Six Months Ago
Six months ago today Kevin and I kissed our three babies at home good-bye and boarded a plane to meet baby number four waiting for us in China. Six months. Really? That was only six months ago. So much life has happened in the past six months that Kevin and I both agree it should count for at least a year. I counted it up today and our current grand total is 49 medical appoinments. No wonder it seemed busy. But this precious gift is more than a diagnosis, she is more than a number of specialists, she is more than a stack of medical bills.... she is Eliana Hope and she is my daughter. A word that means more and more to me as each day passes by. Her name literally means "my God has answered me with hope". Hope. Her life is daily teaching me more about what that word truly means. I have been stretched in ways I never imagined before and learned more than I could have dreamed six months ago. My little Elie is a gift from my Heavenly Father. Only six months in and I cannot even begin to imagine my life without her.
She has blossomed from an angry, frightened little girl who spoke no English to a smiley chatterbox. She has bonded to all three of her siblings, especially her constant side kick, her sister Faith. Last week Kevin took Elie out. They had not been gone more than 15 minutes when Faith started to complain, "I miss my sister." We have come so far! She still loves to sing, but now the songs are in English. Her drawing skills continue to excel and she can now draw people with all facial features and body parts. My favorite drawing she made was of a rainbow. She loves rainbows. And the color pink, hello kitty, fancy hair barrettes, doll babies and pretty much all things girl. When she grows up she wants to be a mommy, so I guess I have not failed too badly. Her English would absolutely astound you.... and it does to all her come in contact with her. And she WILL talk to you if you come anywhere near her space, she LOVES to talk and ask questions. All. Day. Long. She has the most amazing memory of anyone I have ever met and never forgets a face or that tiny detail about you. Like the fact that you had a hangnail the last time she saw you.
And she really wants to go to school. That dream is about to come true for Elie. She has been placed into a county preschool program at a local elementary school. Next week we have a meeting to work out all the details for her Individualized Education Program (IEP). I was dreading this after hearing so many horror stories from other parents. However so far our experience has been nothing but fabulous and the administrators working with us are wonderful. They are truly interested in what Kevin and I think is best for Elie and want to work together to see her succeed. I know it is time. I know she is ready to go. But the thought of dropping her off at school is heart wrenching all the same. I took this picture of her on Sunday. I thought it just screamed "I'm ready to go to school."
By the way, how do you like her kicks? Last month I wrote about grieving the loss of shoe choice for my daughter. In the end we decided to go with these shoes from Stride Rite. They are SR's only girl shoe that comes in an extra wide and spans the sizes from preschool to big girl. She loves them. She can now put on her brace and her shoes all by herself. She is amazing. We had to buy two separate pairs of shoes, but stride rite gives you 40% off the second pair and the starting price was by far way cheaper then other options we looked at. So far they are holding up nicely.
I didn't know what I was going to do about the shoes when it came to Christmas. At first I swore that she would just wear her old dress shoes with her Christmas dress. But as we got closer to the holiday I started having second thoughts. For one, I didn't want her thinking that her new tennis shoes were not beautiful or that they couldn't be worn with dresses because she has to wear them everyday. I also didn't want her to think there was something wrong with her brace.... that is wasn't pretty enough for fancy occasions. The second thing is this - the brace and the shoes work. Before Elie had them she regularly fell down the stairs and would wake up screaming with leg cramps. Since adding the brace she has not fallen down the stairs one time and the screaming has not happened again. She is way to young to sacrifice being in pain for fashion. So in the end, Elie wore her brace and her pink tennis shoes with her Christmas dress. And the bigger miracle was it didn't upset me, not even a half tear.
We have moments together that are super fabulous and some that are really just not. We are learning, we are growing. I went back and read my post that I wrote right before we left for China. I was explaining that we had no idea what the months ahead would hold or the challenges that our daughter would bring. Then I came across this line....
"But one thing is for sure, we will be her mommy and daddy forever and she will forever be our daughter. And we have the rest of our lives to figure the rest of it out."
I needed that reminder. Each day brings a piece of the picture.... and we will continue on that way for the rest of our lives. But the beauty is just that.