How do I begin to share with you the joy that fills our hearts? We are sooooo happy!! Today was Owen's GOTCHA DAY, and it couldn't have gone any better :O)
First, we were surprised this morning at 10 a.m. with a call from Lana telling us to get ready because Irina had already gotten our court decision from the judge this morning and would be at the Vlad Inn by 11:30 to pick us up to go to get Owen!! We thought it would be around 6 or 7 p.m.! Oh My Gosh!!!! From there, the excitement just grew bigger and bigger.
After talking with two families in the "playroom" area in the hotel lobby for a few minutes, Irina arrived, had some coffee, and then it was off to the baby home! We stopped by Lana's home to pick her up on the way and gave Irina and Lana their gifts there. In case any of you want to know, we gave them goodies from a local famous cafe--biscuit mix, homemade preserves, a flour sack dish towel, a GooGoo Cluster, and a cookbook. We also gave them thank you notes, which by the way the words came pouring out this morning :O), Jell-O No-Bake Cheesecake, and a framed photo of the 3 of us. They loved the photo best, but the cheesecake ran a close second! In case you don't know, we were told there is no cream cheese in Russia so they can't make cheesecake. They have to pay $8 for a slice of cheesecake in the Vlad Inn restaurant which is imported from the USA! We had so much fun giving them the gifts and seeing their expressions as they opened them.
After picking up Lana and giving our gifts to them, it was time--the moment we've been waiting for for so very long. The drive to the baby home seemed so long. Jim held onto my hand as we drove through the countryside down the road to Artyem. We kept looking at each other like, "Can you believe it? It's time! He's going to be ours!" Even as I write this, I can't believe it. YEAAAA! Okay, back to the story. So, we finally arrived at the baby home, and Lana took one last picture of us as a couple before we became a family.
Jim videoed all the way into the room where we always wait for Owen. Irina knocked on the door to Owen's room, and his caregiver came to the door. We looked in the room, and sweet Owen was sitting all alone in the center of the room in a baby swing! The other kids were surrounding him in the cribs. The caregivers brought him right out to us, and he looked straight at me and smiled!! He was so happy to see us today! They asked if we had clothes for Owen, and of course we did, so the caregivers said they would come back out to say good-bye when he was ready to go.
Jim videoed as I changed Owen's clothes from the blue and red rugby striped jumpsuit and white socks to a white pique polo onesie, blue and white seersucker pants, brown sandals, and a khaki cap with a puppy embroidered on the front. We added a white cableknit sweater before going outside. Irina opened the door, and 2 of Owen's caregivers came out to say good-bye. They looked so teary-eyed as they hugged him good-bye, knowing they may never see him again. I thanked them so much for taking such good care of Owen as I also had tears in my eyes. The older of the two said in Russian, "He will be such a joy to you." That's when I really wanted to cry! I thanked them again and said good-bye as they went back into the room with the rest of the babies still waiting for mommies and daddies.
We walked down the hallway we've passed through so many times and down the pink stairs to the red front door. We then went out that door for the last time and closed it behind us, signifying the end of this chapter and the beginning of the rest of Owen's life. We stopped to pose for some Gotcha Day family photos and then walked on to the car.
All I could think was, "I am so happy I can barely breathe. Oh my goodness, do we really get to take him with us? It's so unbelievable but yet it feels so natural!!" We got into the car and took a photo to capture our first car ride together, and Owen's first car ride since he was transferred from the baby hospital to the baby home at 5 months old.
At first Owen was curious about everything in the car, looking around and feeling the different surfaces. Once we started moving though, we loved looking out the window at everything passing by so quickly. By this time, it was about 2:00 p.m., and Owen was getting sleepy. I snuggled him across my lap with his head on my chest, his left thumb went into his mouth, and he completely relaxed and went to sleep. IN MY ARMS!! This may have been his first nap in someone's arms. It was definitely his first nap in his Mommy's arms! :O) I LOVED it!
About 20 minutes later, we arrived at the photographer's studio for Owen's passport photos. We didn't want to wake him, but we had to in order to get the pictures taken. So, Lana went inside to see how long the line was and got us a place in line and said she'd call when she got close to the front. I gradually put Owen's sweater on, which I had taken off because we got so hot before he fell asleep, and then his hat, and he began to wake up. Irina began talking to him in Russian, and he looked straight at her and started smiling so big!! It was adorable. What a happy boy after getting only 20 minutes of his 2 hour afternoon nap!! By this time, Lana called, and it was time to go in for pictures. As we rounded to corner to go into the studio, Owen's hat blew away and Jim had to get it! Gotta have that hat! So we went into the studio and had no idea how Owen would do. For one, he had only slept 20 minutes and we woke him up. Secondly, he had to sit on a barstool for the photo and I couldn't hold him. Third, how was the photographer going to get him to look at the camera much less smile? Well, to our greatest surprise, while Lana held Owen by the hips from behind the stool and we stood behind the photographer, the photographer squeaked a toy, and Owen looked straight up at the camera and smiled the biggest smile!!! He did this not once but three times!! It was perfect. I can't wait to see his passport picture in his passport :O)
After pictures were taken, we started our journey from downtown Vladivostok back to the Vlad Inn. On the way, we decided to stop by the Baby Store to pick up some more baby food for the week for Owen. Owen stayed in the car with Jim and Irina while I went into the store with Lana. We hurried, but I don't think Jim felt like we did! When we got back to the car, Owen was whining a little and Jim looked ready for a nap. He did a great job keeping Owen entertained. I think he just wanted his Mommy :) As soon as I took him and placed him on my chest, he relaxed and looked out the window, quiet as could be. I told Jim I was sorry he wasn't better for him while I was gone, but he completely understood. He's so great with Owen!! Owen's just not used to a man holding him at all!
We could tell Owen was still tired on the way to the Vlad Inn so once we arrived I tried putting him down for a nap. He just lay there with his little thumb in his mouth. Anytime I moved, he looked up at me like, "Don't go" so I stayed! Every few minutes, he'd look up at me again. When I smiled, he just stared into my eyes. It was such a special 15 minutes :) Well, apparently he wasn't tired enough to sleep so I got him out after 20 minutes or so and took him into the other room of our suite to play. I fed him a bottle, which he guzzled right down, and he was so happy!
He played a while with us and then he was ready to socialize.
We went across the hall to visit another family who is here from Louisiana and has a 14 month old son. Owen loved playing with blocks, a musical airplane, and stirring up blocks in a bucket with a plastic shovel. It was really cute. About 30 minutes later, we decided it was time for us to eat dinner and would soon be Owen's dinner time. We had missed lunch because we got up so late and went straight to get Owen so we were starving! Jim ordered a pizza from the restaurant and we ate it in our room while Owen played.
Pretty soon it was time for Owen to eat dinner too. We stripped him down to his diaper, socks, and a bib and Jim held him while I fed him. For dinner tonight: ham, carrots, peas, and potatoes all pureed together. Smelled scrumptious! Ha! Owen seemed to think so. He LOVED it and said mmmmmmm everytime I slowed down on the job spooning it into his little mouth! I got him laughing so hard just laughing at him! He loved looking at me and laughing after I laughed. He's so adorable! For dessert, Owen enjoyed some yummy pureed bananas and loved these too! What a good eater! We were told he loved to eat, and we believe it!
After dinner, we put some playclothes on Owen and a cute little jacket from our friends Courtney and Stewart and went outside for a little while. We walked around to the back of the Vlad Inn to the hotel's playground and played on the swing a while. It's definitely going to be a favorite activity for Owen! He is so calm on the swing and just looks around, smiling at his Daddy and taking it all in. It was a bit breezy so we decided to go back in after about 10-15 minutes.
Owen played a little while, and then we noticed some eye-rubbing and decided we should move on to bathtime!! He played with Jim for a few minutes while I ran the water with the beautifully scented Aveeno Lavender and Vanilla Baby Bath. Mmmmm! Smells so good! Jim "flew" Owen into the bathroom and videoed as I got him ready for his first big boy bath! I lowered him into the water, and he jumped when he sat down! He did great though! He sat while I bathed him and splashed a little bit. I even washed his hair with no tears in sight! After letting him play a few minutes, okay seconds, we wrapped him up in his froggy towel we brought from home. He giggled so much as I dried him off and kissed his sweet little yummy-smelling tummy.
I got him dressed in his blue "Born to Fly" sleeper--yea! it fits!--covered him with his blanket Miss Sandy made him, and fed him a bottle while rocking him on the edge of the bed. He was so calm and just lay in my arms so sweetly looking up at me. It was perfect. My baby is finally in my arms. I'm finally putting my baby to bed. I can't believe this is actually real! Am I dreaming?... After rocking for a few minutes, Owen finished about half his bottle and began chewing on it so I took it away. He didn't reach for it and didn't take any when I offered it back to him so I put it away. I rocked him a bit more and then put him in the crib, all covered up nice and warm with his tiny soft blankie in his right hand. His left thumb went into his mouth and he looked up at me, like "Are you still there, Mommy?" I assured him I was still there as I smiled at him and patted him on the tummy. I sat down on the bed and waited less than 2 minutes as Owen lay so still on his back looking at the wall beside him. He looked back at me one last time, rocked his head side to side once or twice and then fell fast asleep. That's it? He's already asleep? Wow! This was easier than I ever could have imagined!!! I guess he is so used to putting himself to sleep it doesn't take much. I even sneaked in and took a few photos of him sleeping and he slept right through it :O)
It's 2 hours later, and so far so good. As I typed this, I almost forgot he was in there for a minute because he's sleeping so soundly. Wow. We have a son. He is really ours. I feel like saying, "Hey, Mom, can we keep him? Really, can we?" It just feels too good to be true.
We are so in love.