My life got flip-turned upside down…
So, I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there…
Picking up where Chapter 7a left off; Friday afternoon arrived . . .
The three of us (Nic, Whitney, and I) took the half hour drive to Calibishie to pick up the boys. The most interesting thing we noticed upon arrival was that 13-month-old Jonathan was walking around the yard with a t-shirt wrapped around him in a MacGyver sort of way to serve as a diaper. (Remember the last blog noting how very expensive diapers are in Dominica?) We chatted with Stella briefly, letting her know when we’d bring Miguel and Jonathan back home. She did have a bag of clothes packed for them, but she didn’t give us any of the helpful hints we were hoping for—such as their food preferences, bedtimes, naptimes—anything. Her habit of not communicating is something we became painfully aware of during our year of working with her. She offers very little information and is quite difficult to talk to. Therefore, it only took several minutes to reach that oh-so-awkward point where nothing more can be thought of to say. We were also driven quickly out of their yard by enormous black ants that would torment us with their stinging bites every time we visited. Just as quickly as we came, we drove away from their little home on the hillside—still feeling a bit clueless about the precious boys who now sat next to us in the car. As we drove away, neither of them cried, and we counted that as a good start!
For our very first evening together, we decided to keep it simple: dinner, baths, movie. Thankfully, one of our fears was conquered at dinner when Jonathan happily downed a bottle of formula! Score! We would not starve the child entrusted to our keeping! We then received a big surprise when Miguel looked at his bubble bath with awe. Not only had he never had a bubble bath, he had never taken a bath in a big indoor tub, or taken a warm bath. At his home in Calibishie, they didn’t have indoor plumbing; they had an outhouse in the back and used a wooden tub in the yard for bathing. It was heartwarming and truly amazing to see him enjoying himself so much. For our first several visits, bath time was Miguel’s most anticipated part of the weekend.
After letting him play in the tub for so long, we weren’t ready to start the movie until 8:45. Ending the evening at a time appropriate for a 1 and 6 year old took us a long time to conquer! Nic and I have always liked staying up late, and we almost always ate dinner after 8 or 9. We couldn’t believe how excessively early we had to start an evening’s activities if we wanted to finish a movie with the kids by 9! For months, Miguel wouldn’t make it to bed until 10:30 on our weekend visits! Don’t worry—we’ve gotten better, and he is no longer sleep deprived. J So, at 8:45 the 5 of us settled in to watch the Disney classic, Pete’s Dragon. Miguel was enthralled the entire time! He hadn’t had many opportunities to watch movies, so though it didn’t end until after 10, he had no trouble staying awake. When the happy ending closed out the movie, I looked over to find him smiling. As soon as the credits began to roll, he excitedly said, “Another one?!”
As for little Jonathan, he fell asleep in my arms shortly after the movie began. I could have put him into the pack and play, but I could not resist cradling him until my arms began to ache. Being without children for so many years, I just couldn’t believe I was finally holding a baby that would soon become my baby. I also couldn’t believe how utterly wonderful I found it to be. Holding him close and looking down at his peaceful face simply took my breath away. I was actually rather surprised at how enthralled I was. I later realized what was beginning to happen in that instant. This was the very first of many moments that would follow—moments in which a new part of me blossomed and I experienced something I had never felt before; I was discovering what it felt like to love as a mother. This beautiful and blessed moment brought the perfect ending to our first evening together.
Though nothing that followed during the weekend could ever compare to rocking little Jonathan to sleep for the first time, I’ll share some highlights—and some great pictures!
Taking care of Jonathan was truly so easy—we were blown away. He was quiet and docile all the time. Not only did he not cry, he hardly made any sound. He wasn’t interested in exploring, walking around, or playing. Instead, he made it known that he preferred being held. In fact, letting us know that he wanted to be picked up was pretty much the only time he did make noise—and we were more than happy to meet his demands. Between Nic, Whitney, and myself, someone was always ready and willing (more like overjoyed and thrilled) to hold the little guy. However, as the three pics of us above show, his excitement level for pic-posing came nowhere near ours. You’ll also notice his deep affection for his thumb.
Jonathan was also our sleeping angel. During his two evenings at our home, he did wake up about four times each night, but easily went back to sleep after a bottle or some rocking. For this, we counted ourselves extremely fortunate! We were certainly not expecting him to sleep so well through his first nights away from home. Furthermore, during the day we didn’t have to allot a nap time for him, because he fell asleep in any location, at any time of day. He would drift off to sleep in typical settings, like the stroller or in my lap at church, but he’d also fall asleep in unexpected scenarios—like covered in salt water and sand at the beach. His most unusual sleeping situation was in my arms while we were in the ocean! As I stood there with him, trailing his feet in the Caribbean Sea, he didn’t seem excited or scared or even interested—he just laid his head on my shoulder and fell asleep. In these beginning stages, we simply strove to give Jonathan the few things that he really seemed to crave: comfort in physical contact and rest. In forthcoming blogs, you’ll be thrilled to learn of the personality that leapt out of this quiet little baby from a village by the sea. Even on this first weekend, we were fortunate enough to see him smile and laugh on a few occasions. I’ll admit, Nic was the first one to get a laugh out of Jonathan, which made Whitney and I pretty darn jealous! However, the green monster couldn’t last long in the face of such a beautiful smile. PICTURE BREAK!!!
The first time we saw Jonathan laugh!
Ahhh, the face of an angel.
And what about dear Miguel? Just like his brother, Miguel gave us no hint of difficult behavior, and he was very quiet. Miguel, however, was very interested in his surroundings. Everywhere we went, he spent most of his time intently observing everyone and everything. Though he was quiet, it was intriguing that he didn’t seem frightened or even nervous to be spending the weekend with us. He went along with everything we did that weekend without hesitation. He needed simple instructions on activities, like “let’s sit down and all eat dinner at the same time” or “during church just do what we do, and try to be nice and quiet”; then, he’d just join in like part of the family. Nic and I simply had a wonderful time sharing the weekend with him. We only saw him get nervous one time—and that was in a boat. While down at the beach a friend of ours offered to give us a free spin in his tour boat. At first, Miguel was pretty excited; however, as the boat gained speed the smile slid from his face. I kept encouraging him that we were fine, but I don’t think he was convinced; the instant that boat got remotely close to shore, Miguel jumped right out of that vessel and headed to shore before the rest of us had time blink.
So, we learned one thing that Miguel didn’t like, but we also discovered something that he loved . . . We tried out feeding the boys spaghetti on Sunday afternoon. It turned out that Miguel didn’t like the tomato sauce; what he did like, however, was warm bread and butter. After devouring his first piece of bread, his Caribbean accent came alive as he began to say in a low voice, “Bread and bo-daah. Bread and bo-daah. Bread and bo-daaaaaaah.” Apparently, this was his way of asking for more, but for a few seconds Whitney and I got a little creeped out by what sounded like chanting! Nic later admitted that terrible scenes from Blood Diamond played through his head every time he heard “bo-daaaaaah”.
Last, but not least, we have to relay the memorable moment when Nic, on this, our very first weekend with these two fragile boys, caused Miguel to vomit. It all began with the fact that we could hardly find any way to get either of these boys to laugh. So, while playing at the beach, Nic found that Miguel really liked it when he threw him into the air and let him splash down into the sea. After a few throws, Miguel was laughing hysterically, and Nic, not wanting this amazing breakthrough to end, continued throwing him into the water. One of the splashdowns, though, just happened to coincide with one of Miguel’s belly laughs, at which point he was submerged, swallowed a bunch of sea water, popped his head up, and promptly vomited bright blue all over. The color was less a result of the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, and more because Nic had also pumped him full of blue Powerade earlier that day.
Sunday evening we drove the boys home, clean and fed, and we couldn’t believe how well the weekend had gone. They had eaten, they had slept, no one got maimed—perhaps Nic and I could learn this parenting thing, after all! Here’s a few more pictures from our time together. Looking back at these photos, I see that we were just like brand new parents–we took a million pictures!
Wanna hear the story from the beginning?
And, my personal favorites: