We have survived our first week home. Jet lag is worse than I remembered. In fact, I’m writing this after I finally gave up trying to sleep after waking up at 4 am. I will resist the impulse to write a full paragraph complaining about it.
August’s appetite has really picked up since we’ve been home! And look at him picking up self-feeding right away when there are pancakes involved. Children in Chinese orphanages are spoon fed until they are much older. They are also well trained to not touch the food or utensils. It took us a couple of months to teach Leo how to self-feed and we are beginning that process again with August. He does know how to drink with a straw but not a cup. He will still only drink water or hot broth. However, he has been eating a variety of foods for us. Unlike Leo, he loves meat. He has eaten chicken, sausages, and fish. He loves oranges, too.
With Leo I think we got the only kid who slept through the night every night since his adoption. He was completely immune to jet lag. Sleep has been a real challenge with August. That’s probably a factor in our slow jet lag recovery. He slept well with a two hour daily nap in China. Since we’ve been home, naps are dozing on the couch. The first few nights he woke several times. Then we had a couple of nights which involved a single two hour block of screaming. He has a bad cold right now and after we started giving him some medicine for his cold symptoms his sleep has been a bit better. Or perhaps he is feeling more comfortable here. Everything is all mixed up these early days home. There was definitely grieving involved in the nighttime crying, not only the cold. For many children it is easier to be distracted during the day, but night time or naps is when the grief for all they have lost really comes out.
August is accepting affection from us now. He asks to be picked up and he knows how to be carried (Leo didn’t). If I hold him, he is beginning to lean against me. He hasn’t returned any hugs or kisses yet but he does refer to us as Mama and Papa. When I returned from running an errand he greeted me by yelling “Mama!” and coming over to receive a hug.
Other than the sleep situation, August is settling in incredibly well here. He is much happier than he was in China. I think now that he was a bit bored with hotel life. When we met the orphanage director she told us that he was an easy baby who likes everything. She said he was always well behaved and polite. I don’t know if she was blatantly lying or if she simply didn’t know him very well. I would describe him as non-stop action, mischievous, curious, energetic, and playful. He is into everything. He was determined to conquer going up and down our stairs as soon as possible and he did. August is bored if he’s up earlier in the morning than his siblings. As soon as Vincent or Leo come down he calls “Come along, follow me!” in Chinese.
Speech was such as struggle with Leo (and continues to be) that August seems like a wonder child to us. We don’t understand much Chinese but we have recognized him saying: Mama, Papa, older brother, younger brother, older sister, dog, yes, no, want, don’t want, drink, drink water, come along, go away, do you want this or not?, and good. He says “Wei?” when he’s pretending something is a phone. I’m not sure what the literal meaning of it is but that’s what people say when they answer a phone in China. He is picking up English very quickly and repeats many words after us, even more difficult ones such as “sweater” or “Pudgy.” Speaking of Pudgy, he has adjusted to the dogs very quickly as well.
We didn’t go out much at all this week. We had a quick blood draw for some standard testing plus a visit to the dentist. Most Chinese orphanages do not brush teeth at all so it is not unusual for children to come home with significant tooth decay. Leo came to us with one of his front teeth crumbling from decay. August has no decay at all, which is wonderful! We are introducing him to tooth brushing. Having older brothers is a great help there. Every evening August watches Vincent and Leo brush teeth, then has his brushed. Then he watches them get changed into pajamas before he is changed. There is a bedtime story, then Vincent and Leo are tucked into bed. He knows what comes after that. For children this age, knowing what comes next really helps with the transition. August is going to bed much easier now that he is understanding what is happening.
Leo is having a typical adjustment to becoming an older brother. He likes August but he doesn’t like sharing his toys. He needs more snuggling and reassurance from me. Amusingly, he only refers to August as “my baby” or “Baby” if he addresses him directly. I think they will soon be as thick as thieves.