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Monday, May 18, 2009

Last days in Almaty

Although we are safely at home now, having barely survived the ridiculously long flights home, I'm posting these updates from our last days in Almaty that I wrote but was unable to send because the local internet cafe forgot to pay their WiFi bill. I'm also adding pictures to the last post. Enjoy. I'll send a update from the homefront in a couple of days when we are all feeling more settled.


Trip 2 Day6 (part 2)
Garrett did remarkably well on the 3.5 hour drive from Schuchinsk to Astana. When we got in the car and pulled away from the babyhouse, his little eyes went as wide as saucers. He stared out the window, then at Caroline, then at me. He didn’t move, he didn’t cry. Every minute or so, he would let out a little whimper of distress, which I would try to soothe away with kisses. He was definitely frightened and confused and trying with all of his might to figure out what was going on! After about a half hour, however, he seemed to settle in. Because there are no car seats, or seatbelts for that matter, he sat on my lap and we played with all the toys that I had packed up. The rest of the ride to Astana was uneventful. We fed and changed him in the car, and arrived at the airport with four hours to wait before our flight to Almaty.
How did Garrett do on the flight, you ask? Well… let’s just say that he is not developing a reputation as an easy traveler. No, honestly though, he did as well as any 8-month-old who has just been taken away from the only life he has ever known and then kept up way past his bedtime could be expected to do. He cried a lot in the airport, so much in fact, that I turned around at one point to find that everyone else in our waiting area had moved to sit in a new section of the airport! When we got on the plane for our 11pm take-off, he just wanted to play… and after 4 hours of crying I was only to happy to do whatever it took to keep him in good spirits. Even before take-off however, I was running out of tricks to keep him entertained and disaster seemed inevitable. Luckily for us (and everyone else within earshot) a wonderful Kazakh babushka was seated right next to me. As Garrett started to get inconsolably fussy, she set down her book, clapped her hands and lifted Garrett off of my lap. For a moment I wavered between feeling hurt (“I am his mother, so I should get to hold him!”) and feeling insulted (“What makes her think that she can do any better”) but then I looked at Garrett. The novelty and sheer grandmotherly energy of the woman had caught his attention. He stopped fretting and smiled. Before I knew it, she and the woman sitting next to her, were singing Kazakh lullabies and playing games with my very content baby. And so the rest of the flight passed by with Garrett being passed back and forth between the grandmother and me. Thank God for grandmothers!
Garrett fell asleep at a little after midnight, just as we landed in Almaty. Caroline collected the bags and we stepped out into the chaotic public area of the airport where a hoard of paparazzi-like drivers were all eagerly offering to drive us. We search their faces for a glimmer of recognition that might indicate that they had been sent by our agency to collect us. No luck. Slowly the last of the passengers disembarked and the drivers who had not gotten jobs sat down to wait for the next flights into town. We had been forgotten! Or so it seemed. Five long minutes later, just as panic was starting to set in, who should sidle coolly up to us in an orange silk headband and sunglasses, but our old driver Sasha! I was so glad to be rescued that I nearly hugged him. Sasha was in a remarkably good mood. He smiled at my sleeping baby and turned down the 80s American pop music that was playing in his car. He even helped us bring our bags up the five flights of stairs at the new apartment. I changed Garrett and settled him into his crib and then collapsed myself in preparation for my first day as Garrett’s full time mom. Boy would I need the rest!
Paka. Becca



Trip 2 Day 7,8, and 9.
The last few days have been an absolute blur of happy baby kisses, sleepless nights, medical exams and exit visa interviews, happy baby games, Garrett crying, Mommy’s frayed nerves, and missing home. I’ve been a mother for 3 wonderful years, but all the same this has been a heck of a learning curve! I’ve got soo much to learn about Garrett and him about me! We’re working on it and we are so ready to come home and show him off to all his new friends and family!
Here are a few thing I have learned about my new little son after two days as his full-time mommy.
1. He is absolutely darling! True, I already knew this, but it’s worth reiterating. Garrett has a huge gummy smile that can light up a room and those huge hazel-brown eyes absolutely sparkle when he’s happy. I think that he and his big brother are going to absolutely charm the ladies when they are older!
2. He hates to nap… at least he hates the way in which I try to make him nap. It is entirely possible that he napped beautifully for the caregivers, but every one of my attempts have led to endless fits of inconsolable wailing. He must be swaddled super tightly if you have any hope of him sleeping. Last night he was able to free one of his arms from my inexpert swaddling and the excitement of the free arm made it impossible for him to do anything but practice talking at the top of his lungs. Oi!
3. He loves his bath. He smiles and coos when you pour the warm water all over him. So cute. Both of my boys are water babies.
4. He has got some lungs! During the month long bonding period at the babyhouse, Tim and I could barely get a peep out of him! But now my silent Garrett is an absolute chatterbug. It’s been amazing to see. He is constantly cooing and babbling and shrieking when he is happy. It’s darling to listen to and you can tell that he loves to hear himself talk. He loves to blow very wet ‘raspberries’ with his tongue. He ends up with drool running down his chin, but he loves it! The downside of this intense lungpower is that when he is sad or frustrated or angry he really lets it rip!
5. He loves my camera and will scoot across the room to try to grab it, if I leave it out. I remember this part from Calvin’s babyhood, any grown-up thing with buttons is a hit.
6. He gets so excited when it is meal time that his little arms actually shake with anticipation. He has no portion control. He will eat everything in sight and then shriek anxiously for more. If you give him more, he will eat that and then shriek anxiously for more… etc. If he can see a bottle anywhere in the room he fixates on it and gets too focused on eating to do anything else. He is growing strong and is going to be a big boy, but we are going to have to figure out how to help him know when his tummy is full. Hmmm. One of the many quirks of an institutionalized babyhood.
7. He loves to be naked. I’m not sure if he has ever experienced the thrill of warm sun on bare skin before, but I let him try it today and he loved loved loved it. He started crying when I finally had to put him back in his clothes.
8. He is ticklish especially on his tummy and feet. I’ve been having a great time of tickling shrieks of laughter out of him!
There is so much more, but I am exhausted. We’ve got one more day in Almaty. Caroline is out on the town. She has walked almost all of the city, bought colorful scarves and Kazakh jewelry at the open air bazaar, sweated in the humid air of the big sauna, and visited the replica of the Golden Man at the museum. All of it sounds wonderful and we will have to get her to catch us all up with pictures of the city I have stayed in but not really seen.
We’re ready to come home. We will spend tomorrow playing and packing and trying to rest. We head to the airport at midnight for our 3am flight to Frankfurt. We will make it home for good right around noon on the 16th. I can’t wait to see you all and to show off Garrett in person! Until then, wish us luck because we need it! Love you all and see you soon!
Paka.
Becca

8 comments:

Patrice said...

Rebecca,
I am still on an "meet & greet" you at the airport high. Welcoming Garrett into our family in person was precious beyond words.
Thanks for your "last days in Almaty" posting. I don't know where you found the energy or time to do it after such a long trip. Your loving motivation shows through.
Aunt Patrice

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news - the blog is back. Maybe you could just keep it going until he is 5 years old or so. Looking forward to the post-home update and wished you tons of luck!

Ciao,
CAS

ps: Happ McGee, here we come!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news - the blog is back. Maybe you could just keep it going until he is 5 years old or so. Looking forward to the post-home update and wished you tons of luck!

Ciao,
CAS

ps: Happ McGee, here we come!

Anonymous said...

Garrett’s Home, Garrett’s Home! Your blog has been so amazing to read that I find myself re-reading it and still finding more I love in it.
Garrett’s and his big brother Calvin are so blessed to have you & Tim as parents and I am the luckiest person I know to have been a part of the journey.
Welcome home Garrett! You are so loved.
XX00
You’re Nana

Anonymous said...

wow, am just amazed at what you (and Garrett) have been through. Thanks so much for sharing it and I wish you well with your family.
we found a sleep sack for transitioning baby from swaddling which worked amazingly for our boy who was really swaddle addictted http://www.pekemoe.co.nz our boy just loved it and was in it till about 15/16months. All the best xxx

Brent said...

Congratulations on your new addition, and arriving home in one piece! My wife and I adopted twins from Kokshetau this time last year (it was official July 4th), so still have vivid memories of the time in Kazakhstan. It was fun to be a fly on the wall during your journey.

Brent (Jesse and Evie's Dad)

Dean and Janie said...

Waiting patiently...Hint, Hint :)

Clark said...

I have followed the this blog from to start to finish and it is fantastic. But just want hear the end of the story. Please update soon.
Thanks,
Clark