Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sophia's First Week Home

I can't believe it has already been one week since Sophia stepped off that plane and into my arms in the airport...yet at the same time, in some ways, it feels like she was never not here!

This first phase of bonding called "cocooning" in the adoption world, is meant to be a period of time when visitors and outings are very limited and the immediate family focuses on helping the child adapt to their new environment, culture, and family. So, after our amazing airport welcoming event complete with family, friends, and media (which I will blog about at another time because it totally deserves its own post!), we decided to lay low and finish the day with a Blaszak Family Tradition that we call FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT to welcome her home. Complete with popcorn and cuddles in "Mommy and Daddy's big bed" as it is known around our house. From the moment the girls met at the airport, they were loving on each other  like they had always been sisters. It touched our hearts beyond words, especially when Sydney and Sophia cuddled up in each others arms and fell asleep. It was a beautiful, dream come true, day.

I'll never forget that first night that I got to tuck her into her bed, say prayers with her, rub her back, and kiss her goodnight. It was a moment I had been dreaming about for so long. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Beautiful, because now I am her mommy and I get to do this every night until she's grown. She will never know another night without a mommy and daddy to love her. Heartbreaking (which I was not prepared for), because as I rubbed her back I kept thinking, "I wonder if she likes this. I don't know how she likes her back rubbed..and I know how my other girls like me to rub their back. I wonder if she is nervous, afraid, scared...what is she thinking?" I realized there is still so much to learn about this daughter of mine, who I have not been able to mother for 9 years of her life. There is so much more to her than I know (or may ever know)...but that's where God comes in and fills in the gaps. I had to remind myself that he ordained this, he chose me to be her mommy, and he will sustain us and grow us together as a family, even though right now I don't know how she likes her back rubbed. When I got up to leave, she sat up and re-arranged the stuffed animals on her bed as she got herself situated. I watched as she took a mommy unicorn and placed its arm over the baby unicorn she had laid beside it. Then she looked at me and smiled. I knew she felt loved.

Cocooning looks different for each child and for each family and we have been what I would call "semi-cocooning" since that first day, because the first thing that Sophia said when we left the airport was "SWIM MOMMY! SWIM!" She had seen her sisters swimming in photos and on FaceTime over the past couple of weeks and she could not WAIT to get to the pool. This child has never been in a large body of water of ANY kind, much less a swimming pool but she could not wait to get in the water. It was a little scary at first, and she is MUCH more comfortable with mommy or daddy holding her in the water, but we have now been swimming 3 times. She has learned how to hold her breath when going under the water and is getting more comfortable being in the water, but swim lessons are a must down the road!

I wouldn't be an honest or authentic person if I told you it has all been easy and lovely with no speed bumps. That's just not life! And we have learned that even if God calls you to something, it does NOT mean it will be easy. So, the first challenge I have to share with you is the HAIR! I knew this was coming, and I was as prepared as I could be...but all hair is different and you really don't know what you're getting into until...well, you get into it! Seriously..the hair has been top on my list of stressors this week haha!

Y'all, removing braids is NOT for the faint of heart. It took the 3 of us at least 30 mins to get all of those out!

The first wash!
Such cute curls!

She wanted to go for the all natural look! 
Day 3 we tried Pom Poms..and this girl went NUTS over the vacuum! 

Day 4 we attempted 2 pony tails that look like one big pom pom!
Eventually I attempted french braid pigtails!

Not only is the hair itself challenging, but Sophia has certain preferences and that on top of my lack of confidence with her hair made for some frustrating moments. BUT...we got through the week, I did NOT ruin her hair, and our sweet friend Toya and her mother actually had us come over, purchased every hair product known to man for her (and gave it to me!), and taught me how to "do" her hair. It took SO much stress away and was SUCH a blessing (to me and to Sophia as well!) I am still no expert, but I'm much more confident than I was at the beginning of the week!
Such a technical skill...not sure I'll ever be as good as Toya's mom at this!

The experts! SO thankful for these two ladies!!

NO, I'm not on my phone, I'm taking notes and pictures!

We also had quite a few doctors appointments this week that Sophia championed through. First was her check up at the doctor who we love, Dr. Berry. She did fantastic there (although we have not had vaccinations yet!) and laughed through most of the exam because she is SUPER ticklish!

She also had her first dental appointment..EVER. I prepared her for this by showing her photos of what to expect online before going and she was PUMPED! She was SO excited to have her teeth cleaned! (Although I knew she didn't really know what it would be like once we got there!) Thankfully, our amazing friend and dental hygienist, Sarah, went above and beyond to make her feel comfortable and worked an HOUR overtime to complete the job. Sophia did AMAZINGLY well, and laid still for 2 hours! She had a great supporter there as well..Sydney was by her side the whole time. She couldn't stop singing or smiling on the way home. It was precious.
Ready to get this party started!
All smiles!

After 2 hours of cleaning her teeth, Sarah gave a lesson on how to properly brush your teeth. She's awesome!!

All done and ready to flash those Pearly Whites!! Thank you Sarah!!
I have to say something about my sweet Sydney. She has had the most challenging transition and adjustment of the sisters who were here waiting on Sophia. She has such a tender, loving, nurturing heart, and she has just been an amazing support and friend to Sophia. There has been a LOT for her to learn about from how we put away clothes in dressers, to how we put away toys, to how we clear our plates after we eat etc. All of these simple things that we just "do" because we have always done them...are new for her. She has never had clothes to care for, toys to put away, or plates to bring to the dishwasher. So many little things are new for her. So many BIG things are new for her. And our sweet Sydney has been so helpful in coaching her and teaching her alongside us. She has had moments of becoming overwhelmed though as she takes on so much responsibility, and we are working with her to let mommy and daddy do the hard stuff and for her to just enjoy playing with and having a new sister. But that is easier said than done for our little helper Sydney. I know this is just the beginning and I can't wait to see how their bond grows and develops in the future, but I just want to ask for specific prayers for Sydney and Sophia as they navigate this new sister thing along with all of the other adjustments that are happening in both of their worlds.

Here are a few more photos from this weeks "Semi-cocooning" events!

First lesson in baseball!

We made the paper!

Fun at the park!

Free Chick-fil-a Day if you dress like a cow? Definitely not in the cocooning handbook..but she took it in stride! 

..of course, now she probably thinks you have to dress up every time you go to a restaurant..hahaha!

Planting a garden!

Snuggling on the couch and watching a movie

We took a walk around the neighborhood one day...Sophia loved pushing the stroller.

First trip to Pandapas Pond!

The girls had a blast exploring..until there was a 4 ft snake that crossed the path..Sophia took off in the other direction and I had to carry her for a while until she wasn't afraid anymore! Lesson learned: Sophia has a fear of SNAKES!

"B" helping Sophia mark off her nature scavenger hunt!

SO much fun splashing in the back yard pool!

First time on a bike! She took a while to figure out how to pedal, but by the end of the day, had it down! She's ready for her own bike now!

Many of you have contacted me asking how we have been doing and I know I have been silent on Facebook lately..but as you can now see, it's because we have been very busy experiencing this new life together! I can't thank you enough for the outpouring of love you have given us, we have received care packages in the mail, gifts on our front porch, yummy meals being delivered, notes, letters, phone calls, and texts of encouraging words and prayers, and have even received more donations. It is truly humbling and we are so grateful that you are continuing to love and support us as we figure out this new life together as a family of SIX!!!