Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Year Later: Part 1

If I did this all in one post, it would be way too much to tackle, so here's the plan. Each day, I want to compare what happened today to what was happening one year ago today. I'd like to do this every night this week, culminating in "homecoming day" on the 19th.

Here are some things that stand out to me about today versus this date, one year ago.

This morning, Geri woke up in the top bunk and climbed down the ladder, out of bed. A year ago, the idea of her tackling a ladder would have been laughable. She was happy and excited and talking, right out the gate. A year ago, her morning routine was to wake abruptly, immediately become agitated and demand to walk around the apartment, nonstop, holding our hands. When she woke up, she was clearly freaked out every morning for several weeks. Now, she's happy to see us and talking to us and bouncing in her bed with excitement. Pretty much every morning. She also helps dress herself, and can put her dirty clothes in the hamper.

Straight out of bed and walking around... this was our whole day.
Nick got the kids ready while I dragged my feet a bit (still not 100% feeling better yet) and then it was out the door, into the carseat, for the long ride up to Denver. One year ago, today, we drove to an appointment across town and she literally screamed and cried the entire time, without stop. It was about 45 minutes each way (felt like 100 years, though). She was hysterical the entire ride. Today she sat in her carseat and munched on dry cereal and bounced and made excited noises when I talked about where we were going.

We arrived at the Anchor Center. Her drop-off routine involves stopping off at the potty, where she pulls her pants up and down with minimal assistance and can wash and dry her hands independently. At the door of her classroom, she gave me a kiss bye bye and joined her class happily. A year ago I could barely leave her presence to go to the bathroom. She was indifferent to me as a person, but terrified of being alone. One of us had to be with her constantly, walking her around, holding both her hands because she lacked the strength and balance to stand on her own two feet without assistance. Today she kissed me, turned and walked off to join her class.

When we got home, she sat at the table and had some apple slices and yogurt. She fed herself, which is a minor miracle in itself. A year ago she would not touch the silverware at all. She reacted as if she was scared of touching it. She would not have been able to touch the apple slices to pick them up - she would not touch any of her food. She would not have tolerated the apple slices in her mouth, period, because she could not chew or tolerate contact with solid food. I distinctly recall being in the little apartment in Sofia and cooking and mashing apples and pears for her. That was as much texture as she could handle.

We went together to her brother's karate class and, while he was in class, I took the girls exploring the building. Geri went up several flights of stairs and down one, with no assistance from me. She walked independently with her LWC, exploring everything around her. Exploration, itself, is so different for her. A year ago, she was completely closed off. She had no curiosity in her, or at least no means of expressing it. Now, she is into everything!

Tonight, she took her medicines willingly. She helped with getting her PJs on. She asked me to read her "The Poky Little Puppy" and sat in my lap, with her sister, for two stories. This child was totally nonverbal one year ago. Today she asked for apples, yogurt, stories, to sit in my lap. She pretended to be a duck. She identified her knee, nose, mouth, eyes and the eyes and mouth on a doll. She played with toys, something she couldn't do one year ago. All she could do was walk, with assistance, and compulsively rock. That was it.

Tonight, at bedtime, she climbed the ladder to her top bunk without assistance. She cuddled up under the blankets and held her cuddly and Glow Worm and drank some milk. She talked to me while I aid goodnight to her, gave me a kiss, told me she loved me too. When I said goodnight and left the room, she simply hugged her lovies and closed her eyes. One year ago, tonight, Nick and I took turns holding her while she cried and screamed for three hours. She was inconsolable. She was despondent, scared, alone in a world turned upside down. She didn't know who we were, didn't trust us, and fought sleep with everything she had. I remember being grateful that we weren't in the U.S. because if we had been, someone would have called the cops on us. What on Earth would we say to a Bulgarian polizia if he showed up in the middle of the night to tell us to quiet her or to ask what the hell we were doing to the poor kid? I was jet-lagged, exhausted, emotionally drained, confused, sad and doubting. Tonight I went through a normal bedtime routine and my well-adjusted child said goodnight and simply went to sleep.

Mnogo hoobava big sister! Our Bulgarian princess!!!!
It's easy to forget how far we have come. Sometimes I look at her and I think "it's been a year, shouldn't her _________ be further along now?" But tonight, I take stock of how different everything is between this day and the same date one year previous and I can't believe how much our lives have changed.


  1. Geri looks wonderful and is doing so well. Kudos to the entire family for surviving the first year together and coming out better and stronger at the end.

    I also have the "shouldn't her____" thoughts sometimes about Emilia, but what good does it do? Our girls are healthy, happy, loved and progressing at their own pace. They are brave and resilient and amazing.

  2. Amen to that, Viviane. I think sometimes we can't wrap our brains around how far they have come, so we get caught up in moving faster. Taking stock has helped me realize how far she has come, and that makes me think the pace is just fine after all. :)