Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle.....

Sara has been home and in my arms for 6 months today! Her picture captured my heart over a year ago and today she has been home for half of a year! She continues to fill my heart and soul with so much wonder, warmth, happiness, love, and awe! My friend Alli who also has a child with Ds said that there would never be a dull moment with these kids. She calls them "special stars" and that is exactly what Sara is, a star! And it is true, there is never a dull moment at our home. She amazes me every day with her disabilities! There is a reason why my six year old son often asks if she really does have Down syndrome because she does everything that a baby should do. Yes maybe she hasn't reached her milestones at the "typical" rate, but she can and will reach them in her own time. When we first met Sara in September, she couldn't even roll over. I had to help her get on her belly and even then she would cry. After days of being home, she was able to push up on her hands and soon she was rocking on her knees. After a couple of months Sara was able to sit leaning forward but was unable to hold herself up. But within weeks after that she became even stronger and was able to sit up tall.

When I first tried to feed her solid foods using a spoon, she had no idea what to do with the food and wasn't sure how to work her tongue. (Even though I was told that she was fed by a spoon.) You see in the orphanage they feed the babies a very thick consistency mush using a bottle with a very large hole cut out of the nipple. This makes for easy and fast feedings which helps them manage 12 babies during feeding time, but doesn't help the babies learn how to eat. Sara would guzzle that mush in seconds flat! Today she can feed herself finger foods and can eat practically anything from a spoon. She's just like her mama and loves her food! She can also drink from a sippee cup. She's able to hold her own bottles and cups and has figured out how to tip them back so she can drink from them sitting up. What a clever girl!

Within months, Sara was also able to do the army crawl and scoot across the floor, and today she cruises all over the place "speed" crawling. She's even able to get up and over one step! When she sees an open door, she bolts! She'd try going down the stairs if we'd let her. She is fearless but knows when to stop when she hears the word no! Liam had a harder time adjusting to Sara more than anyone which was totally understandable. He was no longer the baby and I think he questioned who is this and when is she leaving? After a while he figured out that this thing called my sister is not leaving but I can push her around. He still likes to give her the occasional whack on the head or sit on her but Sara is learning to hold her own. At first she would just take it but now she can push him away. In fact she threw a remote control at him tonight and gave him a slight bruise below his eye. It's hard to get mad because it was one of those "I told you so" moments. I keep telling him that soon she is going to be just as big if not bigger than him and he had better watch his back! (At two and a half he only weighs 21 lbs. and Sara is 19 lbs.) Saying all of this though, I do witness many tender moments between them both too. They're only 13 months apart so I am hoping they'll learn to be best buddies.

Over a month ago Sara was able to pull herself up in her crib and since then she hasn't stopped pulling herself up on anything she can reach. She is walking alongside furniture and will let go of one hand. Occasionally she has let go of both hands and will stand for a few seconds before falling. She loves to walk with you when you are holding her hands and just recently she pushed a toy walker across the room. I think with all this progress she'll be walking on her own in no time. One night before bed I told her to wave bye bye and she did and she often babbles mama and dada! When she wants me she will crawl over to me, sit at the bottom of my feet, look up and say "mama". I love that she knows who I am and it warms my heart! She will reach for me when someone else is holding her and I am near by and when I go to pick her up she'll reach her hands up too! Just this last week she has learned to clap her hands and feet, and she dances to the music. She also LOVES the bath and LOVES to splash using both her hands and legs. She creates waves by clapping her feet together. She can also give kisses when I ask for them! It's usually an open mouth kiss, but I'm pretty used to the wet ones! I just figure with Sara, you will always get a little extra!

She had her first experience on a swing and loved it! Her giggle and smile bring me so much happiness! I'd make a fortune if I could bottle and market it! So you see it is hard to see that Sara has a disability because there is no dis about it! She is accomplishing everything I knew she would and then some! With every child I get excited to witness their "firsts" and Sara is no exception. With her accomplishments I find myself thinking "Yes! I knew you could do it!" or "You know!" or "Yes, you get it!" I am in awe every day of what she can do and I get excited to see her enjoying things that she may have never enjoyed. I wonder and anticipate what she will do next. Oh and I forgot to mention that she just got her first tooth!

There are days when I wish we were back in Ukraine experiencing our journey all over again because it was so neat, but I am grateful that Sara is home where she belongs. She has always felt like she belongs! I am so glad that I listened to my heart and that Mark was willing to take this leap of faith with me and that we were able to rescue our lost princess! Having her in our home for the past 6 months has brought us all so much joy! I wish her bio parents could see what she is becoming! I wish all parents who have a child born with Ds who decide to abandon them could see that they're just like me and you!

I had the opportunity on World Ds Day to give a presentation in my 12 year old son's sixth grade class. I was able to share with them a video called "Just Like You" and discuss that even though children with Ds have special needs, they are no different than you and me. I wrote a small poem and read it to the class.

" I'm just like you. You're just like me.
We have the same hopes and dreams.
Let's accept each other for who we are and
together we can shoot for the stars!"

I also shared a similarity that we are all stars, each one unique and different yet we shine and share the same sky. So my friend Alli is right, Sara and Zach and their chromosomally enhanced friends are stars shining brightly just like you and me! They do twinkle, twinkle! She also told me that having Zach in her life is like having a little piece of heaven every day and I couldn't agree more! I'm so grateful for my heaven here on earth, not only through Sara but through my other children who I adore. Being a mom is the best job in the world and the great thing about my job is that I can't get fired or retire! (Don't get me wrong, it's tough work not getting overtime pay and it's very wearing at times when my employees talk back, but very rewarding and worth every tear, laugh, pinch, and hug!) One of my favorite quotes from one of our beloved prophets, President Kimball reads, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." I am grateful that my children have a place to call home and I am grateful that I can be their mother! I am definitely a work in progress but am thankful for each opportunity I have to help me and my children shine a little brighter!

This video is a bit lengthy, but it shows what our little blossom has been up to this past 6 months. When we arrived at home 6 months ago with a new baby in tow, we were greeted with a poster in our front yard that read, "Welcome home Sara! Now you are free to bloom!" Our friends had planted bulbs with the help of our kids below the poster. Just today on her 6 month anniversary I noticed that they had started to bloom. It was a nice reminder and a great feeling to know that Sara is blooming right before our eyes.

Sara has experienced many firsts as you will see and many other adventures along the way. First time being home! First Halloween where she was a very fitting flower. Being sealed to our family in the Salt Lake Temple. First family gatherings including Thanksgiving. First birthday (although she was miserable and sick with the croup). First time sleeping at Papa and Grandma's. First Christmas and pajama party with Santa. RSV requiring a week long hospital stay. Crawling, standing, sitting up, tummy time, and sleeping. Laughing and making the silliest faces. Surgery on her eyes and ear tubes. (Recovery was rough and tough but you will see the amazing difference. She can not only see better, but she can look straight!) First Easter. First time on a swing! 6 months full of firsts and 6 months of belonging to a family who loves her to bits!

I started this blog initially when we were led to do foster care for our now adopted son. The title "Led By His Love" describes our adoption adventures. The description of the blog comes from one of my favorite musicals, Wicked. "I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. We are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them and they help us in return." The song For Good continues to say, "I know I'm who I am today because I knew you. Because I knew you I have been changed for good." There are no better words that can sum up how I feel about my children. We were led by His love to find Liam and Sara and I am so glad that we followed His lead because we have been changed for good!

Sara, I don't need to wonder any longer what you are? Because I know just who you are! You are a diamond in the sky, a twinkling star! You are amazing! You are radiant! You shine! You truly are a gift from heaven and you're mine!

* I had the darndest time uploading this video and when my husband finally got it to post, for some reason it added an additional 40 seconds to it. So please fast forward to the 40 second mark and the video will begin.

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