One month home with Magnolia.
Dang. My name is Stefanie and I am a slacker. I had all kinds of plans to post frequent updates after we got home, writing it all down and taking all kinds of pictures like I did with Clementine.
But that just hasn’t happened. I don’t think I factored in the constant level of crazy these two together would inject to an already-pretty-chaotic household. (Denial, methinks?) In other words, the crazy is pretty strong around here right now.
But a really good crazy. Magnolia is quite honestly an amazing kid. She has been loved oh-so-well and it shows. She eats well, sleeps well and plays well with (just about) everyone in our family.
Our biggest priority from here on out is helping her understand that we are not the next foster family or a temporary family, but her family. Forever. And so, as with Clementine, lots of cocooning (keeping her world very, very small) is in our foreseeable future. Thankfully, the Lord made me an introvert and staying in, snuggling and just generally hanging out with my beloveds is my jam.
Magnolia just turned two in March but the girl acts like a tiny grown-up in so many ways. As Sophie remarked to our social worker when asked if her new baby sister liked board books, “No. She wants to be a big kid.” Truer words.
Which has lead to a bit of a conundrum in the nickname department. We’d had some ideas rolling around in our heads for our littlest love, but none of them have stuck… all suddenly seem just too immature, if one can say that regarding a nickname for a two-year-old. But this girl is an old soul, especially in contrast to her ridiculously happy-go-lucky sister. The two together are like Abbott and Costello.
She can feed herself with a spoon or fork and would really prefer to, thankyouverymuch. For attachment purposes I do still feed her, especially at the beginning of a meal, and then let her fine-tune her fork skills for the remainder. And while the kids can play and run and generally act like fools alongside her, I’m the only one who gets to feed her. What this mama might lack in the fun or exciting department, I make up for with lots and lots of Breyer’s Salted Caramel ice cream.
She loves to eat and eggs, noodles, yogurt, rice, chicken, fruit and ketchup (is that a food?) are her favorites so far. She’s willing to give just about anything a try and makes her preferences known when offered a second bite. She’s a great eater and – as a mom who is still navigating life with an unusually fussy eater in Clementine – I can’t tell you how appreciated Magnolia’s appetite is.
And that little heart of hers must require a lot because even on a daily diet of three meals, and three bottles of Pediasure, and as many snacks as she can eat, she is not gaining the weight we’d like her to before her heart surgery. So peanut butter, avocados and olive oil are going to be our newest best friends – in addition to our nightly date with a half-gallon of Breyer’s.
She sleeps like an absolute champ and I say that with the utmost appreciation and gratitude. Her sleeping well has made the adjustment of growing our family by one so. much. easier. Because when she sleeps, mama gets to sleep (or just have a little quiet moment) and that makes mama all kinds of happy. She goes down easily for naps and bedtime and rarely wakes up in the middle of the night. We have lived the opposite of this enough nights that sometimes I have to pinch myself at how easy she is making this for this not-so-young mama.
We are still co-sleeping with Clementine and have had to get creative to allow us to also co-sleep with Magnolia, too. We brought a twin daybed in to our room and snugged it up next to my side of the bed and Magnolia sleeps there – usually falling asleep with her hand in mine. For now that’s all the closeness she’s comfortable with and whatever works for her right now works for me.
We have been to the pediatrician twice for check-ups and both times she has been super healthy. Nothing out of the ordinary (other than a dimple which will require a visit to the neurosurgeon)… just super tiny. At 26 months she weighs just 22 pounds.
We had an appointment with her cardiologist and after an EKG, x-ray and ECHO it was determined that she does indeed have a very special heart. Her heart condition is mostly what we’d anticipated but with a little extra. Based on all he saw, she has tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia and MAPCAs (or major aorto pulmonary collateral arteries).
And the addition of that little acronym, MAPCAs, makes the surgery to repair her heart a whole lot more interesting. “This defect is a form of tetralogy of Fallot in which there is complete obstruction of the pulmonary artery resulting in total diversion of blood from the right ventricle into the aorta. Survival depends on the presence of a number of naturally occurring connecting blood vessels between the aorta and the pulmonary arteries in the lungs, which are called ‘collaterals’ – or sometimes ‘MAPCAs’.” (source)
She is set for a heart catheterization in mid-July which will give us some more definitives on the anatomy of her heart as well as the information we need to plan the next big step, open heart surgery. In the meantime we are doing our best to simply enjoy the now and the fact that she is doing so well, not requiring any additional oxygen nor having any physical limitations due to that very special heart.
She plays really well around the house, engaging her siblings appropriately and joining in on the fun whenever possible. She’s not a big fan of typical toddler toys and is most interested in whatever the bigger kids are doing, coloring, playing games or hanging out in the kitchen with mama. She’s also pretty good at drawing on the kids’ schoolwork… a tiny budding artist.
Her favorite family members so far are Clementine (on whom she is most likely to tattle), mama (with whom she shares her ice cream) and our 11 pound Boston terrier, Violet. And pretty much anyone she can be the boss of at the moment. Clementine has not been the most willing participant, much to Magnolia’s chagrin, and there have been a few *ahem* meetings-of-the-minds over who should be in charge between my two tiniest loves. The contest continues…
She is very bright and can do just about anything she puts her mind to, including string beads, dress herself (working on shoes and pants right now) and ride a tricycle. She is setting the bar in lots of areas for Miss Clementine.
She understands much of what we say and can complete a two-step request without me having to motion or direct. Which is a stark contrast to her bigger sister who, after 18 months home, undoubtedly understands exactly what we are saying but isn’t really interested in complying. Magnolia is set on being at the top of the class and instead of just going and getting the diaper I requested, she’s ready to change the whole diaper, whether hers or Clementine. Potty training might be in our near future.
She has taken to signing like a pro and has about 20 signs so far: shoes, boo-boo, eat, water, bottle, more, mama, Magnolia, Clementine, dog, where, again, help, please, all done, Signing Time, horse, hat, bath and bye bye.
She speaks Mandarin quite well (we have no clue but this is what our guide told us) and continues to babble both to herself and in response to things that she feels require her input. Which means she is pretty much babbling all the time. She has a few English words that she uses, and the list is growing, but she prefers to sign to get her point across for now. I kinda do too since there is less room for error on my part with signs and more opportunities for effective communication. Which really helps with attachment.
One month as a family and countless months ahead, little one. Overwhelmed with thankfulness that you are, at last, home.