Mama’s Little Shadow

img_20161031_175816682img_20161117_102551997I am typing this as I sit in the hospital room at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, waiting for Eden to come out of surgery.  We are here to have a plate removed from her femur that the orthopedic surgeon felt needed to come out (it was placed there when Eden had surgery for her dislocated hip about 4 years ago after she was brought to the orphanage).  Since she is still growing, having a metal plate there could cause problems, and bone had already begun to grow over the plate.  This won’t help her limp in any way; it’s purely to get the plate out so it won’t hurt her as her bone continues to grow.

Eden has done really well so far, and seems to understand what is going on.  When we were here yesterday to go through the pre-op admission process, she was very brave, and even tolerated the blood draw without too much of a fuss.  It is obvious, however, from her reactions to different things, that she has been through some trauma involving hospitals and doctors.  In China, she had surgery after going to live in the orphanage when she was 9 years old.  There was no mama to comfort and love her during that scary time.  I’m so glad she has that now.   I thought this would be a good time for me to reflect on who Eden is and how she is growing since coming home.

Eden is a Mama’s girl, BIG TIME!  From the moment we met our children on “gotcha day,” she has been my little shadow.  She wanted to stand close to me and hold my hand from the very beginning, and seemed very taken with the reality that she now has a Mama.  She loves her daddy and all of her siblings as well, but she is extremely attached to me.

From the moment she wakes up in the morning until she goes to bed at night, Eden wants to be right next to me.  If it were up to her, she would probably stand with some part of her body touching me every waking moment of the day.  She does take bathroom breaks, but for the most part, she is rarely in a different room of the house or outside without me.  This is very sweet, but it really can be very draining as well.  For her good as well as my own sanity, I encourage her to play with the other kids and go play with toys or go look at books at times throughout the day away from me (even if it’s just a few feet away).  Eden sits contentedly and watches me take my martial arts classes with Enoch, and she has even gone to the gym with me to watch me do my Body Pump class.  I take her everywhere, and she is happy to just tag along wherever Mama goes.

We were told that Eden was 13 years old, but there are signs that she is a bit younger.  Developmentally, Eden is quite a bit younger, but she is also very capable of doing some things that older children can do well, like doing the dishes or folding and putting away her own laundry (she even takes them and puts them in the washer and transfers them to the dryer, but she needs help getting the detergent into the right place without making a huge mess). 🙂

Eden is learning English so quickly, and she loves doing her school to learn the English alphabet and count in English.  I think she has a learning disability, but I’m confident that she will be able to learn to read and write in the future.  She will need new workbooks soon as she is already almost finished with the ones I bought for her a couple of months ago.  I have been working with her and Daniel on things like puzzles and lace-up shapes.  Eden enjoys these kinds of activities, and she cooperates with pretty much anything I want her to do.  Sometimes I have to convince her a little bit, but she is very compliant for the most part, and very eager to please.  Speaking of learning English, Eden can sing a few songs in English now!  She knows the ABC song and also, from listening to Christian radio in the car, she knows at least one pop Christian song.  Her favorite song she just belts out along with the radio is “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott.  I love hearing her little voice sing such awesome, truth-filled words!

Tovi (our 2-year-old) loves Eden, and she has made him her little companion when I ask her to do something that requires her to be away from me (like brushing her teeth after breakfast).  She will call him, saying, “Tovi, let’s go!,” and take him by his little hand.  He gladly goes along with her to keep her company.  One of the best ways to get Eden to go outside and play is to give her the job of taking Tovi to the swings or to jump on the trampoline.  It’s heartwarming to see her being so loving and gentle with her little brother.  She is pretty much thrilled with all of her brothers and sisters, and is just so happy to be in a family.

Eden likes to laugh and is a happy little girl, for the most part.  She finds a lot of things very funny, and she has an adorable little giggle.  Her big sisters think she is the cutest thing ever.  And she really is very cute.  It’s fun to see her perk up and laugh with her siblings.

I wrote a whole blog post about my two little foodies, but I’ll say it again now:  Eden LOVES to eat!  She is easy to please when it comes to food and will try anything once.  Usually, she comes back for a second, third, and even fourth helping.  Eden has definitely grown and gained weight in the time that she has been with us.  She’s even getting a little belly fat!  I think just being able to eat a lot and get snacks when she wants is a new thing for her, and her world definitely revolves around meal times.  Eden has mastered the words, “What’s for . . . (insert meal depending on time of day)?”  Another new thing for Eden has been ICE!  She can’t get enough of it.  I think she most likely never had ice before coming home to us.  The first day she discovered ice, Eden was in the bathroom every 20 minutes because she was drinking so much water with ice, and munching on the ice.

Both Eden and Daniel, like many children who have been in institutions for an extended period of time, are having to learn how to play.  When we first got both of them, neither one of them really played they way kids normally do.  We did a little throwing around of a ball together while still in China, and they liked it, but they wouldn’t just play without some direction.  Since we have been home, they both have needed to be encouraged to play with the other kids.  All of the younger kids in our family are little boys, so they love to run around outside.  One day, soon after we arrived home from China, one of the little boys was able to convince Eden and Daniel to go outside with him and run up and down our long, gravel driveway.  They did it, and Eden especially seemed to enjoy it.  The same thing happened with the trampoline.  Neither child necessarily wanted to have much to do with this contraption with which our other children are so enraptured.  One day, a couple of months ago, some friends brought dinner over, and all of our children were playing together and jumping on the trampoline.  It began to rain, and all of the children were laughing and having the time of their lives bouncing in the rain.  Eden grabbed Daniel’s hand and they ran out together to join the fun with the other children.  That was the first time I saw them do that without a lot of prodding from us.  It made me want to cry tears of joy!

We had what I would call a breakthrough with Eden last week during speech and debate club meeting.  Usually, I just keep Daniel and Eden with me wherever I am at club.  Daniel doesn’t always do so great for someone who isn’t used to watching him, and Eden simply does NOT want to be away from me.  However, last week, Eden stayed and played with Tovi and Hezi during both speech and debate time, which was HUGE for her.  I checked in with her a few times, and she would say, “Hi, Mommy!,” and then try to come over to me.  I encouraged her to stay and play each time, and each time she agreed to stay with the other kids and have fun rather than sit through a meeting that at this point means nothing to her.  This is just one of many little signs that she is beginning to trust us as her parents, and me as her mother, that we aren’t going to abandon or forsake her.  It kills me to think that she even worries about me leaving her, as she has had so much loss in her young life.  But I see her taking baby steps toward trusting me more and trusting that I will always be here for her.

The kids got to dress up for Halloween for the first time, and they had such fun!  Eden walked around with me and Tovi, and she pretty much got the routine down after the first couple of houses.  She would remind Tovi to say “Trick or Treat” and “Thank you!”  It was a very full and exciting night for both children.  I love getting to see them experience things for the first time, and see the joy in their faces.  It is such a blessing.

Eden came out of surgery, and has done well.  She is experiencing minimal pain at the site of the incision, which is wonderful.  The challenge right now is that she is starving (the last time she had anything to eat was a banana right before bed last night, so she hasn’t eaten for almost 24 hours!).  We tried some crackers and water, but that came back up right before she was supposed to start on her dinner, so we had to take away the dinner and try jello and water.  The jello and water came back up as well, so now we are waiting again.  It’s not nausea, but the digestive system that has gone to “sleep” from the anesthesia.  We just have to wait it out.  Thankfully, Eden has relaxed enough to sleep a bit.

We are so blessed to be on this journey, and so excited for what is to come.  There is HOPE for these children, and we are so humbled that God would use us to be part of their stories.  HE sets the lonely in families… hallelujah!

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