When I was two, my mom wrote me a letter. In it, she bemoaned my headstrong attitude, willfulness, and rebellion. She worried because I was a fighter. She wrote warning me that she feared my strong personality would get me into trouble someday. (Mom, I know I WAS a difficult child and I AM sorry for that. <3)
I don't mind who I am though. I think if I wasn't the way I am, I wouldn't have survived today. Today SUCKED.
Yesterday was great. I was too exhausted to post, plus now I have THREE kids, but it was so good. We went to the Transition Home around 11am and *FINALLY* got to hug Natalie and know that we wouldn't have to leave her. She was grinning and wearing a t-shirt we had given her with our picture on it and we were all so happy. We went to lunch and then back to the guesthouse where we played games, colored, weaved little pot-holders, and of course, started the de-licing process. All in a days' work, right?
P.S. On the de-licing note: Natalie is a CHAMP. I had to use the lice shampoo on her, which means I had to ask her to allow me to take out her hair. Someone had carefully braided and beaded it with love, in anticipation of our arrival, and I had to ask her if I could remove it. And she was so sweet about it. And then I had to shampoo her, which means I had to help her shower. This child barely knows me, she's an 11-year old girl, and she's from a culture where modesty is a priority. She was NOT about to let me help her. And I couldn't explain that the chemicals could blind her and that it was time sensitive.
I asked her again, and indicated that I just needed to do her hair. And this little girl looked at me with her big brown eyes and she measured me up. And she let me help her. She gave me ALL her trust in that moment. I don't know if I have ever felt so honored by someone. I wish I could tell her how much her trust means to me.
I had a bad headache all day and all night because I accidentally left my glasses at home. And two of my kids require me to have sight to communicate. So I had a splitting headache. Levi passed out around three o'clock and I put the girls to bed at seven. They were ADORABLE. They were in pink and purple sleep caps and they were dancing like crazy people (spinning, and doing dips). They were also jumping on the bed. When I announced it was bed time, Z proclaimed, "But my sister and I DON'T WANT to go to bed!!!" And so it begins. ;)
We woke up early this morning for embassy. Z and Nat dressed in matching clothes (A-DORABLE) and off we went. Embassy went fine. Easy as pie. (Who made up that saying, anyway? Any pies I try to make always turn out rotten. Or they taste okay, but look ugly. Therefore, pie is not easy.)
After embassy we went back to the Transition Home. I dropped off our donations. Someone I had asked to look into Micah's case arrived and found me. They told me that his case will NEVER be processed. That he will never be adopted. That his paperwork has issues and can't ever go through. I don't know what to think anymore, and I just said, "Okay. I don't accept this though, and I won't stop." They weren't happy with me.
We played with the kids at the Transition Home while we waited to go to lunch. Z and I were in a huge jump-roping contest when someone yelled to me. I turned to see Natalie coming at me, blood gushing from her nose. I grabbed some tissues and tilted her head forward so she wouldn't choke. I'll spare the details but it was NOT a normal nosebleed. Someone yelled for a nurse and we got Nat to the doctor's office. For FIFTEEN MINUTES, my child bled through her nose. And not only blood was coming out. I don't want to gross you out and the details are nasty. Something was majorly wrong. Nat was crying. I was kneeling on the floor with a garbage can and tissues and trying to hold her hands. Someone poured something on some cheesecloth and pushed it up her nose. Somehow it helped the bleeding slow down. We finally got to the doctor and she examined Natalie and said we needed to go to an ENT. She asked me to leave Natalie overnight at the Transition Home. I said no. So she said she would call for an appointment with the ENT immediately.
The van came and we got in. Nat was feeling horrible. We drove to a part of Addis I've never seen (our agency does not typically take people there) and got out when we were told to. A nurse from the Transition Home was with us. We had literally JUST gotten out of the van when beggars swarmed us, touching us, asking us to buy their gum and CDs. We started to push through them when three boys (two teens and a ten year old?) ran up and one big teen grabbed my arm and tried to wrench me backwards. I didn't look at him, just pushed the kids towards the door but he wouldn't let go and started shaking me as hard as he could while raking his nails down my arm. As I turned to look at (PUNCH) him, another kid, slammed into my other side. I heard Levi yell in anger and ripped my arm away from the guy attacking me and I turned to help the other kid up. As I turned, I saw the kid on the ground (that I had turned to help) trying to scramble away. WITH MY CELL PHONE. Levi screamed at him and I put my foot on him at the same time and held out my hand, while giving him the Latina stink eye. I wanted to punch him, but when I looked into his eyes, all I saw was fear and hunger and poverty. I saw a kid who has never been taught better and who is trying to survive. A kid whose life isn't fair. He wouldn't give it to me so I reached down and took it back. Then I reached out my hand to help him up but he shrank away. A crowd was watching by now, even though all this happened in seconds. I stepped over him and guided my other kids to the doorway.
Once inside, we climbed six or seven flights of stairs (try it sometime when you are 8,000 feet about sea level) and checked in at the ENT's. We waited an hour or so before being admitted. When they finally saw us, they had Levi and Z stay in the waiting room. I went into the office with Natalie and the Transition Home nurse.
The doctor was nice but didn't explain anything prior to treating Nat. He had broken English anyway, and no one else spoke English so I can't really fault him but it was awful. He took a HUGE piece of gauze (6"???) and stuffed it up Natalie's nose while she screamed and three people held her down. Apparently he did a full surgery nose-packing on her. I didn't think it was possible for that much gauze to fit up there, and I couldn't decide if I should interfere, or just allow him to do it. I mean, she couldn't keep bleeding like that but her screams were heart-rending and I felt like the WORST mother ever. It is such a horrible feeling to hear your kid screaming and crying to you for protection and having to turn your heart away. I can't even imagine how God felt with Jesus on the cross. Nat cried and cried and wouldn't look at me. So much for making it back in under 30 days. I had just lost her trust.
We went straight back to the guesthouse and I made the kids beef ramen. An awesome couple here has a portable DVD player, and they let us borrow it. Because I had taken Nat's braids out to give her the lice treatment, I asked her if she wanted her hair braided. She said yes and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing that. I didn't have a comb, or elastics, or hair product. So I used a brush. And a bobby pin. Yup. My hair skills have hit a new level. It look me several hours. She still wouldn't smile or really talk to me and she just kept looking at me in a way that said, "You betrayed me; you let them HURT me!" It hurt so bad. Then she would cry and say the packing hurt and she had a headache and ask me to take it out. And I can't. Because it has to stay till Wednesday. And then she'd cry some more and look away.
FINALLY, hours later, she waved to get my attention and then signed, "Natalie loves you." At which point I took her in my arms and cried over her.
She's on multiple medications (I hate that I don't know what they are, but she also has an upper respiratory infection so she needs it) and it's hard for her to swallow, because she is all plugged up and also has her nose packed. Plus, she's a little kid. It took forever for her to fall asleep (an hour and a half?) because she can't breathe and she wants to take her nose packing out. I have her and Z sleeping with me tonight and Natalie is in the middle. It's 12:50am and I'm writing this post, because I have to stay awake all night. Because Natalie keeps trying to rip out her nose packing in her sleep and if she does, the blood clot could rip out too. So I have to stay up to make sure she doesn't rip it out. The doctor is supposed to remove the packing Wednesday. I don't know how we will make it through tomorrow though. Every paragraph or so here, I am dropping my phone to pin her down in her sleep as she thrashes and cries and tries to rip it out. My poor, sweet baby. She keeps snuggling me in her sleep and putting her arms around me and crying after she calms down. I keep thinking of all the nights she never had a mom to hold her when she needed it, and then I cry too. I hate to hear her labored, strangled breathing, but then every time it stops, I panic. This. Fricking. Sucks.
So yeah, that's the hell that was today. I wish we could erase it, or skip it, but we can't. I AM grateful though. The bleeding appears to have stopped. I got my phone back. The kids were safe. We passed embassy. Natalie's no longer angry at me. Levi and Z were a HUGE help and never once complained or gave me a hard time, even though today was exhausting and stressful and I had no time for them. My driver and guide care about us (they--especially my driver-- were SO upset about the attack). My kids are asleep and okay. Natalie is snuggled next to me. We are one day closer to home.
I'm glad that I'm a fighter. And I'm glad my kids are too.