Monday, May 17, 2010

First week on the job

It's true there are no words to adequately describe all the things we've been feeling and experiencing this past week, but I'll try. First and foremost is overjoyed. A simple act like watching Danny feed Andre macaroni can move me to tears.

Tiny moments feel huge because it's been a winding, frustrating and exhilarating road to be together. But what moves me even more is that Andre's just been living his little life and today's just another day to play with a paper bag. He's so happy just to explore the way a package of Huggies wipes crinkles in his hands or crawl after a ball. He's already taught us that life only happens right this very moment. There's no two weeks from now or two weeks ago, just what's right in front of us, right this second.

So here's my first week job evaluation. I'm pretty sure Andre will renew my contract as mom, I'll let you know.

Day 1, Tuesday: We pick Andre up from the baby home in the morning. He's happy enough to see us, until we attempt to change his clothes. I learn quickly that putting a shirt on Andre will be a bit like putting a shirt on a disgruntled squid. When we get back to the hotel I feel giddy, like we've just gotten the ridiculously good end of a bargain.

Later we are snuggling in bed. Andre is way too excited to sleep. We sing to him, whatever songs come to mind: Gin and Juice, Papa Don't Preach, Dancing Queen. We put him in the crib at the foot of the bed. He falls asleep almost immediately and we lay on the bed and watch him for another hour.

Day 2. Wednesday: We lay in bed wondering when he's going to wake up so we can snuggle him more. He smiles and laughs at us when he wakes up. We already know that his favorite toys are the wipee package and a 25 cent paper gift bag from Target.

We walk to Pushkin Square. It feels odd and completely natural all at once, to be walking the Moscow streets, just the three of us. Moscow is gorgeous, all blooming tulips and violets. We sit on the grass next to a large fountain and I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. I also realize that we've forgotten to bring Andre anything to drink. So while Danny and I enjoy our cold beverages on a hot day, Andre is sweating and thirsty. If he could talk I think he would have rolled his eyes and said, "Rookies."

Day 3. Thursday: We go to the breakfast buffet so we can all eat. It's very convenient. Andre likes eggs, oatmeal, strawberries and baked beans. Later we walk to the grocery store. Andre hasn't pooped, and Natasha recommended prunes. We pick from among the baby food labeled in Cyrillic what we think is prunes. That afternoon we spend hours at the American embassy. We get to talking to the other families adopting children. "You gave him baked beans AND prunes?" One woman says. "You're asking for it sister."

She was right. Very right.

Day 4, Friday: Andre is evolving before our eyes, like one of those aliens that develops at ten times the human rate. When we first brought him to the hotel he was sort of scooting on his belly. Now he moves like lightning and is enamored with every sharp edged and dangerous item in the hotel room. Danny and I get used to always being on the lookout. We have been operating on an IOU nap system for days already.

Being a beginning parent in a hotel room has it's difficulties, like making lunch in the bathroom sink. It does however have it's rewards. We will miss the daily maid service and free breakfast buffet.

Day 5, Saturday: We leave for the airport at 3am. The following 27 hours are like a bizarre parenting hazing ritual. Andre doesn't take kindly to sitting in the same cramped place for hours on end. He doesn't hold his poops in just because we're on an airplane. He doesn't give a rats ass what the other passengers think of his screaming and surprisingly, neither do we.

The Amsterdam airport is a godsend. We were there six hours and they were the best six hours of our day. There is a posh nap club for babies. A low lit haven with cribs and sheer curtains and little couches for mom and dad to sleep, sinks and microwaves to make bottles and an awesome play room next door. It made all three of us very happy campers.

Day 6 Sunday: It feels strange, in a good way, to finally have him home. The little boy whose pictures we snuck glances at, whose face featured in our dreams, is now drooling on our living room carpet. Like most new parents, we do a lot of staring and smiling. Andre stares back at us and smiles in between bouts of exploring. He discovers his dresser has an alternate use as a rock climbing wall. He hangs from the knobs and his little toes try to find purchase in the grooves between the drawers. I'm certain one day I will turn around and find him teetering on top with a big grin on his face.

Day 7 Monday: We visit the pediatrician. She tells us Andre is perfect, which of course we already knew. She checks every diagnosis given to us by the Russian doctor and dismisses all of them. Two nurses come in to take blood and I hold Andre tight as he writhes and screams and cries. I fight tears myself. After the blood draw I don't bother getting him dressed again. It's warm outside and he hates putting clothes on. Nakedness is his treat for being brave. In the car he smiles up at me and I remember that it's okay, because that other moment is gone now and he's moved on to a new one, so I should too.

He has been a brave boy. It's a tough transition for a baby, for an adult for that matter. Everything and everyone is different. It's as if two benevolent aliens came and took you to another planet. We're all doing our best, going on instinct and love (and the occasional looking something up in a book while he's sleeping.) Mostly we follow his lead, going from joy to joy, just like he does.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Home at Last

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.