Friday, November 27, 2009

Hannah is 9 months old today!!

Today we celebrated Hannah being 9 months old! From afar I celebrated her 6th, 7th and 8th month of age and today for the very first time we celebrated one of these milestones together! It was a day of celebration....and also some tears.

I felt I was (and am) pretty prepared for this whole Mommy role but there has been one part that has taken me quite by surprise. The guilt I find I'm feeling over the time of her life that I missed. I know there is nothing at all I can do to change the time we were apart and it too was part of God' plan, yet it's there and I acknowledge it. Far more often than I thought would happen, I find myself questioning why XiaoFen does the things she does. Is it just her little personality? Or, is it something more stemming back to before we met?

She has this precious little thing she does with her hands as she's falling asleep and I've come to call it her 'sleepy hands' and is one sign, along with scratching her head, that my little love is ready for a nap/bed.

One hand at a time she will bring the bottom of the palm of her hand towards her face. At first I thought she was going to suck her thumb but no, it's just this action of bringing her hands up. Sometimes she will put in her thumb or pointer finger and chew on them a bit but doesn't really suck on them. When she sleeps, she sucks her tongue which is adorable to watch. This cute little action of bringing her hand to her face should be just that, a cute little comfort to her but instead it sometimes brings questions for mommy. Did she want to suck her thumb but was stopped? I don't think I would have questioned this except I saw a Family Day video of another family whose baby was from her orphanage and in it the travel nanny kept taking the baby's thumb out of her mouth. It broke my heart as you could tell this baby was comforted by this action but it was stopped.

You may say I'm totally over analyzing this and I very well may be but hey, this is where I'm capturing my thoughts and memories for Hannah and I to share together later. I hope her little habit is just one of comfort and try to think of it as that. Most days I'm ok...others, not so much and I just need to acknowledge those feelings.

Tonight Hannah also did something uncharacteristic and it caused me to cry gentle tears into her hair as I rocked her. She had been asleep for a couple of hours and as is quite common she woke just after 11. Our normal routine is that I comfort her for a moment and then she falls back to sleep, safely tucked in. Tonight I wanted to get something from the dresser so after she was asleep again I stood up and walked about 5' to get something. In that time she woke up and burst into hysterical crying. This has happened a couple of times since we've been together but is not a normal occurance for her.

I think that as I was preparing this post in my head, celebrating her 9 months, I was sensetive to the date and what happened 9 months ago tonight. I'm hoping and praying that my little love does not remember this but 9 months ago tomorrow was the night/day that her birth mother said good-bye to her and she was placed to be found.

As Hannah burst into hysterical tears tonight, complete with alligator tears and body heaving sobs very quickly, it broke my heart too! Could she possibly remember that time? How long was she alone? Was she sleeping peacefully or awake crying? Was she warm or cold? These are some of the many, many questions that float through my head in which I will never have answers to. I try not to dwell on them and most times I'm ok but other times, like tonight, the sorrow of unanswered questions is too great and the tears flow.

My heart also goes out to Hannah's birth mother who carried her within her for 9 months and then had to part from her. Did she think of her daughter today? Did she cry too? Oh how I wish I could let her know that her baby girl is well, happy and loved...SO LOVED and oh how I wish that I could thank her. It is her unselfish act that has allowed me to become the mother to my amazing daughter, Hannah XiaoFen!! I knew that I would love my baby girl but never, ever, ever did I realize how deep this love would be and immediate! Upon hearing the words, 'Congratulations, you have a daughter!' to the moment she was placed in my arms 25 days ago, she immediately grabbed hold of places I never knew existed and has only dug her way in deeper every single day!! I will be forever grateful to the Lord for bringing Hannah and I together. Truly she is a miracle I hold in my arms every day....and the miracle I feel even now as she rests beside me with her little foot resting against me.

'The LORD has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes'!!!
Psalm 118:23

Hannah at 9 months of age:

  • height: 28 1/2" (90th percentile on the Asian charts)
  • weight: 16lbs. 7.5oz. (50th percentile on the Asian charts)
  • teete: zero - but soon I'm guessing
  • eats very well!! She's enjoying stage 1 baby food and enjoys most veggies and all fruit. She's not crazy about baby food with texture yet but I'm slowly introducing it to her and at least now she just makes a silly face rather than gagging. :o)
  • Begins each night sleeping in her crib
  • wakes within the first 1/2 hour just to make sure mommy is still right there. Fusses a tiny bit but is normally comforted by some shushing and a hand placed on her belly
  • will wake for the 2nd time normally between 11pm and midnight. This time she needs a little more comforting which I'm happy to give. We rock in the rocking chair for a while and then she's once again tucked into bed. If she's not tired, Hannah will play quietly with her taggie for quite some time! A couple of nights ago I went to sleep at 1:00 but she was still wide awake, quietly playing. I left the nightlight on for about half an hour and she played with her taggie and then when I woke up at 1:30 I quietly said, 'It's bed time sweetie' and turned out the light. That was it until morning.
  • She sleeps really, really well and our current sleep pattern is for her to fall asleep between 9:00 and 9:30 and with the exception of the 2 awake times above, she will sleep until somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 in the morning. Mommy is getting far more sleep than she ever has and is quite happy to sleep late too!
  • If Hannah wakes before me in the morning she may do 1 of 2 things. Some mornings she fusses a bit to let me know she's up and it's time to get our day started and other days she'll play quietly with her taggie until I wake up.
  • She currently has 4 8oz. bottles a day plus 3 meals of babyfood and cereal at breakfast
  • Snacks consist of Cheerios (broken in to 3 pieces each), Gerber Puffs (also broken up) and Mum Mums - although they're guaranteed to trash any outfit she has on so they're a rare treat.
  • When Hannah and I first me 25 days ago her core stomach muscles were weak and she could barely sit up. Now she's sitting up really well when I sit her up although still tumbles over on a regular basis so I build 'Fort XiaoFen' with 3 pillows and she sits in there
  • She isn't trying to crawl yet but I'm guessing it won't be long
  • She learned to roll over on Friday, November 20th and hasn't stopped since. At first she just rolled back and forth but now she rolls quite a bit.
  • She forgets how heavy her little head is and bangs it on the floor occasionally while rolling. Mommy gives lots of hugs, snuggles and kisses even when she doesn't cry. Letting her know Mommy is here and that I'm not going anywhere!!
  • She knows who Mommy is and treats me to gummy smiles often and even some slobbery kisses...which I love!
  • She's currently in size 9 mos clothes although can still fit into some 6 mos sleepers but not for long.
  • Her current wardrobe is a number of adorable baby pink outfits that are all mix and match...depending on lunch spillage and spit up mishaps. Soon enough she will be in 'big girl' clothes so while I can I'm enjoying dressing her in cozy outfits suitable to a cool Canadian fall.
  • Hannah's favourite toys are still the small, rattle type toys. The sectional ball with the spinner in it, a turqouise dog with beads on it and a flower with ladybug rattle are her main favourite toy
  • She has toys in the family room, on her change table, in our room and a variety of other places. So far she's ok with saying 'good-bye' to them when we leave a room and greet the new toys waiting for her in our next room
  • XiaoFen loves, loves, loves to be in the Snuggly. She spends time in there every day and I have yet to have taken the stroller out of storage in the basement but that will need to change soon as Christmas shopping begins. I can do a few hours carrying her but more than that would be a challenge. I purposely chose a stroller with a handle that flips so that she can see me when I push her. I'm guessing that will be introduced soon as another option when we're out.
  • Hannah is ok with me being out of direct eye sight for little bits of time but I tend to talk to her (you're shocked I'm sure!) when she can't see me so that she can still hear me
  • She has taken really well to her bucket car seat. I'm guessing her being in the Snuggly so often on the bus and in taxis in China helped her with the feeling of being confined.
  • I miss our travel in China as it was such a treat to hold her in my lap, kiss her fuzzy head and have her fall asleep in my arms
  • We don't have a set nap schedule right now but she normally gets 2 naps a day. These are usually either in the car when we're out or, in my arms after lunch if she falls asleep drinking her bottle. She has napped in her crib but not often yet
  • My little love is a snuggler!!! She's cozy right in for a good snuggle either when getting sleepy, in the snuggly or just when I'm holding her. I love it!!!
  • she's a happy smiley girl who will share her gummy grins with just about anyone if they're around long enough for her to warm up to them from the safety of mommy's arms.
  • As we're working on bonding Hannah hasn't been held by too many people yet and when she does mommy is always right there and if she begins to fuss she immediately comes back to my arms. The bonding and attachment seem to be going well for the amount of time we've been together but I'm still being super, super cautious and will be for some time. Until at least the new year I'll be the one to do all the feeding, changing and comforting and 99% of the holding.
  • Sadly I have to start teaching piano this coming week and it breaks my heart that I'm going to be away from her if even for little bits of time. My mom will be watching her upstairs and will know that if she fusses to bring her to me but we should be ok. I teach for 1/2 an hour, have a 1/2 hour break then teach for another hour. The other day will be a little harder as it's a 2 hour stretch. I'll have to wiggle her schedule around a bit so that she's fed before and after I teach but I'm sure we'll get our groove on. It's only for 3 weeks then we're off for 2 weeks for Christmas vacation.
  • when I first met Hannah she stuck her little tongue out a lot. After a couple of days it seemed to stop and now it's back again....and adorable!
  • She is a real chatterbox and makes the cutest, most adorable sounds! Her only 'word' so far is still dadada but I'm working on 'mamama' but nothing so far.
  • It's fun to dress her in little sleepers with decorated feet. It had never occured to me that she would find this feet so interesting and she loves to talk to them and play with them!

I'm sure there is more and I will add as I think of it but that's the list for now. If you're still - good for you! This list ended up being much longer than I'd anticipated but these are details I want to be sure to capture for the future.

Here are some pics from our Family Day on November 2nd

and then today, November 27th when Hannah turned 9 mos old.


  1. They do change quickly and core strength does come the harder the food she is eating will help those teeth and brushing her gums now before the teeth come aids the brushing process post!
    Have a try!
    I often look at all my children and wonder what happened before me and that I had no control!
    Take care Hugs Ruth in NZ

  2. The difference in her in a month is really striking. Enjoy these days when she is tiny, they are lovely days and they go by very quickly.

  3. i lover her smiles a lot, she is a happy girl!

  4. She is simply adorable. I love reading all about her and how well you are both doing. Congraulations again.

  5. Every single picture of her makes me smile. She is such a cutie and her happiness shines through. Happy 3/4 year old Miss Hannah.

  6. Couldn't get the video to play. I'll try later. Can't say anything I read was news after spending time with you and Hannah yesterday, but I loved reading it all just the same.

    Came home with aching arms, but I know someday that dream will be fulfilled. It's hard being on the "outside" when so many of my family made it "in", but I want to support what you're doing, and my time will come. It will be all the sweeter for the wait.

    Love ya Cath. Thanks for the visit and especially for coming with me for my Dr report results. So thankful the way the Lord worked that out. He is good all the time.

    Keep hugging Hannah for me until I can,

  7. Another wonderful post full of stories to make me smile.

    I'm sorry that you have to wake up and read posts like the one by Anonymous 7:49 though. Whether we believe or don't believe in what you say or do, it is our choice to be here and read and share in your story.

    There is a lot I could write on this subject - hiding behind anonymous and judging others - but I won't get on my soapbox too. Anonymous isn't saying anything that we all don't already know, but given our experiences, we all form our own beliefs, forming our own opinions. Anonymously on a blog is not the way to share it. Don't be a hater. Life is too short to waste stalking blogs and sharing your opinion. Let it go. Be happy. Smile and enjoy Catherine's tale of happiness. She found her bliss. Her joy. Let her revel in it.

  8. Beautiful response "Mom to Lucy and Lisa".

    Cathy, don't let anyone steal your joy!!! As you said, 'The LORD has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes'!!!

    Regardless of the 'how', focus on the 'now'. "Forgetting those things that are behind..." The Lord brought Hannah to you. Rejoice.


  9. Hannah is such a happy little girl! You are so fortunate you got her at such a young age! Keep on doing what you are doing because it seems to be working really well! Hannah is progressing quickly from the good food and mostly from all the love you are giving her! Just follow what God places in your heart to do!
    In Christian Love,
    Grandma to one and soon two China Dolls!

  10. She has such a million watt smile.
    Looks like hanging with mommy agrees with her!

  11. I love that huge smile in the last frame. What a happy 9 month old girl.
    There just isn't anything better than a baby snuggle.
    I love your adventures with Hannah and how much she has advanced since you have had her. She as blossomed so much and must feel total joy when she sees you.
    Once again God Bless you both--
    Oh yeh - and I love her little voice!

  12. Catherine, she is blooming like a flower. Once she is older and you see the things that make a toddler cry (wrong color shirt, cookie broke in half, someone frowned) , you will be able to accept her tears with much more calm than now, when your nurturing nature makes you respond intensely to any cry. I think, based on my occasional weepy periods when taking care of my infant grandchildren as their mothers returned to work, that "baby blues" are not exclusively. although of course primarily, a hormonal event, that there is something along those lines that comes with the beginning of caregiving, and that helps make sure you never ignore anything important by making you respond to things that may not be that important.
    Also, I believe that even infants have occasional nightmares, even if they are nonverbal or can't communicate what scared them. I couldn't say she doesn't remember, but other causes for an infant's "grief" are just as likely.
    It is such a pleasure to follow her and you.

  13. Oh how she makes me want another one! She is just precious and you are doing a wonderful job as her Mommy. So Happy for you both :)

  14. Happy 9 months Hannah! I can't believe the changes that you can see in her already! She's a beautiful, darling little love bug. Catherine you have settled into this mommy role! WOW! So happy things are so wonderful for you! Congratulations.

  15. Happy 9 Months Hannah!
    Love all the updates. She seems to be blossoming. :)

  16. Her hair's coming in more! I can't wait for the super cute hair bows, etc. to start showing up! Hope your Thanksgiving was great!

  17. Catherine,
    I found your blog from the Salsa girls and I've been "hooked" ever since. My name is Lila Huggins, I live in Atlanta, GA. My awesome hubby and I have been married 38 years, have two gorgeous grown daughters and grandchild number 10 is on the way,about the size of a blueberry right now! LOL

    Catherine, I would like to say, I've been addicted to china adoptions for about a year now! I read every story I can get my eyes and computer on! I cry big old tears at every "gotcha" day. But you and Hannah have tugged at my heartstrings more than any other. I believe it is the way you write so lovingly and sweetly from your heart! I agree with all the ways you are using to bond with her. I would do the exact same myself!
    Please keep up the blog, I would just keel over with sadness if I couldn't get up everyday and read about you and Hannah. You're both as precious as can be. God Bless You Both!

    Miss Lila
    Atlanta, GA

  18. Cute photos and interesting observations. Some of the behavior you describe as possibly coming from someone frowning on thumb sucking may just be who Hannah is. Children figure out to comfort themselves in many different ways. Just flow with it and don't read too much into what Hannah did not get. Focus on all the goodness she is getting from you and how she is thriving.

  19. Happy 9-month birthday Hannah!

    Mia still to this day, 8 months after returning home, bawls hysterically when we leave the room if she is awake or if she wakes up and we are not there. Sometimes so much that she will throw up.
    It's heart breaking but it is getting better.
    Hang in there, Mommy. You're doing a wonderful job of showing her unconditional love and she will grow to know she can depend on you to be there for her. It just takes time!

  20. Such a great update!
    Keep enjoying all those baby cuddles you are getting!
    Happy 9 months Hannah!

    Smiles! :o)

  21. OMG Catherine! Hannah is so beautiful. Sorry I have not been by before now to check in. We got home from China on 10/1 and everything has been a blur up until now (lol). You have one adorable cutie-pie and so glad to hear that sweet Hannah is doing so well. Happy 9 mos. to your beautiful daughter. :)


  22. It takes a long time for them to feel secure; even then, shadows of their past appear and we just deal with it; as you have. Lots of love and hugs. Someday that may not be enough but we will get help when needed.
    More time is all you need. Enjoy each day.

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  23. Hi Catherine,
    I love your blog. I'm a single mom in Kansas with my "sweet pea" from China who has a verrry similar gesture as your Hannah when she's sleepy or overwhelmed. She's been doing it ever since we met in China, 3 years ago! Although I hate to think she was in need of comfort, I'm so glad she found a way to provide it for herself! If you'd like to check out my blog, it's
    You and Hannah are a beautiful pair! Enjoy every moment!

  24. What a sweet video!! The questions you have, I still have moe than a year later and I imagine, I will have them for always! I just try to love my Lizzie and try not to let the questions bog me down too much!

  25. Happy Birthday Hannah!
    Catherine you are doing a great job. Hannah is blooming and it is obvious that she is adapting and bonding to you and her new surrounding. As for the night screams and tears, just go with the flow. Do not forget, even bio kids get these night terros and Hannah's age... you have been home only a month and she has not done this too ofter, I say you are pretty lucky. Her young age is a blessing also. Our Beatrice came home at 13 months and was much more terrorized at night. Love and patience will get you through it. And don't be too hard on you as for her life before. You have no control over it, Hannah is a survivor she now has you and will be a very happy girl.

    God bless your very happy family.
    St-Hyacinthe :)

  26. Your precious, adorable baby daughter always makes me smile too. Her happiness is completely infectious. I love seeing that dimple. Just think, Catherine, one day Hannah will be the piano student.

  27. Catherine - the picture with you holding Hannah up and it shows both of your facial profiles ... I love this picture. I think the two of you have nearly identical profiles! Very sweet.


  28. Hannah is so adorable, Catherine!! I'm sure you've heard lots of stories before but here's another! I gave Ellie a pacifier a few days before the flight from Nanchang to Guangdong. I was concerned about her ears. Our guide was not happy about it and especially in public he kept saying how dirty it was and not the Chinese way. I pretty much ignored him but understood that the "dirt/germs" from thumbsucking and pacifiers was probably a big concern over there. Ellie loves her "boo" and heck, if it comforts her during sleep until she is 10 that will be the least of my concerns as to her happiness and health! Talk to me again when she's 10 though! =) As for hysterics at night, E still has them at almost a year home. Horrible. Hang in there. Hugs.


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