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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?

This one loves Elmo even more than Ava did – if that’s even possible. (This is Ava’s old Elmo that she decided to give to her baby sister.)

Photo date: 8/24/12


Welcome to the first installment of myPhone Friday. Since my iPhone is my most used camera these days (sad, I know) I’m going to try and post one of my favorite phone photos taken sometime the previous weekend/week. Sounds easy enough, right?

First trip to one of our many local splash pads. And yes, she did go through the big fountain all by herself (and showing up her big sister in the process since Ava has been too scared to do it…until now, that is).

Photo date: 12 August 2012

I know there are a few folks who have been waiting for a Merry update. I apologize for not getting to this sooner but we are just exhausted and are making it through this (barely) one day at a time. She is improving every day but that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly difficult. I theoretically knew this but it’s way harder when it’s your baby who’s going through it.

So – I’m taking the easy way out and copy/pasting my updates from FB. I have a million thoughts that I want to share about the whole process but I am so very tired and cannot make myself do anything more tonight (or probably anytime soon).

Tuesday, May 8 at 12:49pm via mobile
Game on, folks. Merry has cleared all the pre-op requirements (and has gained almost another full pound in 1 week) so we have to be at the hospital at 8AM for a 10AM scheduled surgery time. She will have her lip, palate, and nose repaired and ear tubes inserted. Surgery should take 3-4 hours. I’m already fretting but I really like and trust our surgeon’s plan so I think (hope) all will be well. She will be admitted to the PICU immediately following surgery so it’s going to be a rough couple of days for all of us

Tuesday, May 8 at 9:48pm
I know not everyone will understand this but when I (and J) look at Merry we don’t really even see her cleft anymore – we just see Merry. We fell in love with this face just as it is and I can’t imagine a more beautiful smile than this little girl has. She just lights up a room when she grins and it is truly captivating.

I know this surgery has to be done and it is the best thing for her – – but I am going to miss this face soooo much.

Wednesday, May 9 at 10:35am via mobile
Still waiting — with J at Children’s Hospital of King Daughters (CHKD)

Wednesday, May 9 at 12:28pm via mobile
First update: Palate is halfway done and things are going well. We have been inundated with much appreciated updates and information from both her nurses and her doctors. Next update should be within the hour. The ENT doc came out to talk to us and said things are going great so far. I am no longer weeping in the corner thanks to the amazing folks here at CHKD (and a Xanax).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 1:49pm via mobile
Second update: palate is done and Dr. Magee is just starting her lip and nose now. Ears will be done last. Nurse says everything is going just fine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 2:05pm via mobile
J shouldn’t have let me go to the gift shop alone. The chocolate was calling me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 2:26pm via mobile
Hates playing the waiting game…. I never was good at this. (Posted by J)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 2:38pm via mobile
Update 3: SHE’S DONE!!! We should be able to meet her in recovery soon!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 4:16pm via mobile
Resting in the ICU……. — with A at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters (CHKD). (Posted by J)

Wednesday, May 9 at 5:42pm via mobile
Update 4: Merry is ensconced in ICU for the night (precaution – no problems so far) and looks like she’s been in one heck of a barroom brawl. She’s mostly sleeping off the anesthesia but I suspect this is going to be a long night.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 6:31pm via mobile
Watching my little girl sleep.… She stirs a little, looks at me and will attempt a smile when she sees me then she will roll over and go back to sleep. Hate hate hate that she can’t tell me what hurts but I know she’s at least happy to see me when she opens her eyes and I’m just there….. (Posted by J)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:28pm via mobile
Update 5: This super sucks. J went home to stay with Ava and I’m staying here with Merry. She’s eaten a tiny bit of carrots and had some Pedialyte so far but is understandably cranky and tired and annoyed by all the monitors she’s hooked up to. She’s sleeping now and hopefully will for a while. Poor baby – wish I could take all of this pain away from her.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 12:21am via mobile
Update 6: Hours rocking a sick baby and I was rewarded with a laugh, a quick game of Where’s Merry, a toy trade, and she smiled at me with her eyes. That was worth every minute I spent in that (hard wooden) chair. And now I’ve rewarded her by requesting pain meds since she’s clearly starting to hurt and that’s why I’m here – to help the nurses know what she needs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 3:49am via mobile
Being up at nearly 4AM was a whole lot more fun 10+ years ago and when there was a club involved. Now? Not so much.

Thursday, May 10 at 5:05am via mobile
Does this just break your heart or what? Note how she’s holding on to the blood pressure tubing and that she won’t fully relax her legs. This is pretty much the only time she’s been in the crib all night. She’s not sleeping but she’s tolerating (but grouching) me laying her down for a minute.

Thursday, May 10 at 12:43pm via mobile
Update 7: We can go home (as soon as our ride arrives which may be a couple of hours). Yay for home. Boo for me not bringing my car in preparation for Merry to be a rockstar and blow this joint earlier than expected.

Friday, May 11 at 12:55pm
Update from home 1: Merry perked right up once we got home last night and played for a bit. J propped the pack and play up on some books to elevate it and she (according to him) slept okay as long as he kept up with the pain meds. I wouldn’t know since I was dead to the world by 8:30PM. She’s taken a little formula and pureed vegetable soup today by medicine dropper – – all the while glaring at me if I so much as put anything that looks like actual food in mine. This liquid/soft diet for 3 weeks is going to be super fun, I can tell.

She’s very clingy and is sleeping a lot as long as she’s laying on one of us or in the Ergo carrier. The bruising and swelling looks much worse today (which we were warned to expect) and the Surgicel pack in her mouth is making her (understandably) cranky.

I miss her smile. We can tell she wants to laugh and smile but it hurts so she doesn’t. Her eyes still smile at us, though.

Saturday, May 12 at 5:08pm via mobile
Update from home 2: Rough night – poor Merry and poor Mama. She’s eating/drinking enough but not a lot and I can’t eat because she’s a Velcro baby that I can’t put down without her melting down. And then…

Saturday, May 12 at 5:14pm via mobile
Update from home 3: J and I both noticed this afternoon that the packing in her mouth – the packing that isn’t supposed to be out until next Thursday – was slipping. A frantic phone call to our surgeon’s cell and some video texted to him had him sending us immediately to see his partner at his (closed) office to remove the Surgicel now (to make sure it didn’t obstruct her airway). It’s now out, she’s happier and can breathe more easily, surgeon says repair looks fine and this shouldn’t affect proper healing, and I’m still freaking out and worrying about it anyway.