Our Sweet Babies on Gotcha Day 4 years ago!
This was Andrew's face for the first 3 months- we called it "shock and awe"
Annabelle with a half smile... "Is this my good side?"
Today is our big day... Well one of them anyway! We celebrate a lot in this family (true dat)... But since Andrew and Annabelle celebrate a lot of BIG THINGS on the same days, it makes it easy to remember!
Today is our "GOTCHA DAY"- or the day we finally "got em" in Ethiopia. The first time we were able to put our hands all over OUR sweet babies. We were told to expect them all over before cuddling them because they could have all kinds of contagious skin diseases. Yeah right. We had kissed them all over by the time I remembered we were supposed to do that. And it turned out Annabelle did have a SUPER contagious skin condition-scabies... Ever heard of it???!! Andrew had a um... "chicken pock" on his arm. It was infected and the size of a nickel on his tiny arm. The edges of his owie stuck out from the edges of his band-aid. We think it was some kind of bite from "something". The first "bath" (wash down in a sink), the first time we changed them (Andrew loved being naked). We changed their clothes 3 times in the 6 hours we had them. Not for the usual reasons you change babies clothes (spit up, poop or pee), Just because we could- and they were OUR BABIES!!!! The first time we fed them. Andrew sucked his bottle down and held it with his own 2 hands (at 4 mos of age). So sad to me then, but now I know he was just trying to help as he always is. Annabelle only ate about an ounce at each feeding, a combination of terrible stomach pain, upper respiratory infection and allergy to the formula. This worried me to no end! Just ask my mom as I called her sobbing that night (10am) her time. "Yechy and Hamme are sooo sick, and their clothes dont fit, they are way too big. And there is something wrong with Annabelle's skin, but it doesn't look like any of the pictures I brought in the notebook. And did I mention they are sooo sweet and beautiful??! (Ah- a mother's love! Looking at pictures, they were not as "beautiful" as I thought)."
After a whole day with my babies, we took them back to the orphanage at night. I bawled my eyes out at the prospect of sweet Annabelle not sleeping because she was unable to breathe lying down due to the congestion. I was scared Andrew was holding his own bottle during the night time feedings, or worse yet not even getting a night time feeding. Both babies cried too- I am sure this was just God's gift to me to let me know they were attaching properly. I was terrified because Bill asked ME what temperature the water should be during bath time. REALLY???!!! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW!!!!???? We had left the "bath time duckie thermometer" at home. We didn't sleep a wink recalling how adorable the babies were and how sweet all the nannies were and the Dr. who cared for them, seemed to know everything about them in addition to all the other kiddos she cared for. Bill has some really interesting (see weird) "video diary footage" I will post it someday.
I know every mommy says they can't remember their life before they had kids. Neither can I. I also know every mommy remembers the minutes before their baby is welcomed into their arms. Whether it came in the form of the excruciating, "one last push", or the excruciating wait standing outside the "family room" watching two nannies carry your tiny bundles down a sidewalk. No words can quite describe either of those instances. Love, relief, worry, exhaustion, elation, the feeling of your heart no longer residing inside your body, but outside (wrapped in a hot pink snow suit, that was Andrew, not Annabelle by the way).
We prayed for Andrew and Annabelle before we knew who they were, before we knew they were going to be adopted and not biological. We had an army praying before and we got our referral. That same army lifting us in travel and the minute we met our babies. Praying for safety and wisdom and strength and endurance. 4 years ago today, we held our babies for the first time and our lives were changed forever. Thank you to all of you who loved and supported us that day and still do.