Monday, August 11, 2008

Continuing on...

First, I must mention a little hilarity from around our house. Figuring out how to balance life with 5 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 companies (that have barely launched) is NOT easy. We've done this from the very beginning with no help. We have no family living nearby, and we've never hired so much as a house cleaner (okay, we have hired a house cleaner, but none more than once. I simply cannot pay someone $100+ if they don't know how to dust!) The house cleaner thing is about to change because, really, come on.

So, I look for hilarity wherever I can find it. I need my sense of humor in check or...well...I might kill myself.

This morning, Henry (who is one of our 6-year-old twins and who I will be lucky to survive --- those of you who know him understand this completely) came in and saw Nina wearing a little hair wrap in her hair - you know, the elastic kind that wraps around your whole head? He said, "Mom, when she wears that thing in her hair she looks just like you!"

Then, I gave Nina a bath and I brought her out to put her in her Exersaucer. George came over to say Hello. Henry says to George, "George, be careful. Mom just put handsome spray on her." Huh?

It's good he says funny things sometimes because, honestly, his behavior is taking years off my life. And that doesn't take into account his twin, Jack, who has had notes come home from school for the last two days noting that he is "not staying on track with his classwork and acting goofy." Great.

Anyhoo - back to Ethiopia and the moment I hit the wall.

We went back to the hotel to have lunch before our embassy appointment. The group had already seen me eat two fried eggs like a bird for breakfast and now they watched as I ordered tomato soup and ate only 3 bites. They really did not get to see the real Liz in action with food. I mean, with no younger ones to care for during meal time, trust me, I could have eaten my own weight in food. But that was not to be at this point.

Karen had ordered the tomato soup and said it was awesome. And I agree, it's pretty good --- if you're not so sleep deprived that you're starting to see dead people. After 3 bites, I thought, "I am going to puke my way through the rest of this day."

I went up to my room and took some Pepto (like, the whole bottle) and got some of my Preggie Pops (people use them for all sorts of issues other than pregnancy, folks, and I PROMISE you that pregnancy is the LAST thing I was using them for!). Nothing worked.

I went downstairs so close to tears that if I even looked at anyone I would have burst. I mentioned to a few folks that I was not doing so great. We trudged up to HH to get our kids and the whole time I kept thinking, "Oh my God, I'm not going to make it to the embassy. I'm going to fall DEAD before we get there. And then I can't take Nina home. Because I won't get through my appointment. Because I'll be dead."

The van ride was challenging. The diesel and the humidity didn't help, but being near the window did. Tim and Cheryl sat in the 3rd row with my Target barf bag and I told Tim, "Tim, if I say 'NOW!' throw that bag up here. Immediately."

We got to the embassy and had to go through two security checks. This was most interesting as I was feeding Nina as they were happening. My passport was out of reach so Almaz was practically reaching down my shirt to get it as I willed myself to "not barf on Almaz. She's an angel and you don't want to barf on an angel. That will surely get me into Hell in a hurry." Something in my pocket set off the metal detector. I emptied my pocket. The culprit? A Preggie Pop. Interesting.

Our embassy appointments were supposed to begin at 3:00. We were in our seats in the waiting room by 2:45. There were a number of others there --- some Americans finalizing their adoptions and some Ethiopians finalizing who knows what.

By this point, I could no longer hold Nina. Curtis graciously took her and toted her around for me as I sat with my head in my hand volleying between tears and heaving. It just made me so sad. This was NOT how this was supposed to play out. I never could have imagined that I'd fly for 18 hours and not sleep OR get to a nice, warm bed and proceed to not sleep for another 9! Coupled with the day in D.C. on Saturday and the time at the hotel between slumber times, I was up for nearly 51 hours straight. I got, maybe 2 hours of sleep during that time, but it clearly was not enough. The bottom line is that I should have been toting my own daughter around. My travel companions should have been nurturing their own kids with their spouses, not feeling like they'd adopted two! It was very upsetting and, of course, every time I contemplated that fact I started crying again.

Almaz continued to go upstairs to check to see what the holdup was. Trust me, if there was going to be a holdup, today was NOT the day for it to occur.

She came down a bit later and said that while she'd been told that the kids' medical reports had been received by the embassy the previous Friday, they were apparently not there. Long story short, she had to send a courier to pick up the medicals from someone somewhere and bring them to the embassy. That took nearly 2 hours.

By 4:30, Scott was in charge of Nina. Specifically, Scott was in charge of feeding Nina, which he did very well. Cheryl was in charge of making sure I didn't collapse permanently on the floor of the U.S. Embassy.

Finally, at about 5:05, our names began to be called. I was last, which was nerve-wracking only because I thought, "Oh dear Lord, am I not being called because there's an issue with her file that they won't be able to fix until next week and I'll have to stay here? In a hospital? Dead?"

Finally, they called my name. Cheryl went with me to the window (you know, in case I began to pass out and someone needed to catch Nina). This young guy was in charge of asking me questions. And when I say young, I mean, like, 10. Seriously. And I wondered, "How do you GET a job like this? At the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia? Because if I had known that something like this was possible, maybe I could have had a career I actually enjoyed for a while."

So, he asked me all the requisite questions, for which Almaz prepared us very well, and that was that. Very anticlimactic.

One funny moment occurred when he addressed Nina's heart condition. She has a small hole in her heart and he needed to ensure that I was aware of that. He said, "I see here that the pediatrician noted that she has a small heart condition. Are you aware of that?"


"Do you want to proceed with the adoption?"

You have no idea, even as sick as I was, how tempted I was to say, "You know, on second thought, I don't."

I realize he has to ask me that, but seriously.

He then said, "Yeah, you know, I'd just suggest that you see a doctor in the U.S. about it."

Really? I'd never considered that.

"Because doctors in Ethiopia are good, but those in the U.S. are better."


"I agree," said Almaz, trying to end the whole thing before I died right there on her watch.

And that was it! We all got some documents that I shoved into my baby bag, learning later how important they are for re-adoption in the U.S. So, treat those papers with great care! You can't get them reissued later!

We then headed back to the vans and back to the hotel. At some point during all of this, Almaz asked me what was going on. I told her, and she said, "You can't take her back to the hotel tonight. You've got to sleep. The night special mothers will be thrilled to have her for one more night."

I seriously almost jumped on top of Almaz in gratitude. I would never have asked Almaz for this special treatment. And I didn't want to leave Nina at Hannah's Hope. But I wouldn't allow myself to be a martyr. I couldn't have cared for her properly that night by myself. And I knew a night of great sleep was just what I needed.

We went back to the hotel and I plugged in my ear plugs, put on my sleep mask, and hit the sack. I slept for 4 hours and then woke up and panicked. "What if I can't get back to sleep? Four hours isn't enough to get me out of this sleep-deprived mess!" But before I could finish the thought, I was out for another 4-5 hours. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I was a completely different person. I was well-rested, far from nauseous, very hungry, and ready to go pick up my Nina!!!


be_a_Mary said...

whatever. i know a faker when i see one.


tim & dawn said...

sleep aid will be the 1st thing that i pack when we go!!!

Hauswife said...

Oh dear, oh dear, oh DEAR! What a DAY! I'm so sorry you had it so rough for the first couple of days! Almaz IS an angel. How wonderful that the HHE special mothers kept Nina for you so you could catch up on that sleep deprivation. Yea for HHE!
I'm loving reading your story. :)

Trendy Mindy said...

I am loving reading every word!! Oh you poor thing! So glad you got some much needed rest - Almaz sounds like a dream - :)

julie_joshb said...

very interesting. on a different smaller scale i had a few things like that happen to me where almaz had to help out...keep writting its heavenly

Melissa said...

Oh Liz,

I am soooo tired just living through you on this trip! I love your sense of humor--thank goodness you have one!

Keep writing--
Melissa (Va.)