Monday, April 30, 2012

Loving the water!

Lexie has been taking swim lessons with a friend of mine, Lindsay, who I swam with in high school. It is so cool to see the two of them swimming around together in the pool! 

Lindsay has an underwater camera and snapped a couple of pictures of Lexie last week - too cute!!

 Emma and I cheer Lexie on during her lesson...well, actually, I spend a lot of time chasing Emma around the pool making sure she doesn't jump right in!  Emma seems to think she can do anything her big sister can these days!! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

3 months since gotcha day!

Three months ago we met Emma Jean Chun Xiao for the first time!  It is amazing to watch  her grow and to watch her show us more and more of her personality every day. Even more amazing is to watch our love grow for this girl.   Seriously, it is such an amazing experience....something I didn't expect as part of the adoption.

Now for some recent pictures..

This is how we found Emma on Easter morning
(Matt said he left Emma on the floor in one of the 2 am night waking charades)
Lexie then woke up Emma and showed her the eggs that the easter bunny left in her room!
 We then headed downstairs -- Emma got the finding egg concept very quickly!

That is where our camera died. So no other pictures for the day, sorry!

In other news...Emma is chatting up a storm. Trying to repeat everything we say.  We realized she wanted to count the other day when she was attempting to count back at the Elmo DVD in the car (hold the judgement people, Elmo gives me 10 mins of peace to make a phone call while running errands).  Here she is...

Daddy and Emma - Counting at 18 mos
(she is wearing a fairy outfit sans wings, in case you are wondering!)
Emma and Great Grandpa Ballantyne
Adorable, right?! -)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stop the bus!!

This morning we got the call that Emma's Ultrasound came back N-O-R-M-A-L!!! Yipee!! We were so happy to hear the news that her kidneys are ok.  2 weeks ago we had no worries about those little bean shaped organs but as of last week, it was all my dear husband could think about!!  One thing off the table.

At 3:30 we headed back to U of M for our appointment with the ENT & Audiologist to read the CT Scan & ABR results.  The CT Scan also came back NORMAL!!!  This means there are no deformities in her ears (at least none that they could see on the scan).

Finally, they told us that the ABR hearing test also came back NORMAL!

What...what?!  Back the bus up...can you repeat that?

I had her tell me 5 different ways from Sunday but basically she said -- "yeah, its really good news, it seems she doesn't have sensorineural hearing loss after all. This is really rare, I have never actually seen it happen...we are really sorry but this really is good news!"

Now let me back up for some history...this ABR test actually has some history behind it.  After the diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss a few weeks back, we asked for the ABR test but were told that it 'was not needed'. They said her hearing loss was so evident in the booth that there really wasn't a need to put Emma under anesthesia just to 'double confirm'.  At the time, I was so overwhelmed I told the audiologist 'ok, if you don't think we need the ABR, then I am good with that'.

Hearing aids were fitted and ordered at that time. I started saving for the payment of the aids (apparently the state of Michigan does not require insurance carriers to 100% cover even basic models).   Over the next few days, we started telling folks about Emma's hearing loss and were connected with one of Lexies' friends mom, who also is an audiologist in town.  This woman told Matt that we needed the ABR and that we should fight for it.  Luckily I am married to an awesome man who is on his game!  He called the audiologist the next morning and said we needed the ABR.  It took 2 weeks to schedule, but we finally got it scheduled last Wednesday, while we were on vacation.  Thank God Matt spoke with this woman and that he pushed for it!!

Anyway, today they proceeded to re-do the behavior hearing test they did a few weeks ago.  They also re-did a few other hearing tests to confirm the ABR test yesterday.  They indicated Emma's hearing loss today measured 'mild' in certain frequencies but not severe to profound like it had a few weeks back. They said mild losses don't require hearing aids.  Confused yet?!  I sure was!!

I asked which test is more accurate - the ABR/OAE or the behavior tests. No clear answer, depends on age, child, circumstances.  I asked about false positives.  I didn't get a straight answer from anyone. Reading between the lines, my take is that behavior tests may not work for our little princess. She just couldn't care less about their toys and was much more interested in playing with stickers & telling me 'DOWN!' (her way of saying, we need to get out of here mom) then responding to auditory stimuli.    I am just floored that they were considering not doing the ABR!! Had they not done it, Emma would have hearing aids today and, apparently, not need them!!

So where are we now?   We are so freaking happy and celebrating this evening. I am not certain we are out of the woods with hearing  for now but I am cautiously optimistic. I will be honest, my mothers instinct says she is alright.  This little 18 mos old girl  - who had been in the US for 2.5 mos - can say 30 words already. She will get her shoes if I ask her to. She will give me a kiss if I ask her to. If Lexie wakes up in the middle of the night crying, Emma hears it and then wakes up also (lovely, right?!).   Again... cautiously optimistic. That said, I am going to be a lot more aggressive going forward when we talk to doctors (which is saying a lot for those of you that know me!!).

For those of you that were praying for Emma - lets just say that there is some power in prayer folks!!   Thank you!!   Matt and I talked and our takeaway in all of this is that we can handle WAY more then we think we can.  We can handle hearing loss...its not the end of the world.  We can do this because we have each other and because we know we are not alone.   I am not sure if the last month was strategically placed in our life or if it was all just a big mishap.  But I am certain of this.. we have learned a lot about ourselves & grown even closer to our precious baby at the same time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cutie Pie!

Emma did amazing this morning! I was pretty nervous with the whole 'not eating after midnight' thing but, like always, she shined like a champ!!  

She had all of the nurses and doctors (especially the men) wrapped around her finger.  When I finally was allowed to go back to see her (after she had woken up),  there was a man with a guitar singing to her and 3 woman nurses cooing around her.  Seriously, she was in heaven!!

We don't know any of the results yet -- more to come as we hear from the various doctors over the next 24-36 hours. But I had to post these adorable pictures today. :-)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rosemary Beach & Emma's CT Scan, ABR, & Ultrasound

We an outstanding week in Florida! We stayed in a little neighborhood in the panhandle called Rosemary Beach. Our house was across the street from the family pool and the playground in the neighborhood - we couldn't have asked for a better location. Lexie rode her bike to the beach every day too, it was really fantastic! Initially, Emma was a little hesitant to stand in or play in the sand but after about 2 hours each day she would venture out off our lap and even into the ocean a bit!  Here are a few pictures...
Lexie & Daddy @ Beach Bonfire

 Lexie & Emma playing on the beach

Emma got so tan on this vacation. I promise I used SPF 50 - she just tans really well!!
This girl loves ice cream - one of the many cones consumed over the past week
Daddy and his girls

The best part of the week was swimming at the pool. I got these flotation devices for both the girls.  Lexie used them for the first part of the week but by the end wanted to 'practice' her swimming. Emma used them the entire time and left us free to not worry about her 100% of the time!

Back to reality!  Tomorrow is Matt's first day back to work. Emma and I have to be at U of M at 7:30 am for Emma's CT Scan, ABR (a hearing test that requires Emma to be sedated), and an ultrasound of her kidneys. She will be under anesthesia for all of this so I am praying that she does well with that.

They are doing the ultrasound because a few weeks ago our pediatrician's nurse practitioner  found something on Emma's ear called an 'ear pit' (nice that our ENT did not pick up on this BTW!). Apparently kiddos that have ear pits & hearing loss sometimes also have Kidney issues (a syndrome called BOR). So they just want to make sure her Kidneys are functioning and growing as they should.

Emma is freaking smart, cute, and fits into our family perfectly. I know that we can face anything medically that comes up with her but right now I pray that we learn tomorrow that her kidneys are alright and that her hearing loss is not progressive (not sure if/when we will find this out though).

I will post an update when we know more over the next few days. Thank you all who have sent me notes, called, invited me over, etc over the last 3 weeks. I love that our friends and family are so supportive and willing to jump right in to do what they can to help!