Saturday, March 31, 2012

The road to recovery

Okay...this has literally been the hardest week of my life as a parent. HARDEST. I would go back to China a million times over and endure 2 weeks of struggle, exhaustion and hunger over what I have been through this week. However, I am happy to report we are on the mend.

We arrived home Wednesday evening at 7:00pm. Tatum had a decent night sleep from 10pm until 6am. She had a decent nap on Thursday and between lots of tears, tantrums and minimal eating...we made it to bed time at 8pm. Tatum then woke up at 1am and we literally played with toys until 7:30am. I thought I would DIE. I was off work, so on duty. I went in to wake Todd at 7:30 and grabbed an hours nap. Then he was up, dressed and had his mother coming over....he had a 9 am mtg and I needed more sleep. My mother in law waiver for a few hours and I literally could have kissed the ground she walked on. She took care of sweet Tatum while I napped. I finally heard some tears around 11 and Tatum was ready for a nap. She slept for 3 hours then did bed time again at 8pm. This time we decided against the no nos on her arms. We all need sleep. We ran out and bought a video monitor so we can keep an eye on Tatum, and thankfully she has not dug in her mouth. When it starts to hurt, she points and we give her more medicine.

She slept until 9:00am and we went in at 3:30am to give her more medicine. My sweet sister in law came over to watch Tatum while I had a much needed hair appt and I came home to see tatum riding in her jeep. I was thrilled!! She had 2bowls of oatmeal and 2 go gurts. We are on the mend! She took a two hour nap and hit the sack at 8pm tonight....she had a milkshake and some noodles before bed....she's asking for drinks, etc...we've got this!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We are HOME

It was a long day yesterday, but just wanted to let you know we are home....and exhausted! I just crammed a sandwich down and am taking a nap while my sweet baby is sleeping. We are all so tired. My mother in law is bringing over dinner tonight, I am very thankful because I Definately do not have it in me to cook.

Thank you for all the messages...people have asked a number of ties what to send for Tatum. Tatum needs nothing but love (which she has an abundance of) we are asking for donations to the Children's House at Johns Hopkins. I can't say enough of such a fabulous facility.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Surgery Day

Yesterday was one of the longest and most stressful days of my life. We had Tatum at the hospital at 8:00am for her 10:00am surgery. She was a rock star the whole time pre-op. she won the crowds over, in typical Tatum style. Wait until I post the hair net photos!

I carried Tatum back to the OR and her sweet nurses sang the ABC song until the gas made her fall asleep. I kissed her cheek one last time and I was escorted to the waiting room to meet Todd. ENT went first and literally took 10 minutes to insert the tubes. tatum had thick discharge in her ears, so the ENT dr was happy with the decision to put in tubes. Next the reconstructive work on Tatums palate started at 10:30 and the dr was complete by 12:30. We were then called to the recovery room to be there while Tatum woke up. She is such a peaceful sleeper, it took awhile to see her come to. We ended up in recovery for close to 3 hours because her room was nos not ready. Tatum did well. As soon as she was awake enough, she couldn't get out of her crib fast enough into my arms.

The finally over us to the 3rd floor. That is when things spiraled out of control for us and Tatum. She didn't seem to be responding to the morphine well, but at first we all thought she was just in pain. We had the nurses call the pain team, they upped her dose, gave her some Benadryl to help with itching but there was no relaxing this baby. Finally at the end of the shift at 7:00pm I looked at the new nurse, Rachel who is amazing!! And told her she had to do something. Tatum was so irrational, body moving all around, I was so worried and scared. Nothing was comforting her. They ended up removing her iv and inserting a new one, switched her pain med and gave her some Valium. We walked the halls, it was so exhausting. Todd's parents arrived and it was so juice to see them. They were a great distraction for Tatum on and off and a great support for us while Tatum hada new iv put in with no pain medicine.

Through the night, Tatum was on dilaudid, Valium and Tylenol. She also has her iv fluids. We got to the hospital after sleeping on and off at the children's house at 7:00am. We spoke to the residents and tatum had a fever at 5:00am of 102.1 they gave her some more Tylenol and it is coming down. It is 8:30 and she is still sleeping peacefully. I am guarded at the door and am not letting a sole in here unless absolutely possible. She needs her rest.

My heart is breaking for this beautiful baby girl. I've only known her for 6 months, but she knew yesterday who was here for her, who loves her and who will protect her. She is so brave, and so strong. Physically too. I am exhausted from holding her yesterday and also from trying to contain her. It's been a rough 24 hours to say the least. But we are holding it together for Tatum and doing everything possible to make her better.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Childrens House

Thank you for all the sweet comments, messages on Facebook, texts, etc...we are all checked into the children's house at johns Hopkins. Tatum is sound asleep after a rough evening and we are relaxing in the library that is adjacent to our room with the door ajar.

We will arrive at the Hospital which is one block up the street at 8:00am tomorrow is scheduled for 10:00am and is due to last 2.5-3 hours. Dr Reddett will do the palate repair and Dr Ishman will put the tubes in Tatums ears. This is never easy on any parent. I keep thinking this is the start if Tatum's new life, but let me tell you on the inside I am freaking out! Shes my baby...if only for 6 months, but really longer than that....I have hoped for this sweet baby girl for a long long she has been my baby for much longer(she just doesn't know it!) her Daddy and I want only the best for her, and this is the beginning of that adventure.

Tonight I was rocking Tatum after we read her 3 favorite books. She snuggled down and put her head on my chest. Just like in China at night in the hotel rooms. It was familiar to her, yet not so much to me as we snuggled in a new is beautiful here at the children's house. How lucky are we to be this close to such a wonderful facility?!

I am turning in soon. It's going to be a long morning with no food or water for our sweet baby. Stay tuned....more to follow tomorrow! Good night from the children's house!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


We leave tomorrow for JHU for Tatum's palate repair surgery...I have many emotions going through my mind, and a ton of things to cross off my 'To Do' list before we head to Baltimore. Most of all, I need to remember that Tatum will be in the best care with some of the world's finest doctors and nurses. We have spoken openly with Tatum regarding her surgery. She seems to understand that she has a hole in the roof of her mouth and that Mommy and Daddy do not. We've told her that her surgery will hurt a little, but that Mommy and Daddy will be there to hold her hand and make it all better. We have asked this brave little two year old, who we have only known for 6 months to trust us like she has never trusted us before...and you know, I think she gets it. We've told her that we don't want her milk and her yogurt to run from her nose anymore (even though she doesn't seem to mind and just smiles and wipes her nose).She is so brave and strong and this week is just another test of her braveness.

We are fortunate enough to be staying in the Children's House at Johns Hopkins while Tatum is having her surgery. There is room for one parent to spend the night in the hospital room. I will stay with Tatum through the night and every moment there after. I want her to know that Mama is always there for her. I am off work this whole week and then going back part time the following week before Easter and returning full time after that.

I hold Tatum's biological parents close in my heart right now. I mean, I always do, but even more so right now. I often wonder how this little beauty was lucky enough for everything that has happened in her life. Don't get me wrong, she has suffered--any orphan has. But, she was so lucky to have a government program in China perform her cleft lip repair when she was just 5 months old. Tatum was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity for international adoption in an orphanage that didn't seem to interested in participating....and now, we are the lucky ones. We are blessed with such a beautiful little girl inside and out. She is the most head strong, strong willed little girl I have ever met....but to me that just means she is destined to do good things in life. She is here to challenge us, and let me tell you, we are up for this challenge. We want only the best in life for Tatum....and will help her attack each and every door that is opened for her in life. This week is just the beginning of the rest of her life. She is saying good-bye to the life she has always known....a life with an open cleft palate. We can't wait to hear her new voice, see her blow bubbles better, and eat and drink without even the littlest drop falling from her nose. We can't wait for Tatum to face this new life head on, just as she has with everything else in life to date.

 We love you Tatum McKenlin Elliott!!

We have to be at the hospital at 7:30am on Tuesday morning....more updates to follow!!

*Deb, Scott and Julia-thanks for checking in on our family---have a great vacation!!*

Thank you to all our friends and Tatum's teachers for the thoughful gifts to take with us to the hospital to help Tatum pass the time while in recovery. We can't thank you enough.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St Patrick's Day Parade

There was a parade in our town the afternoon of St Patrick's Day. We already had a full day of shopping at the Outlets, a nap in the car (a BRIEF nap), a trip to Dairy Queen and a some time running around a new park we found....this was the final icing on the cake for a FUN Saturday as a family.

We met up with Wendy, Leland, Laura and Abby. The kids had a great time together. I didn't have my camera, so these are all shots that Wendy got. At one point, Abby and Tatum were holding hands, and I hope Laura captured that! :)

 Mommy and Tatum watching the parade

 Tatum and Abby

 The kids got lolipops from people in the parade and were SO happy!!

 This lolipop was definately bigger than her little mouth!!

True Love.....could they be any cuter together?!

Today marks 6 months as a family of 3. I can't believe that we were in China 6 months ago. I miss China, but I love being home with my family. Tatum has grown tremendously! Not only in size, but in how comfortable she is at home, her food intake and what foods she likes, her speech, is amazing what love can do. This is a wonderful journey to share with Todd too. Being a parent is challenging, especially being a new parent to a toddler that we know almost nothing about. She has grown to love us and has let us into her shell. That has been wonderful to watch and withness. It has also been wonderful to see a man that I have known for 15 years fall head over heals in love with his daughter....there is nothing like the love they share for one another. It melts my heart to see how wonderful he is with her and how much she loves her 'Dada'!!

Happy 6 months baby girl. You have brought so much joy to our lives, we love you so much!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

February/early March catch up

 Our sweet little Valentine

 We worked very hard on these handmade Valentines....peeling 64 crayons, breaking them up and melting them into a silicon mold (thank you pinterest!)....Tatum's friends at school loved them!

 Daddy came home with roses for Mommy and a sweet single rose for Tatum....
 We had a wonderful Valentine's Day...spaghetti for dinner at home and Tatum enjoyed it just as much as we did!
 The first Saturday of the month, the Academy of the Arts offers a free music session...Tatum loved dancing with Wawa!!
 That same afternoon, we went over to play at Wendy's (aka Wawa) house....Leland and Taylor were there and all 3 decided to jumo on the trampoline! We then enjoyed a pizza dinner together, it was alot of fun!
 This morning, we went to Golden Corral for breakfast (there is a new one in Easton again) and then rode down to Oxford to go to the park and to play on the beach. It was chilly, but we were all bundled up to enjoy the sand and the park.
 Tatum giving Daddy kisses.....
 Mommy's turn
 Such a beautiful place we are lucky to call home....I just wish Tatum was a little more cooperative for picture taking. She was more interested in digging holes in the sand!
 We got home and Tatum HAD to potty. Potty training is going well. She has gone potty 3 times at home and 3 times at school....such a big girl!! Now, we just need to work on how much toilet paper we need....
 Tonight after a bath and getting our hair blow dryed. Such a big, pretty little girl!
Tatum set the table tonight. I laid out the placemats and she carried the silverware over (not the bread knife!!). She did a pretty good job, I think!!

We are having the best time with Tatum. She has really grown leaps and bounds and her words are increasing all the time. We still hear some Chinese, especially when she says Thank You. We have introduced some sign language too. She knows please, thank you, more and eat and uses them often! Manners have been a new introduction to our routine. I just feel that it is important to teach this young. She knows how to say excuse me and does that often also. The big thing over the past few weeks is that she has learned to pronounce her 'p' sound and will proudly say pop, Pop-Pop and pocket.

Here is another list of words she can say:

Ena (aka Jena)
Wawa (aka Wendy)
Lala (aka Laura)
Marmo (aka Marley)
heep (Sheep)
pease (aka please)
Abril (aka April)
doggo (doggie)
nana (aka banana)
appie (aka apple)
ilk (aka milk)

She can point to all her body parts, was herself in the bath, put on socks and shoes, put on pants, take off diaper to go potty, throw the diaper in the genie, etc....

She has decided her evening 'chore' is to feed the dogs. She loves to take that blue cup to the garage and give them food in their bowls...and she loves to help set the table. She is growing up so fast, I can't believe it.

Our 6 month PA visit is this month and then the following week, Tatum's cleft palate is scheduled at Johns Hopkins. We will also have tubes put in at the same time. All of our paperwork is turned in and we are ready to go...just trying to stay healthy until then. :) It will be a scary time for us, but we know Tatum needs this in order to move on with her life. We are so excited for this new chapter in her life, but don't want to see her suffer either.