Sunday, September 18, 2011


I was feeding Elena dinner tonight (leftovers from lunch).  At some point I handed her a french fry.  She bit the fry in half, then very deliberately took the other half and set it on the floor and pushed it towards the dog.  The dog ate it.

This is HUGE for her.  We have never seen her share anything before.  She knows that if she is finished with her plate the dog gets her leftovers, but she normally keeps the dog at arm's length away while she is eating because she doesn't want him to eat her food.  In this case though, she continued to ward off the dog and ate quite a bit more (she wasn't through eating).  It was also a french fry - a food she likes. 

For her to share food is completely unexpected.

Also tonight she gave Juliana some nice pats and even hugged her several times of her own volition.

This was also completely unexpected.

It was nice to see her sweet side coming out and her be nice to her sister for a change.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Juliana's Birthday

We first met Juliana on April 1st, 2011.

It was very much like holding a doll.  She didn't really interact much.  Her back moved as a single stiff piece (we learned later that this is typical of "crib babies").  She had no head control.  We could cuddle her and snuggle her but it was clear that she was not used to being held for long periods of time.  While there were other children in her wing, she was alone in her room with three other empty cribs.  Later we discovered that her onesie (singular) was much too short for her, thus drawing her legs up like a frog to the point that she was unable to extend her legs all the way even when wearing nothing.  The staff fed her very quickly and most of the bottle ended up on her towel. 

When we were getting the medical reports so that we could leave the country, a sour-faced doctor proclaimed that Juliana would probably die in a few weeks.  "Even if she lives - what kind of life will she have?  She has Down Syndrome!"

Against the backdrop of all that negativity, we are thrilled to celebrate our daughter's first birthday.  Juliana is an extremely content little girl.  Her heart  surgeries are past, she sits up by herself, she scoots to the things she wants, she babbles nonstop, she loves to be held, she loves to pull (and try to eat) her mommy's hair.  We see both girls becoming more and alive with each passing day.

 We had roughly 30 people show up for her party and celebrate with us.  It is truly something deserving of celebration and thanksgiving!

We can't have a blog update just with Juliana pics....  Elena like cell phones very much.

Juliana took some prompting to know what to do with the cake.

The whole point of a first birthday is to let the baby smear herself in brightly colored icing.

Juliana liked playing in the icing like it was a craft project.

Elena needed no coaching on what to do her cupcake.

NOW she understands what to do

Juliana got a cake... everybody else got cupcakes.

Such a sweet face!

Juliana received many nice presents.  There were toys and clothes and above all..... lots of crinkly paper!!!