Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Two Months

This picture was taken about a month ago at the Hartman's home. The Hartman's are a great family and are so excited about adopting Brady! We had a GREAT time of fellowship.

Well, tomorrow marks two months since Max and Ivanna landed on U.S. soil. Two months. Wow. It seems just like yesterday, and like a lifetime ago - all wrapped up into one. There are good days, and then there are the not so good days.

I would be lying to you if I tried to present things as if there were never a hiccup. It is ridiculous a notion to think you can take two children with special needs who have been raised (and partly neglected) in an institutional type setting, place them smack dab into a family with six children and call it flawless. There are things. Things that the rest of the family have to adjust to and things that Max and Ivanna are learning as well.

For me, I think that the biggest challenge has not come in the form of having EIGHT children, but having what many could consider three babies in diapers and needing a little more hands on care than typical.

Ivanna is super needy when it comes to meal times. When we first brought her home, she refused to hold her own bottle. I literally had to put the bottle in her hands, wrap her hands around it and hold them there myself as she tried to wiggle away. Praise God that Ivanna learned fast, and now holds her own bottle. We feed her a bottle three times a day with rice cereal mixed in it. We also feed her mashed up/blended up food or baby foods for her meals. She will not/cannot feed herself. She also packs food away in her throat and will allow you to continue to shovel the food in, while she isn't really swallowing the rest. This is something we learned the hard way, after a few scary choking episodes. We now pace her. All of this work is paying off. She was 20 pounds when she came home. She didn't even register above 1% on the Down syndrome growth chart for a five year old girl. She was VERY malnourished. Now Ivanna is right around 27lbs. (not entirely sure, but she will be weighed on Thursday). That is amazing.

As Ivanna is coming to life before our eyes, she is doing new things. She is finding her voice. We never heard her utter much at the orphanage, but now she is - what Phillip calls - cooing. Except, this isn't what many would describe as cooing. Sometimes it sounds like shrieks, sometimes it is like moaning here and there - and other times she is laughing and giggling at who knows what. There have been new sounds recently too - almost like babbling. Ivanna is also scooting around in her walker like crazy, and has mastered climbing out of it to get back on the floor. Sometimes Ivanna drags her baby around with her - pushing and pulling her along on the floor as she crawls from room to room. Her eyes seem to focus better on things. We have been patching one eye to strengthen the other. All in all, she is doing fantastic. I do sometimes think that she is showing some institutional autistic behaviors. However, I am no expert in the matter - and don't really know for sure. She seems to have a hard time remaining still, and there are other things as well - but really not a big deal.

There is just something about Ivanna. She is such a strong little girl, with a survivor's spirit. Yet, tender and loving it when I take my hand and caress her cheek. I marvel at her sometimes. She is such a beautiful little girl, with big eyes and long lashes and full lips. Her hair is growing out and now I can put it in little pigtails. She was a diamond in the rough awaiting in the orphanage.

Then there is Max. He is a constant giggle machine. Max was doing well when he first came home and so there isn't a HUGE noticeable difference in behavior or health, but there are a few. When he first came home, we learned quickly that we could not just put food in front of him - he would shovel it down FAST, without swallowing. That freaked both of us out. So, we started feeding him and pacing him. First it was primarily baby food, because he also did not swallow. However, over the last two months I can now give him crackers, cheerios, and other small items and he does just fine. I also set his plate down now and let him feed himself. Max would also grab cups/food off the counters like mad when he first got here and lunge at anybody else's plate. He doesn't do that any longer. His reflux was horrid, and we still fight that - but not to the degree it was. The one thing that has not changed is his choking when he drinks liquid. I HATE listening to his drinking. He coughs and sort of chokes it down. He has a swallow study next week to determine what the problem might be. Max has also gained a few pounds since being home. There are a few things that concern me. One is that he is NOT verbal at all. He will cry if hurt, or sort of moan if you pick at him - and he definitely giggles and laughs, but no speech pattern ... at all. He also has a weird protruding hip thing going on. Makes him walk a little stiff, and I wonder if I should be concerned??? The finger sucking is getting better. He still does it, but usually when bored or sleepy. Max has been giving kisses and will pat my back and snuggle into my neck for cuddles. He is a doll.

To say that the Browning home is busy ... is an understatement. As I said before, there are good days, and bad days. (and sometimes just bad weeks - like last week with the stomach flu ... blech!) Having Max and Ivanna home is teaching me alot ... about me. Patience. That is one thing I am learning. There is alot more. I'm far from perfect, and so I have to bow my knee and ask for forgiveness and wisdom quite frequently from the only One who is: Christ.
As always, we appreciate you coming along with us on this continued journey. I will continue to try and post Max and Ivanna's progression and adjustments.

Two months down ... a lifetime to go ...


MissyB said...

It is amzing to see them blossom, God is so good. I really like your post. I know when we get Brian home, there will be some adjustments for us all I am sure.
Love you my friend :)

Tom and April said...

Wow. They are growing fast. Those things seem small to everyone else but for them they are huge progress. YOu are doing a wonderful job. I wish I was there to stop in and bring you coffee and a little visit now and then. Keep relying on Christ- your children are blossoming right before you with your love and care. YOU ARE A GREAT MOMMY! Love you.

Just Me @ My Domestic Experiments said...

Wonderful growth. I have a bunch of links about Autism and also dual diagnosis DS & Autism on a tab of my blog if you were needing any info. I highly recommend the Out of Sync Child and the Out of Syunc Child has fun. Those really helped my understand sensory integration and provide my son with the right sensory diet way before I could ever get a label of Autism. Your such a good Mommy keeping an eye on things. Praying for them. Perhaps it is only residual from where they were living but if not I'm sure you can handle it and don't let anyone discourage you. Autism is not as bad as outsiders think it is. It's just different.

Lisa said...

Similar to having a two-month-old baby (the adrenaline has worn off a bit, you are tired from 8 weeks of waking up throughout the night, and worn out from the added demands of the constant care of an infant combined with the regular family and household items)--I think this was the toughest point for us post-adoption. Max and Ivanna have made great strides and will continue to learn, grow and meld with your group!

I definitely empathize with you in caring for multiple young children with special needs in addition to the rest of the family. It can be exhausting.

I know we both believe that it is absolutely worth it :), but from a realistic standpoint, some days are better than others :).

Alina has been here for 9 months now, and things are MUCH easier. Again, similar to having a new baby (or babies!), it takes a little while to get in your groove, get your energy back and begin to see mostly forward progress.

Hang in there. You are doing an awesome job with your BEAUTIFUL family :).

Sherry Noland said...

I so enjoy your FB comments and you blogs. I think of your family almost ever day. I will continue to pray that God continues to bless your family and help you to know how to handle each situation as they arise.
Sherry Noland

Mcarthur Mile said...

You are such an awesome mom! I have learned so much from watching you, and in this also. Great to see how the kids are doing. Wish I was closer so I could be more involved. Keep up the awesome work.

Garth and Becky said...

I love hearing how Max and Ivanna are progressing in their development. It sounds like they (and you) are adjusting very well and life has taken on a new "normal". I love the pictures that you share, too!

Jenny said...

What a wonderful post. I love reading the detailed accounts of how they are doing, both the wonderful advancements and the difficulties. It's so great to hear about the day to day life things. I wonder if Max's hip thing is b/c of a possible birth dislocation that was never treated properly? I know how fervently the pediatrician always checks my newborns for hip dislocations..? Thanks for the update, these two months seem to have flown by!! So glad these two precious babies have their forever family now!

Truth and Blessings said...

You need to get Max's hip checked out. If you have chiropractic care, go see them. You are a blessing and inspiration. May the Lord continue to bless and use you.


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