Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pictures of the Beauty Queen

Ruthlande spent the day yesterday (and last night) with a friend named Ericka who we met through COTP. You can see some cute pictures of Ruthlande on her blog at Ruthlande had a great time and Ericka's son, Brendan, absolutely fell in love with her. Apparently, he doted on her completely. While Ruthlande was at Ericka's house, the rest of us went to Great America to celebrate Jaden's birthday (which is on Monday). We had so much fun! Jaden, Scott and I went on the Demon three times (the last time, we sat in the front - by Jaden's request). The last time, Jaden decided he'd had enough, though. He said, "I'm so happy when it slows down and stops because I hate being corkscrewed. It broke the bones in my back!" Of course, when we tried to say that maybe we shouldn't go on the Demon next time, he said, "No, but I love it!" Guess that's what roller coasters are all about!

So, today, we went to Flash Portrait Studio to get pictures taken of the kids. I really wanted to get a good picture of Ruthlande to send home with her - I'm sure her mom won't ever have a chance to get a professional portrait of her. Of course, once we got there, she absolutely refused to smile. She had been smiling and laughing ever since we picked her up from Ericka (and she was just as happy after the pictures) - she was in the best mood! Until the photography studio. She, of course, didn't want me to put her down. We tried everything we could possibly think of - everything that makes her laugh hysterically at home. Nothing. The photographer mentioned that some kids can be intimidated by the lights. When I looked at them, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like the type of circular lights they had in the hospital. No wonder she was scared! We finally had to give up on the idea of getting Ruthlande to smile and just be satisfied with the fact that she no longer looked sad or worried. The photographer was so nice, though. She spent a whole hour with us, trying to get a great shot. We did actually end up with the really sweet picture that you see above (obviously, this is not as high quality as the real picture). Even with only a hint of a smile, she's the prettiest baby girl around!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Changed Girl

It's been a few days since I've posted because I was attending a Noah's Ark Animal Workshop conference over the weekend! If you've never heard of Noah's Ark, we do workshops for birthday parties, day cares, etc. - the kids get to stuff the animals themselves - a lot like the places in the malls, but the parties are done on-site and the prices are more reasonable. :-) (If you want to learn more about it, go to - hey, I've gotta put in a plug, right?)

Anyway, I had a great time at the conference and I'm proud of Scott for taking care of the kids all by himself for a day (he had my mom's help the second day). Thanks, Scott!

Ruthlande is doing really well - she is generally playful and happy, which is great. She really loves it when I hold her and play with her hands or touch her nose. It's really sweet to see her smiling so much!

She does have two teeth coming in, which has made her a bit fussier - she's been waking up at 2:30 or 3:00 AM and crying. One thing I've figured out though - she's a lot fussier for me than she is for anyone else. I've noticed that if my mom is here watching her while I'm getting some things done or if Scott is watching her, she's content to sit in her chair and observe the action going on around her (or watching some TV with the kids, or playing with some toys). But, if I'M here and I try to put her in the seat, she cries and cries. She is not happy unless I'm holding her. I've gotten her to sit on the couch and play with toys for a little while (if I'm sitting next to her), but it seems that lately she won't even stay there for long without wanting me to pick her up. It breaks my heart because she holds her little arms out toward me with this pitiful look on her face, fussing and crying. So, I unfortunately, don't get much done around here. :-) Of course, I put her down sometimes anyway, but I have to do whatever I need to get done while listening to her fuss, so I probably rush through as much as I can! Oh, yes, I remember those baby years! :-)

But, in general, we're doing great around here! Ruthlande is seeming so healthy now - it's really great to see. The wound on her back has pretty much completely healed and she seems like a different girl than the poor little sweetie who we first met. I've been watching the video of Ruthlande's mama singing over her - it amazes me to look back at what she was like then and then to look at her now. Such a change!! There's nothing better!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hey, Toys ARE Fun!

Ruthlande has just been figuring out (or perhaps rediscovering) that it's fun to play with toys. It's nice to see her playing and exploring things instead of just sitting in my lap all day. The big problem is that when she's in my lap, she doesn't really seem to want to do much but lay back and relax - she won't support herself (why do that when I'll do all the work for her?) and she doesn't seem interested in the toys that I try to dangle in front of her. Sitting on her own on the floor is hard for her and she pretty much just cries. I do sit her up that way at least once or twice a day because she needs to gain strength (as per doctor's orders), but it's not terribly conducive to playing. She also doesn't seem terribly interested in toys when she's laying down (she does play a little bit, but not for long) or when she's reclining in the bouncy seat - again, maybe she feels like when she's laying back she's supposed to be relaxing. Who knows?

But, I have now found a position that seems to work for playing! If I put her in the corner of the couch, she is supported enough that she can sit up without struggling to hold on, but she still has to do some of the work herself (she holds her head up well in this position). When sitting there, she seems content to play for at least a little while. Sure, she'd probably prefer to just have me hold her all day, but we're making progress. That's all we can ask for!

Some other things we've learned about Ruthlande:

  • She loves meat! She'd rather have a hamburger or hotdog than fruits or veggies. Of course, we have to cut them up small, but she eats a lot!

  • I can sneak veggies into her diet if I cut them up small and put them into her rice. Otherwise, she won't eat them at all!

  • It's better to let her "cry it out" at bedtimes than to stay with her. Okay, I know plenty of child-rearing experts would cry foul on this one and most adoption experts would say this is all wrong (not that we're adopting Ruthlande, but I figure the situation is similar). But, it turns out that when I stay with her and try to ease her into bedtime, she'll cry really hard for an hour or more. She thinks that if I'm in the room with her, there's no good reason that she shouldn't just be sleeping on me. But, if I leave the room, she cries weakly for a few minutes and then calms down. I figured this out when I had to leave the room to take care of Jaden and Danielle at one point. It made me feel guilty at first, but I've pretty much decided that the experts aren't living here, so I'm going to do what works for us. :-)

  • She'll only drink milk with a little bit of chocolate in it. Okay, before you all say, "But the experts...!" again - I first saw this in a parenting magazine and my pediatrician actually recommended it for Jaden (who also refused plain milk). It's amazing what just a little bit of chocolate will do! The doctors and nurses at the hospital all seemed really concerned that she wasn't drinking more and this seems to be the only way to get her to do it.

  • She loves kids and dogs! Both seem to make her smile more often than anything else!

So, that's it for today. I'm sure I'll be making more Ruthlande discoveries along the way!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Files Stuck in MOI - Part 1

Lots of people ask what the status of Noah's adoption is and what the hold-up is about. This should give you an idea of why Noah is stuck in the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and why we desperately need your prayers on behalf of these children. This was written on June 3rd by an adoptive mom named Vera after her trip to the MOI last week. I've shortened it so that you can get the idea of the mess in Haiti.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Haiti trip - Ministry of the Interior - May 2007

It has been a while since I updated my blog. I came back from Haiti last week from a 10-day trip. Tamarah's finished adoption file was stuck in the Ministry of Interior (MOI) for almost three months. I had called the Director of Political Affairs' (DOPA) office in mid-April to find out my daughter's file status and was told that my dossier was okay and if I came in person, it would be signed out to me.

When I got to Haiti, I went to the MOI to see about getting Tamarah's file signed out. It took two days just to locate her file. There are three offices in MOI that deal with the adoption files.

Office #1 is the Unit Juritique. This is the "original office" where all finished adoption files went through prior to the other offices being added in January 2007. In this office, there are one or two lawyers who review the files for accuracy. The lawyer makes sure that all Haitian documents, from birth certificate to adoption decree do not have any mistakes. Once that review is done, the file used to get signed out and was ready for passports. Now, once the lawyer has reviewed the file, a letter is typed by the secretary and the file plus unsigned letter goes to Office #2.

Office # 2 is the Director of Political Affairs (DOPA) Office. This is where the letter is signed by the DOPA. According to a conversation with him, the file goes to yet another office, but I only saw three offices involved as I followed the files. Once the DOPA has signed the letter, the dossier file and letter go to Office # 3.

Office # 3 is an upstairs office in MOI. I do not know the name of that office. The director of that office goes to the DOPA (office #2) and gets files that have the signed DOPA letter. He takes the files back upstairs and then interviews one of the orphanage representatives about the adoptive parents. The orphanage worker brings copies of dossier documents, passports, driver's license, employment verficiation, homestudy report, letter from pastor, etc. for this interview. The interview is guided by a form questionaire that has to be filled out. Instead of allowing orphanages to take a form with them to fill it out, it has to be done with that director. It takes about 60 minutes to fill out one form. Once the form is filled out, the file is signed out to the orphanage and is ready to go to passports.

From my personal experience, once the file comes out of MOI, all the original documents come back to the orphanage and the papers are taken to the Immigration Office where the passport is applied for. Once the papers are submitted, the child has to go to get fingerprinted at the Office of Immigration for his/her passport. Depending if an orphanage pays for an expedited passport or not, getting the passport takes between one to four weeks.

Once the child has the passport, for a U.S. adoption, she/he can get the visa physical and once the sealed envelope with the physical is received, the application for the visa is ready and can be submitted. A child can have his/her visa phsyical started prior to the passport being issued, but has to return a second time with the actual passport to verify the identity.

At the time that I got to MOI with Mirlande (adoption facilitator's Haitian assistant), approximately 200 finished adoption files were sitting in one of the first two offices in MOI. I had been told of a family that has been waiting for nine months for their file to be signed out of MOI. Keep in mind that this was a rumor, but I knew that my file had been in MOI for three months.

What is so frustrating is that once papers are submitted to MOI for signature, the child has already been legally adopted and carries the adoptive family's last name. The child is no longer an orphaned child and has a family. However, that child cannot join his/her family until MOI has signed out the file. It really felt like our children were held hostage. At least that is how it felt to me.

The first two days, we spent in Office # 3, sitting and waiting for adoption files to come upstairs for interviews. Most adoption workers sit in Office # 3 to wait and see if any of their files are ready for interviews. They come every day, sit in a hot office and wait.

The people who work in that office are nice. One clerk was especially polite.

When I asked the director, who was not working on any files for the first two days, about the adoption files, he told me that he only works on files when "they send them." I asked him who "they" were and he would not answer that. He was polite and would laugh at me and my frustration. I asked him to please consider my position... I had been told that my file was ready if I came in person, I could get it signed out. I had a sick baby. I had to take a week off from work, pay $1,000 for an airline ticket, just to sit in a hot office and be told that maybe "they" would bring my file. He would just laugh and tell me not to be upset.

At the end of day #1, after having waited in office #1 for most of the day without seeing any adoption files worked on, Mirlande and I went downstairs to the DOPA office. It was locked. We were told that somehow the door had been locked and nobody could get into that office, not even the Director of Political Affairs. (I do not know if that was the truth, but that is what we were told and the door was obviously locked.)

At that point, I called the Haitian Ambassador in Washington D.C. and asked for help. I had had some contact with his office prior to coming to Haiti. I explained the situation to the Ambassador's secretary and gave her the necessary phone numbers in MOI.

Mirlande and I went home...I had a sick baby to tend to. The Ambassador called me back and said that he had talked with the DOPA in person and that he was told my file was ready and to come back on Tuesday (day #2).

On day #2, we went back to the office #3. Again, we sat for a long time in that hot office. We asked about my daughter's file but got no answers. We went downstairs to office #2 of DOPA and again found that office locked. So, we went to office #1. We found that my file was still in office #1 after three months! The secretary in that office had a legal pad with a list of names and Tamarah's name was on one of the pages. She confirmed that her file was in their office.

I asked about having the file sent to office #2. She was not sure about that. In the meantime, we had contacted our friend Rodon who is a "depute de la circoncription" - member of Haiti's Congress/Senate. He came to office #2 and after an explanation of what had happened, he went to office #1 and spoke with that director. The director confirmed that my file was okay and said to come back on Wednesday (day #3) to get the letter issued so it could be taken to office #2 for the DOPA to sign it.

We came back on day #3. We went to Office #2 and sat and waited for several hours. Since we did not see any "movement" for several hours, we went to office #1. We asked the secretary about the letter. The director and lawyer in that office told the secretary to finish the letter so that my file could be sent to office #2 with the DOPA. She secretary refused to type the letter. She would not do it and there was an argument between the secretary and the lawyer and director because both were directing her to do the letter. She continued to refuse.

After a while, the Director of Political Affairs (DOPA) walked passed me as he was entering his office area. When he saw me, he said some derogatory comments about me in Kreyol. He must have thought that I did not understand.

About an hour later, Mirlande was called into his office. I followed her. As the DOPA saw me, he said that he did not want me "La Blanc" in his office. I stayed on the outside of the doorway. He proceeded to scold Mirlande. He told her that he had signed 2,000 files in the past month for adoption passports. He also told her that he was upset that the Ambassador had called him. He said that I could wait all that I wanted, he was not going to sign the letter for my daughter's file.

Okay, let's do the math. Approximately 300 children are adopted to U.S. families per calendar year. I am estimating that about 100 children are adopted to Canadian families per calendar year, another 300 children to French families and maybe 100 more children to families in other countries in Europe. That adds up to approx. 800 adopted children per calendar year. I asked if the DOPA has sign for other passport permissions as well but was told that he only signs the letters for adoption passports. Considering that 200 files were waiting and had entered from January 2007 through April 2007, the math was just not adding up!

Moving on... It really concerned me that the DOPA was so angry about the Ambassador calling him. After all it had been the DOPA's office that had confirmed with me three weeks pior to day #3 that my daughter's file was ready for the letter to be signed, just to find it still sitting in office #1 in a file cabinet...three months later!

So, back to the "drawing board" - It was obvious to me that the secretary would not just disobey her boss in her office and that she was following orders from "above"... the DOPA maybe?

I contacted the Haitian Ambassador's office again, spoke with the secretary and explained what happened. Also, three moms in the U.S. were contacting the Haitian Embassy as well regarding this issue. They were waiting for their files as well. I did not dare ask for their files while I was in MOI since I did not want them to be "black listed" like my file had been. Two of the moms were able to talk with the Haitian Ambassador and relayed messages to me. He was working on it and was upset at the treatment that I had received. It seemed that instead of it being "no problem" it now seemed that it was a problem.

The good news was that by day #3, I saw people walking around in MOI with adoption files in hand. The director from office #3 came out of office #2 with about 20 files! Those files were ready for interviews and were ready to be signed out. At least there had been some effect to my efforts.

On day #4 (Thursday), we came back to the MOI and were told that my file was not ready. We were given the run-around again. We were told by some of the clerks that the DOPA was very upset that the Ambassador had called him. Again, the Ambassador was called and this time, he decided to go higher up. He contacted me and I was told that he had spoken with the Chief Cabinet Stanley Joseph (CCSJ) who is the head of MOI. He told me to go and see the CCSJ on Friday.

On day #5 (Friday), Mirlande went to office #3 and office #2 and then to office #1, found that nothing had "changed" and then called Rodon to accompany us to see the CCSJ. One thing about Rodon, he can get you into literally any office. Sure enough, he was able to get us to see CCSJ, also, it seemed that he was expecting me since he had spoke with the Ambassador.

I did not know what to expect...would I be yelled at again? Would I be told that my file would not be signed out?

I was pleasantly surprised. The CCSJ was a kind, educated, sharp and compassionate man. We explained the situation to him and he (on the spot) got up and said that he would look for my file. This was the moment to tell him about my friends' files also. One girl needs spine surgery and one boy has terrible Asthma....I was able to give him a total of seven names and file numbers.

He came back and said that it would be done. He also told me to ask all the parents to please be patient because he had just been appointed to the position and had not officially started yet. I was beginning to have hope again. He seemed very concerned for the sick children and promised that the files would be signed out as soon as possible. He told Mirlande to come back the following Tuesday for the files. I was leaving on Monday.

We left his office with a lot of cautious hope in our hearts!

However, when Mirlande went to MOI on Tuesday, nothing had been done. As a matter of fact, the DOPA waved my file in front of Mirlande and told he that it along with the other 7 would never be signed.

Mirlande called me in tears! ---- Back to the "battle stations"! ---- We called the Ambassador again. He made his calls and reported that our files would be signed and ready by the end of the week.

Finally Progress! - On Friday afternoon, two of the six files were signed out following the form interview. One of the files was mine. (PRAISE GOD!) The other four files did not get signed out because there wasn't enough time to do the form interview, but they are ready!

Mirlande is taking a few days off and will be back at MOI on Thursday for the other files. I really don't know how she does this, day after day. It is exhausting. I was exhausted! I was sad to have to leave Haiti without Tamarah, again. But now I know that it won't be long for her to get her passport and visa.

This should tell you what we're up against. I'm just praying that Noah comes home soon!


Files Stuck in MOI - Part 2

Below is a note from the main Haitian adoption Yahoo group on June 14th. A second woman is now working with officials in Haiti to try encourage the Ministry of Interior to release files. The US Embassy has also stepped in, ordering all files that DO get released to be gone through by them before the children leave the country. They are wanting to record timelines to follow this mess. I'm not sure there is much else they can do. Here is the note for the petition we have signed...

"Several families have been working behind the scences trying to get the impasse with passports and the Office of Political Affairs cleared up.

I have spoken with the Haitian Ambassador to the US, Mr. Ray Joseph many timesover the last several weeks about the problem with passports. He is not happy about the situation and has made many calls without success. Mr. Joseph has also enlisted the Chief Cabinet Minister Mr. Stanley Joseph. All efforts have not worked and it has been decided that parents need to go to the Minister of MOI for help. I have written a letter on the behalf of parents (parents who sign the letter) to the Minister of MOI pleading for help.

I will FedEx the letter on Tuesday the 19th a noon. I will also cc Ambassador Joseph and he will also send the letter to the Minister of MOI (Mr. Paul Bien-Aime) via hisown channels".In reality, only a couple of files have been released since I last posted. It seems that there is no-one who can stop this man from holding our children. "

Please pray urgently for this situation as it seems there is no end in sight for the over 200 families caught in this mess. God is bigger than this. I know that without a doubt.

Files Stuck in MOI - Part 3

Below is a quote from Vera's blog tonight. Vera is the woman who went in person three weeks ago to Haiti to plead with the MOI to let our children come home. She gives a great explanation of what is happening today with the cases in the MOI....

"Haiti Update - June 16, 2007

I am on my way to Haiti again, this time only for a few days. Both babies have been really sick. It is so difficult to be thousands of miles away from your children under normal circumstances, but it is especially difficult when they are sick. I was especially worried about Tamarah because she has sickel cell. Well, how can I say that - because Erna is only four months old. I was just as worried about her.

About three weeks ago, I had been told that my file was signed out of the Ministry of Interior, just to learn that this was not true. This short trip was planned in response to these news because I was going to get Tamarah's visa next week and bring her home with me. I was so sad to learn that her file had not been signed out of MOI, in fact, it is still in the Director of Political Affair's office.

A letter was written last week, currently on line at to petition the Minister of Interior, Mr. Bien-Aime, pleading him with him to put a stop to the Ministry of Interior's holding up of the children's passports. So far, over 200 parents have signed the letter. This is the second petition, the first was sent to the President of Haiti in May.

President Preval will be in Washington next week, asking for funding for Haiti. He wants to eradicate corruption and give Haiti a "jump start". We should definately pray for his plan to eradicate corruption, it will take God's intervention, I am certain.

When I was in Haiti, I met with the Chief Cabinet Stanley Joseph, a really nice man, however his promises did not come through for a variety of reasons. He has been told that all passport files were signed out of MOI. Well, the adoptive parents waiting for their children's passports would know about that, don't you think?

The Ambassador of Haiti to the United States, in Washington D.C., Mr. Raymond A. Joseph has tried his best to help the adoptive children passport hold up to no avail. When he meets with President Preval next week, he will give a copy of the petition letter to him as well.

I find it absolutely amazing that one person can hold up all these passports. I find it amazing that this person does not get checked on. He has made claims, including to a Haitian newspaper that published the claims, that he signed out 2,000 adoptive passport files. He has made claims that there is no waiting passport file in MOI because he is signing 100 files per day. If somebody would take the time to check on his claims...

I find it amazing that adoptive parents from all over the world have gotten together to put together this letter and to petition the different Haitian government officials. The internet is amazing. By the way....that is how we know that no 100 files per day are being signed. There were about 200 files for passports waiting inside of MOI in May, now that number is closer to 300 as adoptions have been finished and children are ready to join their families.

I hope and pray this problem will be resolved soon.

Orphanages are filled to their capacity because the children waiting for passports, children who are legally adopted, children who have parents cannot leave. As a result, children who need to be in the orphanages are sent away. What happens to those children?

Prospective adoptive parents are turning away from Haiti. They no longer want to adopt from Haiti because there seems to be so many delays and issues. Those parents could have become parents of the children that the orphanages had to turn away. It breaks my heart.

I have some photos of a morgue in Port au Prince, Haiti that has dead babies stacked like dolls on bookshelves that reach from the floor to the ceiling. Dead babies! The photos are surreal. I had contemplated posting those pictures, but I think that it would be too shocking for anybody..."

It is really so frustrating that this is happening - that Noah is legally ours, but he still can't come home to us and we have no idea when he'll be able to come home. It's hard to imagine that one person (or at least one office) could do all of this harm and it's even harder to imagine why he would want to. Please be praying that this situation is resolved soon!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

We had a really wonderful Father's Day! First of all, we went to Willow for the first time since we've had Ruthlande with us - it was nice to be back! After the service, they had what they called "Dad's Fest" - the Willow parking lot was filled with classic cars, racecars, show cars, construction equipment, fancy motorcycles, big rigs, boats... you name the vehicle and it was there. They even had a real helicopter and a monster truck! The kids (and Daddy too) had a blast checking out all of the cool rides. I really wish we would have brought the camera! Scott put Ruthlande in a front carrier and she seemed really content to be carried around that way the whole time. It worked out perfectly!

In the evening, we made homemade strawberry banana ice cream (yum!) and then we went out in the back yard and played Scott's Father's Day present - a game of lawn darts. We all had lots of fun - even Ruthlande who was just watching from her seat. Whenever someone got a point, we would all cheer and Ruthlande would laugh and clap! It was really cute - it made us cheer louder just to see her reaction!

Hope all of you had a great Father's Day too!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Doctor's Appointments

Ruthlande had two doctor's appointments this week. On Tuesday, we went to see the infectious disease doctor, who mostly just asked me questions on how Ruthlande is doing (has she had any more fevers, etc). She gave us the green-light to take Ruthlande off of the IV medication and to start giving her oral medication (we only have to give her diflucan for one more week to make sure her yeast infection is truly gone). So, the home health care nurse came by for the last time on Wednesday and removed her picc line - yay!!

Then, on Thursday, Ruthlande had an appointment with Dr. Ruge - the neurosurgeon who performed her surgery. He also gave her an all-clear as far as her health is concerned and said that she no longer has any restrictions (such as not being able to be immersed in water for a bath). The stitches are really looking great - she'll have a scar, of course, but it already looks so much better than I imagined it. She's also doing much better at holding her head up - Dr. Ruge said we just need to keep sitting her up on her own (even if she fusses about it) so that she'll continue to get stronger.

So, Ruthlande is doing well! We had a lazy day around the house today, so there's not much else to say, but I thought I would update everyone on the doctor's appointments anyway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who Needs Sleep?

Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who needs at least 8 hours of sleep per night and could really use a lot more. If I could sleep in until 9 or 10 every morning, I think I probably would - Now that I have children, I'll never be able to test that hypothesis, but I'm fairly certain I could win some sort of medal in a sleep marathon.

Last night, I got about 3 decent hours of sleep with a few dozings spattered in between. So, as you can imagine, it was not a good night for me! For some reason, Ruthlande woke up a lot last night and cried every time she woke up. I thought it might be her hair clips (the hairstylist had said that she would most likely be able to sleep with them in, but that they might bother her), so I took them out on one side of her head, but that didn't seem to help. At 2:30 AM, I was able to soothe her back to sleep by holding her hand, but then I couldn't get back to sleep myself - I ended up tossing and turning until 3:00 and then deciding to head downstairs to watch the TV for a bit. At 4:00, I decided to turn the TV off and try again to fall asleep, but within minutes Ruthlande was once again crying. I went back upstairs. She was calm while I took more barrettes out of her hair, but as soon as she realized that I was planning on going back to bed, she started wailing. Nothing Scott or I did made her happy. We tried giving her a bottle, we tried stroking her hair, we even tried putting on the video of her momma - all to no avail. Finally, at 4:45, Scott gave up - he picked her up and laid her on his chest. Still, she cried, "Mama! Mama!" The poor little thing. So, I said, "I know I'm not Mama, Sweetheart, but I hope I'll do for now." I laid her down on my chest and she immediately stopped crying. She was asleep within minutes. It was pretty sweet and it made me happy to know that I made her feel secure enough to sleep. I'm guessing she probably didn't sleep in a bed alone in Haiti.

One thing, though. Remember how I said I'm one of those people who needs a lot of sleep? It also just so happens that I'm one of those people who really can't sleep with another human being laying on me (or while I'm laying on someone else, for that matter - as much as I love him, I can't fall asleep while snuggling with Scott). So, Ruthlande slept soundly for the next 3 hours and I kind of dozed on and off, trying desperately not to feel uncomfortable and not to move very much. Obviously, this can't be our permanent sleeping arrangements - not if I want to be able to function for the next month and a half. I'm hoping last night's events will be an anomaly - a one-time occurrence - I guess we'll just have to wait and see! Tonight, Ruthlande went to bed with very little fussing, so I'm hopeful.

The rest of the day today was good - Ruthlande was smiley and cheerful, so apparently the lack of sleep hadn't bothered her too much. And even I was feeling relatively energized during the day. I did take a catnap during the kids' naptime, but that was apparently all I needed. Thank you God! Oh, and Scott and I got to go on a little excursion this evening - my mom took care of the kids while we took advantage of our Great America seasons passes (which we got before we knew anything about Ruthlande coming). I got to go on roller coasters - so all is right with the world, as they say. :-)

Well, I'm ready to crash now. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's All About the Hair

We had another good day today. It seems that Ruthlande has found her smile and is much more willing to use it! She was laughing and smiling at Jaden and Danielle again today and was REALLY having fun with Scott and I this evening when we were playing with her (while the video of her momma was playing in the background).

I'll get back to that, but first I'll cover the other exciting topic of the day - Ruthlande's hair! I found a place nearby that specializes in styling black hair and made an appointment for this evening. My attempt at braiding Ruthlande's hair had led to less than spectacular results. I just didn't know how to part it right and I didn't have the right products to make it lay down smoothly. At any rate, check out the cute pictures to see the results of Ruthlande's first trip to the hairdresser! Suzanne, who did her hair was so incredibly nice. She ended up not only doing Ruthlande's hair for free (I had been expecting to pay $35), but she also gave us some free products and the name of a book that will help me learn to style Ruthlande's hair myself. We'll just have to wait and see how successful I am. :-) Suzanne also told me to bring Ruthlande back to her right before she goes back to Haiti and she'll give her a nice style to send her home with. Isn't that awesome!? I just know her momma will love it!

So, when I got Ruthlande home, I put in the DVD of her momma singing to her, so I could get some nice smiley pictures with her new hair-do. In one of the songs, her momma, her four-year-old sister and her aunt are singing something along the lines of "Je je la la!" It sounded very fun and seemed to make Ruthlande happy, so I started kissing her little feet and saying "Je je la la!" She thought it was hysterical!! Now, mind you, I had no idea what I was saying, but she seemed to really love it, so I decided it must have been something really funny (if anyone reading this has any idea what "Je je la la" might mean in Creole, let me know in the comments). Then we moved on to something even funnier! I pretended to eat her hand and made little gobbling noises (followed by our new magic words, of course) - apparently, having your hand eaten is really just the funniest thing imaginable. Scott got in on the fun too and Ruthlande kept holding her hand up for him to gobble her some more - we managed to get it on video and it's just so cute! It made us incredibly happy to see her having so much fun. This is the Ruthlande we've been waiting to meet!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Our smiling girl!

So, yesterday was a bit of a strange day for Ruthlande. She was less fussy than usual - she was sitting in her seat without crying - usually she just wants me to hold her and isn't happy with anything else. And, I heard her laugh for the first time yesterday! Danielle was playing with her - showing her toys and laughing - and I heard Ruthlande laugh back! I was so excited. Of course, as soon as I came over to see, she looked up at me expectantly and stopped laughing, but I was just happy to have heard it!

So the laughter was exciting, but the rest of the day didn't go as well. She wouldn't really eat or drink much and she threw up a little bit at lunch. We're worried because this can be a sign that she's not tolerating her hydrocephalus. She did eat a bit better at dinner and hasn't thrown up since, though, so for now we're just watching her carefully. I know from my kids that throwing up once could mean just about anything (including that her food just didn't go down quite right). Still, it's hard not to worry!

Today, Ruthlande has seemed much better - no more throwing up and she's eating decently (still wish I could get her to drink more). But, the best news of today is that Ruthlande was laughing and smiling again! First, she smiled again at Danielle (she likes Danielle!). But, she was smiling and laughing like crazy when I put on the video of her momma and brother and sisters singing to her! I so wish that I had played it for her earlier! Just to preface this, I had shown her the picture of her momma a few times before and she started crying, so I was a bit leery of showing her the video. It felt like I was being a little cruel, showing her a picture when what she really wanted was her momma here with her. But, I decided to try again and show her the video today. I'm so glad I did! She almost immediately started to laugh and reach her arms up toward the TV. At first, I wasn't sure if she was laughing or crying, but it became apparent after a few minutes that she was definitely laughing and smiling! Just take a look at that picture! She actually tried to sit up in the seat to reach the TV! We'll definitely be playing this video every day now.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Yep, the whole family ventured out to Denny's for dinner tonight. It actually went very well. Ruthlande was a bit fussy at first, but I asked the waiter to bring us a piece of wheat bread while we waited for the food and that worked like magic! She actually finished the last bite of bread just as the food came. Of course, then she wasn't at all interested in the grilled cheese or applesauce that we got for her (both of which she ate great at the hospital). Funny thing, though - on a whim I gave her a little piece of my hamburger and she loved it! She ate a lot of that!

The rest of the day was somewhat stressful, but we hung in there. For some reason, Ruthlande seemed fussier than usual - she REALLY didn't want me to put her down. And, of course, Jaden and Danielle took full advantage of the fact that I was busy with Ruthlande - they were quite the handful today. Ruthlande took about an hour to go down for her nap. She was SO tired, but just didn't want to give in. Typical one-year-old I guess!

At any rate, when Scott got home, I was ready for a little stress-relieving dinner out with the family, so I was really glad that that's actually what it turned out to be! Plus, Ruthlande went down like an angel at bedtime - didn't make a peep! So, we ended the day on a good note! And tomorrow is another day... :-)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Trip to the Park

Today was another good day (what a difference a nap can make!). I decided it was time to venture out of the house and take a trip out to the park. I tried to put Ruthlande in the umbrella stroller at first, but it was too upright and the poor sweetie couldn't hold herself up well enough in it. So, we switched to the double stroller, which was good since Danielle wanted to ride at that point anyway. Ruthlande was not too happy to be in the stroller. She cried for about half the trip to the park, but then eventually calmed down. She was happy to sit in the stroller at the park and eat her applesauce. I tried putting her in the swing, but, as you can see from the picture, she was not thrilled with that either. She didn't warm up to the swing at all, so we gave up. When it was time to leave, she only fussed a bit when I put her back into the stroller - progress!

Bedtime is the most difficult point of the day at this point. Ruthlande doesn't like me to leave her and that seems to really intensify at bedtime. She just cries and cries. I have to sit and stroke her hair for awhile and then I can gradually move away from her crib. I have to sit on the bed until she goes to sleep or she'll cry again. I'm hoping that we'll eventually get past this, but for now I don't want to leave her - she's got to have abandonment issues! It just breaks my heart!

No Nap for Ruthlande

Ruthlande was a bit fussy today because she didn't get a nap. Poor sweetie - twice, she had just gotten to sleep when someone showed up at the door and woke her up. The second person was the home health care nurse who was here to draw some blood and change her IV dressing. Well, she did NOT like her IV dressing being changed and she cried and cried. After that, she was just not going back to sleep.

So, she was really clingy and fussy in the afternoon. She would cry any time I would put her down. I'm still happier with that than with the disinterest she seemed to have in the hospital, though. I'd rather see her upset than just not seeming to care one way or the other about what was happening around her.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

2nd Day Home

Well, my first full day with all of the kids on my own went really well. Ruthlande seemed to be feeling well and she napped during Jaden and Danielle’s “resting time,” so that worked out great. In fact, this first day went so well that I have to keep reminding myself that it won’t always be this easy. We’re off to a great start!

Look at the picture of Ruthlande laying on her back - that's a big deal for her!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Day 14 – 1st Day Home

Well, it took us a bit longer than we expected (we were told Ruthlande would be discharged at 8 AM, which turned into 1 PM), but Ruthlande was released from the hospital today! We’ve already had our first visit from the home health care nurse – It seems like the IV antibiotics are going to be really easy to give her – not a problem at all. I uploaded some more pictures to Snapfish (Sara – I’ll try sending more to you too), so feel free to check them out. Tonight will be Ruthlande’s first in-home bath and I’m going to try to wash and comb out that hair of hers – wish me luck – after two weeks in the hospital with nothing done to her hair, I’m going to need it! :-) I honestly think I’m more nervous about her hair care than her medical care!

Ruthlande is able to sit up with some help – she’s still having a bit of trouble holding her head up, but the doctors say her neck will get stronger. Nothing’s changed as far as the hydrocephalus is concerned – I’m just watching for any signs that she’s not tolerating it. If she doesn’t end up getting a shunt, it might be good if she could still visit those specialists that come to PaP once a year so that they can evaluate her to see if it’s getting any worse.

Ruthlande isn’t yet smiling, but she is definitely responding. Dr. Ruge says it is possible that she may have partial paralysis in the face, causing her to actually not be able to smile. This condition can sometimes be associated with spina bifida. I think this might be the case because she will sometimes do something that looks like she might be trying to smile, but it doesn’t quite come through. She is definitely playing with toys more and “talking” to them a lot – it’s really cute. I got a little bit of it on video, but not much because she clams up if she sees the camera! And she now cries when I leave the room or if I put her down after I’ve been holding her. I see this as a good sign because it shows that she cares enough to want people around her. She was SO quiet before that it was really strange. The only time she made any sort of noise at all was when she cried when we would move her or change her diaper or something. Otherwise, she would just lay in the crib, completely silent. So, I was very excited when she starting making noises when playing and was even happy when she started crying when I left her. She’s showing lots of improvement. I think she just needed to get rid of those fevers to start feeling well enough to show some personality!

So, all is well in the Hewitt household! We’re looking forward to figuring out our new daily routine and taking care of the sweet little girl who we already love!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Day 11

It looks like we have something worked out with home health care. As of right now, they can’t get anyone out to us until Monday, but we’re waiting to see if they might be able to move that up. Ruthlande is going to get a pick line today and she will be ready to come home tomorrow (if they were able to get home health care tomorrow). She hasn’t had a fever since midnight Wednesday.

They gave Ruthlande the picc line today at 2 and all went well. She still hasn’t had a fever since 12 AM Wednesday, so I think we’re probably out of the woods as far as that is concerned.
She has definitely seemed more active. She’s been playing with toys more – she really loves the mobile that they put on her crib – I’m going to have to see if I can get my hands on one like it. She still doesn’t really move her legs (I have seen some very small movement, but in general she keeps them still), but she’s been more active with her hands and arms. Scott even got her to hold her own bottle yesterday.
Anyway, all is well. It’s looking like she’s going to be coming home to us soon, so we are very happy!