For the past six months Esther has been growing a “bubble” on her head. It’s not actually a bubble but it sure looks like one and to some I’m sure it appears as fragile as a bubble. She actually has a tissue expander just under the surface of her skin.
I share more about tissue expanders in this post but for the most part think of it like a plastic bag under the skin on her forehead and for the past six months we have done injection after injection AT HOME helping the “bubble” to grow and in return stretch her skin. Much like a pregnant woman’s tummy.
Injections are done at home. You know, just your typical American family letting their two girls watch shows on the laptop while the parents inject the oldest daughter’s head with saline. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
As strange as it sounds both girls actually beg for us to do injections. Why? Because they get to watch special episodes off of Amazon or YouTube. It’s a treat for them and because Esther gets Lidocaine on her port about 30 minutes before each injection she actually doesn’t feel a thing.
Michael Luke does each injection. We’ve done so many now that we can get them done in about 10 minutes. Just consider us pros. My job, the most important job, is to hold Esther’s hand for emotional support.
She doesn’t realize she doesn’t need it but I enjoy the opportunity to be needed and to sit with the girls for a few minutes. Plus, let’s face it. I just wasn’t cut out for the medical field and would probably pass out if I was the one giving the injection!
Last night was hopefully our last injection we will ever do. In a way it was bitter sweet. Strange, right? This coming Monday Esther will have the tissue expander removed and her doctor will use all the skin that we have stretched out to replace her scarred tissue and match her hairline on the other side of her face.
As in your face as the “bubble” is to most people we honestly hardly notice it.
God blesses you with the ability to see the person for who they truly are. To see beauty in her face… even with a lump the size of an orange on her forehead. He makes everything beautiful. I’m excited for her surgery though and look forward to seeing her face transform even more as we get one step closer to the finished masterpiece.
Please join us in praying for Esther over the next several days. She is an extremely brave little girl but even the bravest get scared. Right now her stress level is extremely high and the smallest thing can send her into a panic attack. To help support her we are back to applying Tranquil several times a day and talking about the good things like ice cream and Disney movies after surgery.
Aside from the obvious r&r I’ve been taking here on the blog we had a little family r&r the other week at the beach. Yep, we packed up the family and drove four hours south to the sunshine, sand, and fun. Well the girls and I did at least because we were tagging along with Michael Luke for a physical therapy convention… so he spent most of the time in meetings.
Our trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time though. Our time at the beach marked two months with Esther. Two months can seem like a long time. Newborns change drastically in two months. Some are even sleeping through the night at that point (thank you Noah). Esther is no different really. She has changed so much in the past two months. She smiles and laughs a lot more now. Her anxiety levels have gone down… not gone but they have decreased. She is also coming closer and closer to sleeping through the night but like newborns who have only been in their home two months she still gets totally freaked out when she wakes up in her room in the middle of the night. We are moving forward though.
One of the steps of moving forward that we were warned about and that we knew would come was grieving. Esther did some grieving in Hong Kong… especially the days immediately after she became ours but nothing like what we experienced the week leading up to our beach trip. You see, Esther left some pretty important people back in Hong Kong. She was loved and she loves them. One of the is her Kai-ma (God mother in Cantonese). I hope to share more about this amazing women later this week but in the meantime it’s enough to know this woman was like family to Esther. Family that she can’t see, or hug, or play with anymore. Family that in her mind was practically dead. Family that she missed.
It just happened one day out of the blue… she started complaining of her stomach hurting. I figured it was a stomach bug because it had been making its way around town so I didn’t think too much of it besides preparing for the worst and applying peppermint oil to her tummy. Later in the day her energy level dropped and her Chatty Kathy self practically silenced. That got my attention and let me know she was for real about not feeling well. Then later that night she started running a fever. Mostly around 101 but climbing past 103, and hanging out at 104 before coming back down. At this point we knew she didn’t feel well but didn’t know what to do besides wait for the virus to hit. So we gave her some medicine and applied more peppermint oil to her to help bring the fever down.
The next morning her fever was gone but she was barely moving, still not talking much, and not eating hardly anything. Most of the day she laid on the couch and was content with me just holding her. She was not content with me stepping out of the room to do anything else. So housework and cooking sort of came to a standstill because we all know that the “Mommy” part of the job comes first and thankfully my husband insists on it being that way. We repeated the same thing for another day. Barely moving, fever rising at nighttime and then back down by morning, and in my mind waiting on the stomach bug to rear its ugly head.
Like any three year old sometimes she has a hard time finding the right words to express herself. By the third day Esther began to say, “Mommy, I’m scary.” With a little probing we discovered that she “was scary” because she missed her Kai-Ma. She missed Hong Kong. And occasionally she would tell us she wanted to go back. Not in the I don’t love you or want to be with you sense of “go back” But in the I miss everyone who used to be in my life and want to see them again sense.
At this point my heart broke becauseI realized that it had been almost two months for her without seeing or hearing from Kai-Ma. In her mind, why did we have her and why couldn’t she see the ones she loved. So we begin to talk to her about how sometimes when your heart hurts your tummy hurts too. We told her that even though Kai-Ma misses her and loves her Kai-Ma wants her to be here in our family and Kai-Ma wants Esther to be happy. We begin to try to explain to her that in August she can talk to Kai-Ma again. (We are allowed to talk to her once the adoption is finalized… but how do you explain that to a three year old!?) We also read and talked to her about adoption. About her birth family. Mother’s Choice. And how God had a plan all along for her to be part of our family. I can’t say how much she understood but she definitely enjoyed talking about Kai-Ma. By Sunday we declared it an “oily” day and diffused Valor, Stress Away, and Joy and applied Tranquil to her throughout the day. We did this for a couple of days and kept talking to her about Kai-Ma Slowly she began to perk up a little each day, reaching her normal self seven days later… the day before we left for the beach.
So you can see why the beach was a welcome retreat at this point.
Here Esther’s anxiety almost completely went out the window.
The girls hardly fought because there was plenty of sand and waves to go around.
And for once I got to sit and read for a little while.
It was what we all needed. R&R.
P.S. Esther still has times that she is sad or “scary”. Which in the mind of a little three year old that has been completely transplanted half way across the world what part of that is not scary? We tell her that’s it’s perfectly fine to miss the ones you love and talk about getting to talk to Kai-Ma again. I hope Kai-Ma is prepared to talk for about ten hours in August because Esther has a bunch of stuff she wants to show her and tell her about. We are also talking pictures to show Kai-Ma. This has been great therapy for Esther. Even though we can’t talk to her yet it’s something she can do in anticipation of her.
I’ve been a little MIA lately… like an ostrich with it’s head in the sand. For the last week I have been almost completely unplugged from the world wide web. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter, Blogger, or Pinterest. Nada. So if in the past week you announced you were pregnant, got engaged, or had a baby let me know. Seriously, because I’ve been out of the loop… and it was wonderful. For the past week we have been at the beach!
Soaking up the sun when possible but mainly just enjoying time together as a family. This was Noah’s first trip to the beach (or coming from her lips it sounds more like the name for a female dog) and she absolutely loved it. She may need to work on those long “e” sounds. In the meantime we made sure her fingers weren’t pointing at or towards anyone while asking to “go to the beach”. The whole trip was a lot of fun and hopefully I will be back later to share some pictures.
In the meantime, I have spent today trying to get caught up on laundry and and hitting the gym to burn off all the extra calories I ate in the past week. All this to say I don’t have the survey results ready to share from last weeks blogiversary. So if you missed it there is still time to fill it out and let your vote be counted. Go on… rock the vote! Last week I also mentioned that I hoped to share pictures from way back when we first bought our townhouse. Well, ML and I both agree that we have them… somewhere but we have yet to find them. All computers and external hard drives have been checked but I must be missing them somewhere. I promise whenever I find them I will share them with y’all.
In the meantime, tell me about your summer vacation(s). Do you unplug when you go on vacation? Or is it prime time for you to get caught up on all the latest Facebook happenings? The verdict is still out whether unplugging will become a vacation norm for me but I sure did enjoy it. Who needs Facebook for entertainment when you can sit and enjoy the beauty and majesty of the beach that God created? It blows my mind that his thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand!
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them,
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I am awake, I am still with you.