Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12 - We made it!

Hey everyone!  We are home and are doing great!  Audrey and I both survived the 24 hour en route transit and that is all we can ask, right?  The flight from Moscow to London was easy, breezy, beautiful but the flight from London to Chicago - not so much.  Audrey was so exhausted and, as I quickly learned - is quite stubborn about falling to sleep when she is overtired.  Every time she started to doze off, she would shake her head, cry and keep herself awake.  It was agony (for her and for me and for the guy next to us who I will thankfully never have to see again).    Anyway, as I said - we made it and are back in Nashville.

Audrey and Clare are both adjusting well.  Audrey is sleeping and eating better than expected (still no solid foods though).  Her 2nd night at home, she slept from 7pm-6:30am with only a quick 2am bottle feeding - which I thought was terrific.  She is enjoying the sights and sounds of home and particularly has taken to her big sister.  She watches her all the time.  So sweet.

As for Clare, she has been awesome.  She helps me feed her and change her diaper and even helped this morning with Audrey's first bath.  I am so proud of her!  What a big girl!

We will see what the rest of the week brings for me as a new mother of two!  I have so much to say about how in love I am with both my girls and all the blessings in my life and how amazing our trip was - but honestly - I am still exhausted from the flight and of all the Reardon girls, I am the one sleeping the worst right now so my mind is complete mush.

I don't have a ton of pictures yet but I am sure those will come.  A few cute ones below.

Thanks for following along.

Audrey relaxing at the Moscow airport
before her first airplane ride

Resting on the way to London...
Hooray for an open seat next to us!

Totally cashed out in Chicago before the final
leg of our journey home to Nashville.
What a sweet little angel!

First night at home with her big sister, Clare

Clare, my Kazakh princess, modeling
her new Russian outfit for us.
What a total doll, right?
Audrey trying out her new high chair, adorned
with a yellow hair bow.

Clare and Audrey getting to know each other!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dec 9 - Last day!

Wow!  Rough night last night.  From about 9pm-1am, Audrey really struggled.  Waking up, screaming, about every 15-20 minutes.  Thanks to advice from family and friends, I regained my sanity eventually, after my own new adoptive mother roller coaster and decided she was probably teething and gave her some tylenol.  She slept for about 4hrs, woke up again, gave her some tylenol and got another 4hrs.  We have stayed on the 4-hr tylenol cycle and all is much better.  Well - not really Tylenol - Walgreens Infant Pain Reliever.  Anyway, much better today.  We spent about 2hrs walking down both New and Old Arbat.  It is 30 degrees and not much wind so the weather is nice, although a bit gloomy.  Tanya should be here in about an hour to drop off my final paperwork.  She and Gregory have been out and about all day, working on our behalf.  They are so good to me.

Audrey is taking her afternoon nap now.  Once she wakes up, we will probably play for a little bit then go out one final time.  I need to buy some more formula.  I am unfortunately probably going to be about 3 bottles too short.  Ugh - so close yet so far!  I brought a whole thing of Similac but because she is only eating from the bottle - still no solids - I wasn't anticipating going through the whole can in 5 days!  Wow.   A lot went down the drain the first few days too because I was making whole bottles and she only handles about 5oz at a time still.  

As for what is next - we have about 12hrs left in Moscow.  Gregory and Tanya will be here at 4am to pick us up for the airport (that is 6pm Friday night Nashville time).  We have 24hrs ahead of travel, through London and Chicago and land in Nashville at 6pm on Saturday!  Hooray.  Our luggage is almost all packed, except for the things we need for tonight and tomorrow morning.  So looking forward to seeing my monkey, Clare.  I know she is anxious to meet Audrey and give her a kiss in person, versus over Skype.

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  I will post again from Nashville!  Not many pictures today - just a few.

Kathy and Audrey

Just lounging around this morning after a rough night.  

Hanging on the couch after her bottle

This is New Arbat.  Our apartment is the first
high rise on the left.  We are on the 22nd floor.

Asleep in the elevator after our stroll today.
Isn't she just the sweetest thing?  Love her!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec 8 - Embassy Day

Today was our day at the American Embassy.  Tanya picked us up around 10:30 and we were off.  The embassy interview is much ado about nothing but fun nonetheless.  I think there were 5-6 other families there.  I met 3 of them.  One family was from Smyrna, TN if you can believe that (small world) and was adopting a beautiful 3-yr old girl, another family from DC with a handsome little boy, and a 3rd couple from Florida who adopted sibling girls, ages 2 and 1.  We were all so excited as you can imagine.  So, when we get there, the first thing we do is pay at Window #4 and get a receipt.  Then you wait for Window #1 to open.  Once Window #1 opens, you give them your invitation and your receipt, then you wait again.  Eventually, a nice guy, today named Michael, comes out and talks to the entire group, explaining what will happen next, what will happen when we depart at the airport, and what will happen when we reach immigration in the USA.  I had gone through the same process with Clare from Kazakhstan so was pretty familiar.  No real differences.  We waited again after Michael's speech.  Eventually they called my name, up to Window #2.  Asked me a few questions, gave me Audrey's birth certificate, adoption certificate, and a few other official papers then waiting again.  About 15 minutes later, back up to Window #1 to receive Audrey's passport, with visa included this time and a sealed envelope, to be opened by US Immigration.  Done!  Once we land on US soil, Audrey will be an American citizen.  USA! USA!  Go red, white and blue!

After the embassy, we had intended to go to Red Square and take some pictures. Well...  not sure what you are hearing back in the states, but Sunday's election has caused quite a mess here.  Lots of protests!  Putin and his party won with about 50% of the vote, but people believe the results were rigged - thus the protests in all public squares.  One family I met at the embassy was barred from leaving their hotel yesterday because of the riots.  Thankfully, on New/Old Arbat, where I am staying, there are no major public squares right nearby so no protests and no police.  All that being said - we didn't go to Red Square today.  SHOOT!  Instead,  we quickly jumped out of the car, near Red Square and took a picture (with a sleeping Audrey and snow starting to fall) on the sidewalk in front of St. Basil's. Tanya should stick to being a translator, not a photographer.  Not the best pictures but a great memory nonetheless!  All the quirks of the adoption journey are a small part of what makes it so special.

Then we were off to the office to get some paperwork Tanya needs for tomorrow to register Audrey at the Russian consulate.  She will be a citizen of Russia (and now the USA) until she is 18 (unless she decides to renounce it) so they want all Russian citizens, living abroad to be registered.  Finally, it was time to say goodbye to Irina and Svetlana.  Being the human water faucet that I am, of course I cried.  Saying goodbye to women who helped find your child, knowing you will most likely never see them or probably even speak to them again, is difficult.  They have played such a pivotal role in giving me one of life's greatest treasures and I have no way to repay them.  These beautiful, caring, smart, brave, pioneering Russian women are forever a part of my life story and a piece of my heart will always be with them.  There are just no words for it.

Now, we are back at the apartment.  Audrey is settling down for her afternoon nap before we Skype with family back home.  Later, we will probably venture down to Old Arbat for dinner.  Maybe Hard Rock Cafe.  We will see.

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  Enjoy the few pictures from today.


Snow falling, Audrey Sleeping,
in front of St Basil's on the side of the road.  Ha!

A shot (sort of) of Red Square

The KGB Building

My Russian Friends - From left to right:
 Irina holding Audrey, Ludmilla, Tanya and Svetlana

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dec 7 - Happy Birthday Kim Dean!

So far, so good here in Moscow!  Day 3 started around 5am.  Audrey slept through the night again, from 8pm, although a bit more restless this time.  She woke up at 5am and we snuggled in my bed until 6am before Skyping with her Baba, uncle and big sister back in Wisconsin.  She seemed tired so I put her down around 6:30am and she slept again until 8am (so did I).  It was wonderful!  :)  Then, guess what - thanks to a suggestion from Sherry on my last post, I tried feeding her sitting up on the couch versus holding her.  It worked!  She guzzled down 5 oz in one sitting.  Success!  I hope she outgrows that because I adore holding her while feeding her, but I want her to eat so whatever works!

We played around until about 10am and then she took a nap for an hour or so.  After that, we went out and about.  One of my fellow adoptive parents told me there were good frozen pizzas at the grocery store near the McDonalds so we ventured out.  I found it and bought a pizza for tonight.  So excited!  Then we walked down Old Arbat for a few souvenirs and off to Chili's for lunch.  Audrey did pretty good but got a little restless towards the end. I had forgotten what it was like to have a child crying in a restaurant. Check please!  :)  Now we are home, about to have a mid-afternoon bottle and then a nap.  Supposedly there is a big bookstore down New Arbat a couple of blocks so we will probably check that out post-nap, pre-dinner.

OOh - 2 big successes to report.  First and foremost - Audrey had a stinky dirty diaper this afternoon.  Hooray.  It was her first since I picked her up on Monday.  They had given me glycerin suppositories for her but I was holding off using them until tomorrow if no action.  Well - bam!  Today was the day.  Relief for both of us, I am sure.    Second success - Audrey is sitting up on her own.  She cannot get into a sitting position by herself but she has found her balance to stay there.  So proud of her.  Those little stomach muscles are just getting so strong.  Yea Audrey!  We will write again tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Audrey's soon-to-be godmother - Kim Dean!

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  Enjoy the pictures!

Kathy and Audrey

The sun rises here between 9:30-10am right now.  
This was at 9:45am, taken from my apt, 
looking at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. 

Our new method of feeding, working like a charm!

Look who is sitting up all by herself, just like a big girl!
Go Audrey!

Her bib says:  I was worth the wait!
My thoughts exactly!  Love you sweet Audrey!

All bundled up and ready for a stroll.  No cold was getting to her little body!
Even with all those layers, I still got mean looks from the Russian women.
Maybe they were mad at me because I didn't have a hat on,
nor was my coat zipped.   2 Cardinal Sins here!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec 6 - day 2 with Audrey

Day 2 is almost complete.  We are both happy and tired.  Audrey slept great last night - 8pm-7am!  What a treat.  Once she woke up, we had a little bit of a bottle (feeding time is still rough - more to come on that later).  Then around 9am, she fell asleep for a short nap.  At 10am, we were off to the clinic for a check-up.  Doctor Boris was our pediatrician.  He was very nice and said Audrey looked to be in good shape.  Teething and chest congestion but overall healthy.  Then, back to the apartment for about an hour of paperwork with Tanya.

Around 4:30, Audrey and I headed out for a walk around Old Arbat street.  I was starving as I had not really eaten anything today except for Pringles.  Old Arbat is all souvenirs and little restaurants (many American - like Wendy's, Subway, Sbarro, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Cinnabon, Hard Rock Cafe and McDonalds).  I have to admit, I broke down and went to McDonalds.  It was fast, easy and cheap.  I wasn't sure how Audrey would be dining out so I didn't want to risk Hard Rock or Chili's just yet - maybe tomorrow.  Any CSS families out there have some dining suggestions for me?

We have tomorrow all to ourselves.  Lots of time to practice sitting and her army crawl and so many other things.  I hope the weather is relatively nice so we can go for a couple of short walks too.

Okay - as for eating.  She absolutely will not eat from a spoon - not apples, not peaches, not cereal, not baby yogurt.  Nothing.   She also hasn't been eating more then 2-3 oz from the bottle during a sitting either.  This afternoon though she did great and ate 5 whole oz.  We celebrated.  Then, this evening, I tried putting a bit of rice cereal and pureed apples in her formula which seemed to work.  She ate about 4oz.  We will keep at it.  Her little world has been rocked in the past 24hrs.  As long as she isn't hungry, eating well will come, right?  Anybody have any advice for me?

I am being so bad with pictures this trip.  Sorry!  Here are a couple from today.

Sweet Audrey napping this afternoon

Just hanging on the couch this afternoon

She gets really attentive when she hears Russian on the TV!  

More to come tomorrow.  Thanks for following along.  Please - if you have any advice on how to best feed Audrey or suggestions for fun restaurants in the New/Old Arbat area, comment here on my blog or shoot me an email.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Dec 5 - Gotcha Day!

I am so excited to introduce all of you to my daughter - Audrey Darina Reardon, born January 20, 2011 as Darina Ruslanova Sheremetova.  Gotcha sweet girl!

Audrey all bundled up at the Passport office

Audrey and I waiting for the doctor at the baby hospital

Audrey is resting quietly now in her pack n play in the bedroom!  Hooray.  It was a long but wonderful day.  Svetlana, Tanya and Gregory picked me up at 10:30am after a basically sleepless night (jet lag and excitement).  We went to the baby hospital.  Audrey was in the same room, all by herself though.  She has a really bad cold and probably bronchitis.  She will be just fine but her breathing is really labored.  The doctor gave us 3 prescriptions and then we were off (unceremoniously) to the baby home. No pictures or anything.   Because she was sick, Tanya and Svetlana said it would be best for us to stay in the car while they signed the paperwork and dropped off the Gotcha Day cake and presents for the caregivers.  So no final pictures at the babyhome either.  From the babyhome, we went to pick up Audrey's passport then off to the CSS office before going back to the apartment.  What an afternoon for Audrey - about 5hrs in the car, bundled up in a huge snowsuit and hat.  She was so sweaty when I undressed her.  Her clothes and her poor little head were soaked!

She is doing just great.  Has 8 teeth - 2 more popped up on the bottom since I last saw her!  Not eating much though.  I have tried rice cereal and pureed apples so far with no luck.  She has probably had about 6-7 ounces of formula but certainly not enough.  Maybe just the excitement of the day and her illness probably doesn't help either.  Let's see what tomorrow brings from an appetite perspective.  She still isn't able to sit up but she rolls over like a champ and guess what else - she is ready to crawl.  Right now, she does the inchworm scoot!  I was totally shocked but so happy.  Is it crazy that I feel like in the 7hrs we have been together, she already seems different - more alert, more talkative, more engaged.  I am hopeful she will be a good sleeper and sleep through the night for me.

Tomorrow morning, we are going to a pediatrician at 10am to get her checked out.  That is all that is on the agenda right now.

As for her big sister - Clare and Audrey met via Skype a couple of hours ago.  Clare was so sweet and gave the computer a hug and a kiss.  What a great sissy she is already!  I am so looking forward to being home on Saturday.  I think it will be a long week.  I wish it was summer so that she and I could be outside more.  The weather actually isn't too bad - 40 and rainy today.  If it is not raining tomorrow, I am sure I will take her for a stroll around Old Arbat.

Okay - off to catch up on some work email and then maybe get some sleep myself.   For those of you that haven't had the pleasure yet - I included a few of my favorite pics from trips 1 and 2 below.  I will try to get some good shots of Audrey over the next few days around the apartment.

Gregory with a sleeping Audrey

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dec 4 - Arrived safely

I am here in my apartment on Novy Arbat.  Uneventful trip.  The flight landed almost an hour early although it didn't matter.  My luggage was literally the last one off the luggage belt so I was actually a bit late and Tanya had started to get worried.  I have to say that waiting around the luggage carousel for your bag to come is a stressful, anxiety-ridden process isn't it?  You wait, staring expectantly at each new bag that rounds the corner.  Then your stomach drops each time you realize it isn't yours... and the horror when you think the last bag has come because there is a pause in the luggage flow.  Then the extreme joy when you realize - oh good - here come more bags!  Stress!  Am I the only one?  Fess up, people - you have all felt that!  Well, last bag or not - at least my luggage came and I was off through customs to meet Tanya for the last time.

After picking me up, we were off to the apartment to drop off all of my things and then hit the local grocery store.  For those of you that followed along with Clare's adoption, I had a similar experience again.  I am not much of a cook at home so asking me to shop internationally is just a huge joke.  I picked up Frosted Flakes, 2 bananas, some Brie, a package of hot dogs, some weird salami that Tanya said would be just delicious and some ketchup and bread.  UGH!  I need to lose about 10lbs so maybe this will help.

As for what happens next - Tanya, Svetlana and Gregory will be here at 10:30am to take me to Audrey.  We will be picking her up from the baby hospital.  She was never released on Thanksgiving as they had hoped.  She has been in there almost a month now.  I don't know why she is still there - if she has gotten worse, if something else is ailing her but I will know soon enough.  On the way, we will stop and pick up 2 cakes for the Gotcha Day celebration - one to leave at the hospital and one to leave at the babyhome.  All of my thank you gifts are ready, my diaper bag is packed, now I just need Sweet Audrey!   I wonder if she will do well riding in the car.  Tanya told me to bring some plastic bags, just in case she doesn't.  I know that feeling all too well and will take my Bonine in the morning.  Let's hope both Reardon girls don't get carsick tomorrow!  Wouldn't that be a treat?  Certainly a special Gotcha Day memory.

Okay - that is all for now.  I will post again on Monday once Audrey is home at the apartment with me.  Later.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dec 3 - Off for trip 3

It is finally here.  I am off to Moscow for the final trip today.  Monday will be my Gotcha Day with Audrey.  These past 20 or so months have been such a roller coaster of emotions.  The highs of paperwork progress or a referral.  The lows of the setbacks and the lost referrals. The stress of imagining being a single mom of two.  The wonder when I realized how many people I have in my life who love and support me.  The excitement of the future, watching my 2 girls become more than sisters - but maybe best friends.

Now that the day is here - most of that has faded away. Now I really just feel ready.  Everything just feels right and natural.  I had an interesting discussion the other day with a friend as he was commenting on adoption and how special it is what I am doing.  I shared with him that adoption, for me, is no different than becoming a biological parent.  No more or less special.    Obviously the process is VERY different but the feelings are the same.  He said but "you are going to love a child unconditionally that you didn't create" and that is when it hit me - no, I didn't create her but God certainly created her for me.  She has always been my daughter.  We just didn't know each other yet.  Just as each biological child is created uniquely for his/her parents, each adopted child is created uniquely for those that wait in love to be brought to their son or daughter.  I am ready to bring Audrey home where she belongs to her big sister, to Ginger, our puppy, and to me, the mom who has loved her in my heart long before I knew her name or saw her sweet face.   I don't know if any of that makes sense but that is the way I feel at 5:18am on the day I leave to begin my life as a family now of 3!

I will write more from Moscow and guess what - I will post pictures of Miss Audrey on Monday when I bring her home to our apartment there.

A final note of thanks to all of my friends and family who have been with me through this entire journey.  You have all given me just what I needed whenever I needed it - support, encouragement, laughter, love.   I am so lucky to finally have Audrey in my life.  Even more - Audrey, Clare and I as a family are lucky to have all of you!  

To the Robertsons, the Hutchins, Aunt Cindy, the McDonalds, and the DG Family Center staff (especially Heather and Kimberly - the Red Lobsters) - thank you for watching Clare when I have been away.  Thank you for loving her like part of your family and keeping her safe and happy.  You will never know what a precious gift that was for me to be able to travel to Audrey, knowing that Clare was in such a good place.

To my family - thank you for the constant love and support during this process.  I have the courage to do this because of all of you.  I want Clare to have a sister because of my amazing brothers and the bond we have and the fun we have had and the laughter we have shared.  Families come in all shapes and sizes and all have their own challenges - I am so blessed to have mine because it has made me the person I am today.

To my best friends - Kim and Kate...  even though the miles and sometimes even life, separate us - I know you are always there for me.  We have become mothers together.  When I am feeling crazy and ready to receive the lifetime achievement award for "Worst Mom Ever" - you make me laugh and remind me that every mom, on any given day, is in the running for that distinction.

To my CSS family, Carol, Tanya, Svetlana, Irina, Alexander, Gregory - I don't have words for this group.  What do you say to people who have brought you to your daughter?   Can I ever thank them enough?  The answer is simply no but this group of people will always have a place in my heart.  As Audrey grows, I will share her story and the role each of these amazing people played to bring us together.

To my adoptive family friends who I have met along the way - thanks for understanding!  It is great to have a group of people who have walked this journey too, who not only care but really understand.  Your advice, your family stories, and your support have helped me through!

To anyone following along who feels as if you didn't make it into one of my thank you buckets yet - well, thank you too!   Life is certainly about the relationships we build and the lives we touch.  Thank you for following along and being a part of my journey.

Okay - enough emotional blogging babble.  I have to brush my teeth and head to the airport to go get my little girl!  I will blog again from Moscow!

Big sister Clare with her new hat and mittens at school this week