Monday, May 31, 2010

First Trip to the Zoo and First Haircut!

We are so lucky to have been blessed with a membership to the zoo (Thanks L.)! So we got packed up and ready for or first trip last Sunday. We got there at 10am when the zoo opened and there was hardly anyone there yet which was nice.  Zoya seemed mostly interested in eating her goldfish snack, but she did like seeing the animals.  Her favorite were the kangaroos.  They are not fenced off from the walkway so they jump back in forth in front of you while you walk! She thought this was so cool!! She also seemed interested in and was waving to the orangatang!

Zoya and the orangatang...front row seats!

What a life...basking in the sun!

Checking out the warthog

Not so sure what to think of the Rhinos!

I love this she is afraid to turn around because the Rhino will get her!

Zoya enjoyed watching the ducks splash in the water

As you can see, Zoya was a little scared on the carousel! She didn't enjoy it very much.

Zoya and the Kangaroos....

I love this picture because you can see Zoya smiling in Shawn's glasses.  She just kept smiling at the kangaroos!

Waving to the Kangaroos

Zoya and the Llama. They had a staring competition! Looking at this picture makes me wonder what was going through her mind on our zoo trip. Everything is brand new to her and she must have thought this Llama was just weird! LOL.

Zoya on the train.  She enjoyed it until we went through the dark scary tunnel. Then she wasn't having it. I think it was sensory overload for her by that point.

And she's out! Tired girl after her first trip to the zoo. 
Can't wait to go back :)

Zoya had her first hair cut (right after her doctor appointment where she got all the shots and an hour before she got sick...notice how happy and un-sick she looks here). She seemed to enjoy it!

Give the girl a comb and she is in heaven!

Her new do (looks the same for now while we grow it out)

A friend who just met Zoya called her a "Sassy Little Diva," which I think fits her perfectly.  We're in for some trouble when she gets older, that's for sure! She can give looks like a sixteen year old already! She gives the raised eyebrow "eye" and the pouty lip.  Funny thing is she hasn't been around that many other kids to learn these things.  I think they just come along with being a spoiled American! haha.

I'm working on a post to answer some questions that people have left under comments.  So if you have anything you'd like to ask, leave it in the comments section and I'll get to it on the next post :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Zoya's First (and hopefully only?) trip to the Emergency Room and an Update

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Things here have been crazy. I'll start with the title of this post: our trip to the ER.  On Thursday Zoya had a doctor appointment for her 2 year checkup and to follow up from our last appointment.  They gave her 5 vaccines.  Yes, 5 :( My gut said to tell them not to do that many but I didn't want to be that know the one who knows more than the doctor...because I don't, but I just had a feeling.  Anyways, they gave her MMR (which we were told she had in Ukraine but the antibodies bloodwork showed she never had it or the vaccine wasn't stored correctly there, which wouldn't be a surprise), chicken pox, DTP, Hepatitis A, and one other one I can't recall right now.  The nurse mentioned we might want to give her some motrin when we got home and into the following day because the DTP might be a litle painful. They never mentioned anything about a fever, or even to watch for one.  Being new parents, we didn't know that.

We got home, Zoya ate lunch just fine, got her hair cut and she was her normal happy self.  Then came nap time.  She has been doing better with nap time as long as I put her in the baby carrier and rock her to sleep, she will sleep on me for 40 minutes and then wake up and then sleep next to me on the couch for a little while longer.  But anyways, nap time came, she fell asleep very quickly in the baby carrier and woke up after 20 minutes and would not go back to sleep. This was no surprise given her napping performance for the past 3 weeks.  I tried a million different ways to get her to sleep because I could tell she was tired but she just screamed (also not a shock since she's been known to do that as well).  Shawn decided to take her for a drive (you know the thing we swore we'd never do...ya do whatcha gotta do I guess). He called me a bit panicked and said she was throwing up.  He said he had to pull the car over and rip her out because when she started throwing up she was choking on her vomit...nice picture huh? He gave her a few hard slaps on the back to help her get it all out.  I then called her doctor while Shawn was on his way home with her to ask if this could be caused by the vaccines. They said they'd call me back.    Meanwhile, Shawn and Zoya got home and she was burning up. We took her temperature which was 105 degrees! Shawn panicked and so then I did as well.  All I could think was she was having some horrible allergic reaction to the vaccines and I didn't know what to do. I knew a cool bath is good for a fever, but I was so worried it was something more and didn't want her to stop breathing or have a seizure or something.  We stripped her down and put cool compresses on her neck/face/under her arms and took off for the hosptial.  Zoya was perectly fine all afternoon and then BAM it all happened so fast.  Oh I forgot to mention, this fever was with motrin already in her (which we gave to her when we got back from her apt. as instructed).

Shawn drove so fast and maybe almost ran over a few people.  We had all the windows down and the air blasting and the cool compresses on her.  She kept closing her eyes like they were just so heavy and then she would just cry the saddest cry I've ever heard. I felt so helpless.  We got to the ER and they took her temperature which was still at 104.7 after all of our fever reducing attempts.  They gave her some tylenol and we waited and waited and waited. Apparently they weren't as worried as we were.  They checked for a UTI (which, by the way, should be it's own to collect urine from a 2 year old), but it was negative.  The doctor said sometimes this happens as a bad reaction to vaccinations. I said really, a fever THAT high? He said yes. He said it was either that or a virus.....umm excuse me she was perfectly fine and dandy right until she got those vaccines.  Too coincidental.  And after thinking about it, that really is a lot of vaccines to bombard her little body with. So we spent the afternoon in the ER, came home and she was exhausted. She continued throwing up a bit into the night and had a hard time keeping the tylenol down.  Today her fever finally started coming down and actually reached normal at one point (but then went back up a little). She has started to act like herself again just this evening, which is nice to see.

While Zoya was so sick, we got to know her a little better.  She was the most pathetic little thing...however, she DID manage to smile and wave at a few people in the hospital.  It was like "sad face, oh wait I really want to be my happy crap, I feel like poop I'm going to cry again." It was really nice to see her reach out to us for comfort in a way we hadn't seen before.  She did allow us to try to comfort her and wanted to be held and rocked and sung to and kissed on.  I almost feel confident saying that by today, she was milking it for all it was girl :) 

Some other interesting facts about Zoya:

1.)She is sooooo happy in the mornings.  We have a video baby monitor so we can see her in her room. This is a good idea but can easily become an anxiety filled obsession of watching the monitor. I don't look much anymore, I just listen...but this morning, we were watching because we heard her wake up. She was all alone in her room standing in her crib DANCING and smiling!! Haha. We just watched and laughed. When we went in to get her she laughed she was so excited to see us!
2.) She is too smart for us. We have to be very careful about what we let her see us do. For example, the bathtub. She has been trying to figure out how I get the water to drain. She has looked at the little valve thingy and played with it and tried to figure it out. I know I have to push the valve down while she is not looking or she will have it figured out after only one time. She watches and observes to open and close cupboards and doors, how to take the tray off her high chair, how to turn lights on (except she can't reach) we have to be careful with what we do in front of her because she only takes one time to learn all the things we wish she wouldn't learn just yet :)
3.) Zoya can climb all of our stairs (all 17 of them). It is quite a funny story actually....Shawn was working and I had to go to the bathroom. So I left the door open to keep an eye on her like I usually do. She is very good at entertaining herself and exploring the house (it is all safe for her and there isn't anything she can really get into). I was literally in the bathroom for less than 2 minutes.  I was washing my hands and I realized I didn't hear her moving around anymore.  I heard a pounding above my head and thought, well that MUST be the dog. Looked down and there is the dog at my feet.  Nooooo I thought! No way. We had showed her how to climb the small set of three stairs and she tired very easily and hasn't yet had an interest in climbing them when we want to work on that. So I fly up the stairs and see her all the way down the hall at the bathroom door. When our eyes met she started laughing so hard.  I couldn't help but laugh while thanking my lucky stars that she didn't fall all the way down the stiars and crack her head open.  So I took her down to the bottom stair and said "show me." She refused to climb even one stair that little bugger!
4.) She has learned a couple new signs: bird (she LOVES birds), and baby.  And her new favorite word is,"HI." I will look at her and say "HI" and she will get a big smile and say it right back!
5.) She has regular old Trisomy 21, not Mosaic DS....which really doesn't mean a thing!
6.) She is developing an odd obsession with artificial trees.  She has to keep her eyes on artificial trees (especially in new places) at all times, as if they will attack her or something if she turns her back.
7.) She has learned to sign "sorry" ON THE WAY to her time out chair! As if I'd let her off without having her serve her time! (the whole one minute) LOL.
8.) She can scoot her high chair across the kitchen floor with the wheels locked!
9.) She is STUBBORN as the day is long!
10.) She always has to have one shoe in each hand (whether or not she is wearing them on her feet as well).

Zoya at the doctor's office before her shots:

Zoya at home showing off her bandaids (one kid at the doctor's office actually said, "no fair, she has more bandaids than me.") Note how happy she looks here.

And happy as a clam here too. If only we knew a couple hours later we'd be at the ER :(

And Zoya at the ER....sad face :(

Zoya's positive TB reaction (which is common in kids who have been immunized against TB)


So Tired....but trying to smile

Chillin with her ba ba

More to come on Zoya's firt trip to the Zoo and her first haircut :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Month Home!

Saturday we celebrated Zoya's one month home anniversary! We celebrated by letting Zoya eat her first cupcake...what a mess! It was like she knew what she was supposed to do with it (meaning smash it all over her face and not eat it lol).  She took it and shoved it close to her mouth and then took her hand and rubbed the frosting EVERYWHERE!
In so many ways, it seems that we were in Ukraine in a whole different lifetime, not only a month ago. Sometimes, it seems like Ukraine didn't really happen sometimes.  One look at our pictures reminds me it did happen.  I still get a sick feeling when I look at some of the pictures from the orphanage....and remember all we saw there.  I remember all we felt there too.  I haven't allowed myself to think a whole lot about all of these things since we've been home.  Maybe I haven't had time, or maybe every time it pops into my head I try to push out the thoughts and think of something else just to not have to feel the sadness of what life is for all of those left behind. Most of the time, Ukraine seems like it happened in a dream. Except Zoya is a living reminder that it was not a dream. Sometimes I have flashbacks to just being in the orphanage and staring into the room filled with parentless children rocking themselves and moaning and crying and flashbacks to the children so desperate for parents that they would run to us and call out "Mama," "Papa," flashbacks to things I still cannot write or talk about most of the time.  When I allow myself to think about it my stomach hurts and I just want to cry. If it was too much for us, grown adults, to feel and see, can you imagine how horrible it is for the children that feel it and see it and live it every day of their lives?  Yes Zoya is one of the lucky ones because she doesn't have to live out the fate that all those other children do, but my heart aches thinking that she was ever a part of a life like that.  Although she is adjusting well overall, she still demonstrates behaviors which remind us that her life was not good.  Some days, like today, when I feel like a failure, I remember where she came from and know that in giving her my best, even when it doesnt seem like enough some days, at least she is loved and valued...and love is what will heal her.

Zoya has done so much in a month's time. Sometimes I feel like I'm too hard on her and expecting too much of her, but when I see the changes that are brought about by holding her to a higher standard, I remember why I expect so much of her...because she is capable.  For almost the first 2 years of her life, she had nobody that expected her to do anything. Nobody held her to any standards. Nobody thought she'd be anything other than another mouth to feed. Nobody cared enough to teach her right from wrong. Nobody cared enough to put her in time out (yes she is learning all about time out here lately). Nobody cared enough or loved enough to ever teach her anything. Zoya had to fight every day of her life for an ounce of attention, and so she learned unacceptable ways to get attention...and that worked for her there.  She learned that she could take toys from other kids and be rough with them because nobody was watching anyways and she had never seen any other example of how to be gentle or kind. She learned that when she isn't getting enough stimulation she can throw herself back and smack her head off the floor (which has mostly stopped thank goodness).  She learned that to grind her teeth when she is feeling anxious.  She learned to obsess over food because there were not enough caregivers to feed all the children at the same time so she learned to obsess and beg at every sighting of food, fearing her turn would not come. She learned so many things that no almost-two-year-old should ever have to learn.

So has it been easy this past month? NO! In a lot of ways it isn't as hard as I thought it would be, but in many ways it is way harder.  Zoya doesn't have nearly as many orphanage behaviors as some older children who've been adopted, so we know it could be much worse.  But, there are still many frustrating moments.  Do I lose my cool sometimes? Yup....I guess just like any parent.  I think part of the reason it has been harder than I thought is because of how I've been feeling since we returned from Ukraine. I didn't expect to feel so sad for what we left behind.  It is exhausting and draining, which is probably why I try not to think about it, but the thoughts are always floating around.  The dreams still wake me up.  I didn't expect the experience to haunt me like it has. I thought I could leave it all there. I can't.

The hard part is that I feel like since we chose this path (and all the difficulties that we know would come along with it) it gives me less of a right, that any normal parent would have, to vent or complain or stress about any problems or stresses we are having with Zoya.  Because overall, it's great, but of course on top of typical child behavior, we are also have problems of a child whose lived the life of an orphan and issues related to her Down Syndrome....just as we planned for.  Did we know all this and choose all this? Yes, but that never meant we thought it would be easy.  So you see, since we chose this and knew that it would be the hardest thing we've ever done, I feel like I don't have the right to vent because I don't want others to get the wrong idea and think I regret our decision.  Really, in the big picture, the things that I'd even be venting about are so small, but they are real and "in the moment" type stresses that every other parent has the right to vent about.  So I will try to allow myself that same right and not feel guilty about it.

Zoya is the best thing that has ever happened to us.  At the end of each day I ask God if he really thinks we are worthy enough to be Zoya's parents.  I just can't believe it.  I still look at her at least once a day and think how lucky I am to get such an up close look into such a beautiful little world of innocence and happiness, despite all she has gone through. Just as we are teaching Zoya a new way to see the world, she is teaching us the very same thing.

The girl who has taught me more in one month than I've learned my entire life....

Friday, May 21, 2010

You've Gotta Watch This!

If I were in this situation, I would probably be arrested. (Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of the blog to pause the music so you can hear the video). If you have never seen this show before, what they do is set up scenarios and see how people will react.  The people in the video are actors and aren't actually real people saying real mean things, although I know these things are said and at times, sadly, people with Down Syndrome are treated like this. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flying like Peter Pan!

Today I showed Zoya how to climb up some stairs and I'm wondering if that was a bad idea! haha. You can see in the video she uses both her alternating feet and knees. The first time she did it she used only her feet! I can see most of our downstairs from my kitchen with only a few steps in one direction or another so while I'm cooking or cleaning in the kitchen I can see here anywhere she is downstairs. I peeked around the corner a little while after showing her this new skill and I couldn't see her.  She had climbed the bottom two stairs....she sure learns quick...and it is time for another gate!

These videos make me smile every time I watch them.  Shawn says these are Zoya's Peter Pan videos.  She was cracking up while Shawn held her up and she ran through the grass toward Mya.  Her little legs are moving sooooo fast that it looks like she is flying! She kept wanting to do this over and over.

 Happy girl :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Love Can Do

Zoya continues to do more and more and surprise us each day. Her beauty shines through brighter each morning we get to wake up to her inside and out. Many people have commented about how different she already looks and how much she has already learned.  It is amazing what love can do. We had Zoya's Early Intervention Evaluation and she qualified for services and we will have a meeting Thursday to get services in place.  Zoya will be receiving Occupational and Physical Therapy, as well as speech therapy. They will come to our house to do therapy with Zoya.  I'm not quite sure how many hours per week of each service she will get but we will likely decide that at the meeting on Thursday. 

Zoya is saying "mama" a lot more and with intention and meaning.  She will call my name to get my attention and then just smile at me or hold her arms out for me to pick her up.  She is really mirroring the love and actions that she sees us give to her.  She is starting to understand emotions much better.  In Ukraine, and when we were first home, any time Zoya would get hurt (and she would often intentionally hurt herself which she no longer does), she would laugh. I'm not talking giggle, I'm talking cracking up laughing when she'd get hurt.  Since we've been home anytime Zoya gets hurt, or even just a tiny bump, we make a big deal about it and make a sad face so that she knows that is how she should react.  Recently Zoya has started whimpering and sticking out her bottom lip when she gets hurt! This is progress!  She now reaches out her arms seeking our comfort if she gets hurt.  Whether or not it hurts her, we're still not sure.  Lots of doctors have told us that research shows kids who've lived in orphanages have way higher pain tolerances than other kids.  But, we do know that Zoya is learning the appropriate emotional responses such as crying when hurt and laughing when tickled (which we also had to teach her!). 

Zoya and I have been working each morning on some task completion activities and simple one step direction following.  Mini chocolate chips motivate her a lot! I will give her a simple command like clap your hands, touch your head, etc. and show her and then she will mirror me.  We also are working on simple things like dropping pegs in a bucket or buttons through a slot (thanks Christine!).  When we started these type of activities, Zoya would just throw any of the materials and/or refuse to do the task.  Then she would do it, but maybe for 30 seconds or so and she'd be done.  She is now able to sit and "work" on activities or direction following things for 5-10 minutes at a time.  This is HUGE progress in such little time.  Remember, we haven't even been home a month yet!  She knows 9 signs so far and uses 5 of those signs on her own with no prompting at all.  Yesterday I was writing a list of all the signs she has learned for the therapist who was evaluating her.  I was reviewing the list while holding her and I was reading it aloud as I reviewed it.  I said, "eat, dance, all done...." and then I realized as I said each word she was signing them one right after another it was pretty funny!  She is really starting to babble a whole lot and it is hillarious to hear.  She will just babble and yell just to hear herself.  She will often repeat a word she hears, but then not be able to say the word again.  For example, she heard someone say "that" and she immitated the sound.  When we were in Ukraine Zoya hardly made any sounds (other than imitating mama and papa). 

Our pretty pretty princess looking out the sliding glass of her favorite places in the house.

I love how she is starting to put her hand up to her face like this when she laughs.  It is proof that she observes and watches everything and everyone in her environment.

Zoya's nightime routine consists of dinner, playtime, bath time, massage, bottle and rocking, and then sleep.  She didn't allow me to massage her while we were in Ukraine or during our first two and a half weeks home.  This is now one of her favorite times of the day and when I get the lotion out she puts her right foot out toward me to start the massage! Here she is relaxing during her massage!

Zoya has been working on this sign for a week.  She does this for "drink." Thumb in mouth and other fingers curled. Until yesterday she would try her hardest to do the sign but for some reason always point to her head LOL.  She finally got it yesterday and has been using it since.  I think it is cool...2 nights in a row now while getting her massage, Zoya has signed "drink" and looked right at her bottle.  Tonight she signed it and said, "baba" at the same time! I also think it is awesome that she is starting to take comfort in the routine and knows what to expect next.  I love this girl!

And Mya's nightly routine lately......
Poor puppy is so tired from following Zoya around all day and having her hair pulled.  Funny story about Zoya being so observant.  We have been working REALLY HARD on Zoya petting Mya nicely. She knows how but is very impulsive and still often pulls Mya's hair or pulls her legs or ears, which Mya hates. I showed Zoya how to pet nicely by stroking Zoya's arm or face and saying, "awwww." Well now every time Zoya pets Mya she says, "AAAAHHHHH" really loud to show me she is petting nicely.  Well Mya wouldn't stop barking today (like all day) and so I tapped her nose with my finger to tell her to stop and Zoya looked at me with raised eyebrows, rubbed her own face and said, "AAAAAAHHHHH" like she was telling ME to be nice to Mya! Like hello Mom don't we have a rule here that we have to be nice to the dog? Busted!

Zoya is finally starting to show some interest in her toys, other than just wanting to chuck them across the room (although that still occurs quite frequently).  She has started playing with this "sit to stand" toy.  Also notice Mya in the picture once again.  She seriously follows Zoya everywhere and loves her as much as we do (well okay she does growl at her sometimes when she gets her ears pulled...but.....)

Here is Zoya standing, she can pull herself up and take a few steps with some support from us.


And the naptime saga.....yesterday it peaked and for 2 hours we struggled with her winning in the end.  She was exhausted.  I mean so exhausted she seemed like a different child...very calm haha.  She was almost like she was drugged or something she was so tired.  She kept laying her head down and laying on the floor, but wouldnt give in to sleep!  We decided to put her to bed early (at 7) and she slept 13 hours straight through the night.  She was a crab when she did wake up.  We decided we will not force her to nap for the time being because it just isn't worth the struggle and in the end everyone is just frustrated and cranky.  Today she fell asleep in the car...and slept for about 45 minutes. She was out cold 30 seconds after I started the car. See?

When I took her out of the car she was still sleepy but trying to keep herself awake.  Well sleep won today and this is where Zoya ended up for about 15 more minutes of a nap.  Isn't this the sweetest picture you've ever seen? Zoya and her doggy sister Mya end to end sleeping away!

So since she took about an hour nap today, we put her to sleep around 8 and wil see how that works out.  It has been quite a struggle and very stressful to say the least.  But if this is our biggest problem I know we're doing pretty darn good and we're pretty darn lucky!  I really do think, like some of you commented, that Zoya is just learning so much right now that her brain has a hard time turning off.  I also think she really really cherishes her time with us and doesn't want to be away from us or miss anything.  I think she needs us to constantly remind her that we will be here for her always. I keep telling her, "we will never leave you."  Every morning Zoya wakes up with the biggest smile on her face, standing in her crib, when Shawn or I go in to get her.  It is almost like she is just hoping and praying that we walk through the door again each morning and when we do she acts like she just won a million bucks.  Shawn has been doing a lot of the morning duty and he says this is his favorite time of the day with her.  

So What Can Love Do? I never imagined it could do so much in so little time. Love can change a life. Love can save a life.  Love can give a life something to live for. How lucky we all are to have God's eternal love, the kind of love that expects nothing in return, the kind of love that changes and saves lives and gives us all something to live for.

Two Months Later......

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pictures as Promised....and Videos

Zoya with her new crawling skills! She is also starting to sit up from a "laying on back" position.  Usually when she is on her back she rolls to her belly and scoots herself up in the weirdest most uncomfortable looking way.  So we are doing PT with her and holding her legs down while she is laying on her back, giving her a finger to hold on to and she is using her other hand (and her abs) to push off the floor to sitting position! Yay Zoya.

Here is Zoya's first birthday present from her Great Aunt! We tried it without the foot board in the bottom (see her toes peeking through?) but she ended up falling through so we put the foot board in.  Mya thought it was pretty cool too!

This was yesterday during day 5 of nap protest.  She fell asleep in the car before lunch so I took her right to her crib where she slept for an hour and a half (shoes and all...I wasn't taking any chances waking the monster up!).  Not the typical 3 hours but I'll take it! Still having troubles in the nap area! But I definitely don't think it's bc she is giving up her nap...she is way too tired to go without a nap...even when we put her to bed early.  She just wakes up earlier then and is even more tired! Stinker. (P.S. right now the only way I'm updating the blog is because she fought sleep for over an hour crying and carrying on and FINALLY fell asleep and has been sleeping for an hour and a half...thank God for Shawn who can put up a much better fight in the sleep game than me).

Zoya's first day at church today.  Here she is before we left sitting pretty watching the trees. 

Here she is at church sitting with Daddy and the secret weapon (oyster crackers).  She liked the music but was definitely scared by the drums! She was a little socialite as usual and got lots of smiles.

Below is a cute video of Zoya pretending to call Daddy at work.  She is very observant.  She watches EVERYTHING everyone does and says and that is how she learns modeling. Well the first time she picked up my phone and started pretending to talk to "Dada" I just about cracked up.  I finally got it on video.  When Shawn is at work we will call him and put it on speaker phone and she always looks so amazed trying to figure it out! In this video Shawn wasn't actually on the phone...she was just pretending....either that or she thought she could call him herself!

This video is this morning....Zoya learned the sign for "dance" which she loves to do.  The way to sign "dance" is to sweep the pointer and middle finger across the other hand's palm.  Well Zoya, in true Zoya form, adapted the sign to make it her own. She uses her thumb and sweeps it back and forth on her other palm, or sometimes uses her pointer finger to do the sign.  She has learned that when she makes the sign we will turn on the radio or sing and dance! She thinks it's great that she can use a sign to get us to do something!  Little Miss Communicator! In the video you can kinda see her doing it (although she is reluctant to let go of her favorite shoe!).  You can also see her shakin her booty! (She likes 80s music! Ha).