What a difference a month makes!
We've actually been home for a month and four days today. These pictures were taken on the four-week anniversary, by my talented sister Kelsey.
We've heard that the first month home is the hardest, and I think that's likely true. When we were handed this sweet little girl, we loved her...but we didn't know her. A very clear example: for the first few nights, we had a terrible time getting her to go to sleep at night. She clearly wanted to, but was unhappy whether we laid her down and left her alone, laid her down and patted her back, rocked her, bounced her, whatever. Our next door neighbors in Rwanda, the Bowers, could certainly attest to that: at least an hour of screaming every night for probably a week and a half. In Ethiopia, we finally figured her out. I fed her a bottle, then put her on my chest while she fell peacefully to sleep. Then I laid her down on her tummy. What an easy solution. But you have to know.
I didn't much like the getting-to-know-you part. I wanted to skip that part, with all its mystery, confusion, fussing, and aha moments. I wanted to get to the part where I knew how to get her to sleep, what foods she liked, when she was getting overwhelmed, and how she liked to be held. I wanted to know her as well as I know my other kids.
We're finally starting to get there. When Laina is tired or worried, she holds her hands together in front of her, like she's praying. When she doesn't get enough eye contact or attention when she's in the ergo, she makes funny faces and noises until I notice. She likes bananas, but not pears. She doesn't mind anymore if her bottle is room temperature (she used to want it HOT!). She likes playing with the tags on her stuffed animals, and she does not like her car seat. We're getting this baby girl figured out, I am glad and relieved to say.
So, with an idea taken from a fellow Rwanda family, I leave you with the amazing then and now. It's amazing what good nutrition, love, and a family can do for a child. When an orphan gets a family, she blossoms.
Then: When we met Laina, she weighed fourteen pounds.
Now: At her check-up (three weeks home), she was 16 pounds, 15 oz.
Then: Laina could not sit up alone, put weight on her legs, or crawl.
Now: She jumps in the jumpy and stands with help, she sits alone and even pushes herself from her tummy to a sitting position, and she army-crawls wherever she wants to go.
Then: She had absolutely no pincer grip.
Now: She picks up tiny things all the time and puts them in her mouth (!!).
Then: She smiled at everyone.
Now: She hides her face in my chest and plays shy sometimes (this is a good sign! It means she's learning that I'm her mama, and that everyone she meets is not her mama.).
One month in, life is still crazy and we're still adjusting. But we're getting there. We are beyond blessed to have Laina Kate in our family. She's lovely, funny, animated, silly, sweet, and beautiful.