"All I'm sayin' is I better get a "Well done, thy good and faithful servant" when I get to heaven after that diaper! Orphanage plus antibiotics is not pretty. And yes, I'm that mom posting about poop....the one I swore I'd never be!"
I keep getting questions about the age difference between the girls. Sofia is the youngest at 15 months (born in September 2011), Mila is 21 months (6 months older than Sofia, born Marchn 2011), and Zoya is 4 (born June 2008). So far the dynamics of the age ranges are working out well. Zoya is seriously the best big sister ever! She tries so hard to be helpful and really is helping me by anticipating what I might need (running to get diapers, putting the empty bottles in the sink, picking up cups, food that the babies drop/throw, giving them toys and hugs and kisses if they start fussing, sharing her favorite toys when she thinks it might make them happier, etc.). Sofia and Mila are interested in one another but so far have mostly stolen each others binkies and toys. I love how they watch one another and I can already see both of them learning from each other!
Sofia weighed 18 pounds when we met her and had a check up the other day and weighed in at 19 pounds, 11 ounces. She is a pretty good size for her age and around 60th-70th percentile on the Down Syndrome growth charts. She was even around 4th percentile on the typical growth charts! She is wearing 9-12 month clothing (9 months in 2-piece outfits, and 12 months in 1 piece outfits). It's easy to see why she is such a good size because she has a great appetite (too great perhaps?). She is eating finger foods (and suddenly started refusing baby food-she's just too cool for that apparently), feeding herself puffs and fruit and other small pieces of food, and I haven't found anything she doesn't like yet! She was not on a bottle or a cup in the orphanage (I think her liquids were mostly mixed in with her food). So we decided to go back to the bottle to work on bonding. Feeding is such a huge part of bonding with newborns and she's missed that....so she's getting bone broth/goat's milk bottles (similar to the formula I used with Mila). Just like Zoya, even though she was a good size when she came home, she was still clearly lacking many essential vitamins, proteins, and good fats, so we're working on that! A lot of times orphans are fed a diet high in carbohydrates and starches because those things are cheap. This causes lots of gut problems and we've used whole foods, whole food supplements, and a gluten free diet (along with minimal cow's milk/milk products) with all of our girls to help heal their guts.
She is sleeping pretty well for the most part. She typically sleeps 11-12 hours overnight and takes one 2-3 hour nap. She was taking two 2-hour naps in the orphanage but hasn't really seemed to need or want a morning nap. She goes to bed around 7:30/8 and wakes up around 7:00-8:00. Last night she woke up crying several times, but I think she was having belly/gas pains. Other than last night she has slept through the nights pretty well. We have her in a crib in our room to keep her close for a while so we can respond immediately to her cries. She needs to be rocked to sleep (just like we did with the other girls) and has learned she prefers this over falling asleep alone (can't say I blame her!) She used to wake up crying after naps and in the morning, but that is slowly fading away. She woke up this morning and I saw her on the video monitor peering out the crib bars waiting for us happily :)
Her strengths so far include her physical (gross motor) abilities, her contagious smile/happy yell, she cries to have her needs met (many orphans lose this "skill" but she relearned it VERY fast haha), she reaches up to be held, claps her hands and waves with a smile, she is VERY social, loves music and dancing, eats and sleeps well, WANTS to be held a lot, and plays with toys appropriately.
As we all know, transitioning from the orphanage to a home isn't always easy for kiddos. All of our girls have gone through a grieving and adjustment period. That may sound crazy to some, but even though the lives they left behind weren't the greatest, it's all they'd ever known, so the transition is always a bumpy one. I've never met a family who said the child just eased into their lives without any issues at all. Many families don't talk about the issues (or all of the issues) because that's their right and they may not feel comfortable sharing their child's needs with others. I've always cautiously shared our struggles because some of those things are just nobody else's business. We've worked a lot with Zoya on anxiety and PTSD type behaviors and she has come so far! Mila's journey was more a journey of physical sickness and fighting to survive each day, and getting her nursed back to health.
Sofia has some needs we're working on as well. Just like Zoya (Zoya was 22 months when she came home, Sofia-15 months), she bangs her head on the wall, will throw herself back just to hit her head off the floor for some sensory input, rocks a bit, and has major food-related behaviors (these very clearly seem to be orphanage related behaviors but of course we're ruling out any physical causes of hunger as well i.e. thyroid). We went through all of this with Zoya, although it seems so far in the past that I almost forgot! Sofia is a "food-hawk" and constantly on the look-out for food, even though she is fed more than enough to keep her belly full. Any time anyone has food out she screams and cries for food. When she was first home she would scream and cry when her food was gone, but even after only a week, this behavior is decreasing greatly as she learns there will ALWAYS be food available. We allow her to have a few puffs or pieces of banana any time she seems to be crying for food (and has already eaten), or any time anyone else has something to eat. We try to have the girls eat all meals at the same time, but sometimes it's just not feasible. We're working on the sign for "eat" so she can ask more appropriately (instead of screaming) when she wants food. Obviously we're aware of portion control and overfeeding and don't wish to go in that direction either, but right now it's most important to give her tiny snacks frequently throughout the day so she learns there is always food available. I am looking forward to the day she refuses her vegetables like Zoya finally did....I love when they realize they have choices! (Although not eating vegetables in this house is not really a choice hehehe).
She has some appointments lined up this month with the international adoption clinic and Down Syndrome Clinic, and next month with some specialists (eye doctor, cardiologist, ENT). We're not anticipating any huge health concerns, but it will be good to have those appointments out of the way and know for sure that she doesn't have any underlying health issues that we're not aware of.
Here is a video of our beautiful girl, you can see just how active and joyful she is! I had put her in Mila's crib while I was putting clothes away in Mila's room (Shawn was downstairs with the two other girls). Good thing Sofia's crib mattress just happens to be all the way down...yikes!