We traveled with 3 other families who were adopting with our agency at the same time, and we were told that the kids would arrive at our guest house around 9:30 am. BF and I woke up at 4:45 am that Monday morning and were wide awake. We decided to quietly lie in bed to at least simulate sleeping until 7:30 and then get up and get ready. At breakfast (which was at the guest house each day. I love me some Ethiopian omelets), we learned that all of the other families had done the same thing– woken up incredibly early and then just willed themselves through the rest of the night. At about 10:15, I told BF I was going to run up to the bedroom for more cold medicine (it turns out I was sicker than just a cold and ended up taking the Cipro I had packed. If you are headed to Ethiopia soon, do pack some) and he said, “The van just pulled up.” I turned around, walked outside, and, just then, several boys and a girl came into the courtyard with a couple care house staffers with them. In one nanny’s arm was a covered up baby. My heart leapt, my nose started to sting, and I started weeping. I stopped for a moment, and I saw the nanny search around the courtyard. When her eyes settled on me, I waved and then started walking again to them. When I reached them, all I could do for several minutes was hold his little hand, weep, and say Thank you in Amharic to the nanny over and over again.
What is his disposition like?
He is incredibly happy. He is VERY verbal, lots of chattering, squealing, and chirping. He is very curious and looks around a lot, taking things in. He responds really well to music– even my singing which isn’t really music. The very first night, I was looking for a song to sing to him and came up with The Rose by Bette Midler which I learned in 8th grade and probably haven’t thought about since. It’s funny how the brain works, every single word popped up for me and I’ve probably sung it to him 100 times since. He still likes it. I think that also means he is patient and kind. Finally, and this makes his Emma (how they say mom in Amharic), he loves to be read to. So far, his favorite book is Please Baby Please by Spike and Tonya Lee (Thanks, Jodi!).
How did he do on the trip home?
Unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. We got to the airport at 2:30 pm on Thursday only to learn that our 7 pm flight was delayed until midnight (this meant we missed every single connection home). They weren’t even opening the counters to let you check in and get to the gates until 4:30 pm so we went and sat at a little cafe by the entrance for two hours and then camped out in the corridor of the gate area. There is an internet cafe in that portion of the airport so I was able to email our travel agent and ask her to line up a new itinerary home for us. Anyway, it took us 42 hours to get home and our boy only cried during the last ten minutes of the last plane trip home. He was just incredible. For parents who will be traveling home with infants in the coming months, I recommend packing twice as much formula as you think you need. I packed 25% more than I thought we would need but it was still way too little and we ended up needing to find formula in the Dubai airport. Also pack about 6 more diapers than you think you will need and an outfit for every 8-10 hours of travel. We are not primma donnas at all about what we wear or what our baby wears, the clothing changes were absolutely necessary. And pack a change of clothes for you. It was also absolutely necessary. Other good things: I packed a slew of ziploc bags of various sizes which were great for dirty diapers, dirty clothes, other trash, compartmentalizing medicine, toys, etc. We did the Playtex Drop In bottles and Enfamil Lipil single serving formula packets that you mix with 4 oz of water and that worked really well. Speaking of, take all the water you think you need for you and your baby on the plane with you. The planes are huge; you see the flight crew a lot less often then you think you will and you don’t want to be at any one else’s mercy when your baby decides you’re hungry. As for air pressure, we did a smidge of infant tylenol before take off and always wanted to give him a bottle with take-off and landing but he was always hungry right before take off and landing and slept through both the ascent and descent no problem. I did see someone else putting cotton in her son’s ears. We’re rookies and didn’t know about that but it seemed to work for that little boy.
How big is he? What size clothes is he wearing?
He’s just over 5 months and a very healthy 16 pounds. I lifted weights 4 x a week for 45 minutes each time for 4 weeks before going to Ethiopia to get in baby carrying shape. It made a huge difference. I have just a handful of 3-6 month clothes I am putting him in right now and those work really well as long as there is some give in the waist. I put him in a size 6-12 month pj just now and he’s swimming in the length. I’ll still buy him 6-12 on general principle though since he is just about out of 3-6.
How is it going now that you’ve been home a few days? Any attachment issues or is it all smooth so far?
I’ll answer these two questions together. When the nanny left last Monday, our baby boy was just so sad– and us with him. He had several grief cries that day but there was marked improvement every day in his happiness and his interaction with us. I should also note that he had an upper respiratory infection when we met him (he had just started the antibiotics for it) and seemed to be starting to cut teeth (or as I like to say, he was thinking about it) so there were a few other things going on. That said, he has lots of smiles and joy to share. When we got back home, we noticed some changes in his disposition. There was much more crying. He wouldn’t sleep at all, etc. There were all sorts of things that could be causing this from attachment to his illness to lactose intolerance to the time chance. We took him to the doctor who said his URI wasn’t getting worse and wasn’t yet ready to make a call on lactose intolerance. The doctor stressed that we needed to keep baby A’s world as small as possible– just us– and keep going. Check, we were doing one thing right. He also encouraged us to get a cool mist humidifer for the baby’s room, to put cereal in his formula, and to use saline drops for his nose to help clear things out. We started those things, but, still, our babe was in an almost constant meltdown state so I started thinking through when he was most upset and how it played out and it was all around food time. Last night, desperate, I ran to the grocery store and bought ready to use liquid Lactose Free Enfamil formula. So far, there is less spitting up and less crying (but there is still more crying than there was in Ethiopia. I think now he is used to having things hurt in certain positions and he cries in anticipation of that pain) and more of his sunny disposition, but we don’t have our sunny little babe back 100% yet. We’re hopeful that we’ll get the diet issue cleared up in the next couple of days and then get him on track with his sleeping so that he can be his happiest, healthiest self.