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Archive for the ‘Ava’ Category

Annnndddd 5 years ago today we crossed the water and headed down to see our baby’s face for the first time. I barely remember the drive down and have no idea what we did afterwards – but I remember every single minute that we were inside that office. I didn’t think I would cry but I started tearing up when our social worker handed me the envelope and burst out into full on happy tears as soon as I saw Ava’s face.

We signed the paperwork immediately and handed it back – yes, we accepted Qi Xiao Bei, age 7 months, as our daughter. Without even a moments hesitation.

I can’t believe that was 5 years ago. A lifetime. But it was only yesterday, right?


I still remember that phone call and how I felt at that moment just like it was yesterday.

I spent the evening snuggling with my girl(s) and watching Sesame Street. It was a perfect way to celebrate.

So here we go with NaBloPoMo. I thought I’d give it a go with a sort of plan to go back in time. Every day I’d get caught up with a draft post – you know, things like the first day of school that I have failed to document as of yet.

My plan today was to recap Halloween. I have some wicked cute pictures of the girls in costume (costumes they only wore for pictures, by the way) so that would be an easy way to slide back in to blogging.

Or not.

Because this happened:

My baby lost her first tooth.

This tooth has been loose for months. I first noticed it when I was tucking her into bed back in the summer. It looked slightly askew – like there was a tiny gap that wasn’t there before – so I called J up to look at it. It took a minute but it finally dawned on me that her tooth was loose which I don’t think she’d even noticed yet. The dentist confirmed it at her next appointment and told us that not only was that tooth loose, so was the one next to it. (Yeah, clearly we were a bit slow on the uptake.)

So she’s been wiggling it here and there for ages now. We’ve read a book or two about teeth and we’ve talked about it so she would be ready. I had great plans to have all sorts of cute things ready for when her tooth finally fell out – you know, things like sweet little tooth pillows and a tooth chart so we can document each tooth as it comes out. Oh, and glitter. Must have glitter to spread around so she knows the tooth fairy came.

Or not.

I was sitting down in J’s chair (it’s a sacred chair so I can only sit there when he’s not here) when Ava calmly walked in and quietly said, “Mama, my tooth fell out.” I could barely believe my ears so I asked her again what she said, at which time she calmly repeated it before handing me the bloody stump of a tooth and promptly bursting into hysterical tears. Not just little tears either – big, hysterical, gasping-for-breath sobs that lasted for 15 minutes or more while she clung to me like her life depended on it. Meanwhile, her head is buried in my shoulder so I couldn’t see her face at all (Was she bleeding? On me?) and I *still* have a tiny, bloody tooth clasped in my hand.

I wasn’t sure what to do so I just kept telling her how cool it was that she lost her tooth and what a big girl she was now and yeah – she wasn’t buying it and heck, what I really wanted to do anyway was cry with her because OMG, it’s official that she’s not a baby any more. I finally distracted her a bit by letting her call J on my iPhone and then bribed her into letting me take a picture of her toothlessness by giving her a pack of her own Halloween candy that she’s kind of already forgot about.

We talked about the tooth fairy (she’s really not so keen on the idea of someone coming into her room while she’s sleeping) but I finally convinced her that the tooth fairy was Tinkerbell’s friend which apparently makes it okay. Although she did ask me to stay with her until the tooth fairy came which was unfortuantely not an option since the tooth fairy helper (that would be me) frantically needed to scour Pinterest for tooth fairy printables and ideas – which all just made me feel sad and inadequate since I just don’t embroider felt pillows on a whim nor do I regularly stock special decorative bottles of pixie dust – and contemplate raiding Ava’s piggy bank to pay her since I had no cash whatsoever in my wallet. None.

So – the tooth fairy came home and pulled out a $10 dollar bill (the only thing in his wallet) which we sprayed with glitter hairspray that had been hiding in the cabinet since the clearance sales after Halloween 2011. Add some glitter hairspray to the envelope and voila – you have a sticky mess of hairspray on paper a gentle dusting of fairy magic that will probably glue itself to Ava’s pillow by the morning.

The tooth fairy gently made his way into Ava’s room – glittery pink missive at the ready – only to find Ava sitting up and staring at him unblinkingly (at 11PM) because she said she was waiting on the tooth fairy to arrive. With a quick save he told her that he came in only to see her new smile and he was able to sleight of hand the tooth out from under the pillow and the envelope in. Being that she was absolutely exhausted he stayed with her for a moment – just long enough to see her off to sleep with her daddy by her side – and then escaped (doing the ninja don’t-wake-em walk) into the hallway where I was waiting to see how it went.

She did achieve her goal of seeing the tooth fairy even if she doesn’t know it yet. And she was overpaid greatly since we failed to plan ahead for this momentous event (but I’m okay with that this time – you only lose your first tooth once). We even told her that she gets to spend ALL of her tooth fairy money this time – no mandate to save on this windfall.

Now. What on earth am I supposed to do with this tooth? (My mom kept mine in a Sucrets tin for years and years – not sure what happened to those.)

We went to the dentist today. It was a family affair as neither J nor I felt comfortable enough taking both girls on our own. Actually we were pretty petrifed at the thought of taking that on and figured one-on-one defense was a better plan.

This was Ava’s 432nd trip to her pediatric dentist, Dr. Bobby. Dr. Bobby is great and has shown untold amounts of patience as we have gently coaxed Ava along this process. Ava still deals with some oral aversion issues and trips to the dentist have always been, ummmm, let’s just say dramatic. Under Dr. Bobby’s care she’s come a long way even though we’ve still never actually managed a cleaning or polishing. Fortunately she has (mostly) good teeth so there’s never been a reason to force the issue. Every visit is a little better and we take another baby step in that direction. Today we started out with a full floss and a tooth brushing by the hygienist AND she allowed her to use the water spray and the suction tube in her mouth with no tears. Had we stopped there I would have been thrilled and called the day a complete success.

Merry went for the first time today. She did fine. Laid back on the table, put her sunglasses on, opened her mouth and was totally chill with the whole experience. That’s Merry for you. Pretty much how she approaches everything.

But back to Ava.

The lead hygienist was around today and seemed to take an inordinate interest in how Ava was doing – to the point of hovering a bit and even interrupting our regular hygienist as she worked. After Ava was done then we decided it was time to try for the x-ray again so lead hygienist takes Ava off to do the x-ray while Merry took her turn in the chair. Ava was hesitant but wasn’t outright fighting this yet so both J and I were coaxing her over (to include dangling my iPhone in front of her like a carrot). We got her into the x-ray room (again, I count this as success) when she finally balked. Lead hygienist tries gently talking her in, as were J and I, when she suddenly not so gently spouted out, “If you don’t go in here and do this then I will make your mommy and daddy and baby sister go up to the front and they will leave you back here all by yourself.” I amazingly didn’t smack her but quietly stated directly to her that no, we would not be leaving Ava alone. I did walk away at that point to deal with Merry but J stayed right with Ava and they managed to get the x-ray after all (special thanks to Apple and my iPhone and some free app that looks like a Spirograph).

In the meantime Merry is happily swallowing the bubblegum flavored toothpaste and holding onto the dentist provided sunglasses – occasionally putting them on and then taking them off and then putting them on while the regular hygienist cleans her teeth. Lead hygienist pulls up a chair beside her and lifts Ava on to her lap to hold her while we were waiting for Merry. (At this point I’m like all WTF are you all over my kid but I couldn’t do much about it being that I had my hands full of other kid.) She proceeds to sit there for the next 10 minutes playing with Ava’s hair, holding her on her lap, and trying to talk to me about what it’s like raising girls (she has all boys), telling me how much she wants little girls like mine, and calling both my girls ‘sexy little mamas’ with their sunglasses on. Yes. She really did say that – repeated it 3 times actually – to my 5 year old who repeats every.single.thing she ever hears. I’m sure the other kindergarten parents will be delighted when their kids come home with that new phrase. I relocated Ava from lead hygienist’s lap onto the chair with Merry as soon as I could

Dr. Bobby came out about this time and did a quick exam and fluoride treatment for both girls. Ava has a tooth we’re watching that may need treatment in a year or so and Merry’s teeth look pretty good (condition wise) with what looks to be only one missing tooth related to her alveolar cleft (we hope it stays missing and doesn’t show up since it would be *IN* her cleft if it does. Merry is getting ready to teethe her last two (lower) incisors and we should be good for a couple of months – or at least until the two year molars show up.

But then lead hygienist strikes again. She’s got her hands all over Ava again (playing with her hair) when she asks me if they are sisters. I answered in the affirmative. “Yes, they are sisters now.” That answer didn’t suit of course so she asked a second time. “But are they real sisters?” My answer is yes (again) which is when she asked for the third time, “No, I mean are they actually sisters?”. I think J started to realize that I was getting geared up to lose it big time so he answered. “If you are asking if they are sisters by birth the answer is no but they are sisters now.” I’m not sure if that is what shut her up or the daggers shooting from my eyes found their mark.

This whole experience just bugged me. A lot. So I thought about it and waffled over it and talked my co-workers’ ears off mulling over how I could have better handled it and I finally decided to call the practice office manager and tell her about our experience. I laid it out pretty calmly and stressed the following:

1. Ava has a relationship with her regular hygienist. She knows just how much she can push past Ava’s comfort zone and the lead hygienist was interrupting and disrupting that.

2. Calling my 5 year old a ‘”sexy little mama” just isn’t appropriate in my world. It’s just not.

3. Threatening my child with the loss of her parents’ presence to frighten her into doing something is not okay with me. Especially my adopted child who is already scared to death of losing us in any way, shape, or form.

4. The lack of personal and professional boundaries in the way she was talking to and touching my child (playing with her hair, etc) icked me out and irked the hell out of me. I am doing my darndest to teach Ava stranger danger and how people that we don’t know (or even those we do) shouldn’t invade her space or touch her. This lesson isn’t exactly reinforced when a person she perceives to be in a position of authority is doing things like that. (It did show me that we need to have more discussions on this based on the conversations I had with Ava after the fact).

In hindsight, I feel like I failed a bit. I wish I’d spoken out more firmly or more directly to the lead hygienist at the time – but then again I didn’t feel it was the proper space or time to do it since we had both girls right there with us. We have discussed some of the things that happened with Ava – we told her it was wrong of the lady to say we would leave her because we would never do that – and we now know that there are a few holes in our stranger/friend/acquaintance danger lesson plan that we need to patch.

The office manager was appalled, by the way. Seriously appalled. She apologized a million and eight times at least and seemed very concerned that this could be indicative of a bigger problem. She thanked me over and over for calling and I think she was genuine and didn’t think I was just a hysterical, complain-y parent. My only request to the office manager is that they mark the girls’ charts that their hygienist should always and only be K and that I don’t want lead hygienist working on or anywhere around either of them at any time.

So – what would you all have done? Would you have let it go? Not gone back? Called and complained? Did I overreact?

Oh, I do want to let you know that because Ava was such a big, brave girl and didn’t cry even one tear she earned herself a trip to Build-a-Bear this weekend to pick out any bear she wants. She didn’t manage to earn an outfit though (that would have required the cleaning) so it will be a naked bear for the time being. Next dental appointment is in 3 months so she might earn it some clothes then.

We’re alive. All is well.

And apparently I have writer’s block. Or maybe it’s that I have so much to say that it seems overwhelming sometimes so I capture it in Facebook status updates or notes to myself on my iPhone and hope that those will be enough to trigger the memories that we’ve been making this summer.

Because that – memory making – is something that we for sure have been doing. And that – – that has been fabulous.

I’m back at work now so time is even more precious than it was before. Merry is in daycare with Ava but not for much longer since my little big girl starts kindergarten in just a few short weeks. She is beyond excited (mostly because of her new lunchbox) while I am angst ridden and traumatized about it. I can’t help but feel it’s the beginning of the end – and yes, I do realize how melodramatic that sounds – but in reality it’s true. This is the beginning of her school career and will culminate in her leaving my house for college (hopefully) when she’s done. But she’s ready so I will hide my anxiety (and tears) from her and I will be her biggest cheerleader the day she walks into kindergarten. Then I’m going to weep in the parking lot, of course.

Merry is adjusting well to daycare. The first day was horrid (she cried, I cried) but she’s found her groove and things have gotten a million times better. In just two weeks we have already seen a huge improvement in her speech and she’s just about caught up with her motor skills. She is in speech therapy with Early Intervention and that has been good – but the day to day exposure to her teachers and the kids in her class is really doing it for her. We have a cleft team appointment in September so I imagine we’ll come away from that with a tentative roadmap for the next year or so.

In other news: My house is dirty. My kids eat too much processed food. I have gained a ton of weight (but I haven’t quite figured out a way to work exercise back into my life yet). Laundry is piled up everywhere. My garden only produced basil and watermelon this year. This is my life. And you know what? It’s all good. Because we are building bonds and shared experiences and that is way more important to me than a clean house, unwrinkled clothes, or a small(er) butt (or an updated blog apparently).