Life as MommyMo

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baby Max's arrival story

We are all still a bit weary from our big day yesterday, but I want to capture my memories of what happened before they start to fade...

I watched Max's flights all day long yesterday, and was incredibly pleased to see that he did not have a single flight delay... even out of of O'Hare for the last leg of his journey.

A couple of hours before we needed to go to the airport, a few of the people planning to go with us gathered at our house. I'm sure everyone else made small talk and discussed the anticipated arrival. I basically paced back and forth to the computer to witness the status change the very second Max's flight left Chicago.

The anticipation of meeting him kept my mind occupied through all of this and I was too excited to even eat for about a day and a half. I was worried about how the transition from Max's foster mom had gone, but once I knew that part was over, I seemed better able to think about what was to come.

We got to the airport about an hour before he was due to land. I was surprised to find out that the configuration of Terminal D has changed quite a bit since I was last there, and that we couldn't really go very far at all. Waiting outside security now basically consists of standing at the end of the hallway that leads to baggage claim. You can see nothing past a foyer that leads to the terminal and there is not an arrivals board nearby, so we had no way of knowing if he'd landed except to call the airport's arrivals line and accost passersby to see if they'd been on the same flight.

While we waited and the crowd gathered, we took lots of pictures, waved our pennants and generally attracted the attention of virtually everyone that left Terminal D. Our friend Justin, who was also taking lots of pictures for us, was the last one to call to check the flight status. He called out that the plane was in, so everyone ran over to the exit from security to wait. There was a long line of people from two flights that passed before Rob was able to see a man carrying a baby in a Holt carrier.

He shouted "There he is!" and everyone started to cheer and try to get a glimpse. Mr. Ahn walked right up to us and sort of stood still so we could pull Max out of his carrier. I remember everything happening all at once and sort of in slow motion... I pulled him out and held him while Rob held Sam right next to me so we could all meet at once.

Through my tears, I was able to ask Mr. Ahn how Max did on the flight. He didn't speak much English, but was able to say "Good baby. Lots sleep. Happy." Rob and I both thanked him, and I think we actually overwhelmed the poor guy. He seemed surprised that we gave him a gift. He asked Rob "What's this for?" Rob replied (in these words) "it's a gift because we're so grateful to you for escorting our child to this country." I'm no translator, but I'm pretty sure he didn't understand what Rob was saying. It was at that point that I, normally not a huggy person but thrilled with anyone who brings me my baby after months of waiting, tried to give him a big hug and say "Thank you." He very sweetly just sort of looked at me, smiled and bowed. He did recognize Sam was with us at that point and stopped what he was saying to lean down and hug him. It will always stand out as one of the sweetest points of the evening to me.

(***baby cried... needed Mommy... Mommy suspended writing... continued next morning without realizing time references would then be off... ;-) )

Once the initial commotion was over, the greeters went to take Mr. Ahn down to get a cab to his hotel. As he was leaving, he let me know that Max had a dirty diaper, so the mommy part commenced immediately!

During all of this, Max was a serene as any baby I've ever seen. I'm sure it was shock, but he did not cry at all. He just calmly stared up at us and craned his neck to see everything that was going on around him. He seemed particularly interested in the flashes from cameras all around him.

I took him to change his pants right away, which was when he finally began to cry. I can't really blame him. Who wants some strange woman taking their pants off in an unfamiliar place?! He was bundled up in several layers of clothing. While he's got the chubbiest thighs I've ever seen, he's actually smaller than he looked when we first saw him. He had a bit of a diaper rash, so started to really fuss and cry when I cleaned him up, but went right back to being calm and sweet when we were finished.

We spent probably another thirty minutes or so taking pictures and gathering up all of our things before heading home. Overall, I feel like this airport greeting went much more quickly than Sam's did. I did miss some of the build-up of being able to watch the plane arrive, but I also kept telling myself to just enjoy the experience for what it was. I was every bit as emotional as I was waiting for Sam and felt an immediate rush of relief when I finally had him in my arms.

The time since he arrived has been spent with Max velcroed to at least one of us at all times. He slept in the carseat on the way home after fussing a bit, but woke up as soon as we got in the house. It was when he looked around and realized that he was in yet another new location that he really started to cry. He began to quietly sob and call out what sounds like "Um-ma. Um-ma." repeatedly. We think he's calling for his foster mom and grieving when he does this.

We did try to put him to bed since he was tired, but he will have none of the crib. We ended up taking turns holding him and have not really been able to put him down since. His grieving was fairly obvious for the first day, but as I type (at just after 5 a.m. on Thursday morning) he's clearly starting to bond with us. He only slept for about 10 min. at a time overnight at first, waking up to look for his foster mom, but by night two, we were shocked that he slept nearly seven hours without budging. He was on Rob the whole time but happy to stay sleeping.

The fact that he is showing that he was clearly well cared for is actually a very good sign for attachment, even if that part is a bit more exhausting than it was with Sam. I think it's remarkable that he slept so well on the second night. It was like a switch flipped with his afternoon nap. Rob offered to take the first shift since I'd only had about an hour's sleep since he arrived. I figured I'd sleep maybe 2 hours before taking over. Imagine my surprise when I woke up almost six hours later! I walked downstairs to be greeted by a smiling, cooing baby and a Daddy who said they'd just woken up, too!

I know I'll need to add more details to this at some point, but (if you're still reading!) I really wanted to capture some of the little details that I'm sure to forget later. The emotional aspects will be remembered forever, but I wanted to capture the everyday part of Max's initial adjustment.

The last thing I should note is that we didn't have Facebook for Sam's arrival, and I have been totally overwhelmed to see the number of people who have left comments for us. It's been totally amazing.

There's more to share, but I'll save it for another post. For now, Max is smiling at me and wants to be held by his Mommy!


Melissa said...

I'm so glad he's home and doing well! It sounds as if he is so sweet!

Barb said...

I am SO thrilled for all of you! I"m sorry that I didn't get to pass on my congrats yesterday, but I've been thinking of you all week. Every day is Mother's Day and FAther's Day this week!

Stef said...

I love that the escort hugged Sam! Must you make me any more hormonal than I am already?! Kisses!

bodegalee said...

Sounds like he's doing beautifully! And I loved that the greeter hugged Sam! Sooo sweet! :)


LaurenR said...

I love hearing all the details... gives me the chills! :) I'm so happy that all is settling in... Max is a lucky boy to have such a wonderful family... and all these little bumps he's having to go through now will be so well worth it! Sending Sam & Max big hugs (and Mommy & Daddy too!) oxoxoxo

Dave said...

Thanks for making me cry at my desk Karen.

Meg + Dan said...

Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations! The initial moments of adoption are some of the craziest life has to offer, aren't they? Glad to hear that Max is bonding well; we'll have to all get together at some point soon.

Jenn Sutherland said...

Thanks for sharing your story!! Got me a little teary-eyed this morning. Congratulations to your whole family, and blessings on the journey ahead!

Kristin said...

Karen, I love your blog and want you to know that I am so very thrilled for you and Rob (Samuel too). I cry my eyes out reading every single entry. I am just in awe of your graciousness and the love that you have for sweet Max. He is so lucky though I'm sure right now he's still adjusting. Keep recording it all for it's priceless and one day Max and Samuel will love reading about their everyday happenings. Wish I'd been there for his arrival. Keep up the good work! Kristin (Davis)

Laura said...

Congrats to your family! I am glad everything went so smoothly. You are such a blessed family.

Karah said...

I loved reading through your story of his arrival! SO so so exciting for your family!

Erin said...

*cry* *grin* *cry* *laugh*

yaaaa.....get a super emotional girl, give her this to read, and that is what happens. Congratulations! Your story is beautiful, and beautifully written. I can't wait to hear more about the little men.