Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Photo Essay of Marcie's 1st Birthday & Musings on Her First Year


Good morning, Birthday Girl. Are you enjoying eating that beautiful picture of Emma sent from the other side of the United States? It sure was nice of your friend from China to send you a birthday card! (Thank you Emma and Annette!)

Casey knows it's not Halloween anymore, but he thinks it's fun to dress up in Buzz clothes and tickle his sister. (Secretly, he is just eye-balling her Cheerios.)

Which Marcie can feed to herself, thank you very much!

She's pretty good with eggs, too. . . until she flips the bowl in the air and sends egg pieces all over the floor (though the dog doesn't seem to mind!).

Mmmm. Fruit and yogurt, too? What a delicious morning treat!

Facing forward now. . . off to take Casey to speech therapy.

Play time while Casey visits with Miss Nicole . . .

Uh oh. Really, not even a tear shed-- it just looks bad on camera.

Look who fell asleep while we were walking around Webb Lake, looking at the ducks and turtles!

Sound asleep while we get back in the car to take Casey to school.

Outside the preschool. Everyone's awake now!

Casey gives Marcie a kiss good-bye, after wheeling her around the classroom and showing her to Brooke and Katelyn, of course!
Back in the car again. No jacket this time, because the weather has warmed up a bit.

Marcie's favorite pasttime-- playing with Pugasus.

Though playing with Casey's toys while he is away at school is also pretty enjoyable.
Notice how Marcie ignores her toys so she can eat the Percy tank engine.

Snack time! (No, this is not how she usually takes her bottle. Yes, we do know she is supposed to go cold turkey on the bottle now that she is one. At least she's off the formula and on to whole milk, starting today!)

Look at me, Mommy!

Off to lunch at Pick Up Stix to meet Daddy. Here are the two birthday girls-- Mommy and Marcie! (Isn't Mommy brave posting a picture with no make up on?)

Hello, Daddy!

After a lunch of house chicken, cream cheese wontons, and white rice, a girl needs to take a bit of a rest!

Just up from nap time!

Eating the phone.

A bit more play time.

Back in the car again-- on our way to Grandma's so Mommy can go to school.

Yay Grandma!

Musings on my daughter's first birthday (this is long . . .)

I don't have much documentation of Marcie's first year of life. In fact, pretty much everything is posted right here on this blog. Although Marcie was born November 15, 2005, we didn't learn about her until June 26, 2006. And we didn't meet her until August 21, 2006. That's not to say we didn't think about her before June. We did. Quite a lot. In fact, I wrote Marcie a few letters after our wait began-- the first one dated in June of 2005, before Marcie was even born (though after she was conceived). At the time we were calling her Alexandra, with a nickname of Lexie. But, as time paraded on, our idea of Marcie -- and her name-- evolved. And so Marcie it is.

When I saw her picture for the first time, I could hardly contain my excitement. I immediately printed it out, and walked it all through the law firm office where I spent my summer working. They must have thought I was a nut-- here I was in place where I hadn't even been working a month yet. And I was a gushing mom. Not really the stoic, lawyerly impression one might want to make-- but I didn't care. Because it was my daughter. My second-born child. She looked so serious in the picture. And I knew she was ours immediately.

The wait to travel dragged. As impatient as I'd been during our wait for her referral, the wait to travel was worse. I had convinced myself (before hearing all about Marcie) that the longer the wait to travel, the better-- after all, I wanted to finish my summer job. But once I saw her precious face, I didn't want to wait even another day. . .

When the nannies first brought all the babies into the room, I recognized Marcie immediately. Jason had commented many times over the preceding weeks, "How will we know if they give us the right baby?" But there was no question when they brought her in the room. I don't remember if any of the other babies, in their matching pink and white outfits with little green creatures on them, cried. But I know Marcie did. She sat in the back corner of the big, black conference room chair. A nanny on the edge of the chair, with another baby in her lap. Marcie looked around the room, kind of drinking us in-- and her face scrunched up and she started to cry. The nanny scooped her up immediately, and Marcie stopped crying.

The rest of our first meeting was mainly a blur. I remember picking her up-- and feeling her weight against me-- for the first time. She sure was heavy! And I remember her just staring intensely at us when we returned to our seats, as if to say, "Who are you people?" Of course, she reached out and grabbed for my nose, too. And she smiled for Jason-- ever so briefly.

The orphanage director sat with all of us in a big circle, and the guide, Marie, let us fire off question after question. Alexandra's parents wanted to know how her name was chosen. Ava's parents wanted to know if she was at the beginning or end of her cold. We asked about Marcie's cough (which, it appears, has finally resolved itself just this past week-- nearly three months after we first noticed it).

When we left the conference room to head upstairs for bath and bed, we passed by two nannies in the hallway. They reached out for Marcie, and Marcie reached back. "Good bye, Xiao Ji Mei," they softly called. My throat clamped up a bit, and I swallowed hard, thinking how difficult it must be for those nannies who had cared for Marcie for nine months to say good bye now. And how scary it must be for Marcie to be taken away from them. . . my heart was breaking in the tiniest way. Of course we knew we would be "the best nannies she ever had," as Marie pointed out. But we were still taking her away from her home and the love of her nannies.

Marcie was hard to bathe. She kept slipping around in the bathtub, and we were worried she'd dunk under. She smelled like the tap water of China, and Jason commented that he wondered how many baths in Baby Soap she'd need before she smelled like us. We swaddled her in her towel, changed her into pajamas, and went to play in the bedroom. I don't remember if it was that day or the next when Jason discovered how to make her laugh-- by dropping a small cloth on her head or face. But the sound of her giggles were pure joy. That first night, she fell asleep in my arms, and I laid her gently in the crib, watching her back rise and fall as she slept. She woke up at midnight ever-so-briefly for a small bottle, and then slept in until 7am.

As soon as we had Marcie, I immediately missed Casey-- with a fierceness that took me by surprise. There were a few other families that had arrived with other children, and I felt somehow incomplete knowing that only part of my family was together. I'm so grateful for those initial days alone with Marcie. After all, Casey got a ton of attention, and Marcie deserved it too. But it would be dishonest to say I didn't miss him-- I ached for him, actually. . .

Since we've been back, Marcie has certainly endeared herself to those around us. I can't write about her whole first year, because I'm only a small part of that first year. But I can memorialize her first day with us, and the images that stick out from the past three months. Marcie is mobile. And fast. We have to keep the bathroom doors closed and the toilet seats down, or she will play in what she must think is a porcelain bucket of water. Marcie is smart-- she already has picked up several key words and signs. She can high five and show she is "all done" in sign language. She can shake her head no. She tells us when she wants to eat ("mom-mom" is the word in Cantonese), when she wants to be held ("up"), and when she wants some attention (by dropping something on the floor and saying "uh oh"). She'll even imitate the word "ouch."

Marcie is also very social. She doesn't smile much for the camera or even for strangers. But she bounces her body and wiggles her feet when she sees someone she knows. She is not shy, either. She will crawl right up and tug on your pant legs to pull herself up to standing. In the double stroller, she'll hit Casey to irritate him. And she'll eat his toys to occasionally taunt him. She also has become great friends with our dog, Pugasus. Just today, I caught her pulling on his tongue (which permanently sticks out of his mouth), exploring this "toy" she found. She is has a million little nuanced facial expressions, and she likes to bounce to music. She loves giving kisses and reacts with a smile and a look of great personal accomplishment when we cheer for her. Yesterday she even took her first step (though it was rather accidental). So she is coming along quite well.

She eats just about anything-- and especially whatever you're eating at the moment. She hasn't figured out the sippy cup yet, but she'll need to soon, because we're going cold turkey in the bottle after December 7th (picked because it's the day of my last final and if I'm going to be up multiple times in the middle of the night, I think it should be after final exams). She even likes ice cream-- sure, she makes a face and then smiles and grunts for more.

Marcie is not big on sleep. Occasionally she will nap for a couple hours straight, but just as often it's 50 minutes here or there and then to bed at 8pm and up around 6:30am. I'm wondering why it is that she doesn't really sleep through the night yet-- she gets up any time between 3 and 5am, famished. She drinks the bottle, goes back to sleep, and then when I lay her in her crib, she wakes up screaming, which she does for about 5 minutes until she puts herself to sleep. Maybe I have trained her to do this-- I don't know. If she'd been living with us longer, I might just let her cry and not giver her a middle-of-the night feeding. But she's still learning to trust us and rely on us, so I'm trying to give it time. She's only been in her own bedroom for about a month now, as it is.

In any event, that is the year in review. But the fun part is the photo essay-- the part where you can follow Marcie through her first day as a one-year old. Happy Birthday, Marcie!

1 comment:

Larry and Kyndra said...

Nice pics, love the year in review. Just an FYI, two doctors, one specializing in adoption, told us to igmore the milk at 1 rule and keep Cassidy on formula until we had been back in the US for 4-5 months, it has more nutrients that they probably didn't get enough of. We have added milk into her diet too, but still give her bottles of formula. ANd the girl has gained 3 lbs since we have been back, that has to be a good sign!
Love, Kyn