I prayed that it fell off soon.

Kevin and I tag-teamed who would spend the night, and the other of us would leave and come back the next morning. Kevin was the bringer of all food, (which we would try to eat while Kate was asleep), and would run any necessary errands, while I stayed with Kate. He also gave me a new romantic comedy dvd (my favorite present) for Mother's Day, which I opened as the boys were at my sister-in-laws, and Kate lay sleeping in her hospital crib. It was a funny Mother's Day. But at least we have Kate now, and her surgery is behind us.

P.S. If you double-click on a picture it will enlarge it, if you're so inclined to get a really good look at the surgeon's work.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Post Surgery

Let me begin by saying I am not cut out for the medical field. Did I ever tell you I wanted to be a vet? No? Well, that's probably because my veterinary career path didn't last long. Picture Bio 101 and the college professor walks by each of our desks, and with a pair of tongs, takes a huge white rat (dead) out of the phermaldahyde and puts one on each desk. I sit there, mouth hanging open....I....I....need some air...(quick exit)

Well, I thought I was prepared for the post-op look. I really did. I was wrong. And if for one moment I had any doubt as to my value in the medical field, it was drilled home last night. They call our name, and let us know that one (only one) parent can come back to the post op at a time. Aunt Cathy works at Children's Emergency as an RN, so they also let her come back. I walk up to the littlest gurny I've ever seen, and lying on her side is my little Kate...her back to us. I walk around her and there is my baby, with her little face swollen, "asleep", but with a grimace on her face. She has a piece of medical tape (the type you can kind of see through) like a mustache above her lip and right under her nose. I can't see any stitches...actually I don't even notice her lip...I can only see her eyes...and feel SO BAD for her. The nurse says "Honey, Mommy's here". She flitters open her eyes, turns her head up a bit to see me and her eyes pretty much roll back as her head rests again. I swallow hard and my eyes well up with tears. Aunt Cathy says she looks great!...He did a good job. (I'm sorry, are we looking at the same child?) To me, she looks as if she's been beaten. There is blood all over her bottom lip, in her nose, on her tongue. Her top lip is swollen. I can't get an idea of how she'll look. I really can't. Aunt Cathy had an easier time being able to see past her immediate appearance to what she will look like later.

She gets wheeled up to her room and at this point she is a bit more awake, and keeps looking around to find me as we walk along...the people pushing her gurney were walking quickly. "I'm here baby". When we get to her room, they ask, "Do you want to hold her?" I answer an emphatic "Yes!". I couldn't pick her up quickly enough. She is crying and as I sit down, I smell the blood. Did you know blood smells? I mean, IT SMELLS like nothing you've ever smelled before...very, very of those pungent odors, like a skunk, or like rotten meat...a smell that pierces your nose and you're sure you will never forget. The color must have completely drained from my face, because Kevin was watching me...afraid I was going to faint or be ill. I was torn between wanting to bolt out of there and wanting and needing so much to hold her. When I would hold her, the crying would stop and she would lay her tired head on my chest. Torn between being a Mommy, and someone who has no place in the medical field...(well, maybe I could pull it off as long as there was...ya know, blood....and I didn't have to give shots....uh...probably not.)

I did not post the picture of her straight on...not sure if everyone was up to it. But if you want to see it and, like my dad, are curious about the way everything works, let me know, and I'll email it to you. We almost didn't take the picture, but I'm glad we did. I'll probably take one each day as she heals, to show her when she's know...for when she acts like a pill when she's a teenager. I'll tell her about the stress and worry Mommy endured...I won't have the 'I carried you in my body for 9 months and had a 24 hour labor' card to pull out. I think this should work nicely as an alternative.

The Big Day (Gulp!)

Well, the feeding and keeping-her-up-late-plan worked...she slept in until 9:am and then we pretty much hung out upstairs so she wouldn't get frustrated by the high chair and the fridge in their looming presence. At 10:00 we broke out with apple juice and orange jello, with a chaser of apple juice. (She could have nothing after 10:30) She seemed relatively content, and really, not as cranky as I had anticipated.

Check-in involved lots of paperwork and each doctor, nurse and anesthesiologist coming to let you know she was in excellent hands and that they would give her the best of care. I think the surgeon could sense I was about an inch away from tears and was trying to be reassuring. I just kept thinking, "Listen, you have no idea the journey it has been to get this child in my life. PLEASE, PLEASE treat her like she's your baby."

Kate checking out the strawberry scented oxygen mask.

Kate had a bit of time on her hands, so thought she'd see what a girl-on-the-move could get into...electrical outlets,...cords...huh, do these go to oxygen?...

Getting the blood pressure taken...

Look how tiny this little blood pressure cuff is!...

Hmmm...what do we have here?

There's gotta be some food in here somewhere. Mommy always keeps snacks and a drink in here...

Well, the hospital gown doesn't exactly fall into the category of latest fashions, but what are you gonna do?

Keeping busy for a few moments in the tiny pre-op room...

Talking with the ear-nose-and-throat doctor about his plans for Kate in surgery

Mommy getting in one more hug while we wait.

Hugs and Kisses before the very nice (6'3" male) nurse carried her off to surgery.
She went without a fuss, carrying her dog, and we knew she would literally be asleep within 1-2 minutes after leaving our arms.

Then we wait...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

So, Are You Ready For Friday?

People keep asking me if I'm prepared for Kate's surgery tomorrow....uh, no?. I mean, I know where to go, at what time, and I know about the feeding, or rather, not feeding rules...she can eat anything until midnight. From midnight until 10:30am., she can have clear liquids like water, apple juice, jello or popsicles, and after 10:30am., nada. I foresee a grumpy, hungry child going in to surgery. So here's my plan...let her stay up late and eat in hopes that she'll sleep in and not be super hungry when she wakes. I'll let you know if my plan works. I anticipate minimal success.

We need to be at Children's at noon, and her surgery is in 1:40. But Kate has no idea that anything special is going on tomorrow. Honestly, it makes me feel kind of guilty that I know she's going to have a very tough day, and she's outside right now happily trying to pull the wagon in her bare feet.

We went and had her pictures taken today at Penneys. She's not the most cooperative model, and she thinks she's a comedian, but if you can get her to sit still long enough to take a picture, she sure is photogenic. The pictures came out really cute. I want her to always know that I thought she was beautiful, even before her surgery. She's my little baby girl. Please pray for Kate tonight...and think of us tomorrow afternoon. Any fingers or toes crossed are welcome. :)