Our new Boy!!

Our new Boy!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

GI Stas

Well I have tried very hard to update this blog more than once a week, but it is very difficult. There are so many details I want to include and sometimes that just takes a little time. Stasik is still doing very well and we have received more information that has been very positive for the most part.
In the last blog we had recently had his heart checked out and all signs indicated that it was healthy. Since then we have had no changes in that condition, however, we have still had a lengthy list of other items to get checked out. Almost everything we were given from our facilitators had a Ukrainian document and one that was translated to English. The “important documents” that were not translated were of course the medical information and history. We asked several times to have them translated when we were there, but we were just told that we would need to get it done when we were stateside. To me this was like taking a skydiving lesson where they tell you how to put the chute on and get in the plane, but don’t tell you how to pull the cord until you are 1,000 feet above ground. This health information was very important to us; more important than some of the other papers we received. If there were any major concerns, we sure did not want to miss them or be too late getting them resolved. For us it was like starting from scratch. We could not answer any questions about him at all; in a sense it was like he was a new born that had unexplained surgeries in the womb…geesh! We just had faith in God and prayed that we would get to everything in a timely and safe manner.
While we were at the cardiologist’s office, we found a nurse that spoke Ukrainian and asked her to try and decipher the medical documents we had received. We soon figured out why no one in the Ukraine would help us out. She determined that some of the medical documents were in fact written in Ukrainian, but most of them were in Russian. All that she could really determine is that Stasik needed all of his shots. Beyond that she could not say anything for sure. We left copies of the documents with the office and hoped that someone would be able to figure it out a little later. In the mean time we went to our pediatrician to get a full round of shots; 3 in one leg and 3 in the other. Poor guy! Wouldn’t you know it; he cried…I have to say that on this one, though, I don’t blame him. I am not a fan of shots either.
With a heart check and a full round of shots, we waited for our referral to go in for our GI appointment. We finally saw a doctor last Thursday. Unfortunately, we had to make two trips to Houston for this one. Thursday turned out to be a consult visit, but we did get to meet with a nutritionist that gave us some good information. The original thought based on surgical scars and vomiting regularity and intensity was that we were dealing with reflux (GERD). Reflux is usually gone when infants hit 11 months of age, but with children that have DS, the doctor said it is very common to see it last longer. That sounded great, but we wanted to know for sure as soon as possible. We were told that we would come back in a few weeks, but with a little sweet talking, I was able to get that changed. One of the nurses (Betsy) hooked us up with an appointment the very next morning. I had to get up early, but worth it so that we could get some answers.
Earlier in the week, Stasik and Debbie were at a friend’s house when Debbie was changing a dirty diaper. Our friend’s niece, who is an EMT, noticed that the poop had a very strange, but familiar smell. She had worked in and been around a lot of nursing homes and the smell was the same. She asked if we had gotten it checked out and Debbie told her not yet. We had some concerns about it, but were still waiting to see the GI doctor to ask. When we went in on Thursday, I made sure I transported a sample with us just in case they could use it. We wanted them to check for Giardia and C. Diff (Clostridium Difficile). These are two species of bacteria that cause intestinal disease and are very common in kids coming to the U.S. from Eastern European countries. C. Diff is caused by spending a lot of time in a hospital and taking antibiotics. It can cause diarrhea and release toxins that can be life threatening if not dealt with. Giardia is most common in animals, but is seen in humans when they come from poor sanitary conditions. Based on the smell, which is similar to mothballs, we think it is C. Diff, but we are still awaiting those results. Either one can be treated with medication and will clear up rather quickly.

On Friday, me and Stas got up at 4:30 and hit the road by 5:00. We had to be in the doctor’s office by 7:15 and I wanted to make sure there was no way we could be late. We arrived around 7:00, found our office, and checked in. Stasik was not allowed to eat before the tests and I was really concerned about this whole lack of food situation. Lucky for me it was so early in the morning that he just slept the whole way. By the time he began to get hungry, we were in the x-ray room sucking down barium contrast out of a bottle. The doctor had scheduled an upper and lower GI test to try to determine if there were any obstructions or narrowing’s in the GI tract that might be causing the food to come back up. Worst case scenario was surgery and best case was medication for GERD. We had to stay in the office until the contrast solution made it all the way through his digestive system into his colon. This required a lot of waiting and taking new x-rays every 30 minutes or so. Stasik was a trooper!! He did not cry much and did not seem to get really hungry.
You know when you take your car to the shop because it has been acting up for weeks? Then, when the mechanic is looking at it, the symptoms never even occur the entire time he is examining it. Then you drive away and go home, only to see the exact same symptoms the very next morning. I do not know what this “Car-shop mechanic fallacy” is called, but it happened to us that day in the doctor’s office. I argued up and down that Stasik would probably throw up the barium and would be upset because he was starving. I just knew that it would be a tough day and only hoped that we would be able to do all of the tests without any issues. Well of course, I was wrong (Don’t tell Debbie I said that). He never cried once about food and did not throw up a thing the whole day.
The doctor doing the x-rays saw a few inconsistencies, but said overall it looked good. He wanted to consult with our GI and heart doctor to rule out any questionable issues. We drove home and fortunately got the results back that afternoon. Dr. Wong said that there were no functional or acute GI issues at all to be concerned about at this time. There was some narrowing, caused probably by the recent surgery, but that was it. The doctor hoped that it would correct itself over time and we would see how things are in a couple of months. He said he believed it was reflux and gave us a prescription to help with that. We were very excited with the news…of course on Friday he threw everything up again…how surprising is that? We are supposed to be getting his poop results back very soon and that should conclude the testing for awhile; now we can focus on the teaching and therapy that we have really been anxious to do.
On a non-medical note, Stasik is outgrowing his clothes and now weighs 17 pounds. Pretty soon he will be able to sit forward in the car and watch Mickey Mouse with his brother. We were in Central Texas this weekend and took some time to get some pictures in the bluebonnets that take over the texas roadways this time of year. Stasik was mesmerized by them. I do not think he has ever just been able to sit out in the sun and just be free and surrounded by such a beautiful sight. After his fascination subsided a bit, in true Stasik fashion, he tried to see how a couple of them tasted. Maybe that was what was on his mind all along and he just did not know where to start. Still trying to figure out what goes on in that mind of his sometimes. He met his Nana (my mom) this past weekend and hopefully in the next month will finally meet the full gamut of family he has here in Texas. I am sure they are all anxiously waiting and they will get to see the new improved version we have been working on the last several weeks. Praise God!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Three Weeks Time!

Well we have officially had Stasik home for three weeks and he is really starting to come into his own. I have not been able to really sit down and write a new blog post because the two boys have kept us very busy. Since the last post we have worked very hard to get Stasik settled and in a routine. As one might imagine, it has been very hectic for our family trying to get both boys to daycare and school while also getting ourselves to work on time. We have had a friend of ours keeping Stasik the last few weeks while we get the remainder of his health checks done. Starting next week, though, he will go to school with Carter. Carter attends a school for children with DS, children with autism, and normally developing children. It is a great mix of kids and very good for his social, motor, and intellectual development. Carter enrolled in the school right before our trip to the Ukraine and he just loves it. Since Stasik came home, school has kind of been Carter's get away. It is his old normal and a place where he has not had to share time with his brother. It will be interesting to see how the two do being together all day in a setting other than home.
Since he got home, Stasik has slept in a little bassinette next to our bed. We wanted to monitor him and make sure he is adjusting well before we moved him into his room. We always know when he is up. It used to be because he would stem and rock the bassinette, but now it is because he will start talking and will gradually get louder until somebody picks him up. Stasik is a good sleeper, but he is always the first one up. We hope it is because it is like Christmas morning for him every day....where he is happy and he just can not wait to get up and open his daily gift of a new life. After we pick him up, he normally lays in bed with us for a little while and then it is up and off to start our day. When Carter wakes up he always looks for Stasik, but we are not sure what his reasoning is yet. We would like to think that like any brother he just wants to start playing with him and say, "What's up brother", but we think a little of it may be just to see if the new guy is still in the house. Carter may have thought that this was just going to be a short little slumber party and now is thinking somehow it has gone on a little too long. We are not sure which it is, but the more they are together, the more used to one another they get and the less we even remember about how it was before Stasik's homecoming. Carter is helping out a lot more and is beginning to spend time with him independently and with me and momma.
We have Stasik's daily feedings down to a science now and we have just about figured a way to get enough calories in him. His vomitting is very sporadic; we have to find the right foods and be very creative in how we mix in liquids and formula. Liquids seem to be the main issue, but are a necessity to keep him hydrated. Formula is still the best way to get him the nutrients he needs and try any way we can to get it to him. We have an appointment on Wednesday with a GI specialist and hopefully we can get it all under control.
On monday of this week we went and got his first round of shots to try to get him up to date. Poor guy had to get six shots in one sitting. It is so different to watch Stasik's reaction to things like this. Carter never cried about anything....Stasik is just the opposite. Food in sight...cry, food out of sight...cry, take too long to give food...cry, shots...cry...take temperature...cry, change diaper...cry; I just feel for him and what he has been through. I know that time will ease all of this, but I just want so badly to make all of the pain go away, physical and/or emotional...it just breaks my heart every time. Crying is definitely his mechanism for communication and when he begins to speak more or use sign language I believe it will subside quite a bit. He learned the words momma and dada very soon after we met him, but in the last three weeks he has also learned to say Carter and Bubba. It is so neat to watch Carter try to help him talk and use sign language. When I try to get Stasik to say and/or sign "more" or to clap his hands, Carter will show him how to do it and then if he does not mimic it, Carter will grab his hands, tell him what to say, and then just show him how to do it. He is going to learn a lot from Carter and it is neat to watch Carter take an active role in his development.
Stasik has officially gained 4 pounds and is weighing over 16 pounds now. He has grown half of an inch and is wearing 12 month clothing. He just looks and acts so different now. He can almost sit up on his own and can now stand (assisted) for very long periods of time. He just smiles at us all day and it makes us feel so good about where he is right now. We thank God everyday for this opportunity. Hopefully we will get good information on wednesday and we can start giving him the stuff he needs to really put on some more weight.

God Bless!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Hearty Day!

The last few days have seen much improvement for Stasik. He is getting stronger every day and is now starting to keep more food down consistently. Over the last week we have learned a lot of new information, but yesterday was the most revealing day to this point.
It is so difficult for adoptive parents when they bring their children home from another country. The adjustment is tough for both parties, but unlike bringing home a birth child from the hospital, there are so many unknowns with adopted children. All of the medical records we received from the Ukraine were in Cyrillic. This left us with the inability to answer questions about his previous condition and also with a lot of questions ourselves. Because of this, people in the medical profession tend to be a lot more cautious and conservative when checking Stasik out. Although I am glad they are taking precautions as they run tests and gather information, it certainly creates a longer timeline to reveal the answers we are anxiously looking for. We have a long list of questions and concerns and slowly we are getting answers and starting to learn more about our new son.
Yesterday we took Stasik to the Texas Children’s Cardiology Unit to try and determine what and if anything was wrong with his heart. The last doctor Debbie spoke to in the Ukraine told her that the problems were too severe for him to have a prolonged life. We obviously wanted a second opinion.
It seems that the doctor we met on the plane followed through with his promise and I believe he went a little higher than we expected into the administrative chain of command. We were asked a few times who it was that we knew to get Stasik in so soon. We told them we met a doctor on a plane, but I believe that God played the biggest part.
It was a tough day for Stas. He went through the gauntlet of cardiac tests and was very stressed at the end of the day. We hated to put him through all of that, but we knew we had to have answers. We spent most of the day going from room to room and driving to and from Houston. In the end, though, we got answers to medical questions and our prayers. The doctor in charge of Stasik’s case came in and explained that based on the translation of his medical records and the tests that were run, they were able to piece together his past and his current condition. Stasik had a double aortic arch, a hole in his upper left chamber of his heart, and a Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) that did not close on its own. We have had experience with the PDA as it was a concern with our first son Carter as well. Fortunately, his closed weeks after birth and no further medical attention was needed. The other issues we were not familiar with, but learned more about while visiting with the cardiologist. What we found out was that all of these issues had been treated and repaired appropriately......Chalk one up for the doctors in the Ukraine. As the doctor continued to talk, I kept expecting a but….., it never came. Stasik was given a clean bill of health; we were told that we should not have any more concerns from a cardiac standpoint and to come back for a follow-up in a year. I literally wept right there in the hospital, tears of joy and relief. I thanked God for his mercy and for guiding the hands of the Ukrainian physicians. Our prayers had been answered and it was one more thing we would be able to move past and focus on our next item of concern.
One other bit of information we found out was that Stasik is in the bottom 3% for size. We knew he was small, but even with the weight he has put on in the last two weeks he still has a lot of catching up to do. The cardiologist, only with prompting, finally gave us an internal referral to see a GI specialist. After telling us where Stasik ranks statistically we would have thought he would be more concerned about his lack of size and perpetual vomiting. He wanted us to get a referral from out pediatrician first. After we told him that had been done already, he told us to follow-up on that referral and try to get in as soon as we could. I told him that I needed a referral from him and that it was the only way we would be able to get an appointment in a timely manner. He finally agreed and hopefully we will hear something soon. I know that doctors have to follow protocol and go through an order of operation, but with his extreme diminutive body size, I would think that a doctor would maybe place a larger priority on getting him in immediately. I know that they deal with a lot of kids that are probably much worse off, but this is the father coming out in me and my boundless concern for my son. That is one thing that will never change.
Stasik just seems so happy right now. He is always smiling and kicking his feet. He loves being held and like most toddlers is starting to become pickier about the food that he eats. When we first got him home we thought he would eat dirt if we put it on a spoon. Now he turns his nose up at some of the unflavored foods that we feed him to get him some extra calories. To me this is a good sign that he understands he has choices and that there is always more where that came from.
He is such a busy body and is all over the place. He hates to sit still and is constantly in motion. He army crawls all over the house and is starting to follow us around. He used to stay in one place, but now he seems to want to be where the rest of his family is. We started putting him in an activity jumper with a bunch of little toys around it. He has to stand up in order to reach them and play with them. Our hope was he would begin to stand more and strengthen his legs. The first few days he would just lean from side to side and we had to place a small pillow in front of him so he did not fall over. After a couple of days we were able to remove the pillow and he was able to almost sit up by himself. Today, he actually started jumping while pushing up and down with his legs. He did this for half an hour until he finally wore himself out. He is having so much fun and once again he surpassed our original expectations.
Watching Stasik achieve and progress every day is just so rewarding. You can tell he wants so badly to be like his brother and I have no doubt that as he gets stronger and healthier he will do just that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day to Day

We are still waiting on an appointment to Texas Children's Hospital. We thought we would get in pretty soon, but have not received an official date yet. We have some people working to get it as soon as possible but as of now we are still in standby mode. In the meantime, we continue to do what we can to try to get Stasik up to speed. He is continuing to gain weight even though he has now had three straight days of vomiting after feedings. He seems to keep solids down pretty well, but the formula just keeps coming back up. We are trying to base his diet on the assumption that he will lose some of it. We are able to maintain a high calorie count and it is definitely making a difference in his energy level and everyday activity. He is sleeping well at night and during the day and is starting to fill out physically. He has better color overall and he has lost the dark areas under his eyes.
With increased energy comes a lot of redirection. Sometimes, he is not very delicate when playing with us or Carter. He likes to grab hair, ears, noses, and really anything he can get his hands on. A couple of times he tried to nibble on my ears and I had to correct him. I think he is so excited about his whole new world and exploring it that he just doesn't know how to go about it yet. He is dong things that he has never done before. You can see the excitement in his eyes when he pushes up to get his face closer to ours. He tries to kiss us, but doesn't quite know how. We usually wind up with some slobber in our hair or licks on our face, but that is ok with us. Sometimes he grabs Carter or crawls on top of him and he is not quite sure how to deal with that yet. Carter is so sweet and docile that he just usually moves to another location or just pushes him away. If Carter initiates the contact it is usually ok unless Stasik just wants more attention and that is usually when Carter uses evasive action. We knew that there would be an adjustment period and the two boys are still just trying to get to know each other right now while also sharing the same space.
Today Stasik fed himself with a spoon. After he showed me his ability to put food in his mouth I decided it was time to move to phase two. The last couple of days I have been trying to show him how to use a spoon. He still is not patient enough to get food on it by himself, but if I get something on there for him he will take the spoon directly to his mouth and eat. It is amazing how quickly he picks things up and it seems that every learned skill is starting to build off of the one before. He is doing a lot better at sitting up by himself and I do not think it will be long before he does so without any help. His core strength continues to improve and he does not want to just lay back all of the time now. He is standing with assistance for longer periods of time and now does this on his own without any pronpting. His leg muscles are getting stronger and and he just likes to push up and down until he wears himself out. It is obvious he just wants to start doing things and as he accomplishes more I think it fuels his drive to continue.
We weighed him today and he now weighs 15.6 pounds. Not a huge gain from Monday, but it is still a gain. With the amount of food he throws up we consider every pound a major accomplishment over where he was. I can not even imagine the amount of weight he will gain when we work out all of his gastric issues.
We feel very blessed for a lot of reasons. There are many other parents that we met while adopting in the Ukraine that have not had the success story we have had. We pray for them everyday; for patience and knowledge to help them through whatever difficulties they may be having. Some have adopted older children and they face additional challenges trying to help those children learn or relearn skills while also dealing with some more serious emotional and physical issues. We all have to remember that these kids are resilient; they are in a better place and over time will truly be able to live up to their full potential.

Hope to have more info in a few days!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Got Skills!!

There have been some awesome things happening in our house. Our two boys are feeding off of and competing with one another. We knew that this would happen, but had no idea it would happen so quickly. First, let’s talk about Carter. Since Stasik’s arrival, Carter has loved him like a brother. He has been a little rough with him sometimes, but isn’t that the way all big brothers are? Carter is also ensuring that he will continue to get the same amount of attention he is used to getting. He knows that Stasik has some needs, but he is not going to be outdone when it comes to new tricks. Carter has always had a way about him. He is very high functioning and gets frustrated when he cannot do something. If we try to do it for him, then he just gets mad and frustrated with us. He watches everything we do and tries to mimic it. He is on target for all motor skills and just continues to amaze us every day. With all of that being said about his personality, he knows he has to come up with new tricks in order to maximize the amount of praise coming his way. We have been trying to potty train him for some time now, but he is a kid that will do things when he is ready even if he has already figured it out I guess yesterday he decided it was time; especially if he was going to try to keep us amazed. He jumped up on the toilet and after he was done, Mama let out a big woohoo and Carter gave himself a very hefty sitting ovation. Carter was so proud of himself and just knew he had pulled off the biggest exploit of the day. Luckily for us it was bath time so the cleanup did not entail a whole lot of work.
Now let’s rewind so that all the readers understand what led up to this. When we met Stasik almost two months ago, he was not very adept at doing anything. He was used to doing nothing all day in his crib and a few times a day someone would stick some food in his mouth. His only job really was to chew and swallow. Now in our house he is going to get plenty to eat and an abundance of attention; the caveat is that he is also going to be strongly encouraged to learn to do things on his own. The third day we saw him in the orphanage I placed a teething cookie in his hand. Now if you remember back to that blog post, he freaked out when this happen
ed. He dropped the cookie and cried until I actually placed the cookie in his mouth. Basically, if I did not feed it to him, he had no clue what to do with it. We worked on that every day for the remainder of our stay in Priluky. I would put in his hand and show him what to do with it. We finally made progress on holding it, but when it would get close to his mouth he would drop it, then he would finally take a bite and then drop it and spit it out. He was thoroughly confused. Since he has come home we have continued to work on this proficiency. My secret weapon the last few days, though, has been Carter. Carter gets cookies, banana slices, Fruit Newtons, etc. for snacks. He also eats chicken nuggets sometimes for dinner. Carter will walk around the house and Stasik will watch him. When he sees food, it is like a hypnotist swinging a pocket watch; he will not take his eyes off of it. This is actually working to our advantage because now instead of me just showing him what to do, he watches Carter intently and sees how he feeds himself.
Yesterday we had a follow up appointment at the doctor. I happened to have some oatmeal cookies in my diaper bag and as we were sitting in the waiting room I wanted to use that time for a teaching opportunity. I took out a cookie and Stasik watched it with the vision of a hawk. I took a little piece off and set the rest of the cookie down. I placed the cookie in his right hand and before I could grasp his arm to help him, he immediately put the cookie in his mouth. I thought it must have been a fluke so I gave him another piece; he did the exact same thing. I truly almost cried right there in that office. Weeks ago he could not even take a bottle correctly and now here he was feeding himself. As amazed as I was at that, he had worked the kinks out of a few more new skills that he showed us all later in the day.
When we arrived at our house, we had to change him out of his clothes; as special as our cookie moment was, the entire incident must have spurred a prolonged episode of vomiting. I stopped the car several times on the way home to clean him, but his onesie was still quite a mess. We put him in a new outfit and after about 30 minutes, the vomiting finally subsided. We have a bumbo to help him learn to sit up and we place him in it quite often to build up his core strength. It has helped him improve immensely so we also utilize it when we are feeding him. He sits up more when he is being fed and it is much more therapeutic than the high chair right now. We feed him and Carter at the same time so that neither bot gets upset. Most of the time, though, Stasik finishes his food first because he eats very quickly. After he is done he always wants more and if he sees someone else with food he will cry and just stare down whatever they put in their mouth. He has plenty to eat, but he is just used to not having enough. This activity has decreased substantially, but sometimes old habits die hard. Today, our new addition acted like Marine Sniper; he sat and waited patiently for an opportunity and when it presented itself, he took his shot.
Carter was walking a little too close to Stasik, who was in a sitting position in the bumbo. At the perfect time and with the speed of a cobra, Stasik reached for the nugget with his left hand. He snatched it from Carter’s loose grip and hastily and unerringly stuck it in his mouth. Stasik’s unassuming brother did not know what hit him. Carter checked his hand to make sure of what had just happened. He kept pointing at Stasik and looking back at us as if to say, “Hey, did you see that; what are you gonna do about that”? What could we say; we were just as astonished as he was; only we were probably a little more impressed. Mama bent over to get the nugget and gave it back to our eldest son. After placing the nugget back in his hand, Carter bent over and stuck the nugget right out in front of Stasik’s mouth; as soon as he tried to take a bite Carter pulled it back quickly, pointed at him, waved his finger, and haughtily sauntered away. I think that was his way of saying, “listen brother; that was pretty good, but it will never happen again." Carter kept his distance for the rest of the night. Anytime he had to walk by him he was very careful; it was like he was walking around an open manhole.
Carter went to bed at 8:00pm and Stasik was still up. I wanted to try to give him some more milk before he went to bed. He had thrown up a lot and right now every calorie counts. I fixed a bottle and set it on the floor next to the couch. By this time Stasik was out of the b
umbo and playing on the floor. When I walked to get a bib from the bedroom I came back and witnessed him army crawling across the living room to the bottle. I let the whole event play itself out and just watched. As much as we have tried, we have never been able to get him to hold his own bottle. However, in the last few days he has watched Carter roll around on the ground with a sippy cup. I wondered what Stasik’s plan was once he finally arrived at his destination. I figured he would push the bottle over and start crying until I returned to the room and fed him. With astonishment I watched him reach out and do some superman move with both hands outstretched while lifting his chest off the ground. He grabbed the bottle, rolled over and put it in his mouth. He held it up and drank out of it until I took it away to burp him.

In sports terms, our boys had scored a hat trick. Three milestones accomplished by two remarkable kids. What a great day for our family!!

As I laid Stasik down to go to sleep I could not help but wonder what he would be doing at that moment had we not adopted him. He has been a blessing in our home; his accomplishments belong to all of us, but mostly to him and his perseverence. I cannot imagine what these two competitive brothers are going to accomplish together. It is going to be a joy to watch and find out, though.

Pounding it out!

Well Stasik has been here in the US for 4 days. It is amazing the progress we have seen in that short time. We have been very inquisitive with what he needs and we have tried to provide everything that the doctors tell us to. I was told on Saturday that a good rule of thumb for growth was to feed him 40 calories per inch of height. He is 29 inches long and 1160 calories seems like a daunting task. Finding baby food with a lot of calories is tough, but the formula has really helped to fill in the calories between meals. What makes the process more difficult is that he still tends to throw food up sporadically. Anything can trigger a Mt. Vesuvius type eruption and the flow could go on for hours. Some days he keeps it all down and other days it just comes up. We are meeting with a GI specialist soon and hoping to figure out why this is happening. We are documenting all foods we give him, but have not been able to narrow anything down specifically. Even with the occasional, long lasting flow of food lava, we still manage to keep about 800-900 calories in him. Some of you may remember that when we met Stasik, which seems so long ago, he weighed about 12 pounds. Debbie had him for a week in the Ukraine and he was able to gain some weight even with the limited food available to her. At our first doctor’s appointment he weighed 14.1 pounds and now in just 3 days is up to 15.3. He smiles all the time with the occasional fits when feeding time is finished. A few distractions and he will forget all about it, though. He is sleeping 12 hours a night and now has a ton of energy. It is very difficult to keep him still. What the people in the Ukraine do not understand is that these special children have plenty of ability; they just need people to give them the opportunity to use it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Carter and SK

One of the concerns we have had is how Carter would react to us bringing Stasik home. Would he accept him or would he be upset? For days leading up to Stasik's homecoming, Carter and I looked at pictures, practiced his name, and marked days off of the calendar until he and mom would be home. He did not do bad with his name and one day he pointed at the picture and said, "I love you". I know he understands that Stasik is staying with us for a little while, but I am not sure he knows how long this slumber party is lasting. The first night home I think Carter had a hard time with Stasik getting all of the attention he usually gets. One minute he was kissing him and the next he is pushing him away. Getting used to sharing personal space will take some time, but knowing Carter it will be shorter rather than longer. Carter is a very empathetic and loving kid. He knows when people are in physical and emotional pain. He has shown this ability many times. He knows that Stasik needs his help and little by little he is he is giving more of himself and inching closer and closer to Stasik's side. Just yesterday after I was done feeding Stasik, I placed him in his bumbo and went to throw away the food jars. When I peaked over the bar to check on him, Carter had heard him start to cry and was giving him some of his chicken nugget. I wish I could have snapped a picture!

One thing we have figured out is why Stasik cries when we take food away. He is stuck in a trust vs. mistrust crisis. This stage of psychosocial development is going to be very important for us to get through before he will truly thrive with us. Stasik still rocks when we set him on the ground or in a bumbo. We have also noticed that he will get on his hands and knees and place his forehead on the floor and rock back and forth while rubbing it on the ground. For those of you reading this that don't understand why, I will tell you. Children that are abandoned or feel lonely do this as a mechanism to comfort themselves. It is a trait most common with children of neglect; those that have been abandoned. It is a phenomenon seen with many children from orphanages or institutions like the ones in the Ukraine. It is very sad to watch and for many children this will go on well into their adult lives if their situation does not change. For children like Stasik, the only time they were picked up and held was when it was feeding time. Before and after, they are placed in a bed to lay by themselves for hours and hours at a time until it is time to eat again.

I believe that for Stasik, the anxiety is magnified by other factors. Add malnutrition to these emotional needs for comfort and security and you are looking at a little boy that has a enormous preoccupation with when feeding time ends and what that has meant for him. With his gastric issues, he has thrown up a lot of the food that should be giving him the nutrients he needs to be healthy. So in the past, the end of feeding time meant that he would not see food again for several hours, hungry or not. It also meant that for those hours he would lay there alone until feeding time came again. This is a behavioral and psychological response that will take some time to change, but we have already seen progress.

We feed Stasik about 6 times a day (3 bigger meals and 3 snacks) and because of that he is beginning to understand that food will come more frequently. After we feed him we hold him and keep him upright. This serves two purposes, one is to help keep him from vomiting and the other is to help him understand that the end of feeding does not mean he will be left alone. Whenever he begins to rock, we pick him up and comfort him; we tell him that he is safe now and he doesn't need to rock anymore. The frequency has decreased immensely and should, in time, disappear altogether.

We have changed Stasik's diet based on recommendations from multiple doctors and he has been able to keep food down for 2 straight days. His calorie intake has increased substantially and in 48 hours he has gained 8 oz. in weight. We go back to our doctor on Monday to evaluate all of these changes. So far so good!!