Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let's Get Physical

Well, the little trauma that is the welcome home for every internationally adopted child has officially begun. On Tuesday, the physical. With astounding feedback from her wonderful pediatrician who raved about the length, weight, awareness and neurological development of my little princess. Next stop, extract various bodily fluids for close laboratory scrutiny. Final stop, Children's Hospital for the bloody blood draw. Which is where her astonishing physical health let her down. Because it's very difficult to find a vein in a pudgy, muscular infant, even this one, who sits very still. It started with 2 nurses, and ended with 4. One to amuse her, two to hold her down, and the big honcho brought in when nobody else could find a vein. I thought after a week in her company, I'd heard all the noises she could make, but I assure you that one was missing. The high pitched distress signal that has almost no volume, because there's no steam left to fuel it. It was heartbreaking. And also alarming, in light of the amount of blood drawn. They needed 4 vials, and apparently two of the tests need to share the same blood sample as there was still not enough to go around. Basically, aside from all the usual tests, a number of additional tests need to be done that reflect health risks particulars to east Africa. So, for example, her blood will be tested for lead and mercury. Also, for antigens, to ensure that the vaccinations she has received to date were done properly and are protecting her. Otherwise, they have to be re-done. This is Makeda, happy in her crib and bumbo chair, prior to the start of her ordeal.

And here she is afterwards, licking her wounds (check out those bandages).

Now, we wait for the results. But while we're waiting, here's a few more ;)

Yes, I did her hair.

This one she'll eventually hate me for including, but I had to toss it in. Widget got a bit too close and gave her a little unexpected ear waxing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

31 Hours Later...

ouch. falling asleep at desk... must wait until tomorrow to post anything substantive. Thanks all for the kind words in the last couple of posts. I just read them now. I wasn't able to access my blog while I was away, so Haze and Porter were kind enough to take my hotmail emails to them and post them on my blog for me (note to self, change password or the next post may not reflect views of the author...). Anyway, we are home safe and sound. Trip was great except Ethiopian airlines arrived in London late, and we missed our connection to Vancouver. Had to rebook and go through Calgary. Calgary immigration lacked knowledge but made up for it with big attitudes (btw Makeda has now been categorized as a "visitor" notwithstanding she is a Canadian citizen - not quite sure what impact that will have on future paperwork...). 4 flights in one day, about 31 hours in total (as opposed to the 22 hours originally scheduled). yuk. Then of course Air Canada lost my luggage. Apparently it never left London. Anyone got a spare contact lens case?

Makeda was a trooper through the whole thing. What a sunny disposition. We arrived home to a lovely crowd greeting us at the airport. Flowers and a full fridge courtesy of Leslie and Judy and tlc courtesy of both visiting sisters, one of whom will be staying for a couple of days til I settle in. Dogs are not impressed so far. Pics to follow.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Both Feet Planted Firmly on the Ground

Well, we're back now from our historical circuit of Northern Ethiopia. As most of you know, we've been exploring a little of M's homeland, starting northwest in Bahir Dar and working our way east through Gondar, ending in Lalibela. The entire tour was spectacular, but the highlight had to be the remarkable rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. These churches are not carved into the rock, but rather, have been freed entirely from it. Having seen the pyramids of Egypt up close and personal, I guarantee you will find the Lalibela churches equally astonishing.

However, before you pack your bags, a couple of Barb tips to ease your journey:

(1) Being the only African state to avoid colonization is a source of pride to Ethiopians. But, independence comes at a cost, namely, no wealthy Europeans to build the infrastructure. Now, having explored other parts of East Africa, and being generally high maintenance, I was not shy about requesting that we be booked in the best accomodation available in each city. Nonetheless, I'm here to tell you that it is possible to spend 4 hours scaling 2500 feet of rock, on a sightseeing mission, alternating between hiking and mule, under the mid-day sun, and still determine upon arrival back at the hotel that person cleaniless would best be maximized by NOT stepping into the shower.

(2) Another source of Ethiopian pride is the national airline, Ethiopian air. Their safety record is fine, but the aircraft interiors do not always receive timely upgrades and repairs. So, expect seats to be in permanent recline, table trays to pop down at unpredictable intervals, and don't expect seat cushions to stay fixed to the seat. The Northern route is mountainess, so expect some fairly extreme turbulence, which adds to the unpredictability and anticipation regarding the location of the above-referenced interior components. Your (small) plane will also careen back and forth on the runway when it lands before coming to a shaky stop. Since your route through the Northern circuit is a milkrun between cities, the excitement will be multiplied by 3, each way, as you ping pong between each city. Survival tactics I recommend include: keep food consumption to a minimum (this is assisted by the unpredictability of the feeding schedule, notwithstanding that the flight schedule itself never varies). Take heart in the fact that every Ethiopian on the plane is either Muslim or Christian and someone's prayers are bound to be answered. Lastly, keep the ipod volume on maximum as this helps drown out the silent screams reverberating in your head.

On a more serious note, in about 12 hours I will take permanent custody of my beloved Makeda. I had the privilege of meeting her beautiful birthmom, Fozia, in Nazret, before I left on the tour, and we will be meeting again tomorrow at the orphanage so she can say good-bye and I can get some pics of her and M together. In the meantime, we have the crib set up in the hotel room and the ipod is loaded with every possible Baby Bach sonata that she ever could have listened to at the orphanage. I seem to have mastered the intricacies of the Baby Bjorn and every baby supply known to man is neatly stacked on the second bed in my hotel room in anticipation of the 10% chance she'll actually need it (I thought I needed 10 onesies for 3 days becuz???). So now, for the rest of the evening, it's all about the wine.

ciao for now,

xox Barb

p.s. Leslie your camera rocks.

p.p.s. whoever left the voicemail on my cell phone apparently I can't access it from down here. Hope it wasn't important. Please tell me my dogs are ok. No wait, I don't want to know. Yes I do. No I don't.

Next stop, HOME!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Adventures in Addis

So far, absolutely nothing has gone as planned, so it's all hectic but perfect. I'll post the details later. But suffice it to say, I have met my daughter, and she is perfect. Here is what I know about her so far, after about 3 hours in her company:

(1) she is gorgeous. She has lips like rosebuds and her eyelashes are so long they curl up at the ends.
(2) she has an iron grip. She likes to hold two hands at once and will grip one of mine and reach out her other one for gramma or grampa.
(3) she loves to talk. Her vocal talents also consist of being able to emit high pitched squeals without even opening her mouth.
(4) she has just discovered her hands and she finds them far more fascinating than she does her new mom!
(5) she loves to pucker her lips and blow raspberries.
(6) she snores when she naps.

If all goes according to plan (for once) I will take custody of her on the morning of the 20th.

Makeda sends a special hi to aunties wendy and lisa (and oh yeah mom and dad and me throw one in too).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Less Than 24 Hours to Go...

And I still haven't started packing. Guess I should get on that. See y'all on the 24th. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Dad the Superhero

So, I have to give a public shout-out to my Dad. Ever since I moved into my new place, he's been patiently catering to my every installation whim. Picture hanging, furniture assembly, baby gate installation, shelves, you name it. Much of it was done while mom and I sat in front of the fireplace drinking. Not that she hasn't done a ton, but it was not as "installation" focussed. This last Sunday marked the end of my endless requests, with the valance rod installation in Makeda's room. Here he is, doing his best superhero imitation.

And here, after 6 months of planning, shopping, hanging, assembly and repeats thereof, is the FINAL RESULT. I am very pleased with said results. We can all see where the entire move-in budget got allocated. And that doesn't even include what's hanging in the closet.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Domestic Goddess

So, tick tock, countdown to baby is imminent, and it seemed a good time to make sure that both M and I have something to eat when we get back home in a few weeks. So, my dear friend Gayle, who I have known since she sat down next to me in Economic Geography (what the hell is that anyway) in undergrad, offered to come over and show me how to make babyfood.

Now, the Barb don't cook. Not for herself and certainly not for anyone else. In fact, my personal motto has always been that if I want a guy of out my life stat, the way to his exit is through his stomach via my homecooked meal. So, there was an element of risk exposing a small child to my culinary expertise. But, there's a four month leave of absence looming in my immediate future, which means time on my hands and less money in my pocket for baby take-out, so I took her up on her offer and we rolled up our sleeves.

It was not an auspicious start, since the fruit I selected was apparently not sufficiently ripe for a small child to digest, putting the proposed fruit purees on the backburner, right out of the gate. So, we moved instead to the veggie purees. That didn't go so bad and my flagging enthusiasm was somewhat revived. Then it was time for the prunes. After discovering that 7 prunes and 20 minutes of effort squeezes out approximately one tablespoon of puree, it was time to pack it in.

Final result: notwithstanding that I came out of it with about 3 weeks worth of baby food and it was a solid bonding event for the two of us, we both agreed that round two would most likely consist of me online ordering from sweetpeababyfood. Apparently, they also deliver, and that's practically baby take-out. Stick with what you know, I say.

This is Sonja, Gayle's oldest, stirring the veggies.

Me, loading up the little icecube trays. Gayle, loading the blender.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Finer (and Funner) Details

For the most part, I've been pretty disciplined about the wardrobe accumulation, but that's starting to fall apart, now that I've finished the heavy lifting. I'll save the photos until there's actually a little body to put them, but I wanted to show off just this one...because it's the one that I bought to match the little shoes Haze gave her.

Well, ok, now that I've started I may as well show off a couple more of my favourites...

Yes, I'm all about the shoes. And yes, that is a shoe rack. C'mon, every girl needs a shoe rack.