Monday, September 5, 2011

there's no place like home

And we made it home. It wasn't a pretty trip {that's the understatement of the decade} but we made it. Shall I even go into the ugly details? Sure. It may very well be the last flight from China we ever take.

We only slept about five hours the night before we left. Not a good start. Should have known then. We drove about 45 minutes to the airport. We checked in. All good. Except it was raining. And so like every single flight that we've ever had in China, the flight was "delayed" which in Chinese can be translated to "You're in for a long wait so get comfy." But to make the wait even longer, let's get you on the plane first and then tell you it's delayed. {Cue memories from two years ago when we sat on the Beijing tarmac for 3 or 4 hours before our 13 hour flight to Chicago.} So this time we end up sitting on the plane for an hour and half or two hours. And thus began my migraine headache. We fly to Hong Kong and barely make our connecting flight to Chicago. We actually had to run to the gate, no bathroom stop, no time to eat lunch or get snacks for the plane or breathe really. I had to carry Hope and run through the airport b/c she decided she didn't want to walk. I arrived to the gate sweating and completely out of breath. Not a great way to begin an 11 and 1/2 hour flight. Not good at all.

We were actually a bit happy when we boarded the plane to Chicago b/c it had individual screens to watch movies. Our flight to China didn't have that and it made the long flight seem 10 times longer. But this time we had a good plane and thought it would make the flight a bit more bearable. Hope, however, thought the screen looked like a toy and began playing with it before Andy and I even sat down. Thus began the 11 and 1/2 hour battle of the tv screen.

I realized after about 20 minutes that my seat was broken. Every time I sat back it shifted into reclining position and every time I moved a bit it would shift back up. It was the window seat which was the one place we wanted to avoid having Hope sit b/c it caused so many problems on our other flights w/her. But there was no choice but to have her sit there. Thus began the battle of the window shade. Up. Down. Up. Down.

We thought we'd plug Hope into the headphones and have her listen to a Chinese Disney movie. Hope broke the headphones within about 1 minute. We pretended it didn't matter and hoped she wouldn't notice. We tried to get the Chinese language to come up on the screen only to find out it was only subtitle which would definitely not keep Hope's attention. Then it was on to "let's mess with the tv screen" time for Hope which ended in her completely messing up the screen/almost breaking it. And we were only 30 minutes into the flight.

By then my migraine was almost unbearable which left Andy on Hope Duty for about five hours. I owe him big time. But time off from Hope and the fact that the plane dimmed all the lights helped my migraine and finally I didn't feel like I was going to throw up. It was about 7pm China time which meant Hope had been awake for over 13 hours with no nap. She didn't end up falling asleep until after 9pm. But not before she pooped in her diaper 6 times and spilled a whole glass of water all over Andy. By then Andy had a major headache and we still had 5 hours left. I never ended up watching any movies b/c of my migraine so the "we got a great plane with movie screens" excitement never turned out to matter. Andy tried to watch one or two but was always distracted by Hope. The flight was one continuous "keep your seat belt fastened due to turbulence" flight. It was bumpy almost the whole time.

We arrived in Chicago and were told by an airport security officer to make sure we let the immigration officer know that we were an adoptive family. He told us that we should be able to skip the long line b/c Hope's papers just needed a quick stamp as opposed to a longer process that everyone else in that line would need. I thought, "Really? A short line?! Could this be real?" No, it wasn't. The immigration officer looked at us like we were begging to cut in line and placed Hope's paperwork behind a long line of other more complicated cases. So we sat there for an hour. Hope was running on about 4 hours of sleep. We were +20 hours into our trip so 4 hours of sleep was bad for her. Really bad.

We had a 6 hour layover in Chicago so we tried to get an earlier flight home. Turns out that we needed to try and fly stand-by which costs an extra $75 per person to do. Since when did flying stand-by cost extra? I said, "But if we get on a flight we're taking a seat that is empty anyway. Why the extra cost?" Uhm, dumb question to ask b/c there is no answer other than, "Because it just costs extra." At that point we really didn't care what it cost. So we rushed to a gate for a 5:00 flight. We missed it by 3 people. Then it was off to get the next flight which happened to be on the complete opposite side of the airport. As in a totally different terminal. Love. ly. So we almost run to get there and when we get to the new gate it is obvious that there are some major air-conditioning problems. It was hot. Just one more thing to add to the drama of it all. And it didn't help that Andy had changed into sweat pants when the spilling-the-cup-of-water episode happened. So I'm hot, Andy is sweating and trying to dig out his shorts from his backpack to see if they have dried, and we're waiting to hear if we make the flight which would get us home two hours earlier. We find out that we can get on the flight at the very last second. Then we are told to quick get on the plane b/c it is waiting on us. Uhm, nothing "quick" happens with us when we're trying to navigate an airport. And sure enough, the plane is so tiny that we have to walk outside to get to the plane. Down an elevator. Across the runway. And up some metal steps to the plane. By the time we get on the plane Hope has one last freak out moment and then takes off her pants and falls asleep. For a 30 minute flight. Not good. We have to wake her up when we land and she flips out about putting her pants on and is all out of sorts. She literally falls asleep as we have her standing up trying to get her pants on.

There was a group of friends and family gathered at the airport to greet us. Hope didn't exactly appreciate it. She starts sobbing. But does manage to fully wake up just by the time we get home, are completely exhausted and ready for bed. She is in hyper-mode and doesn't go to sleep until 1:00am. Ahh, sleep after about 32 hours of basically no sleep. Ya, right. In. My. Dreams. She wakes up every hour until 5:00am so no real sleep that night. In fact, we've been home 4 nights now and Nathan and Caleb are the only ones in the house who have slept more than a few hours at a time. Between jet lag and Hope waking up from fear and from being disoriented as to where she is we haven't slept much.

But we're home. In our own beds. I'm sitting on my comfy couch. Hope has toys and siblings to play with and a yard to run around in. It's good to be home. No matter how crazy it is here.

Click here for pictures of Hope at home. {Hope fell down the stairs the first morning home, thus the major rug burn bruises/scabs all over her face. Welcome to the crazy house, Hope. Welcome.}

1 comment:

  1. So glad you made it home!!! Praying for you all as Hope adjusts to being in her new family and as you all adjust to her needs too. We are still taking baby steps here. Trying to shake the jet lag fog. Love the photos of her birthday and welcome home! :)