I've been getting that question a lot these days. We've been home about a week-and-half now with Vika and life is definitely different - a little. I'm still busy - only a little more. I still change diapers, chop up food into little bites - only a little more. And I still pry little fingers from places they shouldn't be and remove objects from little mouths - only a little, okay a lot more. But other than that, life goes on in pretty much the same way. I guess the thing that has surprised me the most is how seamlessly life has gone on and how well Vika has transitioned into our family. The biggest adjustments for us just seem to be mental and emotional ones - realizing this is our new family. Coming to terms with our new normal. But let me assure you all, that we are completely in love with our newest family member. She is the cuddliest, sweetest thing. How could we not love this little Buddha baby?
Now for some specifics on the growth we have seen in Vika these past two weeks she has been in our care.
We believe Vika was used to mashed up food being shoveled into her mouth at a fast rate. She didn't know what a finger food was and if we didn't spoon her food into her little mouth fast enough, she let us know about it. 2 weeks later she can feed herself most of every meal with her hands and yes, sometimes she does get quite messy.
She still has no use for traditional toddler snack foods such as Cheerios or puffs. The whole crunchy thing is still foreign to her. We definitely will keep working on that. I practically raised my other 3 on Cheerios.
Many adopted kids have a hard time with the bath at first. Vika was no different. She was scared the first couple of times we put her in and refused to sit, but now - oh boy, does she love it and gets upset if I don't give her adequate play time in the tub.
Vika has made big strides in this area. Early on we noticed she would often be looking up, sometimes at lights, or just at nothing in particular. This is one of the main things I remember from our first meetings. She would often seem like she wasn't really focusing on anything.
This behavior had me mildly concerned for a while, but now I'm pretty sure it is more of an orphanage behavior, a result of not having a lot to focus on for the first years of her life. Now she is making all kinds of eye contact, often looking at us when we talk to her, and in general, showing signs that she will be able to relate to people in an appropriate fashion.
So much to say here. Eva, Eli, and Millie all love, love, love their new sister. I'm really proud of them for the way they have welcomed her and are willing to share their things as well as Mom and Dad. They are anxious for all their friends to meet her and Eli wants me to bring her to his school.
Can you tell Vika is just a little tired here? Poor thing, we had just arrived home and I'm sure she was more than a little bit overwhelmed by all the attention. For Eli's part, that's him trying really hard to give his best camera smile. He is so protective of Vika. It's so sweet.
And then there's Millie......
She's pretty crazy about her new sister. Ever the little momma, she must think we brought Vika home just for her to take care of and play with. If given the chance she will attempt to feed her, clean her up, change her diaper, pick her up, correct her when she's into something that's off-limits. Pretty much everything she sees me do. This is our greatest adjustment issue right now. "That's a mommy job, Millie" has become my new mantra.
There are times, though, when they just play together, which is nice.
And lo and behold! just today, Vika apparently decided she had had enough of Millie's manhandling and decided to fight back. It was rather amusing to watch.
I think Vika won this one.
So, in general, life's a little bit crazier, a little bit busier, and a lot more interesting. But it's fun - really.
People will sometimes makes comments to me or Gabe about what a wonderful thing we're doing or what a big job we've taken on. A few people even make remarks that make us think they think we're nuts. All such remarks make me uncomfortable. The main thing I wish people would understand is that a child with Down Syndrome is really just a child. Parenting Vika is not scary. Our 3 bio kids have always been more than a handful. We've always had active, active kids, so I guess that's the only kind of life we know. Vika adds to the craziness, but not in a way that seems daunting or undoable. She's a loveable little girl who's absolutely so ready to learn and grow. Don't misunderstand, life's not all sunshine and roses now. There are problems and issues to face and work through, but there were before. But the imagined problems and uncertainties that I had before we brought her home were greater than the reality we're now living. The reality is, well, pretty darn good.