Eating: Gabbey was not feeding herself or holding her own bottle at all when we received her. This is not uncommon for a child from an orphanage (picture the mess of 30 highchairs and 30 babies self-feeding three times a day!). For the first couple of weeks, she would just pick up food, look at it, then drop it. She also didn't let us know when she was hungry. If I was feeding her and turned to take care of Ethan, she never fussed to let me know she wanted more. She did seem to "eye" the food and lean towards it a bit (if you were watching closely, you would pick up on this body language), but she definitely didn't communicate her need for food well at all. After a couple of weeks, I did begin to notice that Gabbey will get VERY wiggly in my arms when she's hungry. It's as if she can't sit still at those times.
Anyway, she has come a long way in just a few short weeks! She is feeding herself crackers and little finger-foods----and LOVING it! (Don't try to take her food :)) We haven't tried to teach her to hold her own bottle yet, simply because it promotes bonding for Daddy or Momma to hold the bottle right now. But she will fuss a little when she wants another bite of food---or even get up on her knees in her highchair and reach for another bite herself! It's such a blessing watching these little changes and knowing she's learning and growing into our family.
Motor Skills: Gabbey is now clapping, waving bye-bye, giving kisses, hiding behind her hands (for peek-a-boo), grabbing our noses (for "beep-beep"), and saying Momma, Dada, and Baba (for bottle). She is discovering toys, pulling up more, and crawling EVERYWHERE. She can clean out a cabinet in a second, but can also be found playing with one particular toy for 20 minutes. Her attention span is great, but she's also extremely wiggly and active!
Bonding: This is probably the most important category for our sweet Gabbey, one she's doing pretty well in, I think. I'm sure I'll look back on this time in 6 months and realize how much more room there was for improvement, but for now, we're pleased with how things are going. We are holding her as much as possible every day, and she loves to be held. A few weeks ago, we realized she really resisted snuggling. She would drink a bottle and snuggle to sleep that way, but really resisted laying her head down on us. Both little arms would go stiff and she would push away from us if we attempted to snuggle with her. Brent and I have both worked alot with her on this the past few weeks. We would pick her up, say "lay your head down", then gently push her head onto our chest/shoulder. At first, she REALLY resisted, and even fussed quite a bit, but now she is willingly putting her head down on us, and she will fall asleep on us that way as well.
She wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night, or in the middle of a nap, and I will lay down on my bed with her on my chest and she LOVES this! She would sleep ALL the time like this, I know, but it's not always feasible for this busy Momma. But I do try to let her sleep on me some each day. Weird as it may sound (especially to those who have only had biological children), I can literally FEEL the bonding/closeness when she's laying on me, falling asleep and snuggling. It's a beautiful thing, really. I try to have her head against some exposed skin and she will "lick" me to fall asleep! I don't know how this self-soothing behaviour started, or why, but it is so sweet to have her lick me neck and fall asleep. Like I said, this may sound weird to some, but it's actually a healthy sign and we're so thankful for the baby steps we're seeing. (And when I say "lick", what I mean is that she lays her head down and her little tongue comes out and gently touches my skin. She's not using me for an ice-cream-cone! :))
She definitely has a preference for Momma, but loves her Daddy ALOT, too. He can't get enough of her, and I adore watching them love on each other. Eliana loves to take care of her, and it's actually surprised me how much Nathaniel wants to be involved (he's only 6). Just this morning, he changed her diaper by himself for the first time! Such a sweet helper. Noah and Ethan love on her as well. We're still working on Ethan not SITTING on her, but he'll learn eventually! :)
I pulled out of most of the music ministry at church (at which I'm usually quite busily involved in) in order to have time with Gabbey. Obviously it wouldn't be good for her to be left in the nursery right now. We make it through some of the services quietly, and other times I end up sitting in the nursery with her for the end of the service. It's probably a good thing, since it lets her get used to the room without being away from me. I am still doing Children's Choir on Sunday mornings----I just buckle on the Ergo and Gabbey comes with Momma! I love music and teaching little ones to sing about our Lord.
Brent and I went on a double date last week with some friends, and Gabbey came along as our "chaperone". She did great :) and we were happy to have her along!
All in all, things are going wonderfully. There are days that I feel like I'm not "getting it all done", and I'm probably not, but I'm trying to prioritize the things that MUST be done, and then the things that NEED to be done, and lastly the things I WANT to get done each day. So far, so good. Praise the Lord! I'm so thankful He burdened our hearts towards adoption and gave us our beautiful little girl. She is more than we ever hoped for and I just KNOW God has a special plan for her life!
I will close with some of the beautiful faces of our precious girl:
|One of my favorite pictures of her!|
|So serious, and SO cute! :)|