Saturday, December 16

Celebrating Three Years...Part Two

On Thursday night we went out for pizza to celebrate Emily’s Family Day – yes, pizza. I asked her if she wanted pizza (our normal Thursday night out) or Chinese food. She chose pizza, but was most interested in getting back home for the pink frosted cupcakes with sprinkles.

We sang “Happy Family Day to you…” to the tune of Happy Birthday and she blew out a candle. Then, she opened a gift that we bought while we were in China three years ago – a Hello Kitty utensil set with a fork, a spoon and pink chopsticks. I had to quickly wash the spoon so she could use it! This was the first year that we gave her one of the many gifts that we purchased on our two trips. We chose not to give her gifts to celebrate her first and second year because she didn’t understand what family day really meant. After we finished our cupcakes, we watched the video of the day that we held Emily for the first time.

Here is part two of the story of our journey to parenthood…

Our Introduction to Parenthood

Did we sleep? Of course not! When our daughter slept, we were either trying to get organized for the next round of feeding/changing/touring/paperwork or we were hovering over the crib marveling at this child who they were going to let us take home. Several times during our two weeks in China, we would become giddy with the thought that this little girl was truly ours. She was going to call us Mommy and Daddy.

We were thrust into parenthood before we had time to catch our breath. There wasn’t a nurse on call who could help with feeding or take her to the nursery so we could get some rest or clean up messes. Our first morning as a family, we were enjoying breakfast in the hotel dining room when Emily suddenly started vomiting. Without even thinking about what I was doing, I put my hand out and caught her vomit before it hit her or the floor. That was just the first of three public vomiting episodes during our trip! Several families in our travel group dubbed me a five star Mommy for my quick reflexes and instinct!

During the next 11 days, we got to know each other. We may have made a few mistakes during our first few days as new parents, but we’re not quite sure. If we did, it doesn’t seem to have had any effect on our daughter. She quickly and whole-heartedly attached to me and wanted nothing to do with her Daddy while we were in China. Thankfully, we talked about the possibility of her attaching to one of us and not the other. However, talking about it didn’t prepare me for the physical toll that it would take on my body. Several nights, I would wake with a start because my arms would start twitching and I felt like I still had Emily in my arms. We took all our cues from Emily and slowly introduced her to the stroller, which she would eventually ride and sleep in. It was impossible to try to get on any type of schedule while in China. Again, we took our cues from Emily. We fed her as close as possible to the schedule provided by the orphanage, but would feed her more when she wanted more. She slept while we were on the go, usually with her head on my chest while we rode on the bus. We put her down every night at the time indicated by the orphanage; however, she didn’t sleep the 12 hours that they said she slept each night. We were usually up two to three times every night for a feeding, but she would go right back to sleep once her belly was full.

Our First Crisis

Emily had a cold when she came to us. It quickly moved to her chest and she developed a horrible cough. On our third night together, she started coughing so hard that she threw up – all over herself and all over me. It was close to 2:00 in the morning, by the time we got everything cleaned up and then, she just lay in my arms crying and whimpering. I have never felt so helpless in all my life, which made me start to cry. Daddy came to the rescue and called our pediatrician back in the U.S. Thankfully, we caught them just before they left for lunch. Our pediatrician was wonderful. She listened to Emily coughing over the phone and suggested that we start her right away on the antibiotic that we took with us. So, there we were in the wee hours of the morning, mixing the powdered antibiotic with bottled water. We laugh when we talk about it now because we had to mix the powder with 50 ml of water and we only had a 3 ml dropper to measure the water. The two of us sat there counting out loud together. Within 24 hours of starting Emily on the antibiotic, she was doing much better. I really appreciate it now when Emily gets sick and I can make an appointment to see the pediatrician within a few hours.


As we watched the video on Thursday night, we marveled at how tiny Emily was when we first met her. She had chubby cheeks that were deceiving because the rest of her was so small...only 15 lbs. at 11-1/2 months. Although she is still quite petite, she has grown so much in the past three years...and so have we. We love you Boo!

Coming next: The final installments…Being an American in China with a Chinese Baby and Coming Home.