Travel Journals: [Retold] Day 3

I love this photo because it shows the chaos around us...and how in the moment we were...

If you are just now tuning in – welcome! If you want to start at the beginning, you can find the first post to our Travel Journals HERE.

May 20, 2011
First Day at HH, Meeting Our Girl!

Dear Cocoa,

Happy 5 Month Birthday, Sweet Girl!!!

We feel beyond blessed that TODAY of all days, we got to meet you – ON your 5 month birthday!

This morning had a very early start as we were both WIDE awake at 4am. Probably a combination of a hot room (no air conditioning, no fan…which we later remedied), upset stomachs, sore muscles (from the flights), and a thrown off internal clock. Regardless, we agreed that we actually felt sort of rested…but we had HOURS before our driver would pick us up to meet you!

We dinked around the room for a while. Daddy worked on his travel journal a bit before we decided to take showers. After hearing some squealing from Daddy’s end, I figured I better go check on him. Turns out – we have no hot water! So we took turns soaping up as fast as possible and getting a kick out of rinsing the other person off. Daddy said I made QUITE the expressions and he definitely got his morning laugh out of it! We could whine and grumble that we spoiled Americans didn’t have hot water in our room…OR we could just be thankful that we have running water and make the best out of an, ummm…interesting situation!

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I think daddy spent most of the rest of the morning trying to figure out the converters and adapters and running up and down the stairs to the front desk (we’re on the 4thfloor) while I got myself all pretty-fied for meeting you! Not that having make-up on would be the difference in you liking mama or not…but these are pictures I have to look at forever (and WANT to) so I gotta look at least decent! Unfortunately most of my attempts were in vain. I’m pretty sure my make-up was melted off before the end of breakfast and all that time I spent (*AHEM* daddy spent!) figuring out how to plug in that curling iron??  \Yeah….those curls disappeared even faster! I ended up heading back up to the room to brush them out. (I think tomorrow I’m letting it just go natural…it wasn’t worth the fight!)

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Still the best coffee to date...
Still the best coffee to date…

WHILE we were down for breakfast, however, we ran into some other traveling families that were ending their second trip. They had great advice to hand down – from food, to shopping, to bonding with our kids…they hooked us up! PLUS they told us that they were supposed to be headed to Hannah’s Hope just a couple hours before our itinerary said. Let’s just say we quickly headed back up to our rooms (waking up the other traveling families on the way) so that we could get to see YOU as soon as possible!!! True to “Ethiopian Time” it was about an hour or so after they had been told…but still earlier than our itinerary said! We were SO excited to finally be on our way!

Across the street from our hotel
Across the street from our hotel
Looking to the left...
Looking to the left…
Looking to the right...
Looking to the right…

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In the van on the way over, we divvied up our cameras to the families that had spent all week there. It was such a blessing to see their excitement to capture these precious moments FOR us! We pulled off the main road, and when someone mentioned Hannah’s Hope was JUST around the corner, the tears were already dripping! Our sweet new friend Teresa was recording with our flip in her left hand and snapping AWAY with her right hand! They climbed off the van ahead of us so that they could get our faces the whole way through.

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Searching anxiously for your face...
Searching anxiously for your face…

Once we went through the infamous gates of Hannah’s Hope, we were greeted by a few young children excited to see us! Our “camera crew” led us to the baby room where there was an overwhelming amount of babies everywhere you looked! Babies on pillows, in bouncers, crawling, crying, being rocked, being fed! We looked around desperately trying to find the sweet little face we recognized, but we didn’t see you anywhere. We finally asked for you by name, in which your special mother (who I recognized from previous photos) pointed to a bouncer on the side of the couch, kind of tucked away. Phew – we felt better about the fact that we didn’t see you instantaneously! We walked over – and there you were! I couldn’t even see your face because you were sleeping soundly, wrapped so tight in a warm, cozy blanket. Daddy asked if it was okay to pick you up and Mekdes, your special mother, told me to go ahead and wake you! My heart skipped a beat as I glanced over once more – you were SO much tinier than your pictures had revealed! I instantly scooped up your tiny little body and began to unwrap you from the fleece blanket so I could study every little feature! I woke you from your gentle slumber, but instead of crying you stared into our souls with sincere curiosity! And it seemed not a moment later that the corners of your mouth turned up into that perfect smile! And right there, at that moment – we were not only smitten and completely in love… No, we were puddles on the floor!

At last...
At last…
Waking you up (with permission)...
Waking you up (with permission)…
I love this photo because it shows the chaos around us...and how lost we were in that moment...
I love this photo because it shows the chaos around us…and how in the moment we were…
In my arms!!!
In my arms!!!
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Captivated…
Memorizing that face...
Memorizing that face…
Daddy's turn...
Daddy’s turn…

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I really TRIED sharing...
I really TRIED sharing…

You captivated us with your beauty, with your charm! I smothered you with kisses…and you smiled. Daddy made noise after silly noise…and you smiled. I bounced you up and down, gave you tummy time, helped you sit up, stand up, and rocked you in my arms and you just kept smiling! In fact, you smiled so big you had a blow out! Minutes into our first meeting and there was ALREADY an outfit change taking place – you are SO my daughter!!!

First diaper change...
First diaper change…

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I don’t know how long that moment went on, but I then remember trying to put a headband on you and all of a sudden you were in tears! But before I could assume that I had been responsible for the outburst, your special mother handed me a bottle – and once it was within site you whined and fussed until it was in your mouth properly. And before I knew it – that one wasn’t good enough…you needed more! It put such a huge smile on my face to see how much you were drinking and how much you had grown since we first saw your face back in February. Once that bottle was finished you couldn’t quite calm down. You were restless and obviously tired, so Mekdes came over to show me how you liked to be put to sleep. In some sense it made me sad that I couldn’t figure it out on my own…but at the same time I was sitting there so grateful for this woman who was teaching me everything she knew to make you happy! She could have so easily just handed her over and left the room for me to figure it out OR taken over and not let me in on the secret. But she didn’t do that.  he sat there next to me answering my every question. So now that I know how you like that blanket wrapped around you when you drink your bottle, and that you want your face mostly covered so you can fall asleep – I feel like I can do it on my own now! Or at least I hope I can…

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Once you zonked out, Mekdes handed you right back…which I was very grateful for. I got to gaze at your beautiful face the entire time you slept. While we rocked on the couch, daddy went off to take pictures of the other babies. Because of that warm blanket you were wrapped in, beads of sweat began running down your forehead in no time. I tried to carefully loosen the blanket around you to give you some more breathing room and that seemed to help some. Now that I didn’t have that interaction time with you, I got to check on the other traveling families, who had just met their children too! Every baby and child there was so beautiful in their own special way! It was like I had died and gone to baby heaven!

The amazing special mothers at Hannah's Hope...
The amazing special mothers at Hannah’s Hope…

When you woke up, I think you were rather surprised to see me. I giggled to myself at the way your face crinkled as you immediately started fussing…and then it turned to crying. But instead of taking over, your special mother let me soothe you! It seems you are a lot like your big brother already – the wide curiosity in your eyes, and needing a moment to wake up after a nap! Of course as soon as I had calmed you down, daddy came in, noticed you were awake, and started snapping pictures! I had to tell him to put the camera away and let you get used to us again. Don’t worry darling, you didn’t hurt our feelings! We came in there with a very real expectation that you would be scared of us because even though we had been gazing at your pictures for three months, you were just seeing us for the first time! And it wasn’t long until I was smothering those smiling cheeks in kisses again!

Mekdes putting your mind at ease...
Hirut putting your mind at ease…

Then daddy went to show me where your crib was and gave me a tour of the baby house! I snapped some pictures, but after just a few minutes Wass began gathering our group for orientation. Immediately I had that panicked feeling that I would have to give you up, but they assured me that I could take you to orientation! Phew! I grabbed the blanket Miss Annika made you (which I had only been sleeping with for 3 weeks to get it to smell like mama!) and a few toys! We walked into a small class room (which they used to teach the older kids English) where we filled out paperwork and learned more about what to expect on court day. We learned that once you were away from your special mothers and all the other babies that you were quite content with us! You had a couple very sweet moments with daddy where you would strain to see his face when you heard his voice, and once when he was holding you you reached up to touch his face! Even though all that time and talk over money and court was a bit stressful to me, I cherished those precious moments with you where you felt like mine and only mine (okay…and maybe daddy’s)!

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Filling out paperwork...
Filling out paperwork…

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Once we headed back to the baby house, I began to feed you another bottle when someone from our travel group informed me that if we wanted lunch, now was the time. Looking back, I wish I would have just stayed and had someone bring me food…mostly because by the time we got back to see you we only had about an hour or so before they were putting all the babes down for the night and we had to head home.

Buying water on the side of the road...
Buying water on the side of the road…
View from the patio at HH...
View from the patio at HH…
View of part of the courtyard and our bus...
View of part of the courtyard and our bus…

I had come in just after you took a bath, and your special mother was finishing giving you your bottle. She handed you to me and told me to change your diaper (which I gladly agreed – for the 3rdtime!). She said it was bed time but that it was fine to put you in my Moby to get you to sleep. I layed you in your crib as I got the baby wrap in place and then put you in. You seemed rather cozy in there if I do say so myself!

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It was a long time that you sat there fighting sleep and staring into space with those big brown eyes, and finally I tucked your head deep into the Moby, pulling that last flap over your face. It was only then that you actually zonked out, just in time for Wass to come up the stairs and tell me it was time to leave. WHAT a bummer! I put it off as long as I could, but finally daddy helped unwrap your legs from the Moby so I could lay you down. I must have worn you out because you didn’t make a PEEP! In fact, it wasn’t until I kissed your cheek that you sleepily opened those little eyes! I got right down on eye level and whispered “I love you” as you closed them again. It was the perfect ending to the perfect first day with you! The ONLY thing that could make it better is to take you with me back to the hotel, and then at the end of the week – home.

Sweet little face...
Sweet little face…

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Until the morning, my lovely baby girl!

Your Mama

*Continue to follow along on our Travel Journals to Day 4

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