Friday, January 29, 2016

Six Weeks Together

Six weeks. I feel we are over the initial transition hump. We feel like a family and there is a sense of normalcy to our days. There is calmness and joy in our home now, which did not exist the first few weeks of Roland being home. I know it sounds bad to say, but I have always tried to honestly describe our experiences on this blog. I don't want to present a rosy, sugar- coated picture of our lives. So, if I am being honest, I didn't really enjoy the first three weeks of Roland being home. I cared about Roland's well- being of course, but inside I didn't feel the warm, fuzzy, loving feelings I was expecting. With being sick, tired, and stressed about Matt's upcoming knee surgery, all I could really muster was taking care of what needed to get done throughout the day, and then "fake the love" part. Now that the worst of Matt's recovery is behind us and Roland is behaving and sleeping better, I can finally take a deep breath, relax a little, and just enjoy Roland. The loving feelings are here now, they just took a little longer to catch up. 

Of course, our new sense of normalcy is only temporary. Once Matt's recovery is done in a few months, we will be moving and Matt will be going back to work. We will all have to adjust to a new home, to a new town, and to Matt not being home all day with us. We have been spoiled with having two stay- at- home parents since Roland's arrival. After all we have been through just to become a family and the life- jarring knee injury Matt received two years ago and the subsequent five surgeries, these upcoming changes are small beans. I am just excited to see what the future holds for us. 

The doctor visits (for both Matt and Roland) are finally beginning to slow down. Poor Roland's first month in America and our family was filled with poking, prodding, and boredom in waiting rooms. He has endured three blood draws, four immunization shots, an echocardiogram, and to his mommy collecting his poop and pee. Thankfully he tested negative for all the big, bad diseases. He has a heart murmur, but it is benign and nothing to worry about. He also has an iron deficiency, which after much testing, seems just to be caused by his diet in Congo. He is on iron supplements now, but hopefully that will just be temporary. The biggest issue is with Roland's poop. He has had diarrhea since coming home and it turns out his little body is the host to three different parasites. For the past 10 days, we have crushed up medicine and "hid" it in yogurt or applesauce and force- fed it to Roland three times a day. It was an awful ordeal. The poor kid will probably never eat yogurt again. The worst part is that his poop is still softer and wetter than it should be, so I don't know if the medicine even worked. I would hate to have to start the process over (especially the poop collecting part- that was disgusting!). 

In all areas Roland is improving, except for one: potty training. He was completely potty trained when he first came home. After about three weeks, he decided to stop using the toilet to go pee. He now just goes pee in his pull- ups all day long. We know that potty training regression is normal in newly adopted children. It is just annoying because he was doing so well at the beginning. But, I'll take dirty diapers over the tantrums and sleepless nights that we used to have. 

Nothing is perfect, and some days are still rough, but we are definitely blessed to call a happy, healthy, affectionate little boy our son. It is still sinking in that this is my life now, after so many years of waiting for a child. I just can't wait for spring to come and Matt's knee to heal so we can really start to have fun with Roland. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Roland and the Dogs

Roland has been home for a month and probably the biggest transformation has been his interaction with our dogs. From reading about other people's experiences, we knew that it probably would not go well. We were right. Roland was home with us for only one full day before we brought the dogs home from the kennel. Even though the three of us were getting along well, there probably was not a huge amount of trust yet. I sat on the couch with Roland while Matt brought in the dogs one at a time. Roland pretty much acted like we were planning to feed him to a pack of wolves. I do understand that our dogs are pretty intimidating to a 30- pound child who is not used to having animals inside the home. (Copper, our redbone coonhound, weighs 85 pounds and Yukon, our great pyrenees, is 120 pounds.) Roland just screamed his head off until we put the dogs in another room and then the screaming would start again whenever one of the dogs made eye contact with him. For the first couple of days we had to keep the dogs separate from Roland most of the time. He eventually became somewhat comfortable with looking at them from the other side of a baby gate.

Roland became comfortable around Yukon much quicker than with Copper. Yukon is larger, but he is much more quiet and gentle. Copper, a typical hound dog, likes to bark very loudly whenever he is excited. The soundtrack of our first week home together was barking mixed with equally loud screaming.

At first, Roland would only enjoy Yukon when he had the height advantage. Whenever he was on the floor with Yukon, he would start up with his screaming again. However, Yukon was always so gentle with him and his white fluffy fur is pretty irresistible, so Roland adjusted to him pretty quickly. After about a week, they became best buds and Roland spends a good part of his day rolling around on top of Yukon.

Roland's relationship with Copper has been trickier. All the barking in his face early on must have set a poor mood for their relationship. For most of the past month, Roland would try to set up Copper to get into trouble.Roland would tug on Copper too hard, Copper would give out a loud yelp, and then Roland would come running to us showing us his finger (pretending he had been bit) and pointing at Copper. He played out this charade many times, but to his disappointment, he was the one who got in trouble, not the dog. He would also give Copper a toy block, which Copper would proceed to chew up, and then Roland would come to us yelling, pointing at Copper. For those instances, they both got in trouble. Seriously, for the past month I felt like I was raising three little boys, two of which would bicker and tell on each other throughout the day.

The past several days there haven't been any big instances with Roland and Copper so I am hoping that phase is coming to a close. The house is definitely quieter and more relaxed as "the brothers" are becoming adjusted to each other.