Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missing our Boy!!!!

So, we have been home from Moscow now for a little over two weeks but it feels like it's been two years. Seriously, I knew it would be hard to meet our son, fall so in love with him, and then have to leave him there.. but I didn't realize how much I'd actually hurt missing him. Every night before bed, I watch a couple of the videos we took of him. Just hearing his laugh and seeing his smile warms my heart. I just can't, can't wait to be back and to hold him again. : (  We haven't got our court date yet, and I'm not really sure when we will receive it. We were told from our agency that it could take several weeks before we know when we go back. Due to the holiday break.. we are hoping that we'll know in the next couple weeks before they close for their break. Then at least we'll have a few weeks to get our travel plans ready! We still are going back and forth between whether or not we want to do one long trip or two. Originally we were planning on going three times over, but now, after Trip 1, I am leaning towards just staying in Moscow for the time between court and gotcha day. Truth is it will come down to finances and how many days it will be. I just want to get back and see him!!

I also can't help being a bit jealous of some of my blogger friends out there that traveled right before us, or when we did, but are already back in Russia or are heading back soon and will have their little one home for Christmas. (Please know, I am so happy for you all and think it's so wonderful!!! Just wish we were ALSO going to be going back before the holiday!) Overall, I shouldn't complain and know that I should just be so thankful. We have been given this wonderful gift. Our beautiful, perfect, precious son! I have a great husband and now we are parents and it is a blessing and I am so grateful!!! However it's hard when you miss him so much, when we are halfway around the world from him... constantly thinking about him and wondering what he's doing!! Is he sleeping right now? Laughing? Eating? Playing? Is he okay? sick? sad? happy? Does he remember us? Does he know we are coming back for him? Does he feel how much we love him!!?? 

In some ways it's like a cruel joke.. or some sort of test. We have been waiting so long to be parents, and now we are but we can't be with our son. Ugh, it's so frustrating sometimes. I just miss him and want him home!!! I know that January will be here before we know it, and then this will all be a distant memory as we'll have Brayden home with us FOREVER so soon! I guess these are our labor pains... just a different kind. : ) 

Okay, so now that I've got that out.. on to getting ready for his arrival!! Well, My family & friends threw me a baby shower on Saturday, November 19th. (Brayden's 10 month birthday!) It was so amazing and we got so much stuff that we needed for Brayden!!! Another cool thing that they did, is that every guest brought a favorite childhood book to build his library!! We got some fantastic books and all of them were inscribed with special messages to Brayden!! It was such a wonderful thing they did!!! I was truly so overwhelmed by all the generosity and by how excited our family and friends are for us!! Everyone can't wait to meet him and for him to come home!!

My Baby Shower for Brayden! 

Adorable favors that my friend Mo made!!! : ) 

Mothers and Daughters & The Proud Nana in the middle! 

The girls!! 

Along with the shower, we have finished painting his room, ordered his nursery furniture, and the bedding is all here!!! Pictures to come once we get the furniture and his room all set up!!! Other than getting the room ready, we (well, mostly me) have been shopping like crazy! I literally buy something for him everyday!!! I am in complete nesting mode!! Having so much fun but also feeling a bit like I can't stop!! : ) Another reason I need him home soon!!  : ) 

I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!! We have so much to be thankful for this year and just can't wait until the holiday season next year when Brayden will be celebrating with us at home!!!! Fingers crossed we get a court date soon!!!! : ) 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trip 1- Our Second Day with Our Little Guy!

So we arrived at the baby home at 10 am on Friday for our 1st of 2 visits we would have that day! Olga wasn't with us today, but our driver came in with us and brought us up into the same play room we were in the day before. We waited just a few minutes before the caretaker brought him in to us! We were both just so excited to see him again! When he saw us, his whole face light up and a huge smile came across his face! He remembered us and was so happy to see us! He put his arms right out towards me, and almost jumped in my arms!! Our driver stayed for a few minutes with us and just took some pictures and videos of the 3 of us as we interacted. Again, B. was happy and smiling and cooing! He loved having all this individual attention and was just so cuddly and snugly with both of us! During our morning visit, he was really active. While he liked to spend a lot of time on our laps or being held, we were able to put him on the rug with the toys we brought, and get down on the floor with him and play! Just like yesterday our time with him went by so quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for them to take him for lunch and a nap. 

Randy and I went outside to meet our driver who was waiting in the car. He took us to a restaurant for lunch that was right around the corner from the baby home. We all ate and talked and just hung out there until it was finally almost 2:00 pm and time to go back for our final visit with him before we had to leave the next morning. 

Just like this morning, B.'s face lit up again, and he had a big smile when they brought him in to us. While it warmed my heart, and made me feel so great to see how happy he was with us, it also made me so sad to think that after today, he wouldn't be brought in to us for 2 months!! We were told by both our agency and by O. the day before, that our court date wouldn't be until mid-late January. Moscow always had about an 8 week wait for a court date, and since B. had his 1st birthday on January 19th, they thought we'd be going back for court that week. It seemed like so, so far away! 

I put the thought out of my head and just enjoyed our last few hours with him. He was not as active as he was earlier, and was much more content to just cuddle and be held by the two of us. He loved to snuggle with both of us and was just so interactive and affectionate. Every time I kissed him he'd smile and giggle and it just already felt so natural and that we were all meant to be a family. It was the best feeling. As I felt the day before, being with him made all the other "stuff" so worth while. It was so surreal! Here we were.. 1/2 way around the world, with our son. There was a time when we wondered if we'd ever be parents, and now..we were. 

Saying goodbye to him was tough. When they came in to get him at 4:00 pm part of me wanted to yell out, "no! Don't take him. Please. Not yet!!" but we also knew that he was in good hands here, and that the caretakers and nurses were taken such good care of him! It was only a few more months and then we'd be back to get him. To take him home, forever! 

Now, we have been home a few days and I think about him all the time. In just two days, and four visits, I had fallen so madly in love with our child. My husband has as well! We watch our videos of us with him, and look at the slide show of pictures on the computer with tears in our eyes. We both miss him so much already and just hope and pray that he'll remember us and that he knows that we are coming back to get him soon and to take him home! 

Trip 1 and then FINALLY meeting our son!!!

Well we arrived home on Saturday and I'm just finally getting a chance to write about our trip! What a whirlwind week we have had with the best of it coming at the end when we finally got to spend the last two days with our son!! It was a crazy week, with lots of ups and downs, but all turned out so wonderful that it's almost like I forget the start to the week. (almost!) Well, I guess it's best to probably start at the beginning! I figured telling our story in one post, was eaier than splitting it into 3 shorter ones... so here it goes!

Our flight for Moscow left Boston at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday the 5th and after 13 hours of travel... we arrived in Russia at 6:00 am. on Sunday morning! Our driver met us at the airport and took us to our hotel. He was really nice and told us that he'd be with us for the week. He also informed us that Olga, our coordinator, would be calling us later that night with our plan for Monday. He said  he'd be by the next day to pick us up for our Ministry appointment. Again he told us that she would tell us what times to be ready.

After we checked in we went right to our room and crashed for 7 hours!! While it was morning there, for us it was night still and we were both exhausted! We got up at 2:30 in the afternoon, groggy and STARVING, so decided to check out the hotel and find some food! (By the way, finding food was not an easy task for a non-meat eater who is lactose intolerant, oh and also allergic to wheat and egg!) We ended up at a cafe in the lobby where I was able to get some vegetable rice and Randy was able to get a fish stew he liked. It was about that time that the actual "culture shock" hit us. We were not in Massachusetts anymore for sure! Of course there was the language barriers, but there was also the fact that as we looked around we were definitly the only Amercians, and we stook out like sore thumbs! We did our best to fumble through the menu and to order, to make sure we left the right rubles and to figure out the correct tip! We felt a bit like ameaturs and realized that we hadn't really prepared ourselves very well! The hotel we stayed at in Moscow was called the Cosmos. We ended up booking there as they were running a huge discount on the internet and it was half the price of the international hotels we had been looking at! We checked out the website and it seemed nice. We also thought that since we'd have some "down" time this week before we'd be able to get into the baby home to meet B., it was great that the hotel had several restaurants, shops etc.
However what we hadn't expected is that in a 25 floor hotel, we'd be the ONLY Americans and that barely anyone we came into contact with (including the staff) spoke any English at all!

Needless to say, as the days went by we got much more comfortable with our cultural differences, and got much more confident with our ordering and with the money! We were able to hold our own, even without our driver/translator with us!! : )

So later Sunday night, we got our call from our coordinator and she informed us that she would meet us at our hotel at 1:30 Monday to prepare us for our meeting with the Ministry. She also told us that our driver, would be picking us up at 3:15 as our appt. was at 4:30 pm.

Olga met us at the cafe in our hotel lobby with her daughter, Anna. The two of them work together with our agency and they were both so nice! It was nice to have conversation with other people since Randy and I had only been able to talk to each other for the last 2 days! We both cracked up though when Olga asked us, "Why did you choose this hotel?" She also told us that in 20 years of doing this work, we were her only couple who stayed at the Cosmo! Whoops! Well, there show's the power of the internet I guess! Our driver also told us that he had never been to this hotel before either! Ha!

We then began discussing our week and how it would all work. Our referral was a bit different than most as Randy and I were heading to the Ministry to present our own case with just our interpretor with us. She explained, as our agency had, that we were a unique case since our boy was still so young! (still only 9 months old.) She said that it would be a formality, they may ask us some questions, and then we'd leave and wait to hear when our next appt would be, but she thought it would be late Wednesday afternoon or early on Thursday. This would be when we'd recieve the "official" referral of our son from the Ministry and be invited to go visit him! Finally!!! This also meant we had to find things to keep ourselves busy on Tuesday and Wednesday, since we were told we'd get 2 days (Thursday/Friday) to visit him in the baby home. : (

We were both a bit nervous about our appt. since we weren't really sure what to expect or what would happen. Our driver was there on time and it took us about an hour or so in traffic to get to the Ministry. We were called in to our appt. at about 4:45 pm and I don't know how else to describe our meeting except tense and nerve wracking! Randy and I sat quietly why the two officials talked in Russian with our driver. (who was also our translator.) At one point one of the women seemed to get upset about something in our documents and was talking fast and all we could understand was the name of our agency and then the rest was all in Russian and the conversation was not being translated for us at this point at all!

Okay, I may not speak Russian, and I understand that there are differences in our cultures, however, irritation and aggrevation looks the same in any language, and she was not happy!!
Randy and I were so scared. I felt like I was going to cry, as I had no idea what was going on, and this whole conversation was happening in front of us that we couldn't understand! We were kicking each other under the table and trying our best to seem calm and composed, however inside I was dying. Then, our driver just stood up, nodded at us that we were done, and we just walked out of the room. Randy and I both smiled at the women and said thank you. One of them smiled at us, which made me feel a bit better but I was still so confused what had just happened!

We asked our driver if everything was okay and that we felt that the officials seemed upset. He just said they were confused why we were sent there as independents when we were working with an accredited agency and that O. would explain it all to us when she called later... and that was it. Okay, so have to say, this did not help us to feel like all was okay. We felt isolated, scared, and confused!

When we got back to the hotel that night, we hoped that we'd hear from O. that night but we didn't. The next day was Tuesday and we had planned for our driver to pick us up to go do some sight seeing and take us to Red square and the Kremlin. I have to admit, that I am glad we had the opportunity to do this while in Moscow, and it was pretty cool. Also the museums and the GUM mall, definitely kept our minds distracted as we waited to hear something! Truth was at this point, we weren't even convinced that we were definitly going to meet our son! It was scary and stressful to say the least!

It began to pour around 3:30 pm so we decided to call it a day, and our driver then took us to the Hard Rock Cafe for a late lunch/early dinner. It was so yummy!! And due to the fact that I had truly only eaten rice for 2 days, we ate like we had never had food before in our lives! I was able to get a salad with vegetables, and a piece of chicken and best of all... french fries! We were happy and our outlook did improve with full bellies!!!

That night when we got back to the hotel, we did hear from O. and she informed us that everything was a go, all the problems were solved, and we would be picked up the following afternoon to go to a notary to sign another application for the ministry and we'd be going back on Thursday am and then off to the baby home! Relief. And more importantly, hope and excitement again!

Our next appointment at the ministry was much easierand much lighter than the one on Monday! One of the two officials was the woman from our first visit who had seemed a bit upset. Today though, she seemed warmer, and as she slid the paper over to us, and I saw my son's face, I was overcome with relief and just joy. My eyes filled up as our driver/translator began to provide us with the referral information. (Most of which we already knew.) I was just so happy then. Okay, this was going to happen. It was really him and we were on our way to go meet him!!!!
The meeting itself couldn't have been more than 10 minutes. Randy and I were both emotional, and we thanked the two officials again, this time we got smiles and nods and we were off to the baby home!!! The drive from the ministry to the baby home was pretty quick, thankfully. At this point I was about to jump out of my skin! I was so excited!! I was sitting in the back seat of the car and wanted to yell out the window! I wished my phone worked because I just wanted to call or text someone my good news!

O. was waiting for us when we arrived at the baby home and she gave us both a hug and congratulated us. It now felt so real. She then told us that we were going to go right upstairs to meet our baby before they had to take him for lunch and nap! The baby home was bright, well kept, and much nicer than Randy & I had pictured in our minds. We were pleasantly surprised and both felt really comfortable here!

O. waited in the playroom with us. When the caretaker brought him in the room, my first thought was how little and how precious he was. O. told me to take him, and explained that the babies sometimes were afraid of men since they didn't see many in the orphange. The second they put him in my arms, it was love! He looked right up at me with his big brown eyes and smiled. My heart melted and never in my life had I felt so sure that I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I was doing. He was perfect!

He warmed right up to Randy and was not afraid of him at all! He was smiling and giggling at him, and within 10 minutes I was able to hand him to Randy without a problem. The two of us just took turns holding him and playing with him and we could not get enough of him! O.  and the caretaker had left right after they handed him to me, and we were able to just enjoy our visit with him as a family. It was wonderful and worth all the stress, fear, and confusion we felt earlier in the week! It felt like we had only been with him for 5 minutes, not 45, when O. came back in and told us the director needed to speak with us now, and that B. would be eating lunch. My favorite part of the day with him was when the caretaker came to take him for lunch and when she reached for him, he turned into me like he didn't want to leave us! We met with the director for about 20 minutes and got a few more details about the biological mom and the very limited family history that was provided. We were also told all the results from his exam with the physican on November 1st. Everything came back normal and he was very healthy! We were suprised to learn though that he was eating with a spoon and could drink out of a cup! What!! He's 9 months old!! (He will have sippy cups with us!) Day one with our little guy was wonderful and when we had to leave him that afternoon we couldn't wait to get back there Friday morning to see him again!