For those of you who are interested, I thought I would share a bit about how our little man is doing. (I call him that - "Little Man" - a lot, and Madeline has caught on. She handed him a toy the other day and said, "Here you go, Little Man. :) )
First and foremost: He is completely healthy! We are so thankful! Our pediatrician tested him for just about everything he could be tested for, and all the results have come back negative. Praise God! We had braced ourselves, expecting that we might face some concerning health problems when we got home. As much as possible, we had been saving the money in our FSA this year "just in case." The only little hiccup is that his TB skin test was positive. This is ONLY because he received the TB vaccine while he was at the Transition Home in Ethiopia, and this causes him to have the antibody in his bloodstream. His chest x-ray is completely clear. He does NOT have tuberculosis. However, the health department doesn't care. Anyone (at least in our state) who has a positive skin test has to take medication for 9 months. So we are about a month and a half into that. If that's the worst thing that we have to face, then we will take it. Our pediatrician is re-vaccinating him for all of the standard things. He did receive some immunizations while in Ethiopia, but he recommends just starting over.
The little (big) guy is growing by leaps and bounds. In the first month that we were home he grew half an inch and gained 2 1/2 pounds! I know that is much more than that by now. He is over 25 pounds already and around the 90th percentile for his weight and moving up to around the 60th for his height. Our pediatrician gave us a pat on the back, telling us that the quick increase in height is directly linked to how much love and security he is receiving.
He got FOUR teeth all in the same week a few weeks ago. Poor little guy. It was a rough week for all of us. So he now has two on the bottom (with a third about to poke through) and four on the top. His big teeth up top make him look like a big kid!
When we picked him up from the Transition Home, he was about 9 1/2 months old and not at all mobile. He could sit up, and that was it. He wasn't at all interested in trying to go anywhere. He didn't even roll over yet. He still slept like a tiny infant, flat on his back with his arms and legs extended, never moving an inch. He was nowhere near crawling. He had no strength at all in his arms and legs. In fact, when we stood him up on our laps, holding his hands, he would start crying after a couple of minutes. He wasn't used to that, and his little legs hurt! Well, he has progressed tremendously since coming home. He started rolling over within a couple of weeks after we got back, and he was soon able to log roll to get where he wanted to go. He isn't technically crawling yet, but every day for the last week I have thought that it was going to be the big day. He is right on the verge, up on his hands and knees, rocking back and forth. He manages to scoot from one place to another, and he is very motivated now. He gets so frustrated when he can't reach whatever it is that he wants.
He is saying quite a few words already. I had expected that he would take a little bit longer to begin to catch on to our language since the sounds are so different from Amharic, but that hasn't been the case at all. He started learning new words right away. He can say (or at least tries to say) Dada, Mama, bye bye, baba (bottle), kitty, all done, and bread (his favorite food). I have tried teaching him a few signs. He understands what they mean, but he doesn't attempt to do them at all. But if he chooses to learn the words instead, that is even better. He waves when you say "bye bye" and claps when you say "yea!" He seems just like a healthy, normal almost one-year-old.
Benjamin is a GREAT sleeper. WHAT A BLESSING. I do not take this for granted at all. Since getting over jet lag (it took about two weeks for him to fully adjust), he has slept through the night every single night. Madeline wasn't even doing that yet at this age! We have gradually worked on adjusting his schedule to fit better with the rhythm of our family life. Although it took a while, his schedule works out great for everyone now. At first he was an early riser - 5:45 or so most mornings - and he preferred to go to bed at 7 pm or so. Normal for babies, I know, but really hard on mama... Now he goes to bed at 8 pm, and he gets up at 7 am or so. He naps twice a day for 1 1/2 hours or so each time, and his afternoon nap is at the same time as Madeline's. That is HUGE for me.
Our Benjamin is a passionate little guy. That is something we are having to get used to around here... We are a mild mannered family, and we are used to having things at least somewhat calm and quiet most of the time. Well, B isn't into "calm and quiet." The boy is a screamer. He screams when he is happy, when he is sad, when he is mad. He loves to hear himself, and he loves noise! And boy oh boy, does he have a temper. He arches that little back and throws himself backward when things don't go his way. It's amusing now, but I know that it won't be later. :) I do love to see the vibrancy of his personality. His passion is going to make all of our lives richer as he grows and develops.
He has come such a long way in the security department. We literally couldn't put him down without him falling apart at first. He would act like his little heart was breaking every time. This is normal, but it was really, really stressful. I know that many have been praying for him and for us, and I can't thank you enough. Our prayers are being answered before our eyes. The turning point was about three weeks ago: We arrived home after going to the grocery store, and I had to put him on the floor with some toys while I made three trips back to the car to bring in groceries. Normally at that point he would have been screaming his head off, both sad and mad that I would dare to put him down like that. But I made THREE TRIPS and he never cried a bit. Instead I cried, thanking God that this day had come! Since then he has continued to become more and more secure. He still prefers to stay close, but he definitely doesn't seem to think that we are leaving him forever every time we put him down for a minute.
I carry him around in a backpack with a frame on it (the kind that you use for hiking) quite a bit. Weighing in at over 25 pounds, he is way to heavy for the Baby Bjorn or a sling now. He is very content to just hang out with me, which is fun. Ethiopian women carry their babies on their backs, and I like to think that it is in his genes to be carried that way. I'm not cool enough to pull it off the way they do, tying him on with a shawl, but the backpack works for me pretty well. I can cook, run the vacuum, play with Madeline in the yard, and do lots of other things while he is there, and we are both happy. I have, however, had to start seeing my chiropractor again.... Oh well. This is a season, right?
Life is good. I have two beautiful, happy, and healthy children. I have a husband who loves me and is supportive. I have a lovely home, and I love where we live. We have so much more than we need. The Lord has blessed us. May we live to bless others.