Sunday, December 19, 2010
The awesome part is, he has no understanding yet that presents are part of the equation. I'm sure that will change by next year, so I'm enjoying it while I can!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This weekend we went to a 3-year-old's birthday party. Most of the kids are in daycare together, and most are quite verbal. Quinn did really well and definitely kept us with them. The girls talked circles around the boys, but he didn't seem that behind the boys to me. Today Quinn had his first group speech/occupational therapy session - it will be with three 3-year-olds, but today it was just Quinn and one other boy. He had a far more sophisticated vocabulary than Quinn does, but a host of other issues.
I've tended to stay away from a lot of events with other kids, because I was a bit afraid of being confronted with how far behind Quinn is. I've had a couple instances with neighbors bragging about how their 1-year-olds are doing things Quinn isn't doing yet, and it's hard not to feel bad when that happens.
But I got through both of these events this week. I can get through more. It's clear that interaction with other kids is good for him, and that he needs more of it. And I'm ready for that.
Quinn is behind in some ways. On track in others. Ahead in some. I know that's the same of all kids. But I wonder if all parents obsessively compare the way I do, and the way I've seen other parents of SN kids do.
Actually, probably so.
Friday, November 19, 2010
He did this when he first came to us, and it was heart-wrenching. His second night with us, after he realized these strangers weren't going away and it didn't seem he was going back to his home, he mourned, moaning through the night. Once we got home, he would go down easy at bedtime, and then start crying once he was asleep. Thankfully, it went away within a couple of weeks.
The shut-down kid became goofy and happy-go-lucky and a joy to be around. He wakes up happy, goes to sleep happy, and smiles through most of this day. And yet, two years after coming home, the crying has returned.
It's a horrible thing to hear your child cry and not be able to do anything about it. It's nothing short of heart-breaking to know there are hurts we cannot fix, and sadness we cannot erase.
And it's so hard to know what to do about it. The advice on night terrors is to let kids sleep, the thinking being that if you wake them in the middle of a terror you'll it into their conscience and make a bad thing so much worse. But how do you let a 3-year-old lay on his belly and cry alone? We watch the monitor and wait, in case he becomes conscious enough to call us, as he did tonight.
Now he's in our bed, sleeping peacefully next to his Baba and holding a tin airplane he picked up as I carried him from his room to ours.
There's so much I wonder. Is crying in the night the same as a night terror? Do kids tend to outgrow them? Have any of you whose older kids used to have night terrors talked to them about it? Do they remember?
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Eventually a father arrived with a remote-controlled helicopter. That's right up Mr. Things That Go's alley, so he bopped over with the other kids to have a look. What happened next was so interesting. Quinn looked at the helicopter, and the kids - all Chinese-speaking - looked at Quinn. It was like they knew he was like them, but different.
I happened to have my camera ready and captured the moment.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Our stories are remarkably similar. His daughter Jin Yu was completely non-responsive when he and his wife first met her. His description of Jin Yu in those first days sounded so much like Quinn, who just stared at the ceiling, the lights, the fan - anything but at us. His daughter, a 2000 NSN adoption, came with an unexpected and unexplained oozing head injury, which heightened their concern. My concern was more inward, and took the form of me rising at 4 a.m. to Google signs of autism.
Jin Yu popped out of her shell upon rising one morning. Quinn came out of his during a visit to the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, when he was surrounded by tourists with cameras and became an instant celebrity with his blonde mother. Jin Yu, adopted at 2, advanced by leaps and bounds, talking and walking while still in China. Quinn, adopted at 16 months, did not outgrow his delays as I naively expected he would. I went from panic to dull fear to the mostly comfortable realization that he is on his time table, not mine.
What really fascinated me about the book was author Jeff Gammage's constant feelings of guilt for taking his daughters from their homeland (he and his wife adopted a second girl two years after Jin Yu, who is the focus of the book) and his constant awareness of their missing birth mothers - his family even puts an extra candle on the girls' cakes each year to honor their birth mothers. Reading his story, I felt guilty, too - but the source of my guilt is that I DON'T feel guilty. I am forever, deeply indebted to China for bringing Quinn and me together, and I suspect his birth parents must think of him every day. But I hate to admit, I don't think of them every day. Gammage asks his daughter regularly about her birth mother; I talk to Quinn about China and about adoption, but not about his birth mother. Not yet, anyway.
The book really made me wonder - again - about what is right and what is wrong -- and if there even IS a right or wrong when it comes to adoptive parenting. I definitely will think more about Quinn's birth parents after reading "China Ghosts," and I think that's a good thing. What I do with the product of that thinking, I'm not sure yet.
I highly, highly recommend this book. I found the writing to be smooth and compelling, and the author's voice to be honest and open and not at all sanctimonious, as has been the case in some adoption memoirs I have read.
Of every book I've read so far with an adoption theme, this is the one I enjoyed the most, and the one that made me think.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
On a small lot on a very busy city street, a couple that runs an annual Christmas tree lot expanded into an October and November pumpkin patch. Brilliant idea. We took Quinn when Auntie Bonny was visiting, and you'd think we had taken the boy to Disneyland. He LOVED this place. He found a little red wagon to haul around - it may have been intended strictly as a decoration; I was scared to ask - and he filled it up with the pumpkins that caught his fancy. He also loved the little, fenced-off pond, as well as the goat and pot-bellied pig pens.
What an awesome, cheap form of entertainment this was. We spent about $10 on the pumpkins, which are now happily decorating our house. And every day since, when we drive down that busy street, Quinn says, hopefully, "Pumpkin patch?" I suspect we'll be going back soon...
|With Auntie Bonny|
Happy Fall, from our family to yours!!!!!!!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Granted, poor Quinn has a sinus infection and does not feel great. He sobbed when I pulled out his Halloween outfit, one of many outfits we brought back from China.
I offered him several choices of other outfits, and he didn't like those either, so I started trolling around for alternate costume ideas. I pulled out his hospital gown and tried to sell him on the idea of being a patient, but he wasn't digging that either.
Baba said let's either pick and outfit and rush out the door or bag it. So we quickly got him dressed and out we all went. He cried for as long as it took us to walk a few yard to "the Halloween house," which is draped in lights and scary scenes that may one day terrify him but for now just enchant him. We go there every night and usually just get to look from the street. Tonight we got to go ALL THE WAY UP TO THE DOOR. And wouldn't you know, suddenly Halloween went from bust to boom. Quinn started running down the street asking to "Go door?" at each house, and quickly mastered both "Trick or treat" and "Thank you."
Monday, November 1, 2010
When I think about the changes in Quinn, it's really nothing short of astonishing. Two years ago, at 16 months, he could sit up with assistance but couldn't stand or walk. He had little interest in toys or games, other than stacking cups. He avoided eye contact so thoroughly that one night in China I got up at 4 a.m. and Googled for signs of autism.
A year ago, he was walking and running, but hardly talking at all. He had a few single words here and there, but that was it.
Today, just try and stop the kid. In the past few months his single words became two-word phrases, then three words, and now sentences. He is fun-loving and affectionate and has a sense of humor that never ceases to floor me.
I can't imagine a more perfect fit for our family. And I cannot believe how much I love this kid, and how that love just seems to keep growing every day.
Happy family day, Quinny! Wo Ai Ni!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
It's amazing what love and chocolate chip cookies can do for a boy...
I'm trying to figure out how to upload the PDFs - does anyone know how to do it??
Monday, October 18, 2010
While driving: "Mama, yellow car on top wall." Sure enough, we were passing a car dealership with a yellow car on the roof.
While walking past the bookstore with the beloved spinning ball fountain near the front door: "Go see ball in wa (water)?
After lunch, when Baba and Mama were getting into separate cars: "Baba, get in Mama car."
Fluke or breakthrough? Time will tell. But boy am I a proud mama today!
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
But now that I'm learning about Sensory Processing Disorder, I'm realizing that cue may never come. He is PERFECTLY happy to spend the entire day in a wet diaper if I let him. He never complains about the feel, smell, whatever - in fact, he doesn't even seem to notice.
I got a little bench potty a few months ago, and while he loves to drag it all over the house and use it to step up to things he's not supposed to reach, he dislikes sitting on it. So I got him a potty seat that goes on top of the regular toilet seat. That he likes. He drags his potty bench over to it, steps up to sit on the potty and has a lovely time opening the little cubby door next to the toilet, unrolling the toilet paper, asking me to identify the fall foilage on the potpourri envelope. After a while he puts the potpourri back, closes the cubby door and says very cheerfully, "All done potty!" Then he hops down. NOT ONCE has he done anything in the toilet - and it's the same story at school, where he's taken to the potty each morning.
I'd love to hear any ideas, or things that worked for you!!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Funny how I'm seeing everything through the Sensory Processing lens these days. About a month ago Quinn went from not liking the feel of anything soft to loving the feel of coats and blankets draped over him. He often pulls my coats out the closet to try on, and also likes to pull blankets off the bed and drapes off the wall, both of which make fine capes (and stangulation risks, I know!).
It's a little bit funny, a little bit odd, and very Quinn. The upside, beyond the amusing live performance: If he ends up becoming a fashion designer and/or auditioning for Project Runway, I have the perfect photos for his audition tape/book jacket/press kit. All he'll have to do is add a heartfelt, "I've loved fabrics since I was a toddler," and he's good to go!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
What I've learned is that he is a "sensory seeker," meaning he needs extra sensory input for certain internal senses to kick in. Oddly, when he gets really cranked up if we give him deep or sudden pressure - anything from a long, hard squeeze on his shoulder to literally throwing him onto a huge, cushy dog bed that has been renamed his "crash pad," he calms right down. It's pretty amazing.
The occupational therapist at his school has started working with him - apparently the first session consisted mostly of her putting on a weighted vest (the constant deep pressure helps sensory-seeking kids to concentrate in school) and him commanding, "Take off! Take off!" We're also working with his private OT (the one we see for his post-surgical shoulder therapy) on coming up with a "sensory diet" of exercises we can do for him.
I read "The Out of Sync Child" - which many of you recommended - and was blown away at how perfectly the sensory-seeking examples described Quinn. Now reading "The Out of Sync Child has Fun," which is where we got the idea for the much-loved crash pad.
Still learning, and still kicking myself that we didn't figure this out sooner. I was told that Quinn had been tested for sensory integration issues and showed no sign of it, so anytime a therapist would bring it up I'd tell them he'd already been tested. Now I know he was only tested for being over-sensitive, which he most definitely is not.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I went home and Googled it and found a textbook description of my son as a sensory-seeking kid who is under-responsive to touch and movement. A few of the characteristics are off, but if you read the list below you'll pretty much know Quinn - it's astonishingly, eerily accurate.
I'm encouraged to know there might be a cause for his behavior besides cruelty to animals - which really didn't seem right to me because he LOVES Rosie but can't seem to help himself from being too rough with her. Still, it makes me nervous that I've never heard of this before. Is it real? Quackery? Something in between? If anyone knows about this or has any insights, I'd really appreciate hearing from you, either here or at email@example.com
And if you haven't heard of this, either, here's what I learned in a quick Google search. First a general definition and then a definition of Quinn's apparent end of the beach along with those checklists that seem to be written just about him:
Proprioceptive dysfunction refers to a body’s inability to properly process sensory input related to proprioception. The sense of proprioception differs from the other senses of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch by involving more internal sensory perception by which we receive the pain and movement of the internal organs(1).
If they are under responsive to proprioceptive input (i.e. sensory seeking) they will...
Hyposensitivity To Touch (Under-Responsive):
__ may crave touch, needs to touch everything and everyone
__ is not aware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force or intensity
__ is not bothered by injuries, like cuts and bruises, and shows no distress with shots (may even say they love getting shots!)
__ may not be aware that hands or face are dirty or feel his/her nose running
__ may be self-abusive; pinching, biting, or banging his own head
__ mouths objects excessively
__ frequently hurts other children or pets while playing
__ repeatedly touches surfaces or objects that are soothing (i.e., blanket)
__ seeks out surfaces and textures that provide strong tactile feedback
__ thoroughly enjoys and seeks out messy play
__ craves vibrating or strong sensory input
__ has a preference and craving for excessively spicy, sweet, sour, or salty foods
Hyposensitivity To Movement (Under-Responsive):
__ in constant motion, can't seem to sit still
__ craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences
__ loves being tossed in the air
__ could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy
__ loves the fast, intense, and/or scary rides at amusement parks
__ always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions
__ loves to swing as high as possible and for long periods of time
__ is a "thrill-seeker"; dangerous at times
__ always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking
__ rocks body, shakes leg, or head while sitting
__ likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike
Monday, August 23, 2010
I'd taken him for a couple of visits to the school so when we pulled up this morning he said, "School!" We took some pictures, took him in and disappeared pretty quickly. Two hours later, BaBa and NaNa picked him up and he was as happy as when we dropped him off. Play Dough, playground, snack time and story time today - what's not to love?
And now Quinn is officially a Wheeler Wildcat.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
First up is my favorite so far: "Lucky Girl" by Mei-Ling Hopgood. This is a memoir by one of the first Chinese adoptees. She was raised in Michigan and had a happy, healthy childhood. She didn't have a strong interest in her birth family, and in fact for much of her growing-up years avoided things that seemed "too Chinese." Then the nun who had arranged her adoption casually mentioned she could probably find her birth parents. After some soul-searching Hopgood decided to make contact, and the book is largely a story of her budding, complex relationship with her large, loud, dysfunctional birth family.
As a journalist, Hopgood knows how to tell a story. She is succinct, and includes just those details that move the story along. I found this to be an honest, revealing portrait of an adoptee, her new relationship with the family that did not raise her, and how that new relationship affects the family that did raise her. It's sometimes funny, sometimes sad and always insightful. I loved it.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Just have to say that I'm so proud of Quinn's Nana (formerly known as my mom), who is handling her macular degeneration with such grace that she was invited to speak today to a class of the newly vision-impaired at a local non-profit for the visually impaired.
Here she is getting off the bus after her first ride on the handi-van. Freedom is hers once again!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
It was so awesome to see, and really got me thinking about where are the greatest concentration of kids from China. Hubby said he read Texas had the greatest number, but considering that those kids are scattered all over an enormous state, the concentration might not be that high.
Does anyone know which city has the most Chinese adoptees per capita?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Next up we saw Dr. Waters, who declared the surgery a great success. He said the transferred muscles are "firing" already, meaning they're attached and working.
Final stop on our Children's Hospital tour was physical therapist Megan, who took us through the exercises Quinn needs to do 2-3 times a day for the next six months. We took video so we can make sure we got it right and so we can show his new physcial therapist once we get home. She also showed us lots of things to do in day-to-day life to get him using that right arm, which he has spent three years learning not to use.
Already, we can see that he can do things he couldn't do before, like reach up higher and twist his wrist. But he is more reluctant than ever to use it - it probably feels weird to have the cast gone - so I can see that PT will be very, very important.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
A local fire station had an open house today, and we had to take our little fire-truck-loving boy. He had a grand time getting in and out of the fire trucks and running around them in big, excited circles. He even wore a fire hat - and he almost never will wear a hat!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
It's like having a brand-new walker again. We have to watch this child like a hawk.
Seriously, I can't help but marvel at how amazingly well this kid is doing. And it hit me the other day that he doesn't know this thing is coming off in a month. To him, it's gotta be something like, "Well, I guess this is my new life." I'm a pretty optimistic person, and I truly believe I would be a basket case in his shoes. That cast is heavy. It's hot. It severely constricts him. It prevents him any use of his right arm. Good Lord, that's a lot to take in.
But Quinn has no time or inclination to worry about any of that. He's too busy looking for the next thing he can climb up on and hurl himself off of.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Quinn's giant cast does not begin to fit in our car seat. The car seat expert at Children's Hospital told us we needed to find a local expert to help figure out what to do, and she told us we could find a list of experts on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I searched by entering my zip code, and noticed that one name on the list was our county health department, which I figured would know the best person in town.
When I called and said I needed someone to help me with a mighty car-seat challenge, they immediately gave me the name of someone who does training sessions on fitting SN kids into car seats. I dialed him up and he turned out to be a police officer. It was 5 p.m. "I'll be at your house by 6," he said. And he was. Wow!
Even he had trouble. He said Quinn would definitely fit in a SN car seat, but said that one for a child his size would cost thousands of dollars. There are rental seats available locally for smaller kids, but not for kids his size. Yikes.
After much tinkering, adjusting and thinking, Officer Reeve figured out how to make it work. It takes some doing to get him into the seat arm first - good exercise for MaMa! - but he fits in snugly, safely and comfortably. We are SO grateful!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
To be honest, I think codeine may have been a factor. At my mom's wise suggestion, we gave him a dose of his pain meds shortly before each flight. The first takeoff was really tough - he could not get comfortable in the seat and was squirming, pulling off his seat belt and crying pretty hard. After takeoff I managed to get him to lay down with his feet in my lap and he went almost immediately to sleep. Miraculously, he stayed that way for the entire four-hour flight. I even got to read a book and drink a hot tea.
In Dallas he had a nice dinner of his beloved vegetable lo mein, and on the flight home he laid with his head in my lap and watched Baby Beethoven (known to Quinn as "teh bear vi" after the violin-playing teddy bear that makes a couple of appearances near the beginning of the video.
He's pooped and we're pooped, but we're all glad to be home.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Amazingly, Quinn is walking on his own. None of us can figure out how he's doing it, but he's doing it. He gets tired really fast, not surprisingly, and wants to be carried, which is a mighty challenge.
He falls quite a bit, which is scary - tonight in the room he went straight backwards and bonked his head on the floor. Ouch. It's also very difficult for him to sit up straight because his cast goes down to his hips. That makes high chairs, booster seats, regular chairs and sofas all very tricky.
We're a bit nervous about the plane ride home tomorrow. But if the past few days are any indication, he'll find a way to get through it.
Quinn is a train fanatic, and loves nothing more than going to the small train station near the hospital and watching the choo-choo's come and go.
Today we went for an actual ride on a train, to Faneuil Hall. He LOVED it.
I was horrified the next morning to learn Quinn's roommate Zack and his dad heard it every single time - I thought hospital speakers could only be heard from one bed at a time. I guess not...
I challenge you: Watch it and see if you can get it out of your head!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
In the hospital he had a really tough time putting one foot in front of the other and couldn't hold up his upper body at all. Back here, though, he is doing much better. He immediately wanted to go to the awesome play room ("Play toys? Play toys?"). And there he moved from his stroller to a chair, with assistance. After a while he wanted an "eh-bayter" ride so Tom helped him down the hall by duck-waddling behind him with his arms around Quinn's waist and cast. By the time they emerged Quinn was walking with Tom holding his hand. He's not walking unassisted yet, but I don't think it will be long. He can even sit in a restaurant high chair and eat with us, which is terrific.
We had been told to bring button-down shirts two sizes two big to fit over the cast, but they're WAY too small. Turns out that when Dr. Waters got a view of Quinn in action pre-surgery, he decided a little redesign was in order. He built a double-thick cast and attached not one but two bars to hold Quinn's arm up in the right-turn position. The thing is HUGE. Quinn wears a 3T and we brought size 5s. Nana and I went to The Gap today and picked up four size 8s at a great price - buy one, get the second for $5. So Q now has a styling summer wardrobe.
I wonder how much of Quinn's amazing adaptability is due to his personality and how much is due to his special need and his time in the orphanage. In China, he learned to make due with what he was given. and because of his bracial plexus injury, sustained at birth, he invented ways to compensate for an only partially useful right arm. I know all kids are highly adaptable, but this kid is pretty remarkable. I am in awe of him.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The only thing that kept Quinn calm was back to back to back playing of the very annoying, "Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, cock-a-doodle-doo" by The Wiggles. Quinn found it at the beginning of a fairly ancient Barney VHS tape from the hospital library and it was love at first listen. So listen we did, and did, and did, and did.Today things are a little better. A cardiologist said Quinn likely has a very common early heartbeat in the upper chamber that 9 out of 10 kids grow out of. He's being fitted with a monitor today and will wear it for the next 24 hours. We also had visits from a car seat specialist, and a physical therapist who helped us figure out how to lift Quinn and get him in and out of his stroller. A cast tech cut some off the bottom of his cast because he couldn't sit up straight, and cut some out of the arm pit because it was sticking into him. And that was all before lunch!
We went down to the cafeteria for lunch and Quinn watched the giant ball maze for a long time, and the fish tank for a long time, both of which he loves.
After lunch he played in the activity room with BaBa and NaNa while I filled prescriptions, got travel letters, got release instructions and filled out release paperwork.
He's back to saying he wants to go on a train ride and directing which Barney songs he wants to hear, so he's definitely getting back to normal.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Quinn's surgery wasn't until 2:45 p.m., which really worried us because this kid does not like to skip meals. Our strategy was to keep him busy, busy, busy and filled up with apple juice, which was allowed until two hours before surgery.
At 12:30, a bit nervous, we left the Yawkey Family House Here it is - a former frat house that was completely renovated and reopened about 9 months ago in its current form.)
At the hospital, he walked happily into the OR. He had a great time operating the mechanical bed with directions from the awesomely cool anesthesiologist, and played a fun game blowing into a mask, which he didn't realize was the fumes that would knock him out. The nurses were very patient and took their time with him, but when he tried to convince them to put the mask on his toe ("On toe! On toe!"), the anesthesiologist popped the mask on his mouth and off to dreamland he went.
While he was in surgery, we waited in this very nice family area. The surgery lasted 1 hour and 15 minutes, followed by an hour to put on the cast and an hour in the recovery room before we were ushered in. The poor kid woke up immobile, with his arm in a horribly awkward position.
Understandably, he is MAD! Between tears and begging to put his arm down, he did ask for some apple juice (his new passion, discovered this morning when he was on a clear-liquids diet until our noon arrival at the hospital).
He is doing well, all things considered. A nurse was able to scare up a master key to the locked video room, so Barney is making things better, as Barney always does for Quinn. After two doses of morphine, he is finally sleeping and I'm in the fold-out bed beside him.
Dr. Waters said kids who wake up with a "spike" cast are typically mad, mad, mad for a day or two and then adjust quite well once they realize it's not going away. Let's hope that's the case for Quinn!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
We've made it to Boston for Quinn's long-awaited shoulder surgery. The trip went well despite my fears, and Quinn loved pulling his new big-boy back pack.
This morning, thought, he woke up at 4:30 a.m. and refused to go back to sleep. We were even treated to a very nice call from the front desk telling us other guests were complaining about the racket.
Today was pre-op madness. We visited the orthopedic clinic and pre-op clinics. Jess, Dr. Waters' nurse practitioner, explained the procedure and how everything will happen.
She also showed us, and Quinn, a doll wearing the cast Quinn will get. Yikes, it's much worse than I had pictured. Full upper body, and it can't get wet. That's going to be a challenge. He's an active sweaty boy who gets hot on the coolest of days.
In pre-op, Quinn was examined to make sure he was healthy for surgery. Then we met with the anesthesiologist and went through the hospital admissions process.
His favorite part of the day was watching the ball maze in the lobby, which he just can't get enough of.
He had so many appointments, and no nap, that he was just pooped. He slept right through his last two appointments.
Tonight we enjoyed a great dinner with other families staying here at the fabulous Yawkey Family Inn, which is affiliated with Boston Children's. Volunteers come and cook several nights a week, which is so nice. It's great to meet with other families, and we even met a little girl who got double arm casts off today, and got some survival tips from her mom. It's a beautiful old house that's all updated and gorgeous - and rooms cost $30 a night. Amazing.
Surgery tomorrow, so early bath and bed tonight. Please send your prayers, thoughts or good vibes at 2:15 p.m. eastern on May 20 - that's when Quinn's surgery begins.