Yesterday, after what felt like an eternity of a day- I met Chapel for the first time! We went to a civil office of some kind and had to fill out some paperwork. Then me, along with two other couples here to meet their children, took turns videoing and taking pictures while each of us met our kiddos.
When they brought Chapel out you could tell that she wasn’t sure what was going on but she didn’t have any melt downs and just kept staring at me like she was trying to figure things out. The caregiver who brought her to me wasn’t the one I’ve seen in all her pictures that she seems really attached to, so I’m not sure if there may have been meltdowns on the front part of the day or not. Chapel had had a long day of traveling to Nanning from her city by the time I met her.
She almost seemed emotionless at first or numb to the whole thing taking place. I knew she was nervous because she kept grinding her teeth which apparently is a soothing mechanism for her. There were so many little things I noticed right off that were so much like when we met my daughter Camila. Chapel did lots of the same hand behaviors like bending her first finger back, hiding with her arm, and waving her bands around. So much like what Camila did for a while. Because of all of those things- I knew she was nervous about what was going on.
But on the way back to the hotel she let me cradle her like a little baby and seemed to respond to me singing to her. She will make direct eye contact and responds strongly to physical affection. Pretty much from that point on she did not want me to put her down- and when I did lay her on the bed to change her diaper she would frown up and let out the most heart breaking whimper.
So I’ve basically fed her bottles and she wants me to hold her tight constantly- which I love, the entire time. After a little while she got very playful and if I tickled her she would laugh her head off. Like serious, deep belly laughing!! Melts my heart. It was when she was laughing intensely that we realized that chapel seems to have a slight facial paralysis on one side of her mouth and eye. We don’t know why or if that may be related to the microtia- but I feel like we will have more answers soon.
Chapel also loved it when I held her like she was in a Johnny jump up and let her jump up and down- like, she was dying with laughter. She is the SWEETEST thing ever. I am so in love.
She also knows exactly what she wants. If you keep trying to give her something she doesn’t want- she shakes her head no over and over and if you still try to give it to her (snack or toy) she rakes it off of your hand into the floor. If she sees something she does want she shakes her head yes and reaches for it.
We still aren’t sure of her hearing ability. She seemed to look at me when I sang to her and be very responsive to that. She’s undoubtedly turned toward noises like clapping in a certain direction, and other times when there’s lots of noise everywhere she doesn’t seem to respond to a louder noise in the middle of all that. Of course, the outer ear is what gives directional hearing and her ear openings are tiny. Again, we will know more soon.
Chapel is extremely tiny. I think her body size may be about like a 12 month old, but her weight is more like a nine month old. Her muscular control and ability are probably about like a nine month old too. Her sweet little head is misshapen from a great deal of lying down. She honestly seems thrilled to be interacting and being able to sit up and play.
One adorable thing she’d do still has me smiling in the middle of the night. (It’s 3AM here and I can’t sleep.) I put these bright pink pants on her that had rainbows all over them and she kept rubbing her fingers over the rainbows and looking at them over and over. Then she got on all fours, straightened out her legs and lifted her bottom up high. She looked under her legs and laughed and laughed and laughed like she just did the funniest trick ever. Precious.
What we do know- that is enough knowing for now, and forever, is that Chapel is now “home” with her forever family. She is a beloved, cherished and treasured daughter. She is absolutely beautiful and completely adored. God set her specifically, in our family- and we cannot wait to see his wonderful plans unfold in her.
Last night I swaddled her like an infant and was able to rock her to sleep. Her big black eyes will look straight into mine and seem to be soaking up every ounce of affection like its the greatest thing in the world. In that moment I just felt so honored that God would allow me the joy of walking this journey. I’ve never done anything to deserve this privelige yet I’ve been able to witness this miraculous unfolding. There’s just no words.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us. We feel it and are so grateful! Thank you!
(once again I can’t get photos to load! Will try again later!)