Ahhhhh....SO GOOD to be home!
The trip home was exhausting...especially the first half. We boarded the airplane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia right about Sammy's bedtime. Up to this point, Sammy had been super flexible and could fall asleep any where, so I just assumed that I would give him his bottle and then he would fall right asleep on the airplane. Not so much.
Sammy has never been on an airplane and so the setting was totally over-stimulating for him. He could not get himself calmed down. He just got more a more wound up...throwing things, banging on things, etc... Then the screaming started because he was over-tired but couldn't fall asleep. It was horrible. He screamed and screamed and screamed. I stood up and held him for a good portion of the flight. At one point he was screaming so loud that he started waking up other babies, so I went in the bathroom with him just so that he could scream in private! Finally, about 20 minutes later, one of the flight attendance knocked on the door to check on me.
This guy in front of me kept turning around every time Sammy would start coughing (he has a horrible croupy cough) or screaming. He would just stare at us and then started offering pieces of advice. I barely had enough patience to handle the situation with Sammy and I certainly didn't have enough to handle this dude. So I said back to him, "No. Just turn around." I didn't hear from him the rest of the flight. (I can't believe I was so rude!)
When we got to Dubai it was almost 1 AM. We had a voucher to stay at a hotel so we went through the process of going through passport control, being told I had to get a visa for Sammy, getting the visa, going back through passport control, catching a shuttle, checking in the hotel, and getting to our room. By the time I got Sammy to sleep it was 3 AM. I then took a shower, washed his bottles, and repacked the bags for the next day. By the time I laid down in was 3:45 AM and my wake up call was for 4:30 AM! Unfortunately, the wake up call never came, but (Praise the Lord!) I woke up and check my watch at 4:50 AM. Sammy and I were out the door at 5:10 AM--Sammy screaming at full volume, of course.
Sammy screamed all the way through security because I tried to put him in a rental stroller. He was not having it, but his screaming did get us a ticket to the front of the line. There's really no reasoning with a 1 year old that Mommy can't carry you going through security because we've got so many bags to get through. Once we got through security, I put him back in my sling and that quieted him down.
The Dubai airport is insane. It is huge and yet every square inch is PACKED with people. It's like the mall the day after Thanksgiving. They have these cool little carts (kinda like a small grocery cart) that I saw a bunch of people pushing around. I thought, "I need one of those carts." There was no cart to be found. I even stopped and asked an employee where I could get one and he said I couldn't because there were probably none left. Thanks, Captain Helpful.
Picture this. I am walking down the terminal with a 25 pound child in a sling with a backpack on my back, pulling a roller suitcase that has Sammy's diaper bag clipped to it. And I pass a dude that looks like he's in college pushing a cart with only his backpack inside. I was more than a little disgusted.
I had to find something for Sammy & I to eat b/c we had to leave the hotel at 5 AM and they didn't start serving breakfast until 5:30 AM. So I found a Starbucks where I got a drink, a muffin, and a croissant. So now add a Starbucks bag to the things I'm carrying.
By this time, Sammy is getting very squirmy in the sling and about to fall out. It was all I could do to walk to the terminal. I can only imagine the focused look of determination that must have been on my face. I was focusing on my breathing (just like when I was in labor...oh, this adoption has been so much like a biological birth it's crazy) and putting one foot in front of the other. Walking by all these losers with half empty carts. I find a clearing against the wall and sat down on the ground. You know the feeling when you try to carry all the groceries in from the car at once and you think your hands might fall off by the time you get to the front door. Yeah, I had that feeling.
No sooner had I sat down then the screaming started back up. (Don't forget, I'm running off of 45 minutes of sleep in a 24 hour time span.) I stood back up to bounce Sammy and try to console him, but nothing was working. He was exhausted too. He was absolutely inconsolable. He didn't want his bottle or a blankie or a stuffed animal or food or to be held or to be put down. He didn't want to be touched, but he wanted to be in my arms. He arched his back and slapped my hands away and pushed his feet against my torso.
Finally, a woman from some country in Africa said, "Let me give it a try." I gladly handed him over, but that didn't help either. I took him back. At this point I am thinking, "I am about to board a 16 hour flight. What if he does this the whole flight. I can't do this. I need to talk to Andy. I have to get in touch with Andy now." So I get my computer out of my suitcase and start booting it up while trying to console Sammy at the same time. I sent him the following email:
"things are horrible. cant write much. sammy is inconsolable and screaming constantly. over stimulated and over tired. wont sleep. i'm falling apart. please pray."
By this time, another European lady walked over to offer to help. By this point I was in tears as well. She held Sammy while I loaded everything up so I could go through the check point at my gate. Sling, Sammy, backpack, roller bag, diaper bag, Starbucks bag, drink, passports, and boarding passes.
Once I got to my gate, Sammy suddenly calmed down. I knew in my heart that Andy had just gotten my email and had started praying immediately on my behalf. I gave Sammy something to eat and got out my computer again to Skype with Andy. I called him and he had gotten my email and already sent out a prayer request via Twitter, Facebook and email. I sobbed on the phone with Andy as all the other passengers in the terminal looked on. It really comforted me to talk with Andy like that and to know that literally hundreds of people were praying for us.
We boarded the plane, I gave Sammy his bottle, and he was asleep before take off. He slept for the first 8 hours of the flight. When he woke up, he was back to his happy, playful self again! We had a few fits/screaming incidents, but compared to what we had been through, they were very manageable. I could literally feel people praying for us.
Sammy feel asleep again for about the last hour of the flight. He was NOT happy when he woke up and screamed during the deboarding process. I did not care, though. I was HOME! Customs was brutally slow, but Sammy did well. Luggage inspection didn't go quite as well, as something made Sammy upset and he screamed for the fifteen minutes it took to retrieve our bags. At one point I had to just lay Sammy on the floor and let him scream so I could load the bags on my cart. A flight attendant saw me and came over to pick up Sammy.
When I walk out there waiting for us was the entire South Bay staff! They were cheering and had balloons and signs and cameras. I was so relieved to be through with the trip that I just started to cry. It was SO good, kiss-the-ground good, singing "God Bless America" good, to be home!
When we got home, we unpacked a little, got something to eat, and just let Sammy explore his new house. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Andy gave the boys their first bath together and then it was bedtime. Andy left me giving Sammy his bottle on the couch while he put Caedmon in his room. When he came back, Sammy and I were both sound asleep on the couch. Andy said he thought he should check our pulses because we both looked dead. I had slept about 4 hours in the past 48 hours so I was very happy to see my bed.
Getting through the night was a little rough. We started Sammy off in a pack-n-play by our bed, but he woke up crying every hour or two. He spent most of the night in bed with us in one of 3 positions: on Andy's chest, with his back pressed against Andy and his arms and legs resting on me, or in an X with one arm and foot resting on me and the other on Andy. Bless his heart. I can only imagine the trauma that he is feeling. He has been through so much.
He's been happy overall today. We successfully switched him from formula to milk. We took him for his first tricycle ride, which he loved. And he's been mesmerized by all of the toys, etc. at our house.
Naptime has been rough again. He's actually laying on the couch beside me right now screaming. He won't let me hold him or touch him but he just keeps screaming. How do you console an inconsolable child? My heart aches for him.
It will just take time for him to get adjusted and comfortable with us. It's going to take Caedmon some time, too. Caedmon's got a crazy mixture of emotions going on. He's very excited and helpful and wanting to play "the big brother" role. But he's also been very emotional today, needing to have his milk warmed up like Sammy, tattling, and needing to also sit in my lap while I feed Sammy his bottle. This is a huge adjustment for all of us.
Not sure how much I'll be getting to my blog this next week or so. But I wanted to at least let you know how the trip went and thank you for your prayers. Please keep 'em coming as we adjust to our new normal!